‘Openness and transparency, consistently voiced mantras of the Progressive Labour Party (PLP), while in Opposition have been discarded as vaporous since the party took over Bermuda’s Government, with the practice of concealment all too evident, causing wide-spread frustration among the populace, according to One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) MP Michael Dunkley.
Implied was that the massive 30-6 majority was allowing the ruling party to operate in a manner that tilted away from democracy, where the needs of the wider electorate were being served and people heard, to a state bordering upon dictatorship and self-serviance.
“I think this government, when they were the Opposition, talked about openness and transparency non-stop, and even had demonstrations on it,” said Mr Dunkley during a recent interview with TNN’s Trevor Lindsay. “But, now that they’re in government, they’ve forgotten what they said when they were in Opposition and that’s very disappointing.”
“You mentioned the 30-6 majority and that majority allows them to stifle democracy to some extent.
“Everything’s a challenge, where PATI requests are not answered, questions in the House of Assembly go on for months. It is not healthy for democracy and you can be assured that my colleagues and I are going to stop asking questions and holding them to account.”
Noted were instituted policies that appear to have been designed to stifle the media by denying casual or happen-stance communication with Cabinet Ministers, demanding that all manner of questioning be formalised and vetted via the Department of Communications prior to any response being offered, with responses carefully selective.
However, Dunkley, perhaps the most freely available elected official, said that such methods, in many instances, serve to create impediments between chosen members and those they made the committed to serve.
“Obviously, I think they want to have some structure to it, but crikey, I was elected to serve the people,” said Mr Dunkley. “When you get elected and become part of the government you can’t build barriers around you to take yourself away from the people you serve, because then you’re just not getting the job done and that’s what’s happening here.
“The people of Bermuda are rightly frustrated by the challenges we have with the cost of living, with the economy and with the lack of opportunity.”
Far from being a government that embraces those that placed it in power, Mr Dunkley told of an organisation that has rewarded loyalty with a fearsome stance with a preference for bulldozing through flawed policies, which detract rather than enhance the well-being of the common man.
Said Dunkley: “This government, which was billed as the ‘People’s Government’. They had the People’s Campaign behind them and now the People’s Campaign has disappeared. You can’t find them and the people are unhappy, but they’re afraid to protest.
“They’re afraid to protest, because one of the things with the OBA, people knew that if they came out, while everything might not be accepted, but they would be listened to and their point be taken on board.
“Yes, it’s alarming, because if you can’t stand up and speak, eventually you won’t even be allowed to stand up, forget about speaking.
“And I say that in all seriousness, because we face tremendous challenges and government has significant responsibility to deal with challenges. And if you won’t listen to the people you become disconnected and when you are disconnected you make bad decisions.
“If the people can’t hold you accountable you make bad decisions.
“What did the government always say? ‘If you don’t listen. If you don’t see. You will feel’.
“And I don’t want them to feel right now. In these tough times people are suffering and we need to move forward.
“I’m not interested in getting re-elected l’m interested in putting Bermuda in a better position so that at the next election you can stand on the ground of what you’ve done, but this government has failed at this point .”
To emphasise the apparent disregard and bullying tactics perpetrated by the PLP against those that placed them in power, Mr Dunkley pointed to the ongoing disputes among citizens of party strongholds in St George’s and Sandys, which account for eight elected officials.
Residents in St David’s are currently up in arms regarding the area being used in the manner of an industrial dumping ground, with the latest matter for discord being a planned erection of an incinerator for the disposal of the Island’s medical waste, while many supporters at the west end continue rail against Governments want to close down West End Primary.
“It’s alarming and shocking how people are afraid to protest,” said Dunkley. “If they see Trevor Lindsay out there protesting all of a sudden you get a call from somebody in the corridors of power, saying, ‘Trevor, back down.’ The world has to move on from there.
As for independence, Mr Dunkley inferred any such discussion or movement toward such to be laughable, considering the current state of the economy, the PLP’s failure to stimulate it, and the fact that the majority are nowhere near interested in the Island seeking independence at this time.
“We’re here talking about independence?” said Dunkley, incredulous to the notion. “We can’t even manage our own affairs in proper manner. Government’s afraid to release information about contracts and stuff and we want to even have an independence discussion, c’mon. The people would vote that down so bad.
“David Burt was elected by the party to be the leader and then stay on as the Premier. He cannot be emboldened by what took place. Because it wasn’t a mandate to continue to lead, it was the political process taking care of somebody who’s been in the organisation for a while and the new person with a shining star wasn’t there yet. He didn’t meet that criteria.
“Ask what’s wrong with politics, good people are pushed back or held back and not pushed forward. We need the best people making decisions and people are not even being heard and government are making decisions, it’s scary. That’s why we continue to speak in opposition.”
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