Wed | Nov 13, 2019

Jaristotle's Jottings | Political mis-association

Published:Thursday | October 17, 2019 | 12:08 AM

It came to pass last week that the security forces swooped down on the homes of former education minister Ruel Reid, Professor Fritz Pinnock of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), and St Ann Councillor Kim Brown-Lawrence in the wee morning hours before cock crow. Their actions were in furtherance of investigations into allegations of corruption at the Ministry of Education and the CMU and culminated in Reid and his family, as well as Pinnock and Brown-Lawrence, being taken into custody.

Well, the episode did not find favour with Justice Minister Delroy Chuck who was quite vociferous about the “Nicodemus-in-the-night” approach taken by the security forces in executing the raids and arrests. According to the goodly minister, he ‘would have preferred if they had been invited to a police station to be charged and granted bail’. To further compound the issue, it was the minister’s daughter who was the Reids’ lawyer at the time of their arrest.

Why should there have been any difference in the actions of the security forces in this instance as against the dozens of ‘ordinary’ Jamaicans being unceremoniously rounded up like cattle during routine operations in high-crime areas? What is good for the goose is also good for the gander: justice [or injustice] for all.

Minister Chuck’s faux paus is reminiscent of the 2009 saga when, faced with the extradition request from the US authorities for Tivoli strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, the then Bruce Golding-led government basically went into panic mode, adamantly resisting the request for almost one year.

EXPRESSION OF EMPATHY

Is it that these cases represent fair but poorly expressed empathy for fallen politicos and politico-makers, or was empathy expressed because of fear that the fallen ones could be tempted to save their hides by divulging incriminating truths? Regardless of fair or fear, where misplaced empathy prevails, politicians like Mr Chuck should remember that the rule of law applies to everyone just as much as the unseemly actions of the security forces when taking suspects into custody.

Correct the wrong because it is wrong, not because it affects your fellow politicos, and to hell with everyone else. Marginalising ordinary citizens in such a manner is insulting to the people of this country.

Show me your connections ….

Quite fortuitously, Mr Chuck’s foot-in-mouth saga reminded me of some other very interesting and ambiguous politico connections. Connections of the type that in times of trouble could put inordinate pressure on politicos to bury the truth. Connections of the type that could cause them to put self-interests above the interests of the people they were elected to serve.

Many people will recall the frantic legal efforts of learned Comrades to keep Kern Spencer from going to jail during the Cuban light bulb saga some years back. That sort of party-frenzied effort does not go into defending the ordinary John Doe: I guess the Reids are no ordinary John Does either.

And what of the media-hyped relationship between Christopher ‘Dog Paw’ Linton, a convicted gangster, and Leah Tavares-Finson, the daughter of Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson? Can we reasonably dispel potential conflicts of interest in the execution of public duties by the senator or should we be prudently suspicious? After all, he was Dudus’ lawyer at the time of his extradition.

Let’s not forget Bruce Golding, who in 1999 admitted that he had been associated with gunmen. Where did that get him: the prime ministership of this country. Where did that get the country: the Dudus extradition saga.

Political mis-associations favour the few and, like corruption, deprives the citizenry of objective representation and protection. Every time such issues surface, we must not only disparage the offenders, but turn the issues into election determinants. Force politicians to be more discerning and discountenance untenable associations.

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