MP Sylvan Richards On Politics, Change & More

December 19, 2013

Sylvan Richards JR[Opinion column written by OBA MP Sylvan Richards]

In November of 2010 I formally threw my hat into the political arena when I ran in the by-election in Warwick South Central for the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, in the wake of Dr. Ewart Brown’s resignation.

Contesting that election was a trial by fire and gave me a glimpse of how difficult Bermudian politics can be. Not only was I subject to personal attacks and innuendo, but so was my family. After losing that by-election I had to seriously reflect on whether or not I had the resolve to continue on in local politics.

Fast forward to December of 2012 and there I was once more, a candidate in Hamilton South under the One Bermuda Alliance banner, in what was the National General Election.

The economy was in freefall, violent gun crime had been spiraling out of control and Bermudians from all walks of life and political persuasions were fearful of the abyss that threatened to swallow Bermuda’s long running success story.

It was against this backdrop that, as a candidate for the brand new One Bermuda Alliance, I was elected to Parliament. I was a novice politician, green as a fresh blade of grass, when the Premier appointed me to the Cabinet last year to serve as Minister of Environment and Planning.

I knew that I had to get up to speed quickly with the myriad of issues that needed to be dealt with in my ministry and now, eleven months on, I am enormously proud of how far I was able to get in such a short period of time. Of course I’m a bit disappointed that a few initiatives in which I had invested quite a bit of time, I cannot see through to fruition. However, if you think you’ve heard the last of me, think again.

I got involved in politics in the first place for a very simple reason – I wanted to give back to the community that had raised me. I thought that I could contribute, in some limited way, to help Bermuda become a better place for all of us.

I think I always knew in my heart that the time I had as a Minister was going to be limited, because I knew that the Premier, after getting a firm grasp of what needed to be done to get Bermuda back on track, would likely change his Cabinet. Over the years we have all seen Ministers come and go, so from the outset I did not get too attached to my ministerial seat and just concentrated on getting on with the job.

The experience I have gained from having been in the OBA Cabinet for almost a year, and having run a Government Ministry, has been extraordinary. I think it has made me a much better person and politician. I have become stronger and more deeply aware of the meaning of community from having to make decisions that I know were correct, but that also caused some sleepless nights.

Last week the Premier decided to shrink the size of cabinet, a decision I fully embrace and understand. This government has touted the value of shared sacrifice from the beginning, therefore I see my removal from cabinet as my personal contribution to this effort. We are all, as Bermudians, going to be asked to make sacrifices as we continue this journey of recovery and renewal.

I also truly understand the wisdom of what the Premier was trying to do when he downsized the Cabinet. There is tremendous pressure on the OBA Government to succeed at what we are doing. The pressure is greater because Bermuda’s problems are so much worse than we thought they were when we took over. There is more work to do than we thought, and it is much more urgent than we expected.

It sounds like a terrible contradiction, doesn’t it, that the Premier would shrink his Cabinet at a time when there is so much work to be done? But it’s not like that. A smaller group is a more streamlined group, a group that can work quickly and well together, and I think that this is one of the things Premier Cannonier is trying to achieve. The country surely deserves the most efficient Cabinet we can put together, and if I can help bring that about, I am only too happy to cooperate.

It was also a promise we made – that we would shrink the size of cabinet and set a good example by saving the country some money that is needed elsewhere. I know all of us in the OBA want badly to keep the campaign promises we made, to keep faith with the country.

Another observation of mine is that the political mud that gets stirred when we have to find another way to achieve our stated goals of creating jobs and encouraging direct inward investment, is painful and very, very distracting. It eats up a lot of time that would be better spent doing other things, other things like finding ways to grow jobs and making it easier for job-makers to do that.

I must confess that one of the things I did not expect to encounter at the highest level in Government was the extent of that political mud. Unfortunately, among some of my Bermudian people, there can be no good will towards anyone in Government.

We are simply political targets, and the more that can be done to hamper and thwart our efforts and those of others working for the good of Bermuda the better, as far as they are concerned. No accusation is too scurrilous in some eyes, no mud too dirty to sling. No Government effort, no matter how much good it promises to accomplish, is exempt from their determination to criticize and destroy.

