Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Daniel Thwaites | Your ass is grass

Published:Sunday | May 21, 2017 | 5:00 AM

Everybody knows that it was the impetuous young bull who, standing on a hillside overlooking a field of heifers, said I'm going to run down this hill, jump over that fence, and buck one of those cows. And it was the old bull who sighs, then suggests calmly, why don't we walk down the hill, go through the gate, and buck them all? This is the difference between youthful vim and vigour on the one hoof, and mature wisdom and insight on the other.

So what is to explain the cuss-out between Samuda and Campbell, which was more like two young bull ramjostling.

I'm trying to better understand if the resignation calls are righteous demands or just a piece of Mombasa-fed bullshizzle. At this point, something doesn't make sense, and I know it's not me on the grass, even though my chairman is insisting I smoke it as a demonstration, without paying.

I'm not saying resignations aren't sometimes appropriate, but let's get the facts before lassoing the old bull and heading to the slaughterhouse.

To heighten our sense of perspective, I decided to just try to recall some of the resignation calls from 2012 and 2013 which seemed to me ridiculous. There was the 'flag incident' in Montego Bay that caused a Courtney Humes to resign. For that infraction, now minister of health, the ordinarily level-headed Christopher Tufton, told The Sunday Gleaner: "One resignation is not enough for what was a web of deceit and an attempt to mislead the country."

Will Chris be calling for Samuda to resign? Negative.

Remember Dr Herbert Thompson, mercilessly sacrificed for minuscule political advantage after he accepted an unsolicited award from a PNP group. Holness demanded the scalp, and got it, for this minor misjudgement. Strangely, when Delroy Chuck demanded Holness' resignation after the Senate appointment debacle, he didn't get it for that major misjudgement. For the record, I was never in agreement with the idea that Holness should have been forced to resign for his senatorial shenanigans.

There were tons more. The scalp of Peter Phillips, minister of finance, was demanded by the G2K before he even got to work in the finance ministry. Jamaicans For Justice demanded Minister of National Security Peter Bunting's resignation because of his "divine intervention" prayer. There were calls for Lisa Hanna, minister of youth and culture, to be demoted because of the Jamaica 50 celebrations, which turned out fine. Gregory Mair had called for Phillip Paulwell, minister of science, technology, energy and mining, to resign for some reason or another. I could go on and on.

Point is, I'm not jumping up into this 'resign' reflex. But at the same time, it wouldn't be right if Samuda just 'buss a Babsy'.

 

Fair deal

 

Babsy, you will recall, responded to damning allegations levelled by Lisa Hanna by shuffling lots of paper on social media and making a fair deal of noise about being outraged that the questions were raised. Unsurprisingly, after all the distraction, the core of the allegation remains unanswered, and Mr Holness is blithely ignoring recommendations, including from The Gleaner, that she be pulled from the Jamaica 55 project.

Let me make another point. Samuda, known as the man for industry and commerce, has been given the additional responsibility of the agriculture portfolio, and that might be the problem. All of a sudden, the agriculture ministry is littering the newscasts, and the stories aren't good. Some of it is due to the overall misdirection of the 1.5 scam, so when Samuda is forced to try and raid the coconut growers of their $5 billion, that's just the latest casualty of the money vacuum, following raids on NHT, HEART, NHF, TEF, and probably some I'm forgetting about.

And then some of the worries are cyclical. For instance, since the sugar industry is nearing the end of its 10-year cycle of 'divestment', then return to the taxpayer, prepare for another 'non-economic decision' - a euphemism for ketchy-shubby policy for fear of political fallout - like that which resolved the latest UWI tuition crisis. There's already a quiet bailout of sugar going on with the subsidised trucking of canes.

Then there's the licensing matter for milk products, which is the tip of a very large iceberg. I have no judgement on the particular issue except to say that veteran agriculture ministry watchers know that it's in the dispensation of import licences that the action is, and where, in the past, the wide discretion given to ministerial power has been wielded to destroy local industries, enrich the few, and impoverish the many.

So anyhow, with all that being said, it is more than a little troubling to find that the minister himself was an early beneficiary of a programme to establish Mombasa grass in Jamaica. In fact, it's a big (g)rass scandal. Just on its face, the whole thing has the whiff of sour milk.

That Butch Arscott also got Mombassa grass is pure political distraction. It might leave some egg and sour milk on the PNP's face, but that's not quite the same thing as addressing the governance issue where, even according to the official story, one of the first instincts of the government agency was to insist on using public resources to "plant up Minister's land".

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.