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By Pierre V. L. Dupuch

31 October 2020

I have watched the Free Press die. Michelle Malcolm, a dedicated, honest, and conscientious journalist, was fired and her very popular show cancelled, and not a word of support from her fellow journalists!!!

What a shame.

A citizen of The Bahamas asked to be on her show to discuss the rather questionable goings-on in Andros. She consented. The guest was Mr. Lincoln Bain. He spoke of the Symonettes and the aragonite being mined in Andros.

Apparently, he made some serious claims. He said he had documents to prove his allegations. As a good journalist should, Ms. Malcolm asked many questions. They were interesting but she said nothing that I had not heard on the street and read on social media.

I understood that mining had already started there, and also that oil drilling had started. I questioned this because, as far as I knew, the Government hadn’t signed an agreement.

So when he said that he had documents to prove what he was saying, I assumed that somebody would question it and examine the documents. If true, the Symonettes would possibly be in serious trouble. If the Prime Minister, with his authority as “Competent Authority”, had signed these documents without the consent of anyone, he could possibly be in serious trouble with the people.

All I could get from some people was “Mr. Bain ain’t credible and, therefore, what he said ain’t true.”

This baffles me and reminded me of my Uncle (Eugene Dupuch whose name is on the Bahamian Law School) who was known to say: “Even a prostitute can be raped”. In other words, if there are documents, no matter who gave them to you, they should be thoroughly examined and appropriate action should be taken.

But, rather than doing what reason demands, Michelle Malcolm was fired. The other journalists, fearing that they too would be fired, ran for cover, and the Free Press died.

I was disturbed by this and called Michelle Malcolm. Here is what Ms. Malcolm said happened.

Ms. Malcolm was asked by Mr. Bain if he could be on her show. She agreed. During the show Mr. Bain made some alarming statements which involved the Symonettes and their project in Andros. She reacted as any host would do to some of the statements made by Mr. Bain.

Following is the story of what happened as told by Michelle Malcolm in her own words: “Shortly after Mr. Bain’s appearance, I was contacted by a well-known personality who had forwarded a video clip of Mr. Bain’s appearance on my show, which had gone viral on social media.

Referring to the contents of the video, he questioned whether everything that someone is not a part of should be considered a swindle, and then questioned how does the country benefit from the resources if no one can mine it?

I then said to him that the country was not benefiting from it now, so what was his point? He then suggested that there were three options: either let a foreigner do the mining, let the government do it, or let a Bahamian group do it, and he opined that the best option would be a Bahamian group because no one wants a foreigner doing it and we would not wish for the government to do it as that would be disastrous.

He then sought to discredit Mr. Bain’s assertions on the show about the value of aragonite by sending me a link to showing aragonite prices. He went on further to say that some of the information presented by Mr. Bain was incorrect, that he had seen the Andros proposal, and that he had revelations that could completely undermine Mr. Bain’s position.

I then asked if, seeing that he had the ear of the stakeholders, he could speak to them about appearing on my show to present their position. He responded that they would like to talk to me about their appearance in the future.

I said I would get back to him with a possible date. A few days later I advised that I could accommodate the stakeholders on the Thursday following.

He then informed me that there were restrictions preventing the stakeholders from appearing on my show at that time because the proposal was not yet public.

I questioned how, if that were the case, an article appeared in the Tribune regarding the Andros project on the very day that Mr. Bain appeared on my show. The well-known personality then stated that he could confirm that none of the stakeholders had spoken to the Tribune, and they believe information may have been leaked out of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Two days later I got a call from a fellow journalist at The Guardian who questioned what I and Mr. Bain had said on the show, as complaints had been received that one or both of them had made defamatory statements about the Symonettes, and there was talk of possible legal action.

I denied making any defamatory statements and suggested the fellow journalist listen to the show for himself to confirm exactly what was said.

I was then contacted by another talk show host who too had been contacted and questioned about Mr. Bain’s appearance on her show several days before his appearance on my show to discuss the same topic, namely the Symonettes and their project in Andros.

Later the same day, I was contacted by another colleague who suggested that perhaps I should consider offering the Symonettes equal time on my show to appease them. I advised him that I had already extended that invitation through the well-known personality, but the invitation was declined at this time. The colleague seemed surprised at this and said he would get back to me.

The following morning, I received a call saying that a decision had been made to play a repeat show for that day. I was advised that a high level meeting was taking place with the complainants and the station’s owners regarding possible legal action.

A few hours later, I received a second call saying that a decision had been made to “drop the hammer” on me, and an e-mail had been sent advising me that my show was cancelled with “immediate effect.”

I do not know who the complainants and or their representatives were but I am sure that Mr. Cameron Symonette and Mr. Manny Alexiou could inform the public who the representatives were.

Michelle Malcolm got fired for doing her job? After all, Mr. Bain had appeared on another show at Guardian Radio to discuss the same matter and the show is still on. Also Ms. Malcolm offered to give the Symonettes equal time to discuss what Mr. Bain had said.

Power money?? Fire one and scare the others into submission? Interesting.

The country has lost, not Ms. Malcolm.

And now I have a few questions. In the last press conference about the COVID-19 virus, the Prime Minister emphatically said that the “Competent Authority”, namely Dr. Minnis himself, always confers with the Cabinet and he was only doing what they had voted on. That’s odd. The Constitution says that is what the Prime Minister is supposed to do. So why the need for a “Competent Authority?”

“Emergency Orders” gives the “Competent Authority” the power to make agreements and decisions independently of the Cabinet. Is the Prime Minister using this authority to made OTHER agreements, such as the mining in Andros?

After all, if the Prime Minister consults the Cabinet and follows their directions on matters pertaining to COVID-19, why are “Emergency Orders” needed?

Curious to say the least.

Mr. Bain, in his presentation on Ms. Malcolm’s show, made some serious charges. Why hasn’t somebody looked at the evidence? Why are they just dismissing it?

I understand that the Symonettes are mining in Andros. Is that true? If so, have they gotten permission? Who gave them permission and what are the terms?

Come on Press, are you too chicken to insist on an answer?

Would it not be simple to fly over Andros and take pictures? Or do you believe that the Bahamian people are stupid?

It would seem that the descendants of the Bay Street Boys, with a little pepper thrown in, are up to their old tricks again.

And now, in conclusion, let me say this. It was in the evening of January 23rd, 1956, the Bay Street Boys had gone too far and the folks were restless.

Etienne Dupuch (Sir) stood in the House of Assembly and moved the Resolution that ended racial discrimination in The Bahamas. The Bay Street Boys arrogantly voted it down.

The Speaker told him to sit down. He refused. The Speaker ordered the Police to arrest him. They refused. There was pandemonium. The House quickly adjourned.

There were thousands of people there. They had had enough. They had blood in their eyes. They were about to riot.

Sir Etienne Dupuch got on a car roof and spoke to the people. He told them to go home, cool off and not to get themselves into trouble. Had he not done this there would have been bloodshed. He stopped it.

Sir Etienne Dupuch is dead. There will be nobody to stand between the new group and the roaring crowd.

The people have had enough. Don’t push your luck.