NepotismWritten by Editor
There are many raised eyebrows in the federation as to the appointment of Alex Woodley -the mother of the Prime Minister’s children – as Consul General designate to Dubai. Some even say that the appointment stinks of nepotism and are affronted by what they see as the PM blatantly bestowing favour on his family members.
A key feature of nepotism regards merit in that the person awarded the position is either obviously unqualified or others are more qualified. The question then is, “Is Ms Woodley qualified?” With 15 years in the Counsellor Office in New York and 7-8 years specifically as Deputy Consul General, the PM believes she is. In his weekly radio show, the PM said, “Ms. Woodley is a fully-qualified government officer to hold any job within the Foreign Service.”
Allegations of nepotism at the highest levels are not new. In 2009, Jean Sarkozy, son of President Nicholas Sarkozy of France became head of Epad, the development agency for La Défense, just west of Paris. La Défense is an important office centre, with 43 high-rise buildings, and its development agency controls an annual budget of more than 1 billion euros. Many in France opposed the appointment on the basis that the younger Sarkozy was just 23 years old and at the time repeating his second year of law school after having repeated his first year. Nothing appeared to recommend him except that he was the president’s son. Nicolas Sarkozy defended his son by saying that "it's never good when someone is attacked in an excessive manner for no reason.” Eventually, due to mounting pressure, Jean Sarkozy gave up the position.
Though from the information given by the PM, Ms Woodley does appear more qualified for her position than the younger Sarkozy was for his, the defense of her appointment mounted by the PM does seem to echo that of President Sarkozy. “I am not going to stifle the promotion, the advancement, the appointment of anybody in this government because there is a relationship with me,” said the PM.
Adding fuel to the nepotism flame is the position taken by the Deputy PM. Last Thursday Condor s said, “Since assuming the portfolio as Minister of Foreign Affairs in February 2010, I have not had discussions or presentation either at Estimate Committee Meeting, Cabinet Meeting or Budget Debate regarding the establishment of the said Consulate.” He further stated, “In the first place, this is a function of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as such, the Cabinet Submission for the establishment of the office must emanate from the Foreign Affairs Ministry. A decision to establish a Consulate or Embassy can originate from Cabinet. The implementation and operational functions, however, must be undertaken by the line Ministry - in this case, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
In light of the Deputy PM’s comments, perhaps it is time for the PM’s office, in the name of transparency, to release the short list of names of persons that were considered for Consul General. Similarly, it might be time for the PM’s office to guide the conversation more in the direction of why the federation needs an office in Dubai just now and the diplomatic and trade benefits to be derived from increased cooperation between our regions. It might also be the perfect time to justify to tax payers the amount of money that will be allocated in these harsh economic times to this new scheme.