Opinion: Fat cats

POSTED: 02/9/12 1:51 PM

It’s not like there is a new buzz word in town but still, we keep hearing this more and more. This or that is done, or not done, to keep a couple of fat cats happy. It is one of those expressions popular with our National Alliance parliamentarian Louie Laveist. While Laveist obviously has boter op zijn hoofd as the Dutch like to say he is also touching upon something that has a ring of truth to it. Our fat cats are sitting pretty and they would like to keep the status quo.

Who are those fat cats MP Laveist is referring to? Do we really need to spell this out? Ah, right, we thought this is not necessary.

Fat cats are not necessarily fat. They come in all forms and shapes but they have one thing on common: when it comes to dividing the cake they usually end up with the biggest slice.

Talks about corruption have slowly but surely gained momentum and it is now also possible to back them up with undeniable facts.

From his court cases we all know that Laveist took bribes. We also know that our former Public Health Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus had to vacate her cabinet-post in a hurry due to questionable shenanigans with a piece of leased land on Pond Island. Her husband Claudius was also involved in this deal, but he still has his job and he will now even become the governor of some district of the service organization Lions Club. A decision about a criminal investigation into the Buncampers is still pending (that is lasting by now so long that even this newspaper – after breaking the story that cost Buncamper-Molanus her job – starts to perceive as unfair).

Then there is the small matter of embezzlement at the Tourist Bureau. Made public through a complaint by the now fired head of the finance department Bas Roorda, this case that involves the Tourist Bureau’s former head and current airport director Regina Labega, independent MP Frans Richardson and others.

And, before we forget, there was also a little pre-election incident in 2010 whereby two police officers and a member of the VKS sold their vote to the United People’s party. The police even filed a complete report about this case to the prosecutor’s office. Bringing the culprits to justice seemed a matter of time. So why did this not happen?

This is where the fat cats come in the picture. Starting with this vote-selling scandal (some call it a cultural tradition): it would not have been a big deal to bring down two hapless police officers and a member of the VKS. But there are two parties involved in electoral fraud: the sellers and the buyers.

In this case, the buyer was the United People’s Party. Its party-leader is Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger. Its president is the current Minister of Economic affairs and tourism Franklin Meyers.

But fraud is fraud. Right?

Well, this is where priorities come in handy. Fortunately for the fat cats law enforcement was flooded with no less than seventeen murders last year. A lot of them were executions among criminals fighting for supremacy in the local drugs market. Scum killing scum, one could say. That’s a crude way of putting it – and we do sympathize with the people who loved these murder victims. But hey, choosing a criminal career comes with a professional risk – a fact that cannot have escaped anybody’s attention.

But these criminals put such a burden on the judicial system that there is no capacity left to investigate financial crimes – at least that is what we hear over and over again. So in a way, the seven Vesuvius-suspects who were in court yesterday do a big service to local white collar criminals. Last year’s murder spree makes it virtually impossible for law enforcement to find time to investigate the Buncampers, the vote-sellers and the embezzlers at the Tourist Bureau.

That this is not only good news is clear as well. We are now stuck with people who are not really suspects, and at the same time most people know they are suspected of something that was not exactly honest.

While the poor sods that were foolish enough to get involved in a deadly drugs war are now sweating it in prison, the fat cats of our community relax at their pools and in their social clubs. They smoke another cigar, they drink another glass and they think that, in general, life is good. Up to a point it is, but in the long run our community as a whole will pay a heavy price. That’s because our fat cats are giving the wrong example – they prove that it may not be possible to get away with murder, but that getting away with some form of financial hanky-panky works brilliantly. This way, the fat cats are leading people by example in the wrong direction.

This brings us back to the matter of priorities. We’re not shy to argue that murder and manslaughter cases ought to be categorized. A tragic and horrible case like the rape and murder of Clemencia Julot in the summer of 2010, or the killing of Tiffany Reid deserve a higher priority than the drugs-related executions of Hector Miguel and Rodolfo Arrindell for example. The Buncamper-case also deserves a higher priority than the Arrindell-murders. Who cares that drug dealers shoot each other?

White collar crimes are undermining people’s confidence in the working of our constitutional democracy. That is much more dangerous than criminals killing criminals.

We expect Kingdom Relations Minister Liesbeth Spies to pick up on this when she visits our island next week Monday – and above all that law enforcement re-evaluates its priorities.

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