Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine said yesterday that it was “unfortunate, and disappointing” that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis accused him of wanting the people of Grand Bahama to suffer, and said while he does not take the “attack” personally, he will continue to speak up for the people of Grand Bahama, whom he wants the best for, and the people of The Bahamas.
McAlpine said it would be “far more impressive” if the prime minister came and spoke to Grand Bahamians, as oppose to Crooked Islanders, about the purchase of the resort and the government’s plans moving forward.
He said the citizenry of the Grand Bahama should know how the government plans to operate the resort until it is sold and what the contingency plan is in the event the resort is not sold in the projected timeframe – three to six months.
“It is unfortunate that my leader of my party and the prime minister of The Bahamas under whose government I serve the people of Pineridge, has expressed to the people of Crooked Island, and not Grand Bahama, that I wish for them to suffer or that I want the people of Grand Bahama to suffer,” he said.
“First of all, you cannot want for people what is their present reality.
“Grand Bahama has been suffering for the past 15-plus years.
“It is unfortunate that [in] the last year and five months, that suffering has widened under our governance.”
He continued, “I don’t just talk about Grand Bahama. I reside on the island with the people and only wish to see the progress and revitalization of the island’s economy.”
On Thursday, Minnis accused McAlpine of “wanting the entire Grand Bahama to suffer” as he defended the government’s decision to purchase the Grand Lucayan resort.
Parliament passed a resolution two weeks ago to borrow $35 million from Hutchison Lucaya Limited and Bahama Reef Limited to facilitate the purchase of the resort for $65 million, with $30 million paid up-front.
The sale was executed on September 11.
Yesterday, McAlpine said while the people of Grand Bahama voted for “better and relief”, unemployment remains staggeringly high on the island; the people are socially and morally depressed and the economy remains in the doldrums.
Before the sale was formalized, McAlpine expressed “grave concern” over the purchase, saying government should not be in the hotel business.
He said it may be “a good political move”, but “economically, I think it’s a bad move”.
But Minnis told residents in Crooked Island on Thursday there are around six entities which have expressed interest in buying the resort.
He said the government made a commitment to “get out of that as soon as possible”.
While maintaining that the purchase of the Grand Lucaya resort was not the best economical idea, McAlpine said yesterday that he, like most Bahamians, have accepted the government is moving ahead with the purchase and has heard the government’s plan to sell the resort in earnest.
But he said he now wants the government to “produce and perform”.
McAlpine said he will continue to represent and speak up for the people of Grand Bahama and all Bahamians.
He said people must recognize that with 35 FNM members in the House of Assembly, that “could be intoxicating power [and] somebody has to be the balance”.
He said, “That’s all I’m trying to do, be the voice of the people and the conscience of the people while serving in governance.”
Asked whether he viewed Minnis’ statement as an attack, McAlpine said, “I guess I have become immune to this kind of thing in politics now.
“I did feel attacked; perhaps a little disappointed.
“But at the end of the day, I guess this is politics in The Bahamas and one must have, I guess, the back of a turtle in order to deal with the things that we confront from day to day from a political perspective.”
However, the Pineridge MP said he has no bitterness toward any of his colleagues, particularly the prime minister, whom he still respects.
“This is about the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he said.
“So, I can’t take that personally.
“I consider being in Parliament as ministry.
“And so, I am about trying to help people and improving the lives of people.
“And so, they shouldn’t take it personal.
“As I often say, the House is not their house.
“The money we spend is not their money. It is the people’s own.
“And so, we should remember every task and every turn.
“I hope they don’t have me in because I certainly don’t have any of my colleagues in.”
McAlpine, who has been outspoken on a number of critical government decisions, said he remains at the disposal of the prime minister and is prepared to speak to him about any matter.
“I am a biblical man,” he said.
“You don’t go in the presence of the king unless he sends for you.
“So, if the prime minister sends for me, I am always willing and able to speak to the prime minister on any issue, on any matter as it relates to the people of Grand Bahama or the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
Asked about his relationship with the prime minister, McAlpine said he and Minnis exchange pleasantries often at Parliament and he will continue to remain “respectful”.
In response to whether the prime minister’s statement could affect his relationship with the FNM, McAlpine said he is a member of the party “unless they see fit to do otherwise with me”.
“Presently, I am a member of the Free National Movement and the party and I have not fallen out, you know,” he said.
“There might be some people in the party who may have a different perspective or view of me, but the party and I have not fallen out.
“As a matter of fact, I have always been a party man.”