Opinion: Famous On Commission Of Inquiry

July 21, 2014

[Opinion column written by Chris Famous]

“Our land is everything to us… I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our grandfathers paid for it – with their lives.” – Cheyenne Indian saying

On July 4th, 2014, a motion was passed in the House of Assembly of Bermuda requesting a Commission of Inquiry on “theft of property, dispossession of property and adverse possession claims” and “to recommendations for any victims of wrongful action to receive compensation and justice.”

The Commissions of Inquiry Act 1935 allows the Governor to approve a Commission of Inquiry, “into any matter in which an inquiry would in the opinion of the Governor be for the public welfare.”

Cheers Guv

While the motion was passed with unanimous, bi-partisan support of our democratically-elected political representatives, it, like every bill passed in the House and the Senate, does not become law without the Governor’s approval.

Governor George Fergusson ruled that:-

  • 1. the compulsory Tucker’s Town, US naval and aviation land purchase were “completed broadly in accordance with the normal principles of compulsory purchase for public objectives, with measures in place to help ensure FAIR PRICES.”He drew this conclusion despite MP Craig Cannonier stating during the debate: “Many of those families were fishing families living on the waterside ……they were moved inland. So if anyone thinks that the value of the property where they were before is equivalent to the inland property that they are on, they are fooling themselves.”
  • 2. With regards to the allegations of corruption of 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the Governor stated: “I would need to be satisfied that abuses by non-official agents were pervasive, systematic and on a scale to cause significant injustice to make them the subject of a Commission of Inquiry so long after the alleged events.”He drew this conclusion despite MP Bob Richards stating, “It is more than an urban legend about people losing their homes to unscrupulous real estate people, unscrupulous bankers, and unscrupulous lawyers……I know about that many of these things happened.”

He drew this conclusion despite MP Gordon-Pamplin stating, “Everyone knows someone who has been dispossessed in some way shape or form.”

Priceless Justice

Governor, “I see no case for asking Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to consider funding an investigation into allegations of commercial transactions not involving the Crown, if such funding is not forthcoming from Bermuda.”

MP Bob Richards, “….we have great sympathy but we can’t commit or potentially commit the Treasury”.

Ironic, considering that with emancipation in 1834, the Crown paid £50,409 or about 2 Billion in today’s value, to slave owners for compensation of freeing 4,026 Bermudian slaves.

OBA Giveaways

The OBA gave significant concessions to rich business owners including over $31m in tax concessions to two hoteliers. The PLP insisted that these concessions should be dependent on the hoteliers creating jobs for Bermudians.

Yet the Governor signed.

The OBA has committed $90m to the Bermuda Tourism Authority despite PLP demanding more government oversight and that funding should be linked to clearly defined results.

Yet the Governor signed.

The OBA re-wrote legislation to give them the right to rescind the Waterfront lease and, as a result, put taxpayers on the hook for an estimated $159 million. The PLP warned OBA that passing this legislation would not only put the governemnt at risk for a claim for damages but it also would pose a reputational risk for the Island.

Yet the Governor signed.

All legislation passed by the OBA has had the approval of the Governor. However, the Governor refuses to sign a motion to address the injustices inflicted on our forefathers; a motion that had the full, bi-partisan support in the House of Assembly.

This is fundamentally about the protection of our democracy and justice.

White man speaks with forked tongue” – Iroquois proverb

- Chris Famous

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Comments (37)

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  1. aceboy says:

    I fully support a commission of inquiry. Let’s do this land one and then look at the 1998-2012 years.

  2. GOD1ST says:

    The governor is defending his culture protecting his best interest.He isn’t going to shoot himself in the foot.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      How so, he had no vested interest in the country prior to his appointment, the PLP love to continuously highlight this; the matters were all entirely internal, involving only the Bermuda legislature, so there is nothing to embarrass the Crown in any potential findings. It is thus to that later point as to his reason for the Crown not footing what will be an expensive bill. So it falls to the point that the Governor made, re-write it again with a defined scope, and a means of funding, and then he may be able to sign it on. It’s not his fault the PLP wrote a motion that he couldn’t pass, even if the PLP managed to get it through the house. The Governor was correct in his decision, as was Mr. Richards in his argument, we do not have the resources right now to fund such a broad scoped commission, the OBA is making due with what we do have to try and rebuild a future for our children, once the economy is back on its feet, then we can redress the past, but until then it would be suicide to sacrifice our future for it.

