Otmar returning to Politics, this will require one or two more columns

A lot popped into my head when I read that former political player Otmar Oduber is considering his public arena comeback. He talked about Vision, Determination and Action, in a recent press conference, but as customary here, did not back up the big words with  any real content.

He is basically applying for a job.

He hasn’t enjoyed great PR in past years, as he went from being a minister to being a suspect in a criminal case. He was very sick, bounced back, with zero disclosure as to what happened. If you compare his assets in September 2009, how much he was worth in 2017 and how much he is worth now, you would realize that some unfortunate, and unpredictable events tore up his life.

I asked my friends, in hospitality/law/academia how they feel about his return. This is what I wrote: Dear like-minded friends, Otmar declared his intention of coming back into politics and I think there is perhaps a chance to see him elected. The people of this island switch gears every eight years, and maybe he is at the right place, at the right time. Why did we dislike him so much, first time around? Please help me write a fun column.

Friend I: He is playing the victim with the case against him, the way parliamentarian Marisol Tromp does, successfully. So yes, he has a chance, depending on the outcome of his case. It is ironic that he now claims he wants to help commerce, because he was responsible for some stricter, less flexible labor laws, as minister. He pursued the all-inclusive law based on a NOTION, that he might help some of his restaurant buddies and the island cab drivers. That notion was based on assumptions, with no hard data to back it up. In support of his notion, he buried a PWC report that held opposite views. In general, he introduced his ideas forcefully, typical tyranny of the majority, pursuing his own agenda as the majority of our electorate, at the expense of our minority faction — commerce, for example. He did get things done, but not always the best things. His biggest downfall was hiding reports he did not like. Do I remember correctly that he repressed the carrying capacity report, in favor of new resort developments?  The issue of alleged corruption is hearsay. We have to wait for the courts. Let’s hope he learned from his trials and tribulations, and from his personal failure as a businessman, to use data, not opinions.  This island need honest more scientific leaders. As for his campaign: He shouldn’t blame his failure as an entrepreneur on external circumstance, but admit perhaps a lack of skills in that arena.

Friends II: I honestly do not know what to tell you. I do not DISLIKE  him. The problem on Aruba is that it’s one of the most complicated places to do business. The bureaucracy here is overwhelming, these bureaucrats invent procedures that are mind boggling. Luckily, we don’t have many elevators in government buildings, otherwise we’d have more public servants sitting on stools pushing buttons, up and down. Sometimes you get ministers who run the place like it’s their own it, they make decisions, and get stuff done. I liked him for that. But this is what eventually gets these civil servants into trouble. The inexperienced sit in prison, the more sophisticated ones, are more careful, and use fall-guys, who take the hit instead. Very important to realize that our country-bumpkins are up against an influx of many Latin American investors, that immediately attempt to corrupt them. This is how it’s done in their home countries, and they attempt to do it on Aruba, too.  I’ve even heard one say what would it cost to pay a judge, in Latin America. That’s their mentality, and it is not helping our situation. But back to Otmar. Again, I’m not sure why we disliked him. He is cocky. Willing to take a stand when many are scared to do so. He is not scared. I kinda liked him for that. But we will see. One thing is granted, we do not need Mike Eman and his shameless team back. They are seriously embarrassing. They took NO ACTION against Paul Croes who is behind bars and Benny Sevinger is convicted, yet still sits in Parliament.

Friend III: I disliked Otmar because he abandoned his party of origin to sleep with the enemy. He was super-ambitious and wanted to become party leader but did not have the patience to wait his turn, so he abandoned ship. As a minister he was hardworking, ruthless and very effective. A fantastic manager. He did not have any ideology or political beliefs except for the Machiavellian conviction that being and staying in power is what counts most of all because without it, you are nothing as a public figure. I too welcome his return to the political stage. My understanding is that the Flamingo case prosecution has not turned up the smoking gun that Landsrecherche was looking for and that there is a high probability that he will be acquitted for lack of evidence.

More tomorrow

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July 24, 2023
Rona Coster