By Concerned Citizen
As the people of Nevis waited with bated breath for the new Nevis Island Administration to layout out its policy and legislative agenda to improve the lives of all Nevisians for the next five years, a rumor started filtering out that the new Premier, Hon. Mark Brantley, in an address to civil servants, lamented that when he walked into the room, as head of the ‘government’ no one stood. He lamented that wherever he went, whenever a head of government walked into the room, civil servants would stand.
He further stated that when other Ministers, or Permanent Secretaries walk into a room, civil servants should stand.
Initially, persons thought that if the rumor was true, that was just the new Premier merely demonstrating his sense of humor. Laughter rang out among the people. What an absolutely great joke to start the New Year.
Then the NNC broadcasted the address on Friday, January 5, 2018. Premier Brantley stood at the podium, stone faced and clearly articulated this policy, in the name of mutual respect.
The words, and the delivery of the words, by Brantley were mind boggling. I thought to myself, “That guy was actually serious?” That reminded me of a line by Joe Pesci in one of my favorite movies ‘My Cousin Vinny’ when he looked at the judge with a comical and disbelieving look on his face and asked, “you were serious about that?” just before the judge sentenced him to jail for contempt.
Well, apparently the new Premier was very serious about that statement.
I find this new ‘policy’ to be a very dangerous and a slippery slope. This was clearly not fully thought through, since it could lead to so many questions and interpretations. For instance:
- Does the new Premier and his Ministers need their egos stroked so badly that they must demand this type of salutations from civil servants?
- Does the new Premier and his Ministers think that civil servants are actual ‘servants?’
- Will there be an announcer in every government office, as in the Magistrate or High Court, who shouts at the top of his/her voice, “All Rise” as he or she announces the name of the Minister, or Permanent Secretary who enters a room? This may be necessary since some persons in Government actually do work and may be deeply engrossed in whatever they may be doing at the time of entry.
- What if a civil servant refuses to stand? Will that individual be charged with contempt? What would be the penalties, termination or suspension? How will this charge be presented to the Civil Service Commission?
- What if someone is suffering from a disability, will that person need a doctor’s note to excuse them from standing up?
- What if Ministers, or Permanent Secretaries walk through offices all day, how will any work get down if people have to be sitting and standing every time someone from that designated group walks into a room? Will the government offices become exercise rooms where people sit then stand, sit then stand? The thought of this is comical if only it was not offset by the fact that many civil servants may have medical conditions that makes such exertions dangerous.
- Did the new Premier not realize such courtesies are traditionally or legally afforded to Judges, Speakers of Parliament and Heads of State? Since he is neither a Judge nor the Speaker of the House, does he think he is a Head of State? Just in case he actually thinks this is so, someone should point out to him that he is only a Premier of a local administrative body. Further, that by demanding this honor for him and his underlings, this actually cheapens this courteous honor when given those mentioned who are actually entitled by tradition or law.
- Did the Premier also designated Permanent Secretaries to be given this honor so that he and his ministers do not appear so egotistical?
- Where does this need for adulation ends? Today, civil servants are ordered to stand in honor of the arrival of any of the designated group. Will civil servants next be ordered to kneel; bow; genuflect; kiss the ring (as in the Mafia movies); or salute?
- Isn’t this how Hitler’s Third Reich instilled fear and dedication in the people of Germany?
- What’s next, the passing of a law requiring the general public to stand; kneel; bow or raise their right hand in a 45 degree angle and proclaim, “Hail to the Chiefs?”
As previously stated, this policy has the potential to open Pandora’s Box with this very dangerous and slippery slope.
I will take this opportunity to urge the new Premier to reverse this very ill-advised policy. Instead of being dictator-like by seeking forced adulation, he should focus on solving the many problems facing the people of Nevis. Solve the dialysis problem, solve the rampant crime problem, solve the rising cost of living problem, provide jobs for the youths of island, attract investors.
With these achieved, then respect would have been earned, and not demanded.