Letters to the Editor

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Look to Paget Island

December 31, 2010

Dear Sir,

I read with interest the assumption that White’s Island may be turned into a juvenile correction centre, and wish to remind the public of the excellent facility that once flourished on Paget Island. Many will remember the leadership of Tony Muirhead, who literally turned many young potential criminals into law abiding citizens. He was much loved, and with his gentle but firm touch reached out to many disturbed young people and literally turned their lives around.

Unfortunately, this facility closed when Tony retired years ago, but if someone of the same strong personality and commitment could be found to run the place again, why not make Paget Island once again a place for young offenders to go?

White’s Island is not suitable for such a project as it is far too close to Hamilton, and it would be a shame to put an end to the sailing classes etc. which are so important to Bermudians as we are a sea faring country.

Since Paget Island was once such a huge success, and if such a project is being considered, I strongly suggest that Paget Island be considered as a serious alternative.

E. RABEN

Paget

A bus driver’s attitude

December 30, 2010

Dear Sir,

I believe the situation I encountered on public transport is absolutely disgusting. I attempted to board the #7 Dockyard to Hamilton bus today. I boarded and politely greeted the bus driver “Good afternoon, sir”. Without greeting me the bus driver said: “Where is your pass.” I responded: “Sorry sir, I don’t have my pass.” He said: “Well you cannot ride the bus.” I responded by saying: “Can I pay?” He reiterated his past statement and stated “You can’t ride.”

I then just got off of the bus to avoid any confusion. I was very astounded and disappointed in the bus driver for not letting me ride the bus because I didn’t have my pass, even though I offered to pay the fare.

Not to mention that I was at the bus stop across from the Boaz Island gas station so I had to wait approximately 20 minutes for a bus in the cold and wind. I am absolutely disgusted in the way the bus driver treated me, especially because he knew that I would have to wait 20 minutes in the cold for another bus. However in light of this situation I have learned that I must always carry my pass, especially on days in which there are not school because not all bus drivers are kind and have leniency.

ERON HILL

Southampton

Recognising gays and lesbians

To the Editor:

As Caricom citizens, we are proud that a majority of Caribbean nations stood up in the United Nations General Assembly on December 22 and voted together, in the words of the Rwanda delegation, to “recognise that … people (of different sexual orientation) continue to be the target of murder in many of our societies, and they are more at risk than many … other groups”.

Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada and St. Kitts-Nevis joined 85 other nations in voting to specifically mention sexual orientation, in a biennial UN resolution, as one ground of vulnerability for being murdered or executed unlawfully for who you are.

All but one of our Caribbean governments had opposed an effort in committee by a bloc of Arab, African and Islamic nations, several of which execute gays and lesbians or would like to, to remove the reference. We appreciate their responsiveness, with the notable exception of Trinidad & Tobago, to our reasoned appeals. We salute the foreign ministries of Belize and Jamaica who communicated with gay and lesbian voters about their December vote, a welcome measure of accountability and transparency in our foreign policy.

On the other hand, the St. Lucia delegation seems not to have listened to their Prime Minister’s pledge in Parliament this April to “stand against stigma and discrimination in all its forms” and “guarantee non discrimination against persons on the basis of sexual orientation”. St. Lucia stood apart from Caricom in voting no.

We in the Caribbean have lived largely free of the levels of violence experienced by postcolonial nations like Rwanda. But we continue to harbour a colonial mentality that some groups are more worthy than others; and homophobic killings are a reality in several places in the region. We hope that, without the need for atrocity to teach us this lesson, our governments will mature in their understanding that everyone has an essential right to equality and protection because they are human. The vote is a hopeful sign that in 2011 Caribbean governments may get serious about their commitments to these rights at home.

Dr Marcus Day & Kenita Placide, St. Lucia

Ashily Dior & Brendon O’Brien, Trinidad and Tobago

Vidyaratha Kissoon, Guyana

Nigel Mathlin, Grenada

Caleb Orozco, Belize

Daryl Phillip, Dominica

Victor Rollins, Bahamas

Maurice Tomlinson, Jamaica

Dollars over family

December 30, 2010

Dear Sir,

I find it so upsetting to see that the New Year’s Resolution Vote in The Royal Gazette is 37 percent towards persons wanting to “save more” compared to a mere seven percent for persons wanting to “spend more time with family”. I guess this is why families in Bermuda are in such conflict with each other. You can’t put a dollar amount on family.

