Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie yesterday defended his recent recommendation to a Chinese delegation that China should consider developing the southern Bahamas.
“I wasn’t begging the Chinese for anything, and I never suggested that we were turning over the Southeast Bahamas or any part of The Bahamas to the Chinese,” Moultrie told The Nassau Guardian.
“I simply said – in the presence of the Chinese – that our focus, I believe, should be looking at opportunities to develop the Southeast Bahamas.”
Last week, Moultrie told The Tribune that he recommended to a delegation from the People’s Republic of China that the country consider developing the southern Bahamas.
The delegation paid a courtesy call on Moultrie at the Senate.
Moultrie told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that China is an important ally for The Bahamas, and his comments were based on his personal views.
“I was simply stating my personal views, and I still maintain my personal views,” Moultrie said.
He added, “The statement that I made was not portrayed the way it was said or intended.
“What was simply said was that, as a person who hails from Great Inagua, I personally believe, and I made it clear…that those were my personal views and convictions with respect to development of the Southeast Bahamas.
“I believed, and I still do believe that some initiative should be taken to develop the Southeast Bahamas.
Moultrie said he suggested a deepwater harbor in the region, as well as the building of a detention center and prison.
“In my view, most of our difficulties as it relates to poaching and illegal immigration comes through the gateway to The Bahamas from the south,” he said.
“And I was simply making that position known. I stated clearly that it was not the government’s position or the government’s policy. I am the speaker of the House of Assembly. I head the legislative branch of the government, not the executive branch, and the prime minister was right when he said that I did not speak for the executive branch. I spoke as the speaker of the House of Assembly and I gave my personal views.”
His comments came in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian which decimated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama earlier this month. The category 5 storm left at least 53 dead.
International aid, officials said, has been instrumental in the search and recovery phase.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has said the United States cannot allow China to exploit the recovery and rebuilding of The Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian for its own nefarious purposes and gain “a foothold just 50 miles from the coast of Florida”.
But Embassy of The People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas spokesman Haigang Yin said China is not trying to compete with any other country in its relief efforts to The Bahamas.