Wednesday, 08 March 2017
Since the fateful September 19, 2013 GOB announcement that then Minister of State for Immigration, Elvin Penner “did not discharge his responsibilities with either the due judgment and balance, or the scrupulous regard for appearances, which the Prime Minister demands of all his Ministers” and his subsequent ejection from the UDP Cabinet, Penner has maintained a low profile. Aside from his Court appearances during COLA’s private prosecution of him in relation to the Citizen Kim passport scandal (pleading the fifth every single time to the media), he remained low key. That is, until almost three years and a half later. Perhaps he feels enough time has elapsed for people to have forgotten his reckless and wanton sale of our sacred Belizean patrimony to a South Korean national who was then imprisoned in a Taiwanese jail.
During the Baron Bliss Holiday weekend, Penner, as part owner of Koop Sheet Metal which sponsors the La Ruta Maya River Challenge appeared on National Radio and Television touching on sports matters. However, it seems there was a gag order on media personnel linked to the race so no one asked him about the very matter that has had him running from the limelight. It appears though that he had rehearsed for his return just in case he was pressed for an interview. And that he was but he prefaced the permission by warning the reporter that he would not answer any questions relating to passports.
Fair enough, so is he working toward a comeback? His response: “If you want to know how active I’ve been, if you want to know how much sympathy and support I have in the Cayo Northeast Division, just go and ask the people. They will tell you. They will speak for themselves. I don’t have to say anything…ask who has been involved with the United Democratic Party in those areas, who they are supporting and you will find out for yourself.”
Apart from his constituency though, Penner had a responsibility to the people of Belize in general. Told that many Belizeans may harbour hard feelings for his nefarious actions, he answered, “I’m responsible to the people of Belize as a Minister; I was responsible for them as a caretaker, as a standard bearer. I will tell you officially, I have never done anything to hurt anybody purposely. Anything that I have done as a politician was to help the people of Belize. As the Minister responsible when this whole thing broke out, I had to take the responsibility. Whatever happened to me, I still love the party, the United Democratic Party is still my party; the Honourable Prime Minister is still my Prime Minister and I would never do anything to jeopardize or hurt the United Democratic Party. As long as I believe that they are the best party to run this country, if I do anything to disregard them, undermine them or hurt them, I am hurting the country and I am hurting myself and my family and my future grandchildren to come.”
Asked if he regrets what he did or if he would change anything if he could, he stated, “I have always done what I could do in the best of my ability to serve my people and I will never regret that.”
Penner is no doubt one of the hotly awaited witnesses to be called before the Senate Special Select Committee reviewing the findings of the special audit on the Immigration and Nationality Department. Our reports are that he has already been invited to attend and while he refused to speak about the probe, we have received word that he does intend to appear and appear unrepresented, most likely wanting to lay the blame for what happened at the feet of the public officers.