Kaarel Tarand: Meeting his eminence
Rulers have clearly recovered from the virus. While the powers that be, in a surprise move, latched onto opinions by scientists and other experts in the coronavirus crisis, the door has now been slammed shut once more in the face of facts and knowledge, Kaarel Tarand says in Vikerraadio's daily comment.
My grandmother often repeated a story she was told by her parents of a Vastse-Prangli man who was in the habit of lending credibility to his tales by adding: "I talked to his eminence!"
Back then, that eminence was, of course, the manor owner who in truth never held an audience for the villagers. My great-grandfather Kusta once asked what his eminence had said. The answer: "His eminence told us to get out!"
We have neither a Czar, classes nor manors anymore, with the constitution stating that citizens now form the eminence and appoint representatives at regular elections. The nobility were not liked a century ago, while communicating with democratic representatives should be normal.
So it happened on Monday that I was invited to attend the Riigikogu Anti-Corruption Select Committee sitting to share with them some information committee chair Katri Raik believed would benefit its work.
I felt involved as nine years on the job have endowed me with knowledge of party financing few others in Estonia can boast.
Riigikogu committees are very similar in that they almost always have more coalition than opposition MPs as their members. When the committee sitting had already started, with me seated and my facts, analysis and documents ready, the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) man in the committee Paul Puustusmaa raised the question of whether the item should even be on the agenda. This without knowing what kind of information on corruption risks I had for the legislator.
I was sent out of the room and after an argument of roughly ten minutes, the committee had decided not to discuss ties between party financing and corruption, with the deciding votes those of coalition MPs Puustusmaa, Siim Kiisler (Isamaa) and Marek Jürgenson (Center). I was invited back in and told that I had come to Toompea Hill for nothing and sent on my way. Involvement did not happen, or in other words, I was told to get out by his eminence.
Why bring it up? Because it was a mere week ago when MP Kiisler complained how it bothered him he had to learn about the work of the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK) from the media. Now, he had a historic opportunity to access the very source of that information, while something had left him scared of what he might hear. It seems it is better to pour wax into one's ear than to receive even one bite of information from someone like me.
The etude that unfolded on the floor just a few hours later, the reading of a bill to amend the National Audit Office Act and other acts, vividly demonstrated what happens when people without knowledge in the field are put in charge of solving problems therein. The result is akin to blind men trying to describe an elephant in that old folk tale.
Kert Kingo (EKRE), put in charge of explaining and defending the bill, modestly referred to herself as a presenter and failed to explain anything, answer questions or justify the necessity of the bill (to abolish the ERJK and give its tasks to the National Audit Office – ed.). Instead, she threw a tantrum like a guilty teenager appearing in front of the school board and, finding herself in trouble, changed to subject to my person. It constituted a new level for the Riigikogu that political observers had to find peculiar to say the least.
When appearing in front of the Riigikogu and exercising public authority, neither delegates, parties or the coalition have any right to personally attack or stigmatize an Estonian citizen, while being accused of socialism constitutes stigmatization in EKRE's playbook, not to mention sinful thoughts or ideological guilt being hunted by following bloodlines.
I eagerly await the party and government's decision in terms of the brand I must sow into my lapel so every patriot could recognize my hereditary inferiority from a mile away.
Whereas all of it is taking place without any knowledge on their part of my worldview or electoral preferences for that matter. Let it be said that as a free and independent citizen, I have voted for six different parties in the past 30 years, as well as election coalition candidates and independents. All of it leaves me a political weather vane rather than an unwavering ideological soldier.
Secondly, why should any taxpayer be happy or even content with a representative body they pay to draft legislation and represent all citizens wasting its time on heroically solving a problem that doesn't exist in a manner reminiscent of a witch hunt? I believe many aren't.
Unfortunately, all signs point to the fact that rulers have recovered from the virus. The powers that be latched onto every calculation, analysis and advice by scientists and other experts in the crisis.
While now, the administration has once again slammed the door shut in the face of facts and knowledge, can stew in its own juice and temporarily forget that the highest eminence in this country is the citizenry and not delegates.
We shall see who the eminence will oust from councils and the parliament come election time. Perhaps I should even consider running if the coalition is intent on supplying me with free political advertising for much longer.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski