Kim Swan Urges Filipinos To Reconsider May 24th

May 11, 2010

UBP Leader Kim Swan has urged the The Association of Filipinos in Bermuda “to reconsider its decision with a view to participating in the parade”, after the association announced it would withdraw from the May 24th Parade, in response to comments made by Colonel Burch, and what they say has been negative feedback since.

The Filipino Community have been a part of the traditional May 24th Parade for some years now, with their intricate costumes very notable through the route.

The issue stems from wording used when announcing a new ruling, that effective May 01, 2010 nationals from the Philippines, as well as Panama, and the Dominican Republic have new visas requirements, due to what Minister of Immigration Colonel David Burch called sham marriages and reports of Dominican women being brought in as prostitutes.

In a letter sent to the Premier, various MPs and the Human Rights Commission, the Association explained their reason for withdrawal:

We the Association of Filipinos in Bermuda would like to register our very strong objection to your statement when you referred to the Filipinos, the Dominicans and the Panamanians as prostitutes.

The letter then went on to say:

Due to the derogatory comments that are being made to members of the Filipino community, the decision has been made that we will not participate in the Bermuda Day Parade so that our members will not be subject to further public ridicule and verbal abuse

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition Kim Swan issued a statement encouraging the Filipino community to reconsider their decision:

I am very disappointed that careless words by a Government minister have resulted in the Filipino community deciding to withdraw from the Bermuda Day parade.

I would encourage the Association of Filipinos in Bermuda to reconsider its decision with a view to participating in the parade, which is a celebration of Bermuda’s cultural life.

It is a day that is supposed to bring people together.

Although people have described Immigration Minister David Burch’s words as those of a bigot, I think they are more reflective of an insensitive mindset.

I am more concerned with the license he has been given to speak in such a way – to slur groups of people.

Minister Burch’s words about Filipinos, Dominicans and Panamanians were simply the latest example of a government minister denigrating people.

In recent weeks, we have heard a junior minister call environmentalists “pimps and prostitutes”, the Health Minister use ageist terminology against his Shadow Minister and the Premier’s race relations advisor use unseemly words to attack a Government MP.

Our concern – which has been voiced before – comes back to the example set by the Premier, who has always found it easier to use words that divide rather than unify Bermuda. His use of harsh, divisive words is well-established and has set the tone for others in his government.

To put it into the right context for a better Bermuda, ask yourself: Is this how Nelson Mandela would have it?

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