By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Dean Barrow addressed the issue of corruption in his administration after Wednesday’s House Sitting and he was surprisingly candid about his views on the matter.
“There is no doubt at all in my mind, that the scandals have threatened to swamp us. They have threatened to cause us to come undone, and that is a source of great regret because to some extent, it is self-inflicted,” Barrow said.
He publicly confronted the reality that “the perception of corruption” would lead to the political downfall of his party with the Belizean people.
“When indeed, I have to defend or appear to be defending behavior that is the opposite of straight, my personal credibility takes a great hit. So, I am distraught on behalf of my party, and I am distraught on my own behalf,” he added.
“I’ve said to my colleagues, over and over and over again that we really need to get on top of this.
“I will never be able to stop people from behaving in a way that is untoward. All I can do is to repeat my promise that when it happens, and I learn of it, I will take action.”
Since last September, it seems that the Barrow administration has had to confront the issue of corruption head-on, starting with the Immigration scandal.
Former Minister of State in the Ministry of Immigration Elvin Penner was implicated in the delivery of a passport to South Korean fugitive, Won Hong Kim, who at the time was in a Taiwanese prison.
Penner, who facilitated the processing of Kim’s fraudulent passport, was fired as Minister of State when the details of his involvement emerged.
In December, cheques from the Belize Airport Authority (BAA) made out to Minister of State Edmond Castro emerged.
While Barrow claimed that the action was wrong but not corrupt, the overwhelming public sentiment was that Castro should have been dealt with more severely.