The way Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit decided to respond to the Ambrose George Scandal, left more questions in the mind of many Dominicans than answers, and I can guarantee you that the issue will fester in the nationâ€™s political consciousness for a very long time.
From the time George again became entangled in a scandal while he was holding high public office, was the perfect opportunity for the Prime Minister and his administration to demonstrate that they have moved beyond political rhetoric and were prepared to embrace full disclosure , transparency, and accountability.
Instead, the administration was conspicuously tight-lipped as their political opposition fanned the flicker into a flame. Then, the PM made a courageous and seemingly evasive move. In a brief address to the nation, PM Skerrit announced a series of changes in his Cabinet. Some familiar faces were shifted around, a senator was drafted in as a new Minister and George was gone.
In his brief address, the PM noted the absense of Scandal-scorched George, but offered no explanation. Instead, he glowingly thanked George for his service, which Iâ€™m not saying is wrong â€“ but it seemed particularly odd considering the controversy surrounding the former minister.
What I canâ€™t understand – maybe someone needs to explain it to me like Iâ€™m a 4-year-old â€“ if George was such a gem, why relieve him of his ministerial duties at this time? Why remove him when he is under a cloud of suspicion and thereby give credence to the suspicions? Was George fired and, if so why did the PM avoid saying so? Did George resign voluntarily and, if so, what were the reasons? What exactly is Georgeâ€˜s current status in the administration?
Lots of questions abound with no answers in sight. If PM Skerrit and his administration are truly mindful of the signals theyâ€™re sending, they would know not to underestimate the Dominican peopleâ€™s capacity to analyze the Ambrose George Scandal. I think I speak for all Dominicans â€“ when I say â€œPM Skerrit, Tell us whatâ€™s going onâ€. Are you awaiting a verdict from the Integrity Commission, why haven’t you commented directly on the matter? Say something! Iâ€™m interested to hear the readers opinion on the matter in the comments.
It appears to me just a case of embarrasment by both parties and protection of each other. Take the case of two kids going after the cookie in the cookie jar. The one who instigated is at the back. The one who gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar when asked what he is doing, may say nothing and simply withdraw his hand and close the jar back. Only one is actually doing the deed, but they are both embarrased, but say nothing to jeopardize the relationship with each other at that point.
The PM is embarrased he would have to explain what Ambrose did – well, why he would be firing Ambrose. Of course by not explaining anything but giving the people his head (and making it pass off as a cabinet re-shuffle), the PM thinks he has met the demands. He does not have the maturity, fortitude and is not humble enough to admit another error in judgement by appointment of Ambrose. And of course he wants to not embarrass Ambrose publicly. What does he owe Ambrose? Aha!
My feeling is that the minister was appointed not on merit, but just as a payback based on his standing in the party and having been elected to a parliamentary seat. Do not forget that the ex-minister was a very infliuencial part of the same Labor party who nominated Skerrit to be Prime Minister upon the death of the previous PM (before the last elections). Why was Skerrit nominated then? Part of the reason was clear: he could be somewhat influenced by the party top guns, including deputy leader Ambrose. And of course it did pay off. The formerly disgraced ex-minister (dropped by the deceased former PM) was re-appointed. The interesting thing is that most Dominicans were ok with that at the time. I am guessing that the PM at the time may have felt that even the questionable re-appointment of the once ex-minister was justifiable payback then (even if there were questions about his integrity at that point).
What the PM does not get is that he is the servant of the people. Actions ought to be transparent, particularly those precipitated by events in the media. Clearly he thinks he is the boss and will do as he pleases as long as he meets the minimum standards (appears to be making the right correction). So the people wanted Ambrose gone, for alleged misdeeds in office, and he did that. Never mind the common courtesy of an explanation. He is the boss. Of course we can see a pattern here. There are so many examples of this type of behaviour from the PM. He now has some experience so naivety of the proper thing to do is no longer an excuse. It appears that its just the contempt and disrespect for the people’s right to fair disclosure has gone to his head. I am afraid there will be more examples of this until the next election.