  3. landless says:

    History according to Chris Famous:

    In 1609 Sir George Somers arrived in Bermuda. At this time the indigenous people (ancestors of Chris Famous)who owned the land, were all forcibly removed.

    Reality: Chris Famous family arrived on the island a British Colony 120 years ago. They took jobs from “real” Bermudians and apparently despite the oppressive colonial regime decided to stay and flourish through the opportunities the island provided.

    • Anon says:

      Landless, thank you for shutting down this loud mouth and his lies. Can you imagine if he spent that much energy on ensuring that his facts were accurate?

      • sonso says:

        Unfortunately, like the rest of the boisterous PLP proponents, i dont think Famous is going anywhere.

        In actual fact, the PLP needs voices like his to preach to those who continually lap up anything and everything that comes out regardless of merit and basis! This piece is a prime example!

        And as soon as the older generation realizes they are the ones holding everyone else on this island back, the better off we will ALL be. Mr famous, which group do you belong to?

    • Redman says:

      @ landless,

      Right On Point, especially the ‘Real’ Bermudians part lol :-)

    • Ian says:

      No weight given to slavery?? Imagine a parallel universe where you’re ancestors experienced that little hiccup here! lol

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Most of us have ancestors who endured many unpleasant and terrible things including slavery , but we don’t bother going on about it.

        We can’t change the past so what happiness does it bring to you to keep bringing it up ?

  4. Claudio says:

    Why did you leave out the MPs who wanted an amendment which stated that exactly who would be responsible for compensation?

    Who is exactly responsible for compensating the victims?

    Majority of people support an inquiry.. but the majority of people also want to know who will compensate the victims. We all know Gov’t cant afford to.

  5. Just a matter of time says:

    So are we to say that the demographics in 1609 or 120 yrs ago are the same as in 2014? In our case where we currently have a population of over 65K averaging over 7000 persons per parish in 21 squares miles, not to mention the tens of thousands of buildings, vehicles etc taking up more space, this so-called apples to apples comparison is quite illogical here. Back then population growth was necessary to establish infrastructure. The term Real Bermudians has been taken out of context to inflame hateful rhetoric against a people where land ownership is pretty much all they have to pass on to their heirs even if they are cash poor and disenfranchised by the make-cash-quick-and-I’m-outta-here foreign workers who don’t give a crap about the Bermudians period. PRC status should be given on a case by case in this day and time not carte blanche. Reform our Immigration law now which is a powder keg in its current form. Chris is spot on with the inconsistencies and the hypocrisy of the Governor he has highlighted in his article. You can’t have it both ways without a backlash.

  6. Alvin Williams says:

    Bermuda is not the Falklands islands if you wanted to keep this island British than you should not have brought my African ancestors here as slaves.
    All your devious plans to cut back the black population has come to nought. During slavery when my people rebelled you exiled the rebels. In the modern era you push birth control in the black community. Now with this PRC thing you are throwing your last dice and that too will failed.
    One day the people will not have to march on government House they will sent their children up there to attend a Bermudian university at the site. Any future governor General can stay at Clifton by that time the last black conservative premier would have moved out.

    • BlueFamiliar says:

      Sometimes there really is no need to respond.

      ~just shakes my head~

      • Yahoo says:

        Yes, unfortunately, Alvin is just a bad joke.

    • Yahoo says:

      Wow, racist much Alvin?

      Pushing birth control on the black community? Where do you come up with this stuff?

      You are incredibly delusional. Please ask your doctor to check your meds…

    • Wow... says:

      —>@Alvin Williams

      Ordinarily I will read your pieces for another perspective and will occasionally have to concede that you have made a valid point. However, this posting above reads like pure “fullishness”. You can’t be serious about the birth control comment…I expect better from you.

