I think most people on the island are by now aware of the serious allegations alluded to in todays Mid-Ocean News, essentially concerning the BHC scandal that first emerged in 2002. The articles essentially are a series of leaked Police documents from the police investigation from 2002-2004, and implicates in particular Premier Dr. Brown, MP Nelson Bascome, and alleged PLP candidate Zane DeSilva, as well as some other notables such as Former Premier Jennifer Smith, Former Minister Arthur Hodgson and former MP Arthur Pitcher.
I had first heard same bits of the news throughout the day, solely through word of mouth as well as from a post on the Bermuda Sucks website, that for some reason I cannot access any more right now. After work I was able to read the Mid-Ocean articles myself, and although I missed the beginning of the local news, I did catch some of it, as well as the Premiers press release regarding the issue.
Quite frankly I’m still considering the full extent of these allegations.
Right away however I will say that I without a doubt do feel that this leak is one of malicious political intent with the idea of character assasination, primarily of Dr. Brown, Nelson Bascome and Zane DeSilva, but of the Progressive Labour Party and its government as a whole. Such an attack was of course expected long before Dr. Brown became Premier, and was considered to be par for the course of any election campaign. The exact nature of course was undetermined. It is important to stress here that I am not saying that the BHC scandal was expected, only that it was expected that certain elements would seek out some sort of scandal, real or fabricated, with the intent of either aiding the Opposition UBP or (which is not neccessarily the same thing) attacking the governing PLP. With Dr. Brown as Premier it was clear that the main line of attack would revolve largely around Southlands, cronyism in general, and conflicts of interest concerning the Hospital. The attacks against ‘presidentalism’ emerged later, and many (the copius motorcades) I believe were largely fabricated or at least overly exagerrated.
That being said, it is important to carefully consider the scope of allegations covered in the Mid-Oceans peice. The reaction of the Premier in his press release and the consequences of this must also be considered.
If any of the allegations are true, illegal or not there should be consequences as a result. There will be those (and I have heard that some have already done so on the talk shows, but I do not generally listen to these and cannot confirm) who will say that this is no different from what the UBP did, and that those who argue these issues are more serious, or that those days should no longer occur, are arguing from an inherently racist position. I do not accept this line of argument as valid. Even if the UBP did commit similar actions, this is immaterial. It was long stated that the goal of the PLP was not to equal the UBP in corruption, but to purge corruption from the very system itself, and that the PLP sought not to rule as the UBP did, but better than the UBP. If these allegations are true, then the PLP has so far failed to do so. If the allegations (even if not illegal) are true it proves how far the Party has gone from its labour roots if its leaders could even consider even a handful of the activities alleged in the report.
I was not impressed by the Premiers press release rebuttal. Although he quite correctly stated that the very reports quoted in the Mid-Ocean stated that there was no reason to suspect him of criminal offence, or rather, it was decided not to pursue such investigation, this is not sufficient. Nor was his threat towards the Governor wise or prudent or neccesary. The whole speech reeked of reaction and anger, which was unfortunate. There will be those who will beleive they detected a hint of possible restricitons to press freedoms and civil liberties in that speech which was indeed pregnant with emotion.
I have always had a distinct aversion to any secret documentation and am a supporter of a full Freedom of Information Act, one that is not emasculated by vague concerns of national security. If the allegations are not true they must be rebutted, not swept away. Otherwise suspicion is aroused. Furthermore, while it is true that one is innocent until proven guilty, far too often in public perception the reverse is true, and this case is no different. Even if the accuser is the notoriously biased Mid-Ocean.
For the record, I was disappointed, but not suprised by the Mid-Oceans apparent Cuba fetish, or rather phobia. ‘Remote Caribbean dictatorship’ – what tripe! I have no problem whatosever dealing with Cuba, although I do have quite a bit of anger towards those who would exploit the Cuban people and their natural resources as it seems Mr. DeSilva and some ‘Cuban authorities’ seemed intent on doing with the alleged asbestoes and marble dealings.
It would seem that the fallout of this issue is only now beginning, and it will be legion. I sincerely hope that the allegations will prove just that, allegations. I would expect better from the Progressive Labour Party. I am not in a position or with the knowledge with which to adequately refute these allegations, but I wait to hear them from those who are.