And that is a piece of good news, hailing from the symposium by that name, with about 300 people in attendance – though I did not see anyone from the green or blue political parties!
According to the last speaker Alexander van Dam, our Attorney General, three years ago, when he arrived in Aruba, you couldn’t talk about ethics or integrity, they were very unpopular concepts. But towards the end of his tenure here, his office managed to investigate and bring charges against a government minister, which is a considerable shift in communal mindset.
The Attorney-General was not a great speaker, but he outlined a recommended three-pronged approach for the island: Creating, and increasing awareness to the issue of morals and values, taking disciplinary measures in violations and deviations, and as a last resort, when all else fails, prosecution is a solid option.
On a side note: It makes little sense that van Dam is leaving now; now that he knows how our devious minds work and who the players are.
Anyway, I started from the end.
Activist Armand Hessels better known as the man in the white suit, organized his second symposium on the subject of ‘doing what is right the right way,’ within the public sector, calling for a well-functioning moral compass and an effective system of checks and balances, in government.
As I was sitting in the ballroom of Paseo Herencia under the glaring stage light, I thought to myself that we have to send the entire island back to kindergarten. Apparently, we haven’t learned anything there about morals and values and as a result are now suffering from political patronage, overwhelming cost of GOA personnel, wasteful administration, the highest taxation in the world, improper use of public funds and dubious public infrastructure projects.
Back to kindergarten, is my advice.
And by that, I mean that we must teach what we THINK people already know.
A good example to that came in the words of the MinPres who is a very pleasant orator. She made eye contact with her audience and stated that the public must do its share, refrain from attempting to bribe ministers, refrain from demanding special favors and special treatment, not seek any shortcuts, but adhere to the language of the law, and respect GOA’s mechanism, instead of constantly plotting how to circumvent it.
In essence, she condensed the biblical 10 commandments, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, teaching us that if we behave, corruption will become unacceptable in our culture.
I was very happy with this part of her speech. But not happy with the rest.
The symposium made clear that the MinPres hiring. A director and staff for the Bureau of Integrity. A director and staff for the Chamber of Integrity, and staffers for the Integrity Supervisory Body for state-owned companies. More GOA employees.
So, there will be a new GOA system dedicated to the investigation of corruption. But the person in charge of setting this infrastructure up is an insider, a central bank employee, and the people in charge of the new bureau will most probably be insiders too.
Enough for today, just the thought of making GOA even bigger, takes the wind out of my sails.
Th symposium, was organized by Stichting Deugdelijk Bestuur Aruba in close collaboration with the University of Aruba.