One Family Echo Chamber! By Her Excellency Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne, Ambassador of the Embassy of St. Kitts and Nevis in Washington, D.C

Her Excellency Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne
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by Her Excellency Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne

When I returned to St Kilts at the end of 1979, every medical doctor employed by the government (which was and is the major employer), was allowed to have a private practice to supplement small salaries for the qualifications.

The only female at the time and mother of a 5 year old with whom I had not spent enough time because of my studies, I opted not to do private practice.

Then Minister of Health, the late Fitzroy Bryant, utilized a vacant post of Medical Officer of Health which allowed me to get half a salary extra ( I think it was eleven hundred dollars) in addition to my substantive post of Medical Officer at JNF Gen. Hospital.

One would say he was looking out for a friend but also the people of Basseterre had extra clinics per week at the BHC besides what their DMO provided.

When later the government changed and Dr Ian Jacobs returned home, he was sent to the Molyneux district to replace Dr Izben Williams who had served that area for some time.
It was in essence a demotion but rather than a firing, he was transferred to Bassterre and the MOH post from which I was dismissed with immediate effect. (I continued working only in my JNF post without private practice until in 1994 when I completed studies in dermatology).

The Districts of Sandy Point and Molyneux were arguably the most lucrative in the sense that there were cottage hospitals of which Medical Superintendent attracted a salary, District Medical Officer attracted it’s own remuneration and SSMC also paid a salary to look after sugar workers and doctors were also allowed private practice.

Dr Jacobs who was also a Paediatric specialist, was later transferred to the Sandy Point district to make room on the Molyneux district for PM Simmonds’ sole returning of his 3 ( as far as I know) highly qualified siblings. I suspect Dr Richardson will have his own stories of what happened when his brother was no longer PM and Dr Douglas succeeded him in that role.

I say all this to express my disappointment that I had to stop listening to a former PM and national hero belabour this nepotism and friends and family point bandied by others. I would not have expected him to jump on the bandwagon! Bryant looked out for me and Simmonds looked out for friend and family.

The current PM has more siblings than all the Cabinet and probably all our past Cabinets combined! Over 30 siblings! Can you imagine how many nieces, nephews, inlaws, cousins that translates to? With an average of 3 persons per household they could represent dozens of our 17000 plus households!

Many of them are highly educated. I even heard than Len was either a national or a Leeward Island scholar. They returned home to serve and given that with that size of family a Harris must be everywhere, why shouldn’t they be among the numbers of the highest employer ie government?

Would we rather they returned to sell coconuts or burn coals like Fidel O’Flaherty had to in order to support his family? Or would we prefer if ” another Harris” was in reference to persons in prison and not in the workplace?

Growing up there were many families in Bassetere and Charlestown who had many scholars among them. Many siblings and cousins held high positions in government or private sector. We admired those families and wanted to emulate their success! Do we no longer celebrate such or is it the right of the middle class family and not poor people from the country?

Should the PM not re-hire family members who may have been terminated all because of their relationship to him? Should they be victimized doubly? Should he fire those who are qualified from their posts? Should he impose a ban on acceptance into the public service for all family and friends for the time he is in office? Is that to be a requirement for all PM’s or just those with more than 6 siblings? Should the number of siblings now be criteria for public office?

If there is evidence of misappropriation or misconduct then of course they should be treated as any other employee but to keep up this onslaught against people who like all of us are trying to get on in life is unconscienable and should be eschewed by intelligent people who should know better!

Let’s get the One Family diatribes out of these echo chambers!

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