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Bettering ourselves for independence

Bermuda has no natural resources or industrial production. Land is scarce and should be used to produce food for Bermuda. The only thing the island can offer — apart from a haven for offshore companies — is a slew of essential services that can be re-evaluated, managed and operated at a profit.

This brings me to the antiquated Tynes Bay waste facility and the old-fashioned approach to recycling in general. While we ship some recycling to the United States for processing, we do nothing else with our waste. By comparison, 54 per cent of household and other waste in Sweden was converted to energy in 2020. Projects such as this require money, however, which means that Tynes Bay would benefit from a “dual venture” model as witnessed with LF Wade International Airport.

Closing Belco for a period of up to five years as Bermuda’s energy infrastructure is updated from an oil-based to an alternate-energy model is simply out of the question. Civil unrest from a population using imported diesel generators and another cyberattack while the country is vulnerable is not a viable option for Bermuda.

Forays into wave power under the Progressive Labour Party government are commendable and should be explored by subsequent governments. The company chosen for this venture, Seabased, also has ventures in Martinique and Tonga — which hardly makes it sound like a big hitter, but given its partners include the University of Edinburgh and the European regional development fund for the North Sea Region, its intentions are most likely positive (maybe). Whether offshore wave power would damage Bermuda’s sea life would need to be assessed using a third-party study made available to the public; this would also apply to impacts on the Bermudian fishing industry in the long term.

It’s common for universities to have campuses in other countries. Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology has a Sarawak campus, India’s Amity University has a London campus, and Britain’s Coventry University has a Cairo campus. To preserve ties with the United Kingdom in the event of independence, it would benefit the island to create a partnership with a British university. For example, Leeds University could develop a “Mary Prince Campus” in Bermuda, welcoming Bermudian students and international students alike. Cross-country dialogue among students, funding opportunities and more people spending money in Bermuda would likely follow.

If Bermuda College were rebranded, the infrastructure would merely need to be renovated. Another option would be to share the campus; eg, Penryn Campus in Cornwall, England, is shared by the University of Exeter and Falmouth University. A sense of shared community could be encouraged through a similar agreement in Bermuda, with staff and students from Bermuda College mixing with those of Leeds University, for example.

There are those who say an education in Bermudian history – the turbulent 1970s, in particular – distracts younger Bermudians from things that “really matter”: American history, the French Revolution and other topics widely taught in the West. However, by refusing to give Bermudians an unbiased understanding of Bermudian history, we are creating a vacuum in which bad history, loopy theories and hate-mongering take centre stage.

Quito Swan’s book, Black Power in Bermuda: The Struggle for Decolonisation, and Michael J. Jarvis’s book, In The Eye of All Trade, are good examples of Bermudian historical writing. One of these men — or someone very much like them — should be entrusted, along with a small team, with creating age-appropriate history modules for Bermudian schools so that Bermudian children can be bettered through the teaching of Bermudian history.

Bermuda does not have the population required to fund a national healthcare system through taxation alone. But the reality for many Bermudians — of creating fundraisers for surgeries, or simply dying — is not tenable. An independent Bermuda would need a compromise, like the healthcare system in South Korea, to literally survive. The South Korean healthcare system is operated by the National Health Insurance Service and is funded by a combination of employee taxes, government subsidies, tobacco surcharges and outside contributions. At its simplest, patients are expected to pay 20 per cent of total inpatient costs — and cancer patients only 5 per cent — whereas outpatient, pharmacy and clinic costs range between 30 per cent and 50 per cent. Costs under a Bermuda healthcare system would have to be higher than South Korea’s, but Bermudians would fare better under this system than the existing one.

Bermuda uses the “first past the post” voting system. The disadvantages of this system include MPs being able to win seats with as little as 35 per cent of the vote share; parties not always gaining fair representation; and people avoiding elections because they don’t think their vote will help their chosen candidate.

Bermuda could instead adopt the “single transferable vote” system that is used in Ireland and Malta. The advantages of this system include being able to choose within parties and between parties; the lack of potential for tactical voting; and the likely result of coalition governments. Bermuda would benefit from this system because of its small size and tight-knit communities. The predilection towards coalition governments would help to dismantle internal family prejudices and unrealistic allegiances in Bermudian communities. Parliamentary reform curtailing MPs’ salaries would also be appropriate, given our predilection towards seeing public service as an easy way to make money.

Lastly, independence means independence. In the event of a referendum in which Bermudians decided to leave the United Kingdom, they would need to be given the choice between a Bermudian passport and a British one. A middle ground would lead to confusion and bitterness, and there are times when hard decisions must be made. But if we embrace foreign campuses which allow dialogue between our children and theirs, work with foreign investors to solve domestic problems, and employ electoral and parliamentary reforms to better our characters, then we will be encouraged to choose Bermudian citizenship.

My issue is that with our murky political record today, our disdain for the environment, and our unwillingness to develop, I and many other people would choose to be British.

Walker Zupp, PhD, is a Bermudian writer raised in St George’s. His third novel, Fibber, was published by Montag Press in February. He lives in Cornwall, England

Walker Zupp, PhD, is a Bermudian writer raised in St George’s. His third novel, Fibber, was published by Montag Press in February. He lives in Cornwall, England


Bdainstitute. (n.d.). Bermuda Institute | Grades 7-8. [online] Available at: https://www.bermudainstitute.bm/grades-7-8 [Accessed 26 May 2024]

International Citizens Insurance. (n.d.). South Korea’s Healthcare System. [online] Available at: https://www.internationalinsurance.com/health/systems/south-korea/#:~:text=Yes%2C%20South%20Korea%20has%20universal

Манолова, Г. (2023). Examples from Europe: Sweden’s zero waste target. [online] ESG News. Available at: https://esgnews.bg/en/examples-from-europe-swedens-zero-waste-target/#:~:text=Sweden%20recycles%20an%20astonishing%2099

Jeremy Deacon, Chief Reporter (2024). Government staffing issues cost millions in extra payments. [online] www.royalgazette.com. Available at: https://www.royalgazette.com/politics/news/article/20240518/government-staffing-issues-cost-millions-in-extra-payments/ [Accessed 26 May 2024]

Seabased. (n.d.). Our Projects. [online] Available at: https://seabased.com/seabased-projects [Accessed 26 May 2024]

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Published May 31, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 30, 2024 at 4:46 pm)

Bettering ourselves for independence

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