Sun | Jul 15, 2018

Richard Reese an outstanding public servant

Published:Tuesday | January 31, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Richard Reese


Retired Major Richard Reese, commissioner of customs, is retiring soon. I have had reason to appear before him as an attorney, representing several importers from time to time during his tenure. He is an exemplary civil servant.

His regulatory and statutory authority, coupled with that of chief of customs, gives him great powers in trade matters. Notwithstanding his law-given powers, he carries out his duties with humility. He had a way of cutting to the chase, refusing to major in the minor.

He was approachable and able to get the job done without fear or favour, while not being authoritarian.

"Major, I would like to meet with you, with my client."

"Yes, can you make it today?" he would often respond.

That ease of engagement is unheard of at that level, or elsewhere, in the public service. Moreover, if we happened to meet that day, he would gather his team of customs experts to settle the issues in a spirit of compliance with the law, while giving a fair hearing.

I may not have got all I wanted at all times we met. I have even had reason to appeal his decisions, but, at no time did I leave feeling he was being unnecessarily hard or not being even-handed. However, Major Reese is not the traditional civil servant; he preferred humility to the unnecessary show of power. He is a facilitator, not an inhibitor.

He stands tall as a welcome breed of public servant.

March on, Major!