The Bermudian blogosphere has been talking this week about the decision by the island's Premier to hire a Public Relations firm to tweak Bermuda‘s international image, which has been recently sullied by everything from the ruling party's attacks on the free press to the lack of transparency with electoral reform and freedom of information. All this has been made even more glaring by the Premier's recent shut-down of a parliamentary debate, adding that the Government will do the same “every time there is the implication or insinuation of something dishonest or corrupt” by the Opposition.
A Radical in Bermuda pulls no punches on the issue, saying:
It seems our glorious leader feels it is necessary to spend even more tax payer dollars to come in and “fix” Bermuda's international image, you know, the one the media and opposition ruined.
Politics.bm, in citing a long list of reasons that he believes has caused the island's reputation to be tarnished, adds:
Here's a suggestion. Bermuda's image problem isn't a public relations problem, it's a public policy one.
21 Square analyses the situation in the context of transparency and good governance, saying:
Any reasonable individual would recognize that the easiest means to counter corruption allegations and abuse of parliamentary procedure would be to increase transparency in government.
He goes on:
Premier Brown recently announced that the Bermuda government would hire a foreign public relations firm in hopes of countering the poor image of governance Bermuda has developed. While Premier Brown's suggestion that the opposition is abusing parliamentary privilege may be valid, any reasonable observer would note that the easiest way to counteract this would be to televise the parliamentary sessions and publish Hansard minutes. This would make it readily obvious whether or not the opposition indeed is abusing parliamentary privilege.
Vexed Bermoothes, tongue in cheek, echoes his sentiment:
So, what to do when the uproar about corruption, mismanagement, secrecy, and lack of accountability becomes so great that the country’s reputation begins to get sullied? Of course, hire an overseas PR agency to spin your way out of it! Brilliant!
Nevermind the fact that the Cabinet Office already has a large internal PR team. Nevermind this does NOTHING to address the root problems that are causing the malcontent amongst Bermudians and our customers. Nevermind this will become an exercise in burnishing the Premier’s tarnished reputation. It’s got nothing to do with Bermuda really.
As if to underscore this point, 21 Square writes:
So, rather than increasing transparency and giving the public greater confidence in trustworthiness of our leadership, what we're seeing is the opposite. Increasing transparency would absolutely be a reasonable course to countering allegations of corruption and abuse of parliamentary procedure. By decreasing transparency Premier Brown is doing more to raise questions about the trustworthiness of himself and his colleagues as it increases the credibility of the attacks made by the opposition.
Finally, IMHO.bm, in a pained post about a 14-year-old girl who was found dead, says:
On a side note, THIS is the reputation that Premier Brown should be more concerned with. May be the Island would be better off allocating money to the 50 man short police force instead of spending more on a PR firm.