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Saturday 18 November 2017
Letters to the Editor

Why a non-national to head Tobago tourism?

THE EDITOR: Representation has always had a special place in the hearts of men. Throughout history many battles have been fought as proper representation was sought. It was deemed a necessity to freedom and a quality life. I need look no further than our own history for verification of this.

When people believe themselves to be misrepresented they are unhappy and desire change. Were we not once under colonial rule? With leaders who were strangers to our land, whose ideals and imperatives did not exactly align with our own? Indeed, that was once our position; but unsatisfied, we pushed for independence, we elected individuals from among us to represent us and our interests. That has been the procedure ever since.

We elect those from our communities to represent us. They’ve lived among us, shared in our rains and droughts, and so uniquely understand our needs and setbacks. It is through this, and academic achievements, that elected officials are expected to serve (minister) those who elected them.

With this history in mind, we can see why the appointment of a non-national, Louis Lewis, to head the Tobago Tourism Agency leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some.

One may argue that the origin or birthplace of someone shouldn’t matter. That their competency is solely tied to their skill set and character. I’d agree that those qualities are of utmost importance but request that further consideration be given to the ability of the person to relate with and relay information to the people he serves.

Lewis is indeed a very intelligent man, whose list of accomplishments and contributions to the St Lucian economy are impressive. If that were the only metric I’d be recommending him as well. However, there exists other components to being a successful leader:

* Being acquainted with subtleties and nuances of the prevailing culture.
* Being seen as a team member who can both guide the vessel and handle the oars.
* Having a local history and established trustworthiness.

These few examples should not be taken for granted, as they can determine the effectiveness of a leader and by extension the success of the initiatives under one’s purview. Haven’t we already had a qualified non-national serve our people before? What became of that venture?

Have we forgotten the public failure of our “soft-spoken” Commissioner of Police? Was his reception by the people, or lack thereof, of positive or negative impact?

Haven’t Tobagonians repeatedly called for more representation? With these questions in mind, do our leaders really believe this appointment strengthens the morale and rallies the support of those on the island?

We are owed some transparency in the matter at hand. It is far-fetched to believe that no qualified national could be found. Further incredible is that none would be willing to step up to the plate and serve those they’ve both lived and laboured with. And finally, it is a slap in the face that a non-national be given first preference in our great, independent nation.

JON HUBERT BRISTOL via e-mail

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