May 20, 2020
Please permit me space to offer a few comments on the creation of this legal creature called the “competent authority”.
This commentary will not focus on the many inconsistent and arbitrary decisions made by the competent authority as to what businesses or islands can resume normal activities or when individuals may leave their homes and where they may go.
I think we are all satisfied that there is no method to this madness and much has been said publicly about the inconsistencies.
I, at this time, will devote my efforts to bringing these emergency orders to an end and to encourage others to lobby their parliamentary representatives not to support any further extension of these orders.
Unfortunately, my parliamentary representative is the competent authority so my task is likely to be much more difficult than the rest of you.
Through legislation, the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Order 2020 was passed.
In summary, the public was told that these emergency powers were being enacted to address and prevent a possible health crisis in the healthcare system which can possibly be brought about by the spread of the coronavirus, should it not be contained.
They were to address matters that threatened public health and safety. No more! No less!
Under the orders, the rule and administration of the country was placed under the control of a person called the competent authority; the majority side in Parliament, in their infinite wisdom, decided that it was acceptable to repose the powers of this authority in the hands of one man.
Even in the most diseased democracy, this should not have been allowed to happen without public outcry.
But this is The Bahamas, where we have been programmed to be quiet and submissive, even when our rights are abused or are put in jeopardy of being trampled upon.
This submissiveness was encouraged and supported by the masses so that we don’t frighten away the sacred tourist and foreign investor, upon whose dollar we have become severely reliant.
Notwithstanding this diseased arrangement constructed under the competent authority, Bahamians for the most part, given the public health concerns at the time, particularly in the early stage of the pandemic, cooperated with this undemocratic construct and complied with the imposed irrational curfews and lockdowns.
With some degree of unpleasantness and apprehension, I, too, gave my support, but at some point I suspected that this competent authority could and would wear out his welcome, especially given that he is accountable to no one on earth.
With the continued arbitrary decisions being made with respect to which islands are to remain under curfew and lockdown, and with no justification given for such, the competent authority appears to have become uncontrollable with his ill-advised and misplaced power.
The competent authority is answerable to no one, and not for one minute does he let you forget it.
The same degree of unpredictability can be observed with the decisions being made in respect to movement of individuals and the operation of businesses on New Providence.
The competent authority speaks to us, his subjects, only on Sundays, and only for the purpose of telling us where and when, in the upcoming week, we may leave our homes or yard. He takes no questions at these so-called “public addresses”.
For businesses, he alone decides which of them can open and when. When he does decide on who can open, there is no rhyme or reason to his selection. But, if you observe carefully and closely, the competent authority will not disadvantage or disrupt a certain group of merchants.
Arawak Cay, Montagu and Potter’s Cay, I don’t hear you screaming!
Bahamians, we ought not so casually allow ourselves to become accustomed or to accept these irrational and arbitrary curfews and lockdowns without some account. This is the fodder for the making of a dictatorial state.
It is not acceptable that one man should be placed in a position to tell Bahamians that they cannot leave their premises or take a walk in their neighborhood, and that the only words uttered for making such a decision are “on the advice of my health professionals” or “I know these measures are painful, but they are being taken by other countries around the world including the United States”.
I guess that is sufficient reason for us to accept being governed in this fashion.
I ask the competent authority and or the “health professionals”, to tell me how it is safe for me to take a walk in my neighborhood in the morning on weekends, but not in the evening? Does the virus only travel or does so more easily in the late hours?
Bahamians, we should not allow this state of affairs to exist beyond May 30, 2020.
As I have indicated in previous public writings, Bahamians are too passive and this passivity is now approaching a dangerous level of intellectual laziness and is threatening our personal freedom and the Rule of Law in The Bahamas.
It is disappointing that the majority members in our Parliament supported such a bill which reposed the sole decision making powers in the hands of one man during this pandemic.
I trust that members of Parliament on both sides will see the need to bring this one-man rule regime to an end on May 30, 2020.
Even if there is a spike in new coronavirus cases, and there may be a public health-related need to warrant some continuation of some restrictions on our personal movements, the least we can do is to make sure we put an accountable body of individuals (not all FNM supporters) and measures in place so that we don’t have a continuation of illogical curfews and lockdowns that needlessly disrupt our personal freedoms.
— Claude B. Hanna