Mixed reaction to Scott’s anti-corruption proposal

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  • <B>Former Premier Alex Scott's</B> proposed legislation to combat corruption in public life has yet to be commented on by the Island's political parties, but it has sparked online debate. <B></B>

    Former Premier Alex Scott's proposed legislation to combat corruption in public life has yet to be commented on by the Island's political parties, but it has sparked online debate.
    ((Photo by Akil Simmons))


Former Premier Alex Scott’s anti-corruption proposals have had no immediate response from the political parties. Government did not respond to a request for comment and Marc Bean, leader of the Progressive Labour Party said that he had received the draft bill and would share it with his party caucus for discussion.

But a range of responses have been expressed on The Royal Gazette website.

While some have mocked the former Premier, others have responded warmly to his Public Integrity Act which would impose strict penalties for corrupt behaviour in public life and create a powerful Anti Corruption Commission.

Mr Scott is unfazed by the cacophony of criticism expressed in cyberspace.

“It goes with the political territory,” he said last night. “That’s the nature of putting an idea out there and folks were just reacting.

“I have no difficulty with it and I have the luxury of not being in parliament to deal with it.” The view, expressed by a handful of people that he was “the best of the bunch” among PLP Premiers, should be taken with a pinch of salt, he added.

“Bigga” was suitably impressed by the former Premier’s proposals and addressed Mr Scott directly in his posting. “Mr. Scott — I always knew that you were one of the good ones. Although I am not a PLP supporter I have always held you in high regard. This step you have taken only further confirms my belief that you are a man of honour.”

But “Triangle Drifter” clearly wasn’t that impressed. “Ummmm ... aren't you a little late? No question you were the best of the PLPs hopeless line of Premiers but when you were in a position legislation like this along you didn't. Why? Where is PATI?

“Sorry but producing proposals such as these now, as much as they are needed, ring hollow now that you are retired & sitting very happily collecting a MP’s pension & Premier’s pension.

“You had your chance to make a difference but sat and did nothing. Why?”

Mr Scott told this newspaper on Thursday that he had intended to bring the legislation while he was Premier but he ran out of time.

“Proud2bBermudian” found that explanation a little hollow. “While I think this is a great initiative, I can't help but ask Mr Scott, ‘Why didn't you propose this while YOUR party was in Government?’ I understand that you did not serve as long as you anticipated as Premier however you remained in the House of Parliament for another six years.

“Could it be that you knew your party did not support such an Act? And now that you are retired and your party is the opposition you have nothing to lose ...

“Nevertheless, it sounds like a good idea which will ensure that the people of Bermuda can hold their Government accountable for unethical behaviour. I look forward to reading it in full.

Many of the 65 mostly anonymous commentators on this newspaper’s website could not help taking potshots at the Progressive Labour Party’s 14 years as Government.

“Hey Alex, you are 14 years late!” exclaimed “Vexed Onion”

“O’Brien” reminded fellow bloggers that Mr Scott “dismissed” a take note motion on the topic of fighting corruption.

“I can distinctly remember sitting in the public gallery when (then Opposition Leader) Grant Gibbons tabled a 'take note' motion about the need for greater anti-corruption measures. Then-Premier Alex Scott dismissed the whole thing out of hand, did a sort of Comical Ali routine denying any wrongdoing on the part of anyone in the Government and insisted they were as pure as the driven snow.”

Several of the commentariat were reminded of the PLP Government’s management of the building of the new Berkeley Institute, a project plagued with cost overruns and serious management deficiencies. In the end the main contractor Proactive was sacked just months before it was scheduled to be completed.

Glynn Grosvenor wasted no time in advising Mr Scott to “Start by investigating the Proactive debacle you allegedly masterminded.”

“BermudaD” followed up on the theme with a request: “Can the PLP/BIU please finish paying the contractors, workers and suppliers for the New Berkeley School?”

PLP supporter LaVerne Furbert, one of the few bloggers who uses their real identity, was curious.

“I wonder why Mr Scott didn't propose this type of legislation in 1998. I'm also wondering why he didn't publicly support Dr Brown's call for an investigation into both governments. If he doesn't believe that there was any corruption in the PLP Government, why suggest the legislation?”

Mr Scott noted the absence of substantial discussion about the proposal itself and indicated that the critics did nothing to change his mind about the importance of his initiative.

“The important thing is a community that wants to have a remedy for perceived corruption now has it,” he said.

He added that he had received feedback from one of the political leaders and he would now wait to see if parliament takes up his proposal.

“If it makes it to parliament, I think Bermuda would have a robust legislative instrument for the purpose it was intended.”

“Reality Check” would agree. “I know we have all become rather jaded over politicians and their pronouncements, but I have great respect for Alex Scott, and if you scrape away all of the political infighting and one-upmanship, he has proposed a very sensible and practical piece of legislation that is in all of our best interests. Instead of knocking him for being too little and too late, how about embracing the concept and actually getting behind this much needed legislation.

“It would be a delicious irony if the OBA embraced it and the PLP voted against it despite it being proposed by one of the senior statesmen.”

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Published Jan 12, 2013 at 7:54 am (Updated Jan 12, 2013 at 7:54 am)

Mixed reaction to Scott’s anti-corruption proposal

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