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DAMNED IF YOU DO… DAMNED IF YOU DON’T Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 October 2013 00:00

The United Democratic Party was ushered into government in 2008 on a mission, and with a mandate, to stomp out corruption.  The first term of the UDP government ended on February 7, 2012 with what can be described as relatively minimal scandals.  Eighteen months into its second term there has been a sleuth of revelations of scandals involving mostly public officers but most recently involving, for the first time, a minister of government.   I say for the first time a Minister, not because no other Minister has not had his/her name called in a scandal, but because this is the first where something apparently provable has been alleged against a Minister in the conduct of his duties.   


The reaction, at least from the vocal elements, has been most critical of the government, and perhaps understandably so.  However, caution must be thrown to the wind to not present a public stance that would appear to discourage a government from exposing corruption and dealing with it.  The public reaction to this latest scandal appears to place the government in a position of being damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.  That is not a good place for a government to be neither is it a good place for the public to place a government if the public expects a government to deal with corruption.

It would appear that though Belizeans have a deep craving for good governance, accountability and transparency, and would want to see corruption dealt a death blow, they seem not to have the stomach for the inevitable stench that fouls the air in the process of exposing and dealing with corruption.  It is almost as if the Belizean electorate wants the omelet without breaking the egg or the pork without killing the pig.  ‘Deal with corruption’ they say, ‘but don’t let us see the blood or smell the stench’.

This position, if it is one that is held by more than just a few with the medium to be heard, is a position I submit that can cause a government that is genuinely committed to stomping out corruption to retreat, take cover, and cover up.  This Barrow administration has not retreated has not taken cover and has not attempted to and will not cover up.  The removal of Hon. Penner from the Cabinet is as clear a signal as can be sent that the Prime Minister will not tolerate this type of behavior in his government.

It would seem though that there are some who would have preferred if the Prime Minister had instead sought to protect his Minister and cover up the scandal until someone else could expose the corruption.  They seem not to want to give any credit to the Prime Minister for being the first to publicly punish a Minister for unbecoming behavior.  They seem to prefer the Prime Minister getting caught trying to cover up corruption than for the Prime Minister to expose and punish from within.

Even as the Barrow government remains committed to stomping out corruption there can be none who could reasonably expect corruption to reach zero just as with police abuse where the Department has a zero tolerance policy, no-one can reasonably police abuse to be totally non-existent.  The proof of our resolve to stomp out corruption as with our resolve to stop police abuse is in how we deal with them when they rare their ugly heads.     

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 15:17