Elton Lioe a Tjam, educated, talented and “inactive”

A few weeks ago I was guest on a radio talk show hosted by Mirto Lacle and Elton Lioe a Tjam. It was an interested experience to be interviewed, the shoe on the other foot so to speak; usually I do the questioning.

Their program on Saturdays on HIT 94FM Kubuli Humming, covers a multitude of issues, culture, environment, health, education, you name it, both hosts are educated and engaged, and the conversation can go anywhere, in my case, Elton invited me to talk about my book, Mirto also pitched in, he has a strong literary interest as a linguist and a cultural promoter.

I knew about Elton, he is part of a famous statistic that says that GOA sent a great number of MEP-appointed employees home; they are still ‘working’ for the country, receiving salaries and benefits, but they are ‘inactive.’ Their jobs handed as political favors to others, often less qualified people.

Elton was fast to correct me, telling me that during the historic government transition from AVP to MEP, in 2005, 28 out of 50 AVP-appointed government department heads were also given leaves of absence. That practice of sending people home, because of their rumored political color or affiliation, afflicts both ends of the spectrum.

If I got it correctly, pre 2005, Elton was the VROM department head, in charge of housing, zoning, public works and land – yes, it was a king-size department. Then he was neutralized, when his organization was picked apart.

One of the MEP ministers wanted Infrastructure and Planning under her wing, another minister coveted the refinery, and its financial resources, because he had a baseball club to support. The new brooms cannibalized the old system and reinvented new departments. It’s the natural consequence of a landslide election.

The new employers did not care much about the old employees and thus Elton was never assigned a new position. Four court cases into the saga, his reassignment is still pending, also under the AVP government.

He calls it political persecution. All judges ruled in his favor, but nothing can force GOA to execute. So now it’s the famous water under the bridge.

What do you do then, I asked.

Elton is busy. He certainly cannot work as an environmental engineer, or an energy analyst or an alternative energy guru, which he is by training, because he is still a civil servant, inactive, but officially employed.

He is now at the helm of a political party focusing on the island’s well-being, ABOARUBA, he write articles, he campaigns, he records interesting podcasts, has been hosting a radio show for the past 4 years, he nurtures a modest local and international following.

Before parting ways he shares that the Vader Piet windmill park has been making money for the equipment manufacturer; apparently the windmills were leased to purchase from a German manufacturer, and the island has been paying for the power generated. We could have secured a loan on the international market and acquired the equipment ourselves instead of leasing it, he says. The upcoming Urirama project is also based on the same business model, the company will be making the money and the island will get stuck with old equipment when amortized, he adds.