By Aaron Humes Freelance ReporterFormer
Deputy Mayor Eric Chang should publicly reply to charges that he was allegedly involved in getting an unearned Belize passport to a jailed businessman in Taiwan, Mayor Darrell Bradley told reporters on Tuesday.
The Mayor said that the cloud surrounding Chang is affecting his relationships with his fellow councillors, and with city residents who had elected him as a city councillor.
“Clearly that you are asking me these questions means that it is something that is still out there; it’s something that is a legacy of him, and I don’t want his legacy in office to be that,” said Bradley, adding that Chang must “explain clearly that [he is] not involved and provide justification, so that this matter can be closed once for all.”
Chang, the first Taiwanese-Belizean elected to political office and who was on official business in Taiwan when news of the scandal broke, is confirmed to have left the country again, reportedly attending to family business in Taiwan.
That was the same excuse he gave as to why he stayed longer than scheduled in the East Asian country last year, even as his name was called as the potential courier of the fraudulent passport to South Korean white-collar criminal, Won Hong Kim, who was in a Taiwanese jail at the time.
Mayor Bradley said that even he is not sure about his colleague’s innocence, explaining that he and Chang spoke when he returned and he was told from then to explain his role, if any.
According to the Mayor, while it is standard for Councillors and even himself as Mayor to inform the office of when official business is planned, Chang has not done so in this case, and even the Mayor did not know if Chang would have returned in time for the council’s next meeting, scheduled for next Tuesday morning.
The matter is not being discussed at Council level and does not affect the day-to-day business of City Hall.
The Mayor says that even though speaking up about private business might be seen as unfair, in Chang’s case it is necessary.
“You have something of a duty and a responsibility even when you are saying that you are innocent and nothing untoward has happened; you have a responsibility to explain to the public clearly and to make certain public statements because you hold public office,” Bradley stated.
He added that he continues to hope for a change of heart on Chang’s part, as it would improve the voters’ belief in a Council that campaigned on good governance and an anti-corrpution platform.
Chang lost his post as Deputy Mayor and his portfolios at the Council for failing to return on time, missing three Council meetings.
As for any role in the scandal itself, that remains in the hands of the various bodies investigating the matter, none of whom have indicated that Chang is of interest to them at this time.