Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Palace tries some Humpty Dumpty PR

All the king's horses and all the king's men could not put Pres NIk's reputation back together again

ALL IS NOT well at the presidential palace, where Prez Nik seems to be permanently in a foul mood that he reportedly takes out on his underlings more often than usual. He feels he has been let down by his underlings, whom he considers have been hopeless in publicly defending his good name and sterling reputation from the daily attacks by the devious commies of Akel and Politis newspaper.

If he followed social media and read what is being written about him by ordinary folk, he would be in an even fouler mood. Mercifully he does not, nor do we have secret police that could report the nasty lies being said about him in cafes, bars and at dinner parties. It suffices to say, that you no longer hear anything positive being said about him or anyone defending him when Nik is smart enough to know that the public mood has swung against him with reports about the golden passports, his use of the Saudi sheik’s private jet for his travels and, to a lesser extent, his Cyprob antics. We are informed that he sought the services of a communications advisor to help limit the damage being done to his standing, even though this has been kept a carefully-guarded secret as has the issue of who would be picking up the bill. If it is the taxpayer – entirely possible; if his capital statement was accurate, he could not afford to pay for such a service – and it is made public it would be another blow to his reputation.

 

THE FIRST step in the ‘restore Nik’s sterling reputation and make the people love him again’ strategy was the interview he gave to Simerini last Sunday in which he came up with the following:

“Let them examine the citizenships given, after applications by my former law office. If there is any case, I repeat, I underline, that it would emerge that either my former law office or I for selfish reasons have engaged in any illicit action favourable to anyone, I will submit my resignation the next day.”

Presumably, he would not resign if he engaged in lawful action favourable to one of his former law office’s clients, like picking up the phone and ordering the interior minister to approve a citizenship application. I am not suggesting that this happened but merely trying to establish what our Prez considers a legitimate reason for tendering his resignation.

It was not the first time, nor the second nor the third for that matter, that he offered to resign if he was found to have done something illegal. I do not know if he made this childish statement on the advice of his communications guru or thought it up himself, but it was not very smart.

First, it gave the media a new angle to keep the story going, but worse still it made Nik appear like someone that knows people do not believe him. He offered to make the biggest sacrifice of his life – to resign – if he was found to be lying, in the hope that some people would believe what he said.

 

ON THE SAME day that his ‘cross my heart and hope to die’ assertion was published, Politis came up with a story that combined the golden passports with the private Boeing 737 jet he was using for his official travels and family holidays abroad.

The one we found out about when the windscreen cracked while bringing Nik and his entourage back from the Big Apple and had to return to New York. The jet, permanently stationed at Larnaca airport and used for almost all our prez’s travels, belonged to a company owned by Saudi billionaire Abdulrahman bin Khalid bin Mahfouz, who, together with his brother and four others, were granted Cypriot citizenship in 2016.

Obliged to respond to Akelite questions about the chartering of jets by Nik, government sophist Prodromos Prodromou, said Akel “must know that these are decided through tenders’ procedures and therefore what it says does not stand.” And if anyone disbelieves this, I am certain Prez Nik would offer to resign if it ever emerged that the chartering of his Saudi friend’s jet was not done through tenders’ procedures or that he was using it without paying.

 

WITH THE government having difficulty defending itself, the lawyer of the Saudi billionaire stepped into the fray to inform us that “our clients have received no privileged or favourable treatment and on no account would they ever desire our seek this.”

Not only this, in 2014 when Cyprus was deep in recession, the bin Mahfouzes “made investments of millions of euro on the island” and it was “unacceptable for honourable businessmen, like our clients, to be targeted and vilified with untruths and inaccurate publications,” said the lawyers, who pointed out that these investments were maintained.

Asked by a paper in what the sheik and his partners had invested, the lawyer said he was not authorised by his clients to say. We can only speculate that it is some developer. As regards the use of the private jet the family did not want to say anything, respecting the ongoing investigation by the auditor-general’s office, which seems to be taking quite long to complete, considering it started a month ago.

 

SPEAKING of the self-righteous Odysseas, he was in the news all week as he had a face-to-face confrontation with one of his favourite targets at a House committee meeting on Thursday. He had the opportunity to engage in some angry exchanges with the ombudswoman, Maria Stylianou-Lottides, who has pissed him off big-time, by refusing to bow to his supreme authority. The unforgiving Odysseas had some trivialities in his report about the ombudswoman’s office that I will not bore you with, while Stylianou-Lottides accused him of bullying and intimidation tactics, which would surprise nobody. This is the heavy price all officials that defy the mighty Odysseas have to pay.

 

HIS REPORT about the CyBC, among other things, found fault with the board’s decision to upgrade the pay scales of two open contract employees that had taken the corporation to court because their pay did not reflect the responsibilities they had.

Earlier in the year, the CyBC board reached an out-of-court settlement with the two employees, upgrading their pay scales, claiming this would protect the public sector from the consequences of an unfavourable court ruling. This prompted the mighty Odysseas to say in his report: “As if the board had the authority without any consultation with the government no less, to assume without being told to, the role of the guardian of the public interest.”

Odysseas, quite rightly, put the CyBC board in its place. Did the members not know there is only one guardian of the public interest in Kyproulla?

 

AS THE ONE and only guardian of the public interest, Odysseas pulled out all the stops to block the Natural Gas Company Defa, from awarding the contract for supplying the EAC with natural gas to a consortium headed by a Chinese company. He sent a letter to Defa warning it not to go ahead with the deal and to increase the pressure he made the letter public.

His objections, related to trivialities regarding the procedure, which was peculiar considering he was on the Oversight Committee appointed by the government to monitor the tenders’ procedure. Claims by the president of Defa about detailed briefings of the committee and about its active involvement in the preparation of the competition documents were “unacceptable and groundless” said Odysseas.

If the guardian of the public interest gets his way and the deal falls through because of minor technicalities he will further delay the import of natural gas for power stations thus ensuring higher electricity bills for all of us.

 

NOTHING can stop the advance of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Primary school teachers were granted another privilege by our spineless government. They will be the only employees entitled to receive a full pension when they take early retirement. A 12 per cent penalty is imposed on everyone else that opts for early retirement.

It will not be long before the rest of the public parasites make a similar demand. And who will pay for this? All the mugs that have always picked up the bill for the privileges of the working aristocracy. The head of the Social Insurance Fund said monthly contributions by employees and businesses would have to increase by 1.3 per cent to keep the Fund viable once the penalty is abolished. And all because those selfish, lazy, underworked teachers want to retire early and still get a full pension.

Strangely all EU countries are putting back the retirement age, in order to maintain the viability of state pension funds, because people live longer, but in Kyproulla we will offer an incentive for all public parasites to retire early.

 

VERY SURPRISED to hear that all our parties appear to support the amendment to the rent control law that would allow a landlord to evict tenants that do not pay their rent after two months. Until now, it was almost impossible for a landlord to get rid of a tenant that might not have paid rent for three years because the case would have to go through the courts which could take five or six years to issue a decision. When the amendment is passed the tenant would be evicted within two months. I am surprised deputies do not want to protect tenants in the same way they have been protecting house owners that refuse to repay their housing loans. Why should a tenant that cannot afford to pay his rent be evicted within two months while someone refusing to pay his bank loan be protected by the law? Just asking.

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