Governance & Integrity

Knops’ Handling of Appointments to BOD at Flamingo Airport Unfortunate

State Secretary Raymond Knops seen her with Bonaire Island Governor Edison Rijna. Photo: Archive.
Knops en Rijna

State Secretary Raymond Knops seen her with Bonaire Island Governor Edison Rijna. Photo: Nico van der Ven via OLB Bonaire

By Harald Linkels


Although it is first and foremost the current Executive Council of Bonaire which should be blamed for creating a totally unnecessary administrative crisis at the airport in Bonaire; the way in which State Secretary Knops has dealt with the appointment of new candidates to the Supervisory Board has not helped much either.

Although it can be expected of Knops and acting Kingdom Representative Jan Helmond, that they intervene in cases of political appointments or in the case of an intent to name unqualified candidates to a Supervisory Board, it now appears that 3 local professionals have been damaged in the process to get to a new Board of Directors at Flamingo Airport.

The criteria used by Knops and Helmond to shoot down the three candidates proposed by the Executive Counciel are, at least, questionable. For example, the State Secretary in his letter on the subject wrote that the candidates would not have at least 7 years’ experience with leading a company. But is that truly imperative?

Pilot and Captain on Insel Air’s Fokker 50, Franklin Antoin has almost 20 years’ experience as a pilot at the airport of Bonaire, where before his recruitment by Insel Air he flew for Divi Divi Air and he was captain on the Fokker 100 of Dutch Antilles Express. Even if Antoin doesn’t know ‘everything’ about the functioning of an NV, he undoubtedly knows how the Flight Operations department should function, how BIA deals with Flight Plans and what the quality of service provided to the airlines is.

The same applies to Gerald Clarinda, who not only knows a lot about aviation, but also has experience as an employee of the airport concerned.

Likewise, CPA Kumar-Tadvid Piar might not have the desired experience in leading a company himself, but he does hold a university degree and as accountant he undoubtedly knows what the financial statements of the airport should look like, how the administrative organization and internal control should be organized and how yearly budgets should be drafted.

When it comes to the Board effectiveness, experts time and again point to the importance of diversity within the board, both when it comes to age and when it comes to the type of expertise that each candidate brings along.

Withholding approval from the three candidates involved gives exactly the wrong signal. The Executive Council did not opt for a political appointment, but went in search of local, Bonerian professionals who have earned a reputation in their own profession. What Knops and Helmond seem to have overlooked in their analysis is the fact that those involved, on the island at least, do have the needed credibility to function on a Supervisory board of the Airport.

In addition, a frightening image arises that, however much people are known locally as (honest) professionals, only people from the “old boys’ network” can qualify for appointment as supervisory directors at institutions such as BIA.

In the underlying case, this means either having had a political career (preferably in Dutch politics), or an employment history at KLM or at Schiphol, which is seen (especially by the Dutch themselves) as the ultimate thing in the aviation world.

Credibility in the community
Studies on Board effectiveness, also show that directors should have credibility and should be recognized as professionals in the community they serve. Antoin, Clarinda and Piar do have that. The umpteenth friend of this or that (Dutch) minister, secretary of state, KLM or Schiphol director do not have that at all in the eye of the population.

The action of Helmond and Knops therefore, threaten to reinforce the impression that not only objective criteria are important when appointing people to Supervisory Boards of organizations such as the Airport, but that is also necessary to the right contacts in Holland. That impression is undesirable.

A better approach by Knops and Helmond would have been to add some more experience to the proposed candidates in the form of some older or more experienced Board members. With such approach, everybody would have won something. Right now, however, everyone has lost. Especially the three local candidates which have been damaged and disqualified front of the own population.

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