Tue | Oct 24, 2017

Editorial | Will the real Karl Samuda please stand up?

Published:Tuesday | October 25, 2016 | 12:00 AM

A great hoax must have been perpetrated on Jamaica's media by a talented and skilled impersonator who fooled them into believing that he was Karl Samuda. For how else could we explain last week's intimidatory assault on the judiciary by a senior minister, especially one whose portfolio includes promoting investment, job creation and economic growth.

In this regard, the real Mr Samuda has an obligation to, forthwith, stand and reclaim his identity and exculpate himself from those defamatory declarations against him. On the chance that the offending statements were proffered by the real Mr Samuda, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has no alternative but to read him the riot act, demand that he publicly apologise, and warn the minister that it is the first of a few strikes lest he be shown the door out of the Cabinet.

The real Karl Samuda is a long-standing politician who has served in the legislature for well over three decades, and switched parties twice while retaining his seat for the constituency of St Andrew North Central, which includes some poor, gritty urban communities. Red Hills Road is a popular and important artery running through Mr Samuda's constituency.

One day recently, there were television images of residents of tenements at 85 Red Hills Road, and their supporters, burning shirts with images of Karl Samuda. Bailiffs, backed by the police, were attempting to enforce eviction notices and his constituents were angry that there had been no apparent intervention by their MP. In the face of the protest, and in a bid to prevent it from becoming violent, the police backed off.

Then occurred last week's very public intervention by who we presume to be the pseudo-Karl Samuda. He said, before television cameras, that the Government would seek an injunction against the evictions and that the Jamaican State - and its taxpayers - would purchase the land from the owner to provide homes for his constituents. The Government, presumably, would apply the doctrine of eminent domain.

 

SAMUDA SHOULD CLARIFY

 

That, as a broad legal principle, this newspaper does not challenge. Except that there are two other deeply troubling declarations by Mr Samuda.

One was this statement: "Any judge who declares that a person who claims to own the land, whether it is so or not, has a right to evict people is not be tolerated."

Perchance that this were a statement by the real Mr Samuda, the question is, how should the phrase "not to be tolerated" be interpreted? In the wrong circumstance and with the wrong people, it is potentially incendiary. Mr Samuda, therefore, should clarify the remark, making it clear it is not meant to imply any flouting of legitimate directions of the courts, to undermine the rule of law, or instill fear in judges. We offer him the explanation that the intent is to use the legal system to its full extent.

The other point is a statement implying that there was something untoward about the property's owner wanting to "build expensive projects". The real Karl Samuda, MP, is the minister of industry and commerce, who should want to see investment in an area that used to have thriving businesses but is being turned into a slum.

Investors ought to be encouraged, not ostracised. And when they have disputes, they must feel free to seek resolution in the courts, with a free, independent, unintimidated judiciary.