Moral crime of high order
I remember the Golden Hinds fiasco perhaps 30 or so years ago, where a feud between a couple of United Bermuda Party government ministers destroyed an opportunity to develop that property into a brand-new, luxury Ritz-Carlton.
The development was financed and ready to go, but, for this feud, it failed. The result is still there as a visible hole and a lost opportunity that might have lifted the value of the entire area and Bermuda in general. The money was there, but the feud held it up and it moved because of geopolitical issues affecting Japan that called all investment to become inbound.
It was traumatic back then; however, we had a buoyant economy. But look how long it has taken for another major hotel to appear. Money does not sit around waiting for us to get our act together; it moves to wherever it is ready to be applied. Money is not looking for ideas; it’s looking for action. And if it suspects it is going to be a long bureaucratic process, it goes quickly.
I criticised the One Bermuda Alliance for bungling the waterfront deal because at the back end of it was the port, which when combined was worth more than $4 billion. In fact, I told an audience at the book signing of Back from the Brink that we would not still be at the edge of that brink had they allowed the waterfront deal. We would not have needed all the borrowing if the project was ameliorated rather than obliterated. They could have changed any aspect of the design or the deal rather than savagely destroy it because they did not like who was doing the deal.
You would have thought we had learnt a lesson or two, taken a few pages out of history and done better. But another government comes in on the wings of the Progressive Labour Party, celebrating a landslide win, and does precisely the same thing: put their brand new boots on the neck of the old waterfront developer and abandon an idea put squarely on their desk in September 2017. This was an idea that promised to budget about $3 billion that came several times to the brink of funding since then, but was abandoned again for geopolitical circumstances, which if attended to in time might have seen this economy surging all through the recession and pandemic.
When you examine the reason, it's the same where someone in a powerful, decision-making position does not want someone else, whom they don't like, to do it. Every excuse will be made, including — and this is a shot across the bows — deliberate lies told openly, which if pronounced again would result in libel action.
When personal likes and dislikes becomes the fulcrum for whether a nation succeeds or fails, when 19,000 people can face unemployment, when the nation must borrow and burden the future generations with the mess caused not by realities but attitudes, it is a moral crime of high order.
I wish this was not true, but it is and has to be said. I think I should say it only once because what needs to be done is more important than pointing blame or causing anger. I have been approached by several mature Black men, some formerly in business and successful, supporters too, and they said: "Khalid, it's over. I don't know what these folks are talking about with this empowerment jargon, we can't even own a truck because there are no more Black contractors, and the other fellow won't hire us. He hires his own."
The next thing he says is: "They don't want people like us who have done things, they're try to make new converts to business, while they leave us in the cold.“
Oh, how I wish they were mistaken, but are they? Look around and examine what you see. If you see something to the contrary, then please write a strong contradictory letter; it's an open invitation. You should be able to show the progress made in the Black business community. Make it even more simple: take the era of Ewart Brown. Surely, we should find the answer contradicting what they said during his era, given his Black advocacy.
Notice that I started with the UBP, then the OBA and concluded with the PLP. I can't be considered deferential to any party or order; it's an equal-opportunity critique. Not a critique to be condescending, but to do better from now onward — and they can if they want to.
There are thousands of onlookers and this is what they are afraid to say. They mumble it in secret — I hear it all the time — but needs to be said openly. There is no harm in expressing what is clearly seen. We need the lights turned on; silence keeps them off.
It’s 11.30pm. No, it’s 11.45 and Cinderella's slippers turn to flip-flops at midnight. We better get our acts together and stop the childishness. It's killing our country and our youth, causing people to leave, when all it takes is to treat your brother as you would want to be treated.
Didn't Jesus say that in the Bible?