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McAlpine appeals for compassion after Haiti earthquake

Frederick McAlpine.

Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine said yesterday he too believes that Bahamians should always be a priority for their government, but added this does not take away from the need for national leaders to be compassionate after other countries are impacted by disasters.

“I think the prime minister could’ve been a little bit more diplomatic in what he said at the time and the time in which he said it,” said McAlpine, referring to statements made by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis about a recent earthquake in Haiti.

McAlpine said even if The Bahamas was not financially able to help Haiti, it should still be “sympathetic to their plight and be cautious [about] what we say and how we say it”.

On Monday, Minnis was asked if the government intends to give aid to Haiti, similar to the help his administration gave to Dominica following the passage of Hurricane Maria last year.

Minnis said, “At this point in time, I am looking at moving The Bahamas forward; Bahamas first.”

McAlpine said he agreed with Minnis’ notion of “Bahamas first” to an extent.

“Bahamians should always be first, but even though Bahamians are first we should not be devoid of having compassion for others and sometimes as leaders we need to [be cautious] what we say…” McAlpine said.

“We still have to be diplomatic in what we say, especially when we hold high office in the country.”

After Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica last year, McAlpine strongly objected to the government’s decision to loosen its immigration rules and accept students and other Dominicans with families in The Bahamas.

Speaking in Parliament, he questioned whether the Dominicans would be “in a hurry” to return home after experiencing the Bahamian standard of living.

He also questioned the whereabouts of the 100 Haitians who were released from the detention center under the Ingraham administration after an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010.

Minnis, meanwhile, appealed for compassion for the Dominicans when he addressed Parliament last year.

Speaking about the Haiti earthquake, the prime minister told reporters on Monday that criminals were on the loose from a prison compromised by the earthquake and he feared they were headed to The Bahamas.

“We don’t know whether they are murders, we don’t know what type of crime they have committed, but it’s a serious matter and we must assume that they have done the most heinous crime and we must look out for our borders, and I again ask all Bahamians to be very vigilant because they could have a devastating effect on our country,” he said.

“There is a possibility that criminals may have been released and are traveling toward our shores.”

Minnis spoke about the need to recruit more immigration officers and said he wanted a special force to deal specifically with illegal immigration.

Speaking to these points, he said, “I don’t think that we should increase something because of an earthquake or hurricane or any catastrophic [event]. I think we should implement these things for the betterment of the Bahamian populace and to make sure that the migration does not override the nationality of the country. You would not want to have more immigrants in your country than persons who are citizens of your country.”

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