Letter to the Editor: Opportunity or Oppression on Saba?

Dear Editor,

I write this letter on the cusp of Saba Day 2021. While the outside world celebrates with us, they are unaware of the reality of many Sabans employed within the Government Service, a reality that inveigles despair, frustration, and disappointment on a daily basis as it continues to be disguised and swept under the rug by the “powers that be”.

Like every other year, auspiciously invited guests will be ushered to and from the island to partake in the Saba Day merriment seeing only decorated buildings, overflowing drinks, polished smiles and the well-tailored suits of their hosts. On any other given day, the narrative is quite the opposite of the great governance that the current Executive Council continues to falsely promote, in an effort to protect their image of Saba being one of the Kingdom’s most well-behaved and well-accomplished children.

In theory, any successful Civil Servant model would pride itself on markers such as inclusiveness, capabilities, openness, integrity, HR management, regulation, fiscal and financial management and policymaking, to name a few. In the case of Saba, however, these markers cannot be used to highlight the success of our government, but rather the failures and downfalls of the executive council and fiascos they continue to ignore and hide. Allow me to further break it down.

Inclusiveness: while the civil service boasts of 180 employees, it is anything but inclusive. In fact, while many local Sabans hold jobs within the public entity sector, there is little to no chance for fair wages or upward mobility as most of the well-paying positions are held by expats.

Capabilities: The Public Entity Saba seems to pride itself on placing confidence in the capabilities of non-nationals who are in most cases unqualified and inexperienced for the positions they are recruited to fill, as opposed to trusting eager and ambitious locals with the tools needed to advance and excel. This is their lazy and unpatriotic approach to developing the island while masking the many disastrous failures and high employee turnover that comes with this approach.

Openness: decisions continue to be made for employees and the island population at large, without the input of those whom the decisions affect the most and without much explanation or transparency. Within the public entity, employer-employee transparency is a luxury that is not offered to many.

Integrity: As defined in the Oxford Dictionary:

noun: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. “a gentleman of complete integrity”

Similar: Honesty, honour, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, virtue, decency, fairness, truthfulness, trustworthiness

Opposite: The Public Entity Saba

HR Management: There is none. This role continues to change hands every Monday morning, with no transparency. It begs to question who is actually in charge of the hiring, firing, and employee relations and are they suitable to be carrying out such delicate and expert tasks.

Regulation: Simply put, different strokes for different folks. This applies to salary scales, job placements, promotions, division of tasks and disciplinary measures.

Fiscal and Financial Management: The Public Entity Saba is currently operating on a budget deficit, need I say more?

Policy Making: Again, what policies? Are we referring to the heavily padded shells of policies that Holland “thinks” exists, that have been written by foreign interns and assistants for the people of Saba, without the input of the people of Saba, but with Wikipedia being their number one source of research?

With the abovementioned points taken into consideration, as much as the executive council would like to paint a pretty picture of opportunity for all, this does not apply to the average Saban who does not have the means to fund their own education or professional development, an incentive that should naturally be offered and funded by any government that is interested in the sustainability and economic longevity of a population.

All this goes to say that on this Saba day, let us reflect as a people and as an international family. Sabans deserve more. They continue to be oppressed and starved with the breadcrumbs thrown to them by the government, while others come to the island and eat entire loaves.

The civil service has been and continues to be the biggest form of systemic oppression plaguing the population. There are no opportunities for local Sabans and to think so would be extremely ignorant and naïve. We continue to lose ambitious Saban professionals to other islands and countries, isn’t it time we start taking a closer look at “why”?

In my opinion, the current Saban Government continues to say to it’s people “You can have this much, and no more because you don’t deserve it, and even if you do, we will not give it to you because it is easier to control a population that is oppressed and does not know their own strengths and capabilities”. Oppression keeps the wheel of life on Saba turning, not opportunity, at least not an opportunity for locals.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” A quote from ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell that illustrates the inequalities that exist on Saba.

Name witheld on request

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6 comments

  1. Capt. Jack Sparrow

    I think George Orwell also said…”opinions are like rectums, everyone has one.”

  2. Well written, and you have dotted All the i’s

  3. 180 civil servants needed to serve a community of 1900 people (including kids and elderly persons)????? There must be something seriously wrong with the competence of these civil servants.

    My parents thought me to get off my airconditioned chair before I could climb the ladder.

    I observe also, that most of the businesses are run by non-native Sabans. No initiatives in the locals other than a job in the airconditioned government building?

    But Sabans do rent apartments of often simple quality for extreme prices to ex-pats needed to support a healthy Saba community. What impression do they take home other than that of a beautiful island with trails maintained by Canadian volunteers?

    • Canadian friend of the “Trail Group”

      Plan a just started flying from Canada. Most of the folks that came to work the trails are not coming this year do to the risk of not getting back again. Hopefully the Saban will volunteer this year. It is a great opportunity to contribute to the island and qualify for an award from the Netherlands for doing the volunteer work.

  4. A lot of realistic and good food for thought!

  5. Cristian Hassell Feliciano

    12 years ago before 10-10, I saw this coming but always remember in God We Trust and No wrong can last 100 years! You are very brave to speak up on little Saba!!!! Saba was good to me in many ways but there is always room for improvement! I do agree with you on the part that help should be given first preference and greater assistance in all endevours to the local and native people but also foreigners and immigrants should be equally respected! I urge everyone not just on saba but all over the world to emancipate yourselves from mental slavery such as racism and nationalism are mental slavery!!!
    Cristian Hassell Feliciano

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