In all honesty, I find this negativism, this armchair quarterbacking very difficult to stomach. Every politician, whether PLP, OBA or Independent, makes a great sacrifice when serving in public office.

I challenge everyone out there reading this – if you believe that you have something to contribute and have the answers to the vexing problems facing our country, then get up off the sofa and get from behind the computer and get involved! All this pessimism and cynicism is hard to reconcile with what I know about Bermudians, and what a wonderful, generous people we are.

In closing, if I could be given just one Christmas wish it would be to get the cynics to see just how much the OBA wants to help Bermuda, how prepared we are to sacrifice for the common good, and how much better the Island would be if they got involved – positively!

- Sylvan Richards

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  1. Opinion: Famous Responds To Sylvan Richards | Bernews.com | March 8, 2014
  1. watching says:

    Bore me more. He obviously has too much time on his hands to write a column trying to rationalize why he was fired.

    • Lois Frederick says:

      He mentioned you!

      Unfortunately, among some of my Bermudian people, there can be no good will towards anyone in Government.

    • hmmm says:

      Read the article and think about what he is saying.

  2. Hmmmmm says:

    Mr. Richards, I think you’re a genuinely nice guy but damn man, did you really go to Howard ? I can’t believe this OpEd. The second half of your piece must be an open letter to the OBA’s supporters because surely you cannot be suggesting that the political mudslinging to which you refer is something unique to the last year? The OBA (and before it the UBP) thrived, lived and eventually won an election based on nothing but political mud and unfounded allegations dressed up as reality, compliments of a friendly media (who, I might add have been awfully quiet these last 12 months; when’s the last time you heard a mention of PATI and “the public’s right to know”?)

    There is room for good people in politics and I think you are one of them, but you have to exchange those rose-colured glasses and see Bermuda and your Party for what they really are. I am sure you cannot be comfortable with the likes of Moniz, Gibbons and Richards in your midst……your disappointment with the independence referendum result in 1995, as you expressed in the House last week tells me that…you are worlds apart from them and maybe in this political journey you’ll realize that.

    peace

    • u ank sers says:

      What’s wrong with Gibbons, Richards, and Moniz?! You’re scared because they are smarter, etc to the country than all your members combined. Or maybe because dey skin color. It’s 2014 GTFOH with that BS!

      • Hmmmmm says:

        Does Bob Richards fit your skin colour theory ? They used to do that in South Africa during apatheid; create honorary whites. This has nothing to with skin colour but has everything to do with their ideology. Why don’t you stop dividing blacks into good ones and bad ones based on whether they support you or not.This is an ideological argument not a racial one.

        • u ank sers says:

          Seems to me if you really knew their ideologies you wouldn’t be saying the same thing. They are there for their country and its best interests. You don’t even know these people, they come some of the most humble families on de island, yet you just take opinions from other people and see it as truth. Nowhere did I say diving blacks on good and bad.

    • Chuckling says:

      But isn’t the media silent? Oh, and Louise Jackson? The seniors must be all straight now.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      - – Mr. Richards, I think you’re a genuinely nice guy but damn man, did you really go to Howard ? – -

      I know what this is code language for . I wonder if anyone else does ?

  3. seriously says:

    This is ridiculous.

    He’s complaining about people giving the OBA a tough time. People wouldn’t be complaining if the OBA were honest.

    Also, why does the OBA feel the need to Demonize the PLP all the time. Like the PLP want the OBA to feel.

    Come on OBA – Grow up!

    • hmmm says:

      The OBA don’t demonize anyone. When did they do that ? People who comment on here are not OBA, they are just people who want Bermuda to survive and work for all Bermudians.

    • u ank sers says:

      Could you be anymore hypocritical. Just take your OBA an put PLP and it’s the exact same, probably worse. GTFOH!

  4. LOL (original TM*) says:

    It’s only boring to you cause it’s not him sayin he was fired cause some old white guy told the Premier to remove him………………

    LOL

  5. Vote for Me says:

    MP Richards, I commend you for your public service.

    A couple of questions:
    How do you think we can get Premier Cannonier and PLP Leader Bean to work together when required, in the public arena? The referendum is a clear example (without the allegation of lies).

    Can you confirm if the former UBP and BDA joined together because of a joint vision or as a result of your loss in the Warwick bye election?

