Thursday, December 12, 2019
- Yes 47%
- No 53%
213 total votes.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
GOLDEN Isles MP Vaughn Miller resigned from the Free National Movement in the House of Assembly yesterday, joining Centreville MP Reece Chipman as the second parliamentarian to leave the party this year after being elected on an FNM wave in 2017.
Mr Miller has repeatedly assailed the Minnis administration’s legislative agenda and he announced his departure before a confidence motion in Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis passed yesterday.
“Two cannot walk together except they be agreed,” he said. “Our differences are irreconcilable. The FNM will not repent, and I shall not recant. Therefore, I am requesting as of the next sitting of the House of Assembly, I am seated among the independents.”
In resigning, Mr Miller backed opposition leader Philip “Brave” Davis’ view of the circumstances surrounding the lease of the Town Centre Mall to house the General Post Office, saying the Minnis administration misled Parliament when it tabled and passed a resolution last year that said St Anne’s MP Brent Symonette was not involved in discussions and negotiations over renting the mall when he was minister of immigration and financial services.
Mr Miller voted against that resolution last year, drawing the ire of FNMs everywhere, he said.
“Many of my FNM colleagues reviled me,” Mr Miller said. “Many FNMs, near and far, persecuted me and spoke and plotted all manner of evil against me. It was said that I was finished politically; that I would not win the party’s nomination in 2022. But the party itself, losing support at an alarming rate, and on this current trajectory, is headed for a crushing defeat in 2022. It was said that I would be destroyed by the party, but the party itself, if it continues on its present path, is on the path of self-destruction.”
After resigning from Cabinet in July, Mr Symonette, who is part owner of the Town Centre Mall, revealed Dr Minnis called him to discuss the government’s plans to rent the mall before that resolution was brought to Parliament.
Mr Miller said: “I did not need the member for St Anne’s to disclose months later that he was indeed involved in intimate discussions with the prime minister regarding the lease. All he did was to confirm that it was indeed a corrupt deal, from the moment of its conception. And he knew it instinctively, for one moment, and then he was internally overpowered.
“Guided by the Holy Spirit, I struck out at the lease agreement, totally unaware at the time, like many others, that there were misleading assertions in the resolution; and I dealt a mortal blow. When it dawned on me what was happening, naturally, I mutinied, I rebelled!
“Why would a prime minister conspire with a Cabinet minister to mislead the House? In the Westminster system, which was involved against me, what is the custom regarding misleading the House? Why should a prime minister not be smartly punished for misleading the House? The bad example set for the younger generations is that nothing is wrong with misleading people, so long as it achieves the desired results and so long as one is not caught.”
Signs of Mr Miller’s discontent with his party first appeared in March, 2018 during the mid-year budget debate. He said at the time that there appeared to be a disconnect between the Minnis administration and Bahamians.
“They are not feeling us,” he said.
Later that year he voted against the increase in value added tax to 12 percent and was subsequently fired as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Social Services. His criticisms of the administration since then have only grown harsher.
Yesterday he said being a political martyr––“one who suffers political death for standing up for righteousness”––is the greatest honour he could receive.
“If I am to be forcibly removed from the political stage, the record shows that I took my stand, instinctively, for righteous governance,” he said. “Based on the rhetoric of my colleagues before and during the election campaign of 2017, rhetoric that spoke to integrity, honesty and transparency and other lofty and noble ideals, I was convinced that we were on a glorious road to a golden age: no more corruption, no more untendered contracts, no more victimisation and persecution, no more favouritism, no more neglecting the poor. I recognised that integrity was being desecrated, but I will forever praise integrity and despise corruption.”