At least one government legislator is reminding residents to approach government leaders respectfully whenever they seek to highlight issues facing the territory.
Territorial At-Large representative Neville ‘Sheep’ Smith made that statement while speaking at last week’s public meeting on Jost Van Dyke where government ministers discussed issues with members of the community.
Smith’s call for respect seemed to refer to the tone of some messages in a community WhatsApp chat group consisting of government personnel and Jost Van Dyke residents.
“I believe in talking about unity and we have to be careful about what we put on chats. We have to respect each other. You have to respect the government so they could respect you,” Smith said as members of the audience murmured in agreement.
He continued: “I really feel like we need to stop taking down [to] each other. Because every time you talk bad about an individual, you’re talking bad about yourself because we are the BVI.”
Smith also cautioned residents that tone is often the issue and not the actual words that residents say.
“I expect the people to make comments, but it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. We have to stop fighting down each other and start working together as one BVI. No island is behind with this government,” Smith said.
Later on in the meeting, Premier Andrew Fahie also reiterated Smith’s statement saying not all government leaders will tolerate disrespect.
“Of course, there’s a certain level of respect. You can’t come up to a minister and tell him where to go in the worst of words … You might be answered back in kind. Not for me but I know some of the ministers — their tolerance to be spoken to in that way is not as long as mine,” Fahie said.