    Do you think you were too green to be appointed a Minister so early?

    If you were so ‘green’ why did you perform your dutines on a part time basis rather than full time?

    Do you think more part time Ministers would be better than fewer fulltime Ministers?

    Well done – there are many different political opinions but everyone should appreciate the collective sacrifices of all Members of Parliament and the Senate.

    • sage says:

      Oh yes,I really appreciate, no idolize, those who sacrifice so greatly by being paid six figure wages for a part time hustle in which they have zero experience.Love it.

  6. sage says:

    Hey listen Sylvan, what’s that? It’s the worlds smallest violin playing ” Who really gives a f^**”.

  7. more than enough says:

    all politicians are over-compensated for all of their ‘sacrifice’…suck it up!

  8. more than enough says:

    six paragragraphs of tears..boo hoo

  9. Not buying it says:

    Sylvan, I truly believe the Premier should have kept you on board. He could have selected one of the other Ministers.

    Example Trevor Moniz, who doesn’t know what the word hello means.

    You’re down to Earth and a people person. You have the same friendly spirit as Minister Dunkley. I respect both of you. Have a good Christmas my friend.

  10. musical chairs says:

    Dear brother “Bl___ity Bla___” and all a that there stuff, to quote a former Minister.

    I really hope you aren’t also removed from your AVP position, then you would be in a real pickle, waiting for one of the 2,000 jobs like the rest of us!

  11. hmmm says:

    I find it soul destroying that Bermudians can come on here and throw cheap shots and one line wonders at this man in relation to what he wrote. I bet a number of the commenters didn’t read , absorb and think about all what he wrote.

    Please read it again all the way through and think about it and then what you wrote.

    • watching says:

      He probably didnt write it anyway!

    • more than enough says:

      we got another crier ‘soul destroying’ get real

    • Vote for Me says:

      @ hmmm
      Do not be mistaken. We may have read and reached a different conclusion than you.

      A very harsh analysis is that MP Richards did not think more thoroughly about stepping into politics. At the time BDA were in a fierce public battle with the UBP and comments were often unfriendly, especially between BDA leader Cannonier and UBP Leader Swan.

      Politics is not for the faint of heart!!

  12. swing voter says:

    jus reading the negative comments shows how much we’ve ‘matured’ from UBP to PLP to OBA. when-ever the PLP government did good, we pat them on the back, when they did bad, we told them. When an MP steps aside without controversy, without a disgruntlement and without disgrace then its a good thing for politics in general. Sadly some of us can’t set aside our bias positions

    • Chuckling says:

      Pat the PLP on the back when they did good???? Not on this reel and surely not by these OCD UBPoba commenters.

  13. That is All says:

    Sylvan thanks for giving of yourself and contributing to the politics of Bermuda. You seem to be one of the more genuine and humble politicians on our island. I was however quite disappointed with the new cabinet. The fact that the premier felt it was ok to have all ex UBP members bothers me. It suggest that the merger didn’t allow for any ‘new blood’ to be injected into the decision/policy making roles. I understand the need to have seasoned persons in some roles but I feel that if the OBA was sincere in its stance to create a new style of politics in Bermuda it would involve new players in the cabinet; of which there are none. I beg that you and the former BDA members to go out and restart the BDA. For the sake of our island, we need a new political party with new ideas that won’t be bogged down by the weight of our past, and that haven’t already been ‘corrupted’(for the lack of a better word) by local politics. Please lobby for this amongst your colleagues who were BDA. We need a new party or we will forever be stuck in the polarized nonproductive politics we see today. (FYI I was a member of the OBA last year)

  14. Max says:

    Mr. Richards I did Not see much you did in your ministry while you were there. But it might have been to short and the fact that you was part time well that says it all. Good that you did not quit your day job now lets see you do something for the area you represent after all its been a UBP OBA safe seat since day one but I don’t see you doing anything in the community.

  15. colin s says:

    Your OpEd is sincere and candid. Its too bad that some bloggers chose to tear down rather than build up. As a new MP you have set a good example for others who are considering public service. Keep up the good work OBA!

  16. Golden gloves says:

    This shows the OBA is a team.
    Derrick and Michael been at it lately?