MARION SCAIFE

Warwick

Obstacle is party politics

December 31, 2010

Dear Sir,

Walton Brown ends his analysis on “A Pivotal Political Year” (Royal Gazette, December 29) with the comment that political parties are the vehicles for taking us along the quest for “democracy” and “our collective quest for ‘the good life”.

However, his analysis and even casual observation of the implementation of party politics in Bermuda, with their political hierarchy which in many ways demeans the majority of us, confirms my own conclusion that it is party politics which is the obstacle that stands in the way of our moving towards true “democracy”. There are many ways in which it is the obstacle but let us begin with the most obvious. The PLP is proud of its achievement of “every vote of equal value”. However the MPs for which we vote do not have equal value! They do not have equal responsibility, nor do they make equal contribution. They do not receive an equal salary, nor do they have equal status. Clearly the votes which put them in Parliament do not have equal value!

Mr Brown emphasises the importance of the “middle class” in order for a party to achieve power but it is not the “middle class” that has felt so excluded from the economy and so alienated that they have created a flourishing “alternative economy” which has resulted in the current violence.

In fact, despite Mr Brown’s dismissive comments on the “banality of racial rhetoric” and his contention that the black middle class is not persuaded by it, the fact is that race, even if not the rhetoric, has determined not only that large “segments of the white voters” vote for the UBP but it determines the continuing economic disparity which existed in 1834 when the black slaves were (partially) emancipated and has been deliberately imposed since. Some in the black middle class do ignore the rhetoric because it makes them more acceptable to those whites in the community who have no intention of ignoring race. In fact the PLP itself has not only ignored the rhetoric but they have ignored the reality of race and the economic disparity which has continued from its inevitability in 1834 when whites owned it all and the newly emancipated black slaves owned nothing.

Mr Brown’s emphasis on the importance of the middle class in achieving power underscores that the goal of achieving power is different from the democratic goal of achieving a more just society. The disadvantaged black working class and those on the margins of society are of equal value and as important in achieving a more just society as is the middle class. Since party politics are primarily concerned with power rather than justice, it is clearly an obstacle to democracy.

Despite the “banality of racial rhetoric” our political parties are sufficiently race-based that the PLP could remain in power indefinitely and therefore could continue to ignore the economic disparity and those blacks who continue to feel the impact of centuries of economic exclusion and exploitation and we could continue to experience the consequences in violence and gun play.

The tragedy for the black community is that we achieved public desegregation and the right for all to vote without party politics and we could undoubtedly have addressed the economic disparity but we chose party politics instead. The “party” became the focus for our political energy rather than justice for all the people which would have meant early attention to the economic disparity between the races.

EVA N. HODGSON

Hamilton Parish

Another Finance Minister

December 5, 2010

Dear Sir,

It is incredible, but scarcely surprising, that our new Premier and continuing Finance Minister has finally accepted that we are in a mess “due to circumstances beyond our control”. Yet for the last two to three years, Government has been told that the world is heading for major financial problems at the very least recession and maybe depression. So what did Government under the bullying, self gratifying leadership of you-know-who, apparently supported by his Minister of Finance, do? At best, nothing except throw money at schemes that lined the pockets of expensive consultants (who could care less about the future of Bermuda) and politicians who seem to be similarly inclined.

It could take years to recover from this “mess” from which some of the pain could have been eased had the proper steps been taken. There were plenty of people telling Government what those steps should be. That said, the new Premier seems to be making efforts to lead us to recovery from the slough of despond into which our unlamented ex-Premier has led us politically, racially and financially. However, by retaining the Ministry of Finance she has kept control of the country’s finances and, whilst the last thing of which she could be accused is corruption, she lays herself open to the abuse of the checks and balances that we so sorely need.

The Premier may be making the right noises but she should do more to encourage, at the very least, open Government, responsibility and accountability by separating the Finance Ministry from the Premiership. In Terry Lister she has someone who has the knowledge and ability to be Finance Minister - either give it to him or consider the alternative, suggested by others already, to appoint someone from the Opposition or, dare one say it, from the “Third Party” to use their undoubted financial expertise to run the financial affairs of the country. How about that for a beginning working towards “togetherness”?

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant.

ANTHONY GOODFELLOW

Paget

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