Kings College London

Law alumnus Trevor Moniz on protecting Bermuda's 'Old World' charm

Trevor Moniz is a King’s Law alumnus (graduated 1975) who was awarded the Helen Hudson award last year in recognition of the outstanding support he showed to staff, students and alumni in organising successful World questions|King's answers campaign events in Bermuda as well as his fundraising efforts for the Somerset House East Wing refurbishment.

He was recently appointed Minister of Public Works of Bermuda- the oldest and most populous British Overseas Territory. Throughout his political career, Mr Moniz has worked towards creating a more modern and democratic Bermuda that keeps its ties with the UK while maintaining its beauty and Old World charm. He campaigned against independence for Bermuda in 1995 and backed the banning of fast food franchises there in 1997.

In December, his party The One Bermuda Alliance won the general election, replacing the Progressive Labour Party who had held power for 14 years. Mr Moniz was appointed Minister of Public Works, one of the largest ministries and one that has been plagued by corruption and inefficiency.

Trevor MonizTrevor Moniz receiving the Helen Hudson Award from the Principal, Professor Sir Richard Trainor on 9 June 2012

What are the main responsibilities as Minister of Public Works and how do you plan to change and improve this ministry?

Public Works is responsible for much of the physical infrastructure of Bermuda and I hope to put the Ministry on a more rational and consistent footing. There is plenty of work to do! The largest project may be the design and building of a new bridge or causeway between the main island and the East End and the airport which might cost $100 million.

Why did you choose to study Law at King’s and how was your time at College?

In 1969 I was awarded the GCE Mathematics prize at my school and was presented with ‘The Double Helix’ written by James Watson. The book recounted some of the seminal work by Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and others at King’s College London, which was the first time I had heard of King’s. This, along with my later knowledge of KCL’s excellent reputation for the teaching of Law, inspired me to apply to the College.

The idea of London was attractive to me, too. I had never been out of the 20 square miles of Bermuda before I was engulfed by London. It turned out to be an exciting but challenging city to live in. I used to visit the British Museum and went to the House of Commons one evening on a whim to listen to a debate between the respective MPs for Cardiff and Bristol.

I greatly enjoyed my time at the College. Within the first couple of weeks, I was both thrilled and daunted to take part in the big march where King’s was led by the then Principal General Sir John Hackett. [the 1973 student march in favour of higher student grants]

As for its impact on my career, my time at King’s Law School [now The Dickson Poon School of Law] laid a very sound legal and academic foundation as a road to my future success.

Why did you choose to move from law into politics?

I have deeply held ethical and moral convictions, but the gradual move to politics began at age 40. I have always been fascinated with what makes people and societies ‘tick’: how society works and how to make it work justly. I firmly believe in the importance of how individuals behave, and the choices individuals make, in order to make societal institutions work in a fairer fashion. My concern in Law and Politics is one and the same: to achieve fair and just outcomes.

You backed the Prohibited Restaurant Act in 1997 to ensure fast food franchises could not be set up on the island. What do you think is distinctive about Bermuda and why is it important to maintain its Old World image?

Bermuda has a quite unique ‘feel’ about it and one that we are very proud of. We have a reputation for being open and welcoming. People don’t come to Bermuda for strip malls or franchise food. We have our own cultural diversity with a plethora of choices of denomination and religion. This is who we are and what we have to offer beyond magnificent sunshine, beautiful flora and pristine beaches.

This package makes Bermuda an attractive tourist destination as well as an attractive place for guest workers in international business to live, work and play.

Why do you think it is important for Bermuda to retain its links with the UK and not become an independent country?

Interestingly, as I am mainly ethnically Portuguese, I have been one of the strongest proponents of the advantages offered by our continued strong links with the UK. We presently, in my view and that of the vast majority of Bermudians, enjoy the best of all possible worlds. We are self-governing but at the same time enjoy the support and advice of the UK. This appeals not only to most Bermudians, but also to our business partners in the international and insurance sectors.

What are your hopes for the future of Bermuda?

I hope that in the future all Bermudian children, including my own four, can enjoy a standard and quality of life second to non with ample opportunity for all to have fulfilling and rewarding lives.

 

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