    • Steve Davis says:

      Yes! Bermuda will need it’s own University by then because none of the younger generation will have a passport that allows them to travel to the developed world!! Do you think without a British status Bermudians will be able to freely travel to english speaking countries as they please? Ask any Jamaican how that works out for them!

      The majority of the black legacy on this Island came here on their own accord, in order to seek better economic opportunity. Before the abolition of slavery in the British empire, Bermuda held the least slaves per capita out of any Colony. .

      It is also worth nothing that Bermuda has the wealthiest Afro-Caribbean population in the world, by some significant margin. It also has the highest literacy rate out of any Caribbean nation. – So somewhere along the line, our ties to the British have and continue to pay off! But that is not the radical racial utopia that you crave! Put it this way! There are families who have been on this Island hundreds of years longer than yours! If by any logic they are more entitled to Bermuda and to be Bermudian than you! Just because you have a certain skin color does not entitle you to be Bermudian before the next man!

    • serengeti says:

      Alvin, the PLP passed the law about PRCs over ten years ago. I know you like blaming others, but all that is happening is that the law passed by the PLP is being followed.

    • Terry says:

      Because it’s too bloody cold Alvin.
      Now Britain where you all go for free sheet and rain. That’s cool.

      Have a rum wiff yah ace bouy dee leedar.

      • Ringmaster says:

        A Bermudian University in place of Government House? For what? To learn how to beg? To learn how to fish? To learn how to grow onions and bananas? There would be little else to do as IB and tourism would have disappeared by then. Perhaps Deep Sea mining (too deep), gambling (Atlantic City is about to crumble), medical marijuana (Jamaica and the USA have that covered), internet gambling (target of the US) planes flying in Bermuda airspace (how do you collect?). So back to fishing and farming. Just like Tucker’s Town in the 1920′s in fact.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Speaking of devious plans, it was quite devious of Mr. Brown and Mr. Bean to write a motion they knew the Governor could not pass so they could act like there had been a insulting injustice had been committed. It would allow them to organize a march, proclaiming it would be for democracy to appeal to as many as possible, so they can have as many people around them when they deliver a previously undisclosed secret list of demands to which they wouldn’t tell anyone about until after the march, demanding of all thing that the FCO (the very organization the PLP proclaims we should break free of) un-democratically dissolve our democratic parliament. Opps, I missed the part about how they waited until most of the OBA MP’s wouldn’t be in house or eligible to vote on it, to get it passed, and then lie about it being passed unanimously, even though it got the support of less than half the elected MP’s, and the only reason there were no ‘no’ votes was because they had already voted against it when they voted to try and amend it. Unanimous, means everyone was in full agreement and the all involved voted for it, this was not so in this case. Devious, use of underhanded tactics to achieve goals.

  7. Steve Davis says:

    The Previous Governor also signed off on the PRC legislation that the PLP passed! Want to go after the crown for that to Chris?

    Tuckers point SDO? that was passed by the previous Governor! Did the PLP collaborate with the crown on that?

    Tax concessions for Hotels is what was agreed between the owners. Would you rather a hotel and no tax of no tax and a hotel?

    Tourism under the OBA is already turning around, it is evident this summer and the Americas Cup could be the feather in the cap. Their budget is but a smidgen of the shady Global Hue contract we had under the PLP. Did Bermuda have any say in schemes such as Faith based tourism of Beyonce concerts? No we didn’t, but we put our faith in the PLP to do the right thing.

    Famous and his PLP are throwing teddies out the pram left right and center, they just can’t handle the fact that they lost the election and are no longer in charge. So much so they would rather drag Bermuda into the gutter than see her recover.

    BIU workers will have little to no pension due to the PLP, The cost of housing sky rocketed so Bermudians can no longer afford under the PLP, healthcare went through the roof under the PLP and the ability of the government to fund welfare for people that need it disappeared when the PLP plunged us BILLIONS of $$$ into debt with uncontrolled spending! Does the PLP really care about Bermudians? The proof is in the pudding, no they do not!

    • Anon says:

      Steve, Best post I’ve read in a long time. This should be reprinted on the front page of the Royal Gazette, Bernews and the Bermuda Sun. The PLP’s recent events are all to detract the voters from their dismal track record and incompetence. Full stop.

