PLP On The Defensive
Fearing that its record as a government has become distorted, the Progressive Liberal Party has launched a comprehensive public relations initiative to correct what it feels could be a damaging perception.
"I believe that once people look at the facts and once people have the benefit of having access to the facts and they review those facts with an objective mind, they will come to the conclusion that this is perhaps the fastest starting government in the history of The Bahamas," said Raynard Rigby, the party's national chairman.
That was a claim Free National Movement leader Senator Tommy Turnquest would probably find laughable.
"This really is a do-nothing government," Mr. Turnquest declared Tuesday, while speaking with the Bahama Journal.
The PLP will take a ministry-by-ministry approach to the advertising campaign, Mr. Rigby said.
"I think the way you judge [whether we are the fastest starting government] is by looking at the first 23 months of this PLP government and by looking at the first 23 months of the FNM government.
“If you do that comparative analysis, we believe that the evidence is overwhelming, is compelling that this PLP government is much further ahead after 23 months in government, than the FNM was," he said.
Mr. Rigby said that the government is not facing a PR crisis as it carries out a "very responsible" campaign. Once again he asserted that all is well with the governing PLP.
But Mr. Turnquest thinks otherwise.
He said the PLP "is obviously running, trying to counteract the prevailing feeling in this country, but they need to do it with factual information."
"I think the Bahamian people have been disappointed with their performance," he added.
Already, the PLP has started running radio ads informing listeners that it has constructed more than 500 houses since it came to office on May 2, 2002. The ad says this compares to the more than 700 houses it claims the FNM constructed in 10 years.
"If [Housing Minister Shane Gibson] continues, in our first term, it is likely we would have built by far more houses than the FNM built in 10 years," Mr. Rigby said.
"If the minister can build all of those houses, it tells us he must be doing something. He's not sitting at his desk twiddling his thumbs. He's working for the Bahamian people."
But Mr. Turnquest found it "curious" that the government has chosen to start the campaign by focusing on its successes in housing.
"We intend to answer them in great detail," he said, revealing that his party plans to hold a rally at the R.M. Bailey Park on May 3. It is the same night the prime minister has set aside for his second forum with the media to answer questions on national television.
Mr. Turnquest believes the government has a long way to go to change the negative perception held by some Bahamians.
"It is very clear to me and to thousands of Bahamians that the government is losing support and that people are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the PLP government," he said. "They are not satisfied that sufficient attention and focus is being paid to governance.
"The PLP is now trying to counteract these claims by putting on advertisements and while that is good for radio stations and newspapers...that doesn't explain away their inactivity in terms of what they are doing."
Only two days ago, Prime Minister Perry Christie made a move of his own to set the record straight.
While speaking at the opening of the Golden Sun Development, a new housing project near Golden Gates, he dismissed what he called "little silly distractions" being put forth by "silly people."
Mr. Turnquest said he was disappointed by that comment.
"He must not use intemperate language when talking about Bahamians," Mr. Turnquest said. "Bahamians have a right to criticize particularly when his government is doing nothing."