Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Ronald Mason | Political gangsters

Published:Sunday | August 21, 2016 | 8:00 AM

Jamaica has a multitude of problems, some of these problems are of our own making but amenable to being resolved internally. What is lacking are the political will and the moral compass to guide actions.

There is no political will to honour the wishes of the majority by reinstituting hanging. We have the ability to make politically engaging statements like "not in my Cabinet" and to stand in the National Arena and make moral pronouncements. When it comes to differences of opinion as to the best legal approach, but crystal clarity on the need to assert moral leadership we are lacking.

Why are we as a society being allowed to embrace garrisons and political divisions? Why are we numb to the daily murders of fellow citizens? Everybody can identify the geographic areas controlled by politically affiliated gangs?

It is pretty clear that these set the stage for what has now become a popular source of discussion in the society. Political motives for murder. The current matter has not had anybody being charged, much less to be convicted.

The chatter has not been subjected to cross-examination in a quest for the truth, but the society has formed opinions. This cannot be the correct approach, where persons occupy positions of leadership and claim moral authority, but all the offices involved - the Ministry of National Security, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the former command officer - engage in the tried and proven strategy: cover your ass.

The role of a member of parliament has many facets to it. Let us acknowledge that Jamaica's 63 MPs in Jamaica are each elected to a specific constituency. They are bound by honour and duty to represent the interests of the residents of their constituency.

In Jamaica, any resident who qualifies can offer himself for election, but only 126 persons get the seal of approval of the major political parties. Only occasionally in our history has someone been able to secure election as an independent candidate.

This gives rise to the moral authority invested with the leaders of the political party to exercise judgement as to whom they foist on the society. Never has the phrase been more appropriate: Show me your company and I will tell you who you are. Take a look in Parliament and recognise who keeps company with whom. Take a look at who gets bestowed with blessings. All get largesse, but few become so strong that they are immune to reprimand and must be returned, time after time, at all costs. No wonder they have become the Gangs of Gordon House.

 

FAMILY POSITION

 

I am not prepared - and I do not think most Jamaicans are prepared - to listen to the hollow protestations of those who claim to be different. If you are truly different, you will assert your moral leadership and convictions to correct the problems you and your predecessors have created. What do you have instead? A seat in Parliament has become a family possession - to be passed from generation to generation as a right. Parliamentarians are the only ones who have leadership quality? What utter rubbish! We are now called on to pay a price for this.

People have become untouchable and they can have anything being alleged against them, with the accusations left to fester. Who can determine the credibility of the Office of the Director of Public Publications, the Ministry of National Security, the JCF, the Ministry of Justice, and the party leaders, when matters arise?

One must ask questions of the judicial system not being allowed to assess for itself the veracity and credibility of witnesses and evidence offered to support an accusation. One should recall the charges prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of the two brothers in St James. This was done even though DNA evidence supported a finding of their innocence, prior to trial. An unsuccessful prosecution was still brought.

 

NINE-DAY WONDER

 

In the present matter, the current holder of the office of minister of national security, who was not the minister at the time in question, is now asking the public for more time and patience for a review of the file to be undertaken. In other words, buy time and hope the matter will be subject to the nine-day wonder.

An election will come again and the nation will be reminded that the former minister of national security is distinguished by his approach of letting sleeping dogs lie. The Gangs of Gordon House - never a more apt name.

There is an argument making the rounds that the Office of the DPP does not have the powers of arrest. This is correct, but historically, the Jamaica Constabulary Force submits files to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a ruling prior to an arrest where sensitivity or public interest comes into play.

Notably, the Jamaica Constabulary Force rarely arrests its members or politicians without the ruling from the director of public prosecutions. In the matter at hand, a report has alleged that a prima facie case was made based on the submissions, but that there were corroboration and credibility issues.

The end result? To date, the case remains dormant. What a country! Where is Gordon House and morality?

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.