British Virgin Islands

Saturday, Jun 12, 2021

OPINION: Why don’t we trust our elected reps?

OPINION: Why don’t we trust our elected reps?

I often hear our politicians in the House of Assembly purporting that Virgin Islanders prefer the leadership of the governor and the UK over that of elected leaders. Premier Fahie even described some as having “shackles on our minds” when trying to illustrate that the public doesn’t believe our own people can lead with excellence.
This is the line I hear them arguing along and I would just like to correct the flaw in this reasoning.

You see, we the people know that Virgin Islanders are bright, intelligent people who have been blazing a trail of excellence, taking up their rightful place in this territory and all over the world. It ain’t about your intellectual capacity. What it is about is the way our people have been burned by local politicians over the years. I don’t need to rehash the numerous scandals that have plagued our two major political parties. I’m not saying they were all true, but scandals have the ability to undermine the people’s confidence and that’s what happens each time one comes out.

Our elected leaders are not very transparent. They don’t seem to want to be questioned by anyone– not by the poor journalists, not by the civil servants, UK officials, and certainly not the rest of the electorate. I hear the words they use to describe the ‘bloggers’ and people who comment on local politics. It’s a shame, to be honest.

I must say the present Fahie-led administration seems to be more forthcoming with information than the last NDP administration, I’ll give them that. But even then, a lot of their revelations are reactive. A lot of the time, information is published by the government after the blogs write a story or after the Governor makes a statement. It shouldn’t be this way. Transparency means sharing information “just because” we should know. This way you can build trust.

With that said, the Governor’s Office is seen as an objective arm of government. Governors are not locals, they are not as entrenched in the local melee and spats that our elected leaders are prone to. Because of this, people see that office as the bulwark against the actions of elected leaders. That’s all it is. It’s not that people are looking to the “white man” to be our saviour. When elected leaders say that, it makes us seem backward and ‘un-emancipated’.

I see the Premier pushing to have the Governor’s Office evaluated under the proposed Integrity In Public Life Act. I don’t disagree with this move. Everyone should be held accountable. But until we find lack of transparency, victimisation and evidence that the Governor’s Office has misused public funds, we will always be harder on our elected leaders. The best thing for elected leaders to do is to own up to what has happened in the past and commit to moving forward in a transparent manner. It’s as simple as that.

On the other hand, the government isn’t handling this pandemic badly at all. I commend them.
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