Published On: Sun, Dec 5th, 2021

Wie zwijgt stemt toe

By Hilbert Haar

I honestly cannot remember a moment when there was no trouble at all at utilities company GEBE and I have followed the developments in energy-land closely for more than ten years. Being the managing director at GEBE seems to be asking for trouble. This does not only appear from the recent dismissal of Mauricio Dembrook, but also from the experiences several of his predecessors (like the late William Brooks) had to undergo.

The supervisory board has flexed its muscle with the dismissal of temporary manager Mauricio Dembrook and it seems to be hell-bent on bringing the very controversial Sharine Daniel on board as the next managing director, together with George Willem as the financial director and Merrill Jimmy Temmer as operations director.

If, and I emphasize the word if, her appointment is politically motivated, we only have to wait for the government to fall and history will repeat itself. The new sheriffs in town will want to have one of their own on that chair and they will make Daniel’s life even more miserable than it already is.

One may well wonder whether a supervisory board can do this stuff without ever having to face the consequences. If we have learned anything from the court ruling of insurance company ENNIA against its majority shareholder Hushang Ansary and others, it is that directors, shareholders and supervisory directors cannot do just anything they like. If they act against the interest of the company, there will be consequences. In the ENNIA-case, the defendants are on the hook for millions upon millions of dollars.

Is such a scenario also possible at GEBE? I think that this depends on the position the shareholder – the government – is prepared to take. And that depends again on how much the Parliament is prepared to swallow.

The way things stand now, the supervisory board – authorized or not – is acting without impunity and you hear nothing from the shareholder or the Parliament. That brings an appropriate Dutch saying to mind: wie zwijgt stemt toe. In other words, if you do not intervene, you agree with whatever is happening.

Parliamentarians have been elected to represent the interest of the people. They love saying that this is why they have their seat in parliament.

The question is now whether politicians really have the interest of the population at heart or if they have other interests to think about. Like their own bank accounts.

Several years ago I came up with a formula to test the behavior of politicians – ministers and parliamentarians alike. I + A = R: Intention + Action = Result.

If a politician says that he (or she) stands for the interest of the people it sounds a bit hollow. Words are cheap. Intention is when a politician says for instance that he wants to give Mullet Bay back to the people. It sounds nice. Patriotic. Great idea!

But ideas do not just materialize. You have to do something to turn such an intention (because that’s what it is) into a reality: you have to take action.

That is not the strong point of many a politician. So when you hear about an intention, no matter what it is, you always look at the result. Because results don’t ever lie.

Worse than making lofty promises and then not following through is saying nothing when something happens that is not right. Like the dismissal of Dembrook at GEBE. Politicians who say nothing agree with the dismissal. So in a way intention plus inaction also returns a result. But usually, that is not what is best for the country.


Related articles:
Power struggle at GEBE turns ugly
Editorial: Report the news; don’t be the news
Commentary: Time for Parliament to step up to the plate
N.V. GEBE archive