City Councilor Eric Chang continues to be absent from the country of Belize even as he remains accused of complicity in the granting of a passport to disgraced South Korean businessman Won-Hong Kim. It has been over three weeks since he promised to return and he has not. The Council has voted to remove his portfolios and his position of Deputy Mayor, but he has not responded. Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley told reporters on Monday that Eric Chang has now severed all communication links with City Hall.
“He has not yet come into Belize City. The difficulty that we have is that we have is that since we’re moving him from being Deputy Mayor and his works portfolio, the City administrator and I communicated with him via email, we tried to get him by phone but we did not get any respond. Our situation is that we really have not had any contact with him. There are provisions in the City Council Act in terms of being disqualified from the office based on the amount or the extent of your office, the extent of meetings that you miss. And so, we are monitoring those things clearly, but that the situation with that, since he is being removed away, I’ve had no communication with him”.
The City Council Act states that, “If during the term of office of the Council a member’s seat becomes vacant, the vacancy shall be filled within ninety days by holding a by-election: Provided that a vacancy shall not be filled if it occurs within a period of one year before the time when the seat which is vacated would ordinarily have been vacated.” The 2009-2012 operated for the last few months of its tenure under this rule when in September of 2011 Andrew Faber perished in a traffic accident. But in Chang’s case, he is alive and well, but missing Council meetings. Mayor Bradley explains what would happen in order to declare the Councilor’s seat vacant.
Mr. Darrel Bradley: “He has missed one meeting.”
Reporter: “But the number is four. If he misses four or more”…
Mr. Darrel Bradley: “If he misses four or more unexcused meeting, then he is considered to be disqualified from holding office.”
Reporter: “Have you gotten any indication from him that maybe he is in some kind of a legal difficulty in Taiwan?”
Mr. Darrel Bradley: “Well, we just have not…I have communicated with him prior to our making this decision, we spoke by telephone. He also responded to an email that I sent indicating to him what our position would be. But since that communication, we’ve had no communication with him”.