Grand Bahamians continue to weigh-in on the call from the Opposition Leader, Phillip Davis, for Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest to resign.
Davis’ request comes after a writ was filed in the Supreme Court Commercial Division, New Providence surfaced last week, with business associates of the DPM and Turnquest as well, accused.
Turquest, who is also the Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama, was not named as a defendant, but is referred to in connection with an alleged $20 million fraud.
This daily, questioned several residents on their views regarding the call for Turnquest to resign. While many declined to comment, some were of the view that all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and there was also the opinion that resignation would be in order.
Rick Murray expressed the following view: “My thoughts are much like Sir William Garrow, ‘Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.’ Let us see what the facts are, and then make judgment; as opposed to giving attention to hearsay.”
A female resident expressed a similar sentiment: “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. We are too quick to throw people under the bus.”
Another male resident commented: “Politics has always been dirty. We will never know the extent of what happened, or what already took place in other situations. If he is guilty of being involved in unscrupulous behavior, then I think he should resign.”
Yet, another when questioned on his thoughts responded: “He should do that which is honorable.”
Kevin Tomlinson was quite vocal with his thoughts noting that he stands behind DPM Turnquest.
“DPM Turnquest is an honorable, methodical, ethical and devoted family man, who is committed to the progressive development for both Grand Bahama and by extension The Bahamas.
“It is heartbreaking when persons who step up to the plate to serve this country are personally demonized and disrespected, based on propaganda supported by political mischief,” Tomlinson stated.
He too quoted Garrow: 'Yet we sensationalize trivial gossip, totally inconsiderate of the effects it has on a person and their immediate family members.'
“How can we progress when all we do is look for ways to kill those whose courage cannot be matched. Bahamians must learn to challenge policy. The divisive game of politics is the real enemy in our country, which must be addressed objectively. It overrides logic, empathy and common sense while smothering the potential growth and maturity needed to create stronger communities.
“Both the leader of the Official Opposition (Progressive Liberal Party) and the DNA (Democratic National Alliance), must treat Bahamians with some intellectual integrity. Every case heard before the courts deserve the right to be heard and based on facts, then and only then can a judgment be made. So, therefore, calling for the DPM’s resignation is inappropriate at this time,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis was questioned by reporters Monday (November 23) regarding Turnquest resigning.
He responded: “It is a court matter right now, and the Cabinet is deliberating on it. We will get back to you as soon as Cabinet completes our deliberations and discussions.”
Turnquest in a press statement on November 19, following the allegation, denied any claims of fraud.
Following is his statement in its entirety:
“I have been made aware of a Writ filed in the Supreme Court, Commercial Division on November 16, 2020 involving two former business associates. The Writ does not name me as a Defendant but makes several allegations in its Statement of Claim that are categorically false.
“I deny these false claims. I am appalled that my standing as a public servant made calling my name in this dispute between my former business partners worthwhile. There is no room for that kind of misuse of our judicial system in our society. I am confident that the facts will defend my integrity once presented.
“My record of transparency and accountability in my private and public life is a matter of record and reputation. My focus remains on further deepening our democracy by enacting legislation to reform and modernize the management of our economy and public finances as we work through this very challenging period in our country,” said Turnquest.
The defendants listed on the Writ in question are Randy Butler, Sky Bahamas Airlines Limited and Aviation Oversight Group Limited. The plaintiffs in the claim, Alpha Aviation Limited and Advanced Aviation Limited allege that the defendants defrauded their companies in over $20 million.