By: Denise Maycock
Published: July 30th, 2013
FREEPORT – Lawyer Fred Smith has challenged the PLP government to pass a Freedom of Information Act if it has nothing to hide regarding its dealings with billionaire Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard.
“The FNM brought the Freedom of Information Act. Why in the face of what Nygard is doing has the PLP withdrawn it from the House? I ask you Perry Christie, what do you have to hide from the Bahamian people?”
Mr Smith said that the FNM did one solid thing for democracy by opening up the airwaves. He claims that there is no democracy in the Bahamas under the PLP.
“If the PLP wants to be known as a party that contributed to democracy in the Bahamas, let them pass a FIA – a real one, not a toned down one,” he said.
Mr Smith stressed that Bahamians are entitled to know what is going on in their country.
He said the PLP is afraid to pass the FIA that was proposed by the FNM because, it is his opinion, that it is a party that is “steeped in secrecy.”
“I have stepped out of politics, but as a Human Rights activist I will speak my mind when I am in an environment that does not have one iota of democracy left.
“Every democratic country and even the non-democratic countries have a Freedom of Information Act. What does the PLP have to hide? Why did they take the Freedom of Information Bill from the House recently right when they were about to deal with stem cell legislation?
“Just before that, the Attorney General withdrew the FIA. Is it because they are afraid of the strength of the FIA the FNM had proposed? Or is it because they want to rewrite it so that even if they passed it, they can say they passed it, but you can’t get any information?”
Mr Smith said where there is secrecy there is opportunity for corruption.
“If there is no corruption going with Peter Nygard, then I ask government to disclose all the paperwork between Peter Nygard and the government. What does the PLP government have to hide in their dealings with Peter Nygard at Nygard Cay, hence the need for a FIA,” he said.
Mr Smith, who is also an environmental activist, said the government also needs to pass an Environmental Protection Act, and laws against oil pollution.
He claims that the PLP is responsible for “the devastating anchor projects” which are destroying the environment in the Family Islands.
Mr Smith is appealing to persons to visit the Save the Bays website and sign an online petition asking Prime Minister Perry Christie to pass laws that will protect the environment, to protect Crown Land and sea beds at Nygard Cay, and to stop unregulated developments in the Bahamas.
“I have been asking Perry Christie to leave an environmental legacy and pass an EPA, pass laws to protect against oil pollution, but they are doing everything opposite,” he said.
Mr Smith said Save the Bays is concerned about what is going on at Nygard Cay, in Bimini, at Lighthouse Point in Eleuthera, in San Salvador, Inagua, and Guana Cay.
“The rape of the Bahamian environment must stop,” Mr Smith demanded.
The lawyer is also opposed to government giving away Crown land to foreign developers who promise to deliver grand developments, but who instead leave devastation.
“How many Bahamians have been asking for Crown land for decades, and still do not have any Crown land.
“The government has a moratorium on giving Crown land to people, but Nygard is going to get three acres of Crown land worth over $20 million. It is the most beautiful piece of prime location at Lyford Cay.”
He questioned whether Nygard’s pre-election donation of $5 million is the political favour in exchange for the give-away of $20 million of prime land.
“You will not do that. Save the Bays will not let you give $20 million worth of Crown Land to Peter Nygard,” said Mr Smith.
Mr Smith believes that criminal charges were brought against him because of his work to protect the environment and his association with Save the Bays.
He is accusing the PLP of victimization.
“This is not just a little criminal prosecution; this is victimization of an environment defender and human rights advocate.
“I call on all who defend human rights, and who defend and protect the environment to express their outrage to the police and to government for this treatment of me.
“I do not deserve to be treated this way when I was the person who was nearly killed at Jaws Beach,” he said.