Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Andre Wright | Montague’s premature ejaculation

Published:Wednesday | September 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Robert Montague has been accused, more than once, of shooting from the hip, but based on the communication chaos in his ministry, we never knew he was struck by a severe case of premature ejaculation.

It was strange enough that the ministry sent out a Nicodemus press release at 8:16 p.m., coincidentally outside the major news cycle, saying that Ena Rose, Albert Edwards, Marva McIntosh and Dennis Wright had been appointed to the drama-hit Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) board.

Then we learnt that Dennis Wright, who chaired the immediate past board, declined this appointment. Barely an hour later, the ministry denied that any board had been constituted in the first place and that the original press statement was premature. Premature, indeed!

What the devil is going on in Montague’s ministry? Is it being run on autopilot? Is Bobby still at the wheel of the used car named national security? At this rate, he might not survive Holness’ promised Cabinet reshuffle.

I would have assumed that with corruption and chicanery rife in the FLA, top to bottom, the Government would not only have exercised intense oversight, but ensured that the new board members had gone through aggressive screening, including polygraphs, as was promised.
Who are we to believe? That Dennis Wright declined appointment? Or that that narrative was contrived after backlash against his reintroduction to a board in the cross hairs of an investigation by MOCA?

Meanwhile, Peter Bunting’s argument that the FLA board should be rid of all politicians or politically aligned individuals is thoughtless bombast. Governments are elected to lead. And as much as it is apparently politically correct and convenient, NGOs, civil-society
groups and other nondescript activists must never fully populate state boards. That’s not to diminish their role in the formulation and execution of policy. Such pressure groups play a key role in stabilising society and holding governments accountable, but their sway should not tilt the balance of power away from the political centre.
 

NO SENSE
 

The notion that we shouldn’t have politicians on the FLA board because politicians are innately corrupt makes no sense. If that were the case, politicians shouldn’t be on multiple other sensitive boards, or have control over the Consolidated Fund!

It is a global norm (yes, in the corrupt First World, too) for political administrations to insert loyalists on boards and committees, in embassies, and in the bureaucracy. Bruce Golding’s
utopian outlook, during his prime ministership, of not wanting to make across-the-board replacements, showed deference to a kumbaya world that doesn’t exist.

New administrations should flush from boards persons whose political perspectives and activism will likely render them not merely intellectual combatants but diehard saboteurs. And I’m not arguing that boards should have either all Labourites or all Comrades. No. But
a Government must be given latitude to appoint politicos to boards to ensure that policy and philosophy are adhered to and put into action.

Wholesale post-election board resignations should be law, not convention.

It’s precisely that Golding-esque indecision that the Holness administration adopted in not booting Omar Newell, a PNP Patriots activist, from his non-civil service position in the Office of the Prime Minister after the 2016 general election. Newell was a holdover political appointee from the Simpson Miller term. They unwisely retained him until he pulled down his pants and flashed the Government, excoriating the prime minister in a letter to the editor published in this newspaper. The political activist should have had his contract paid out and been sent packing from the beginning.

At the core of appointments should be whether the persons selected to boards, committees and consultancies have the requisite intelligence, emotional and otherwise; management acumen; and integrity to competently guide policy and provide rigid oversight. If board members are too bored to do that, they either shouldn’t be appointed or, if already so, be terminated.

As an aside, Peter Phillips’ biggest problem, notwithstanding his handlers’ PR campaign with him trying to do the Portia – you know, greeting old ladies and hugging kids –is that his credibility as the Great Reformer is in question. Is it just now, with the PNP having a four-seat minority in the Lower House, triggered by two resignations and death, that Peter Phillips is realising that there should be a legislative deadline for constituency by-elections?

If Peter Phillips were genuine in his appeal, he would have been advocating this for years. And not only that, he would be committed to a fixed general election date, to rescue voters from the mercurial whims of prime ministers. But it’s apparent that Mr Phillips believes we are gullible to believe his pledge to fix by-election dates.

Remember Andrew Holness and his promise for a fixed election date?

Anybody hear a peep ’bout dat?

-André Wright is opinion editor of The Gleaner. His comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.