Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Integrity Commission too late

Published:Thursday | October 15, 2015 | 10:00 AMGary Spaulding, Contributor

The illogic of the People's National Party (PNP), tasked to summon its Integrity Commission to action after a series of gruelling selection contests, is mystifying at best.

When the commission was set up, the idea was embraced by many, who hungered for transparency in the political system.

They thought that, finally, a tool was being injected into a system, which was at best, viewed with scepticism.

Democratic politics is deemed to be among the most creative activities in providing opportunities for public resourcefulness and talent of citizenry to be developed.

For many, however, politics is a distasteful concept, with the full gamut of negative associations and connotations.

It is within this context that the PNP Integrity Commission was endorsed. Based on their antecedents, members of the Integrity Commission of the PNP have never been in question.

Notwithstanding high expectations that heralded the commission, the integrity of the means by which it has been tasked to do its work, is being challenged by some supporters and quite rightly so.

It is being mooted that the PNP is approaching candidate selection backwards, and in so doing undermining the efforts of the commission.

Others complain that unfortunately for the party, many think that once it's the PNP's way of doing things it is the right way.

The question was asked: "Why do candidates have to be facing the integrity committee after the delegates selected them by the democratic means established by the party structure?"

Shouldn't these individuals be vetted before the selection process?"

The belated nature of the exercise after a lot of capital - political and otherwise - is expended and wasted to find out that after a gruelling selection exercise, the victor is disqualified because the Integrity Commission deems him/her to be unsuitable may be just too politically taxing.

North East St Elizabeth remains a bomb waiting for its fuse to be lit.

Supporters of the incumbent member of Parliament Raymond Pryce are still smarting, while those for Redman and other anti-Pryce factions are still on the defensive.

One Pryce backer has asked: "Why does Paul Burke (PNP general secretary) respond to every letter and every issue about North Trelawny, South West St Elizabeth, East Portland South East St Ann, East Rural St Andrew and Eastern Hanover but refuses to respond to our letters and request for justice and intervention in North East St Elizabeth?"

Of course I can't answer that question or even verify whether this is actually the case.

But more significantly, can the PNP Secretariat say what will happen if another exercise (selection or otherwise) has to be undertaken in volatile North East St. Elizabeth?

It is noteworthy that all the constituencies mentioned, have been at the centre of one controversy or another over the past few weeks or months.

Some vociferous supporters in North Trelawny want the MP, Patrick Atkinson out.

Rumblings resurfaced in South West St Elizabeth after Hugh Buchanan prevailed to run on the party ticket.

Eastern Portland came to the annual conference still divided after Andrea Moore defeated Lynvale Bloomfield, and although shocked into submission by recent happenings, the conflict in South East St Ann is anything but resolved.

The wound in East Rural St Andrew continues to fester in the aftermath of Damion Crawford's shock defeat to Peter Blake.

Can the PNP withstand another turmoil in any of these constituencies if the Integrity Commission deems it necessary?

The focus of the commission to determine the integrity of potential standard-bearers of the party in the upcoming general election also appears to be on target and the questionnaire seems sufficiently probing.

It seeks details of employment history up to the date of the questionnaire, including place of employ, details of the types of business/titles and duties performed.

The commission also queries whether the potential candidate has been charged with or convicted of any offence or otherwise found liable by a civil, criminal or military court, excluding minor road traffic offences in Jamaica or elsewhere.

The issue of transactions with banks or other financial institutions with which potential candidates is also reviewed, among others things.

The Integrity Commission is regarded as a critical tool of the PNP and must remain so. It must not be allowed to lose its relevance or influence with the exploitation of fait accomplis that are likely to render its efforts mere academic exercises.

- Gary Spaulding is a senior gleaner writer. Email comments to columns@gleanerjm.com or gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com