Opinion: Corporate governance

POSTED: 09/12/12 12:56 PM

Oops, when Democratic Party MP Roy Marlin said on Monday that he wanted to set corporate governance aside for the occasion – that occasion being: the mess at the St. Maarten Medical Center – he did not say that he wanted to do away with the whole Corporate Governance Code. And that’s what we wrote on our opinion page yesterday: “Roy Marlin said it: for the occasion we have to set the Corporate Governance Code aside.”
Marlin says that he is one of the initiators of the Corporate Governance Code and that he has no intention to shove that piece of legislation aside. What he said was the set corporate governance aside for the occasion to enable the government to adjust the articles of incorporation for the medical center. Once that is done, the Corporate Governance Code will kick in again.
We appreciate the clarification, but we still have trouble swallowing the concept. Because it seems clear that the government – with Public Health Minister De Weever at the front of the pack – wants to increase its influence at the hospital.
No matter how you look at it, that smells like political meddling. And why did all this become necessary? The way we see it, the current mess is the result of clashing egos, bad communication and ill-will on the part of all those who leaked information to the media pre-maturely.
When Ruth Olivacce passed away after undergoing a haemodialysis procedure, details of the operation hit the streets so fast that it created the impression a reporter has been present in the operation theater. The truth is of course that somebody in the medical team saw an opportunity to create havoc – ignoring the obvious fact that making patient-information public is a serious breach of the professional code of conduct.
Then there is the report from the health inspectorate: that too was splashed all over the internet before the hospital had the opportunity to react to it. Even better: hospital Director George Scot told this newspaper that he agrees with most of the recommendations the report contains. But when Scot asked the inspectorate for a mere ten days extension to formulate a reaction, it was denied. Even better: Scot was accused of being “not very cooperative.”
What is an extension of ten days in a country that takes years to complete a new government administration building and that has never ever presented a budget on time? Extensions and delays are the name of the game in St. Maarten; but the hospital could not get ten lousy days extra.
Furthermore there is the apparent short-circuit between the inspectorate and its own minister. Public Health Minister de Weever made some form statements on Sunday – not to say threats – apparently unaware that his inspectorate had placed the hospital under “higher supervision.”
The role of the parliament is also debatable: the hospital is the responsibility of Minister de Weever. So it stands to reason that the parliament calls the responsible minister to account. But no, this did not happen at all. The parliament is going after the hospital’s board (read: director Scot) and the supervisory council, as if it has just discovered that Scot spends half his time off-island.
Throw in this volatile mix the obvious, and understandable, emotional reaction to the death of Ruth Olivacce, a sister of MP Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce – and all the ingredients for a disaster are there.
The parliament seems unable to come up with a balanced and sensible reaction and the minister seems to have lost his way as well, while his inspectorate is playing bully under his responsibility.
And all this would not have been necessary if only the inspectorate had been able to handle its hospital audit properly – that is: without making it public or allowing someone to make it public. But now that the cat is out of the bag, it will be difficult to tame the beast. Putting corporate governance aside, as MP Marlin has suggested, seems to us the wrong answer to a thorny situation – even though Marlin says that he wants to adhere to the Corporate Governance Code.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: Corporate governance by

Comments are closed.