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A bewildering decision

There is nothing new about politicians making mistakes. They are human, after all.

It's the nature of the business that politicians are either being praised to the heavens for their work or they are being bitterly criticised.

So Government Ministers rarely resign simply because a single decision they make proves extremely unpopular. If that was the case, there would probably be a revolving door in the cabinet building to handle traffic.

So when Walter Roban resigned in the wake of controversy over two planning decisions, it was a surprise.

Certainly, Mr Roban's decision to give planning approval to fellow politicians on appeal, overruling the advice of his own advisers in doing so, ran the risk of confirming suggestions from critics that the current Government is more concerned about helping those in the inner circle of power, than serving the people.

These accusations have been floating about for a while in the press and on radio talk shows, and so any Government paying attention would be uncomfortable with a decision from a member of their team that could give validity to such claims, especially with an election looming.

What is more troublesome is the fact that the former Minister seemed more concerned about public reaction than the actual decisions he made. If, as Mr Roban has stated, he felt absolutely correct in his actions, he should have stood his ground no matter what sort of criticism was levelled at him.

Instead his subsequent resignation gives the impression that something was wrong and that he resigned to avoid being dismissed given that the storm has given no sign of abating and was discrediting the entire government.

Although Premier Paula Cox, stated she accepted his resignation with regret, and went on to describe Mr Roban as a dedicated worker, it can be argued that she would have refused the resignation if she genuinely felt Mr Roban had done nothing wrong.

It certainly marks a change from the days of Dr Ewart Brown when he and other ministers over the years have been bitterly criticised over various initiatives, but, right or wrong, stood their ground. In the end the people politicians serve will always be the judges of who was right or who was wrong.

It is worth noting that while Mr Roban sacrificed himself, those who stood to benefit from his controversial decisions, Health Minister Zane DeSilva and Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert, are still in office.

Hopefully, the Premier will continue her promised shake-ups if she intends to gain a better standing before going to the polls. It will be a tough job, but she must be aware that with so many problems facing the country, there is little room for complacency.

The people are watching closely for fairness, credibility, and accountability as Bermuda struggles to meet the many challenges of today. No politician, or indeed anyone, should take them for granted. The people expect proper standards from their leaders, and they will settle for nothing less.

Resigned: Former Minister Walter Roban

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Published November 22, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 22, 2011 at 8:50 am)

A bewildering decision

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