Sorry’ seems to be the hardest word
We seek and deserve an overdue apology from Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education and Workforce Development. This is not because the Bow-tied One has gone out of his way to create a war footing with The Royal Gazette. It is because there is the little matter of intentionally misleading the House of Assembly — and, by extension, the people of Bermuda.
Even though it is unconscionable for Cabinet ministers — any public servants at all, for that matter — to conduct themselves in the manner that the still rather youthful Rabain has on social media and other channels, it is right that they make corrections or clarifications when absolutely justified.
But to malign, impugn and bad-mouth with little justification when in the position of a leader, whenever possible, is unbecoming and does little to advance development and understanding.
The minister’s offence? November 24, 2017.
Still a matter of public record and available on the official Hansard is Rabain’s unprovoked attack — a continuance of strategic character assassination, if you will — during a parliamentary session that is designed to be conciliatory, light-hearted, solemn, bipartisan.
What possessed Rabain, as the fourth speaker to take his feet during “Congratulatory And/Or Obituary Speeches”, to interrupt an uplifting recantation of an awards ceremony at the Berkeley Institute students with an assault on The Royal Gazette is anyone’s guess.
But here goes:
“Mr Speaker, I rise today to ask this Honourable House to send congratulations to all of the recipients of [the prizes given] at the Berkeley Institute last night. It was a wonderful experience — 121 students received prizes, based on their academic and their sports achievements. One of the things, Mr Speaker, that I do believe warrants speaking about on this particular topic is the absence of The Royal Gazette to cover this particular experience. I find it quite amazing that whenever anything goes wrong in our schools, I receive an e-mail almost immediately about it. But we had a wonderful experience, where 121 students walked across that stage, received awards, and the press did not get there to cover that, Mr Speaker. I found that quite, quite a telling topic.
“But, thank you, Mr Speaker. I really do wish that we could send a letter of [commendation for the] achievement, a letter of thank-you. And congratulations to the Berkeley Institute for the wonderful things that they are doing up there. And next week, when we are at CedarBridge, I hope to see the press there, as well.”
This went out to the many who listen live to the House, hardening the negative opinions of some while swaying others into believing that the big bad RG may just be a force for evil.
But it was all a lie; distraction by deception.
It is true that we were not in attendance at the event, but it also true that no other media were there, either. Why? Because no media were invited.
The biggest victim of this deception was the leader of the country, who opined as he associated himself with Rabain’s mischievous remarks:
“ ... And I would like to share in the laments that the Minister of Education had that it seemed as if the daily newspaper did not think that the achievements of our students should be covered and celebrated.”
Less than a week after the paper provided blanket coverage of the celebration of CedarBridge Academy’s 20th anniversary, and a mere few months after almost wall-to-wall coverage of the very same Berkeley Institute celebrating 120 years in existence, these were insults that just had to be challenged.
Having dropped Burt in it, leading to the first of only two low points in what to date has been an almost flawless premiership — the “toys out of the pram” outburst when the Government could not get its way over the selection of the next Chief Justice being the other — the minister apologised privately to the first available reporter.
But the apology we truly seek is that which can be seen and heard in the same forum as was the original faux pas.
A public one.
For the lie remains on the Hansard for eternity, to be read and replayed whenever one sees fit.
So, too, should rest the mea culpa.
Accomplished politicians in the developed world do not overly exercise themselves in denigrating and attempting to sway opinion against the media, let alone individual elements within the Fourth Estate — they should be too busy at their day jobs for such infantile endeavour.
Even Donald Trump can be excused of condemnation through isolation; he hates everyone who does not agree with his world view.
Thankfully, he is destined to be no more than a one-term president, so the United States and the wider world will have to suck it up for a few years more.
But on all existing evidence, the Progressive Labour Party will be a leading force in Bermuda for the long term, and so will we.
It is incumbent on all to find a common ground and work together as professional adults. For the betterment of the country.
Today would be nice for a start.
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