Borderline cases, from Libya to the Philippines

by fpman

From a research perspective, a great thing about studying the role of family ties in politics is how there are so many borderline cases related to the fuzzy concepts that are thrown around in the discourse – concepts such as “nepotism” or “corruption.” Say, if a President appoints his own son to be head of the country’s anti-corruption bureau, that would be a relatively unambiguous case of nepotism. And if a foreign company were to decide to give a job to a President’s son, that would be a relatively unambiguous case of illicit influence-seeking, or corruption, to use another word.

But the two cases I can reference from the day’s newsload I’ve just read through are not like that.

In the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III has recently appointed a 2nd-degree cousin, Emigdio “Dino” Tanjuatco Jr. to run Clark International Airport Corporation (serving the airport of Angeles City, northwest of Manila). “Dino” is the son of a first cousin of the President’s mother, the late President Corazón Aquino. During Corazón’s time he was close to the corazón of power, too, entrusted with managing government-owned residences. He does not have prior experience in the field of aviation, and some experts, including from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), are questioning if he thus has the qualifications to be CEO of the company.  The reaction by CAAP’s Director-General to the news was a none too polite “I have no idea who he is.” An anonymous source at Clark International Airport Corporation voiced acceptance of the deicision, however, saying:

“All of us serve at the pleasure of the President. He is the ultimate appointing authority.”

Emigdio Dino Tanjuatco Jr’s appointment may not be a clear-cut case of nepotism, but this quote above could clearly be an example of adulation. And it’s also telltale sign of something wrong that apparently so many people were made angry by this story.

RapplerEmoFeedbackWe like the idea of this form of feedback over at Rappler’s.

In other news, US regulators are continuing investigation of Goldman Sachs’ record related to Libya under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime (which fell in 2011). They remain interested in why Goldman gave a paid internship to Haitem Zarti, a younger brother of the deputy chief of the Libyan Investment Authority, Mustafa Zarti who was once declared by the government of Austria, related to the freezing of his assets there as “a close confidant of the (Gaddafi) regime” (an allegation he contested).

Haitem Zarti was about 26 years old at the time, paid internships at banks are normal, and even though his internship period eventually lasted for up to a year (beyond the standard 3-month period), others have before him seen their internship extended, too. But who would say such a connection is not interesting? Haitem was working at the company’s investment-banking division, though never on matters related to Libya according to the company itself.

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