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Commentary: Undermining democracy and the voice of born Bermudians
Published on February 3, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Walter Roban JP MP

I write this to alert the CARICOM family of recent moves by the Bermudian government to undermine democracy and the voice of born Bermudians.

Walter Roban is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and International Studies. He then furthered his studies at the University of Birmingham in England where he received a Masters of Arts Degree in International Studies, specialising in international politics, political risk and foreign policy analysis. A former minister of transport, he is now the shadow minister for home affairs.
The Commercial Immigration (CI) survey launched by OBA government of Bermuda serves only one purpose -- to create an illusion of support for their proposal to sell the right to work, own property and vote in Bermuda to any foreign national with a checkbook.

Survey Flaws

While the PLP supports seeking public collaboration, it is important to establish the quality of the data that will result from this survey. A survey is statistically useless unless the data collected is accurate and representative of the population.

Self-administered surveys such as this online CI survey come with major disadvantages:-

• Typically have low response rate -- the smaller the sample size, the larger the margin of error

• Tend to have respondent biases as generally only persons with a strong opinion will complete the survey.

• Difficult to put controls in place to ensure that respondents completes the survey honestly

Coupled with the standard disadvantages of self-administered surveys, there are additional concerns about this particular survey including:

• No restrictions to prevent a person from completing survey multiple times from different IP addresses

• Quality of data is dependent on the respondent understanding the complexities of CI. If there is some confusion about the meaning of a question, there is no opportunity to seek clarification and this increases the respondent error rate.

• Non-Bermudians are able to take the survey including; work permit holders, spouses of Bermudians, PRCs and two types of visitors (long-term visitor and regular). Should non-Bermudians have a say in deciding the right to sell status?

• Due to the vagueness of how CI has been defined by the OBA, answering many of these questions are difficult to do accurately.

• Options that include granting status without a residency requirement is not possible due to pre-existing UK regulations.

• No options to disagree on some questions. For example, if respondent does not agree with CI in Q1, one still has to fill out follow-up questions.

No Trust

What is to prevent the OBA from using statistically flawed data to justify selling of Bermudian status?

The public meeting held on January 14 clearly showed that most Bermudians were opposed to the proposal. In fact, the independent migration expert facilitating the meeting outlined more negatives than positives.

The level of mistrust increased when OBA Minister Fahy refused to answer any questions posed by the audience regarding the specific details e.g. how many statuses are they prepared to sell?

As we already have many forms of CI in place, what more is it the OBA wishes to give away? And why?

Commercial immigration will have long-term implications including negative shifts in:

• voting patterns
• employment opportunities for Bermudians
• spiraling property costs.

Defending Bermuda

Before considering any immigration reform, the PLP believes that the country must set a clear, long-term plan for immigration. In order to create a balanced workforce, we must take a sustainability approach to immigration and first establish what our ideal population number should be.

The OBA government is seeking to gerrymander the electoral process buy possibly selling status to persons who will in turn vote for them in the next election.

As the party who represents a majority of born Bermudians, we appeal to our Caribbean kin to support us in our challenge
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James Rego:

I am a born Bermudian, you never represented me and you never will!

Floyd Pitcher:

While I am not one to give our country away or open our borders for anyone to immigrate at will, commercial immigration does have some merits in that those who may be offered that right will invest in capital in Bermuda and hire Bermudians.

I dont see the OBA throwing the doors open to all and sundry.

The notion that commercial immigration will gerrymander the voting process is absurd at best as we are likely only talking about twenty-five to fifty investors.

I would also point out that the majority of the voters in Bermuda voted MP Robans party out for their woeful administration of the country that has left Bermuda sinking in a 2.5 billion dollar debt. Not much more can be said of a party that represents the majority of the people when they dismiss them!!!!

Also what manner of support is the PLP begging for? Are we likely to see a Carribean invasion to throw the ruling party out?

The PLP is a hopeless pathetic party who have destroyed the trust people had in them when they decided to put their own interest and agendas ahead of the peoples business and that's why Mr Roban et al find themselves reduced to the role of opposition.


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The Caribbean Writer 2014

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