By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
TALL Pines MP Leslie Miller stood by Dr Andre Rollins yesterday, emphasising that the Fort Charlotte MP has “valuable contributions to make to the people of the Bahamas” as speculation rages about his political future in the Progressive Liberal Party following his criticism of the Christie administration last week.
Among others, Mr Miller’s position is at odds with that of State Minister for National Security Keith Bell who on Friday urged Dr Rollins to resign from the PLP and vacate his seat in the House so it could be recontested by the junior minister.
Mr Miller said: “The PLP never forces people to leave. No one is ever really expelled. And Dr Rollins is already fierce in his statements. If you expel him you would give him even greater reason to speak out against the administration. What has to happen now is we need to take a deep breath. I read remarks by Keith Bell who said (Dr Rollins) should be fired and resign his seat. In the real world no member has ever resigned because they had falling out with the party.
“They go independent or they join another party but there’s no such thing as a person resigning from their seat only to immediately contest it again.”
Both the Free National Movement and the Democratic National Alliance have said they would be open to Dr Rollins joining their respective parties.
Referring to Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis’ decision to fire Dr Rollins from his position as chairman of the Gaming Board on Friday, Mr Miller said: “When you do certain things, people perceive what you do as a threat to their political future and retaliate in kind.”
Last week in the House of Assembly, Dr Rollins lashed out at Prime Minister Perry Christie. He said the fact that the nation’s chief used the debate on value added tax in the House to “threaten” younger MPs who have dissenting views from the government is proof that the country needs new leadership.
Dr Rollins also said he was tired of hearing the prime minister quote the same scripture in the House and that when he wants to hear a sermon, he goes to church.
In addition he joined in with calls from the FNM for the Christie administration to exercise transparency when it comes to Renew Bahamas and the process associated with the remediation of the New Providence landfill. He said that if the PLP truly believes in Bahamians, as it stated in its popular campaign slogan, the government would release all the details surrounding the deal with Renew Bahamas.
The comments about Mr Christie prompted Mr Davis, acting prime minister, to call on Dr Rollins to “do the honourable thing.” He said Dr Rollins could meet with him the next day when it was expected he would resign as chairman of the Gaming Board. However, the Fort Charlotte MP did not resign on Thursday and was fired from as chairman the next day by Mr Davis, days before his appointment as chairman was expected to expire on August 31.
Dr Rollins’ criticism of Mr Christie has attracted mixed reaction. Some have praised him for his bold stance, while others have branded his comments irresponsible and vicious.
His statements during the value added tax (VAT) debate have further distanced him from colleagues in the PLP who were already annoyed by his criticism of the government’s four proposed constitutional referendum Bills.
Mr Miller, talking about what inspired Dr Rollins’ criticism of the Christie administration, painted the parliamentarian as one with little to lose as he grapples with the possibility of not being offered as a candidate by the PLP to contest the Fort Charlotte seat at the next general election.
“There is a 90 per cent chance former Fort Charlotte MP Alfred Sears, who continues to be popular among Fort Charlotte constituents, will return to frontline politics ahead of the next general election to contest the seat on behalf of the PLP,” Mr Miller said.
“So Dr Rollins will continue to be fierce in his contributions. He resigned as party whip. He’s been fired as chairman of the Gaming Board. There’s nothing else the party could take from him.”
Dr Rollins resigned as PLP whip last week Monday after differences with the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bills.