Debate about Debates

Dear Editor,

I hear all kind of noise about debates between political leaders in the country. Once again, much of it is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” UB Professor Nicolette Bethel has now weighed in with her two cents. 

She has reportedly criticized the FNM, seemingly claiming that the party has no confidence in the only university in the country, re: political debates at the institution. This is a false and overblown claim not even worthy of a freshman in university. 

It is not worthy of an academic at the institution. Indeed, FNMs have participated in previous forums at the institution.

The FNM has called for a properly developed debate process and structure, similar to other countries such as Jamaica and Canada. 

The process currently proposed would be unfair to other media houses because only one media house would be involved. One would have thought that an academic would be interested in a fair process.

As an FNM press release stated: “Any debate process should ensure both the dignity and fairness of any electoral debates, as well as providing a level playing field to each and every media house, so as to ensure a high quality and informative series of debates for the benefit of every Bahamian. …”

Further, Dr. Bethel cannot have it both ways. 

The fact that Dr. Bethel appeared to have little confidence in our parliamentary system or the ability of the Bahamian people in the electoral process tells us more about her than about our democracy. Indeed, it speaks volumes. 

By seemingly throwing shade against the FNM, Dr. Bethel appears to have a very partisan and narrow agenda, something that past presidents of COB and UB would never have done publicly.

Given her track record and statements on the political process, many Bahamians do not have confidence in Dr. Bethel’s judgement or understanding of how our political system works.

It is unfortunate that an individual with her seniority has not learned more about our system of government. Indeed, what speaks volumes is that after so many years and her failure to appreciate our system and the hard-won right to vote, she continues to offer poorly thought out opinions, I submit.

The FNM noted in its press release: “Upon closer scrutiny of documentation and written proposals submitted by the proposers of the debate, a number of critical defects in the proposed format of debates were identified by the FNM Campaign Committee. …

“Secondly, upon review of the practices both in our Caribbean region and in Canada and the United Kingdom, it also became clear that the proposed format of the debates was a great departure from the standards set in other jurisdictions, each of which hails from the Westminster system.”

Given her past statements and seemingly little knowledge of our system, it is not surprising that Dr. Bethel continues to make the same errors of judgement.

UB remains free to hold town hall meetings during the political cycle, which various candidates are free to attend as they have in the past. One hopes that they will be moderated by fair and balanced individuals at the university.

Bahamians might have more confidence in certain UB professors if their public statements made were more rational arguments in the public domain.

Some of the professors at UB need to up their game and to offer the country more rigorous intellectual insight and formats for public debates based on international best practices and standards.

Dr. Bethel spoke about how actions speak louder than words. So true. The PLP once talked about doubling the national investment in education and training. They did not honor those words.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis significantly increased tuition-free access to tertiary education for young Bahamians at UB and BTVI, a big vote of confidence in young Bahamians and in the university and BTVI.

~ K.C.B.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This