Much to be grateful for, much more to do
As we sit back and reflect on the past 12 months of Bermuda’s history, we are struck by a variety of thoughts, feelings and visions.
First, let us say thank you to all who participated in the democratic process of registering to vote and subsequently voting on July 18, 2017. History will record that Bermuda had its highest number of registered voters, 46,669 persons, and highest voter turnout, 34,060.
Second, we look back to the process that got us to that date.
Every organisation must face up to its own imperfections, flaws and shortcomings.
On December 17, 2012, the Progressive Labour Party was handed a “You must do better” note by the people of Bermuda. The reasons leading up to this are far too many to mention, but that was the reality check sent to us by our supporters, who simply refused to vote.
The task ahead of us at that time was challenging, to say the least. Running any national organisation takes massive human resources, willpower and, yes, funding. At any given time, we were stretched for one or all the previously mentioned reasons. Yet, we never lost hope as we were constantly encouraged by those who needed us to be their voice; not only in Parliament, but in the streets.
The proper words escape us as to how to describe the feeling of seeing thousands of our fellow Bermudians having to take to the streets on a regular basis to show the former government that it was not listening to the people.
Whether it be the closure of the Lamb-Foggo Clinic to the furlough day protests or the Pathways to Status occupation of Parliament, Bermudians were seeking a change.
That fundamental change could not be simply yet another change in government. No, that would be far too simplistic.
The change had to be, and must continue to be, a change in how the government of the day interacts with all the people of Bermuda.
For the past year, it has been a significant learning curve in some regards for all 36 elected Members of Parliament.
For the One Bermuda Alliance, it has had to adjust to becoming the Opposition, technically for the first time. In many ways, it has yet to find its footing as to how to be effective in the role. Unfortunately for the OBA, it seems to have multiple internal issues as to which direction it should take.
For the immediate future, it will do well to simply stop attempting to play the attack role and learn to listen to what the people actually want and need.
Expensive consultants will simply continue to give erroneous advice and walk off with its money.
For the sitting government, we have our own challenges as well. We inherited a society rife with issues such as economic stagnation, education needs, racial imbalance and unemployment.
With the teamwork of dedicated Cabinet ministers and hard-working civil servants, we are doing our best to address all of these issues.
Over the past year, we have achieved some of the following items:
• Increased pensions for seniors
• Installation of wi-fi in all schools
• Abolition of conscription
• Incorporation of 20 fintech companies
• Provided Bermuda College with more funding, specifically for scholarships and awards
• Decrease in national deficit
• 100 Jobs initiative that put more than 100 unemployed Bermudians back to work
• More Bermudians have a fairer chance to get government contracts, especially businesses that are owned by females and the physically challenged
• Reconnection with Caricom
• Hiring of needed personnel in various government departments
• Improved ratings from Standard & Poor’s
• Increased our number of seats in Parliament
To the hundreds of persons, mostly women, who have worked behind the scenes for the past 55 years, we would never have survived, much less be electable, without your steadfast support. We thank you daily.
To those who may be of a different political persuasion, at present, we thank you for helping to keep us in check. Your views and desires are of equal value to us. We are here to serve all Bermudians.
At times we have made mistakes, and as sure as the sun rises, we will never get it right 100 per cent of the time. However, what we will never forget is that we answer to those who invited us into their homes over the past five years.
We answer to the seniors who rely on us to assist them with adequate pensions.
We answer to the students who deserve world-class education.
We answer to the parents who pay our salaries.
To the people of Bermuda, we thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you over the past year.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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