Former Deputy Mayor of Belize City, Eric Chang, has had his share of blame in the unlawful procurement of a Belizean passport to South Korean jailbird Kim Won-Hong. While past Minister of State in the Ministry of Immigration, Elvin Penner is fingered to be the architect behind the scheme, Chang is accused of being the courier, assigned to deliver the fraudulent document to Mr. Hong. But that’s all it has been, an accusation. Chang has been back in country for almost two weeks but has declined to speak with the media. He has however, met with Mayor Darrell Bradley. They sat down late last week, and today Mayor Bradley dished on how the meeting went.
Mr. Darrel Bradley- Mayor of Belize City
“I think I had a meeting with him…we sat down. I want you to satisfy myself that he is unexplained absence from his commitment from his jurisdiction, has nothing to serve as an elected representative on the Belize City council and that since his return to his jurisdiction, he will follow in terms of what he is expected of him as an elected official. I also mentioned to him in relation to his name being called, I made certain advice to him in relation to making some sort of statement to assure members of the public because I still think that it is a major issue; it’s a blot in the reputation of the government at the central and at the municipal level, but my involvement with councilor Chang as a councilour, he discharges his obligations and that he comports himself with a highest level of ethics. The meeting was to explain to him in clear language that I expect ceratin things from, I expect that he will be present at meetings and he will discharge his functions for which he has been elected and what the people are paying for”.
But is the Mayor satisfied? Ehh… not quite.
Mayor Darrel Bradley: “I reasoned with him and he indicated that he was not involved. I cannot say that I am satisfied; I discussed it with him in the meeting. I fully intended before his arrival to raise it with him. He gives indications to me, but my principal role as mayor is to ensure that all ten councilors are doing the job for which they were elected to do. there are other officers in this country; there is a Director of Immigration, a Minister of Immigration, there is an Integrity Commission and those are the people charged with any matter that has to do with Immigration irregularity and whoever is involved notwithstanding their station. I met with him; he made certain representations to me as it it relates to his continuing as a councilor and discharging his functions in a manner which I am satisfied with, I felt that we are satisfied with, I felt that we covered that in detail in the meeting”.
During his unauthorized absence, Chang abandoned his duties at City Hall and severed communication lines with Mayor Bradley. So, now that he has returned, what will it take for councilor Chang to get back in grace at City Hall? Here’s what Bradley had to say.
Mayor Darrel Bradley: “Confidence is linked with performance. I was very dissatisfied that he left the jurisdiction and he chose not to be in communication with us for an extended period of time. That caused us to lose some good will that I think we have earned over the last year and a half and it also weakened our ability to discharge and carry out our functions, particularly because of his role as a councilor then with responsibility for infrastructure and as a Deputy Mayor. So, I was very disappointed in that; I communicated that clearly with him in relation to what he should have done. I made certain recommendations to him, and, building trust is something that is done overtime because he has now come back in the country; he has attended several meetings that we had in terms of discussing various issues. He seems to be interested in continuing his term in office, and nothing suggest he was at the meeting today participating actively. So, I don’t expect we will have any problems going forward”.
Reporter: “So, what is his responsibilities? What is his role at this current moment?”
Mayor Darrel Bradley: “He is a councilor; he has been elected and the council is working very hard to ensure that we take into consideration all the viewpoints of memories of the public and he has a very important role as a councilor to be that bridge between the council and the electorate”.
Chang’s reason for the lack of communication says Bradley, was that he had difficulties getting access to the internet. Chang continues to maintain that he remained in Taiwan to be with an ailing relative. It was during this period that the Council met and decided to remove him has Deputy Mayor. Chang was in attendance today at a Council meeting.