  8. Please focus on the problems of BDA says:

    All pointless windbagging!

    If the economic issues of this country are not solved–ya’ll be fighting over a few onions and the ocaisional Easter lilly.

    Remember the old expression–you reap what you sow!

  9. somuchless says:

    There ain’t nothing famous about famous. He just like to add his 2 cents like always.

  10. FSM says:

    1834, the Crown paid £50,409 or about 2 Billion in today’s value

    Stopped reading once I got to this. 50,000 pounds was more like 10 million dollars, not 2 billion. WAY off. Doesn’t check his work, thus cannot read this article.

  11. Just a matter of time says:

    @ please focus…. I agree. Bad seeds were sowed in the land grabs way back when and nothing was done. Now decades later we are all reaping and paying for today from the mistrust and unscrupulous acts of yester years. Time to resolve the matter. A wound does not get healed unless you make attempts to help the healing process.

    • BlueFamiliar says:

      I fully support a commission of inquiry, however I do understand what the Governor is saying. What so wrong with giving him a more detailed thing to look in to along with what Bermuda is willing to put towards issue financially?

      No point in doing it half assed because no one would be happy and it would be just one more thing to go on about.

  12. Relieved says:

    The PLP put Bermuda in the gutter as they took the spoils and more,for themselves.No care or concern for the people of Bermuda who are suffering because of the ex govt’s incompetence.

  13. brigadooner says:

    I mean there are so many errors and half-truths in this statement I just don’t have the time to go through all of them. However, the easiest one to point out is the compensation in 1834. 1 pound then is roughly equivalent to 75-80 pounds today. This puts his figure in the range of 3.75 – 4 million pounds today…..not 2 billion. This is a 500 fold overstatement. I mean the number may be irrelevant but it does give you a clear indication of how skewed the argument is.

  14. Unimpressed says:

    What Chris Famous forgot to add is:

    - The PLP passed the Tucker’s Town SDO…and the Governor signed
    - The PLP gave away Morgan’s Point….and the Governor signed
    - The Hotel Concessions were also approved unanimously in the House…and the Governor signed
    - The PLP terminated Bermudian Tourism employees and allowed the monies to be sent to an overseas firm in the form of Global Hue…and the Governor signed

    Actually, during the PLP’s reign, no matter how daft or silly the legislation was that passed the House…the Governor signed.

    And despite your Party’s disdain for finances, it is very important to determine who would be responsibel for compsensation if we ever reached that point.

    “Chris Famous speaks with forked tongue” – Unimpressed

  15. BlueFamiliar says:

    One thing that does concern me though, is… if we do get the commission going and it comes up with findings that no one, or only a couple people were taken advantage of, what happens because it seems as if many people believe it was wholesale theft.

    Will a commission clear things up, or will it just turn into one more thing to be debated?

  16. Dontworryboutathing says:

    I would of thought that the 2000 people that marched up at Government House the other day, would of prospered during the 14 years of PLP Government and built themselves a nice nest egg, so that they would not have to worry about tougher times. The PLP MP’s sure did.
    From what I was made to understand in 1998 by a PLP supporter working in the Hotel Industry, “Now it is our turn”. I think, she thought that all of a sudden somehow she would get lots of money and not have to work as hard anymore. That same person is still working in the same Hotel (she is lucky it’s still there) doing the same job and still just making ends meet.
    Remember the UBP did not put us into debt. The PLP spending more than you are making, put us into debt. When you are spending other peoples money it’s easy. Fixing this is not going to be so easy.

  17. Terry says:

    I have lost faith in Chris.

  18. Just Wondering says:

    “While the motion was passed with unanimous, bi-partisan support of our democratically-elected political representatives”

    Now correct me if i’m wrong but the word unanimous means ’1 united, in agreement, in accord, of one mind, of the same mind, in harmony, concordant, undivided, as one.’ And again correct me if i’m wrong wasn’t there like 13 votes against the motion? So wouldn’t that mean it wasn’t unanimous?

    • Al says:

      There were only 13 votes for the motion. 13 of 36 MPs.

  19. Beware says:

    What a bunch of trash from you Famous!