By Walter Roban JP MP
On February 5, via local media in Bermuda, OBA MP Sylvan Richards attacked the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) for our stance on commercial immigration (CI). While criticizing the stance of the PLP, he failed to address any of the concerns of that Bermudians have regarding CI.
MP Richards stated, “…blatant untruths and exaggerations… The PLP is attempting to list these risks as if they are things that are definitely going to happen.”
The list of risks he is referring to came directly from OBA’s CI presentation and included:
1. Jeopardizing our visa-free travel status
2. Investment being rescinded once citizenship granted
3. Increased housing costs
4. Difficulty in validating that all requirements attached to the sale of citizenship are met
5. Costs associated with validation and monitoring
6. The potential of corruption within government
7. Giving away the right to vote to non-Bermudians
8. Once citizenship given, it can’t be revoked
9. The risk of opening our boarders to criminals
10. UK will have to approve any schemes involving citizenship
11. No other jurisdiction has similar market conditions as ours and the pros and cons cannot be fully assessed prior to implementation as a result
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 a Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Member of Parliament and the shadow minister for home affairs.
MP Richards mentioned, “…every action in life has a certain amount of risk. Activities such as riding a bus, driving a car or flying in an aeroplane all involve an element of risk; however, most Bermudians continue to do all three.”
The risks of selling Bermudian status do not equate to the risk of driving a car, or flying, unless of course one is involved in the “Jetgate club.”
MP Richards continued, “Commercial immigrants won’t have any more clout in getting jobs and buying land than non-Bermudians.”
Until the terms and conditions of commercial immigration are revealed, no one can say what will or will not happen. The parameters of commercial immigration can encompass any range of possibilities including, putting commercial immigrants on a higher footing then PRCs.
Once a person is granted citizenship, they have all the same rights as Bermudians:
• The right to purchase property
• The right to gainful employment
• The right to participate in elections and /or referendums
MP Richards fails to mention that currently nearly 40% of our residential land is for sale to non-Bermudians.
MP Richards states, “Finally, and this must be stated emphatically – these people will not be able to vote in Bermuda elections. Let me say once again, this is not about people becoming Bermudians.”
He is clearly contradicting the meaning of citizenship as outlined by OBA’s own immigration expert who specifically stated that citizenship includes the right to vote.
In addition, he clouds over the fact that Senator Fahy stated that granting status has not been ruled out. In fact, Sen Fahy explained the UK’s role in the process of granting citizenship at this presentation.
With their track record of multiple broken promises, including recent revelations of the OBA planning since January 2013 to ditch the referendum, what can Bermudians believe about the OBA government’s true intentions?
“The One Bermuda Alliance does contradict itself sometimes. We make no apologies for that.” -- OBA MP Glen Smith
It is irresponsible for the OBA to be discussing commercial immigration, without first establishing a national sustainability plan to protect and manage our very limited resources of Bermudian land and jobs.
The PLP will continue to stand strong for the rights of all Bermudians.