Mon | Sep 23, 2019

UPDATED: WALL OF SHAME? - Parents want booted ex-ministers’ names removed from CMU monument

Published:Friday | August 2, 2019 | 12:15 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
CMU wall of fame
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Parents of prospective students of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) got a shocker recently as they toured the grounds of the Palisadoes Park institution in Kingston and noticed the names of booted Cabinet ministers Ruel Reid and Dr Andrew Wheatley among honorees on a wall of fame.

Wheatley, the former energy minister, was forced to quit the Cabinet last July after agencies under the ministry he led were swamped with allegations of corruption, nepotism, financial improprieties, and questionable human relations practices. Reid, the discarded education minister now under criminal investigation, made his exit in March amid corruption allegations dogging agencies under his ministry, including the CMU.

“That was the last thing I expected to see,” one parent told The Gleaner after coming across the wall of fame. “In light of all the developments, what is the rationale for these people to be listed on a wall of fame? ... Are we saying to the children [that] they should aspire to walk in the footsteps of these people?”

Urgent action

The parent, whose child will begin studies at the CMU in a few weeks, said she and others who were taken aback by the discovery will be pressing the institution’s management to have the names removed.

“I, for one, since CMU has been in the media, have been telling my daughter not to go there and become distracted when the semester begins. So I am asking her not to be distracted, but when she attends school, a wall of fame is showcasing some very same people who have brought the university into disrepute. I will be writing to CMU about it,” the upset mother told The Gleaner.

The wall of fame in question is mounted on the newly constructed PetroCaribe Building of the Festo Authorised and Certified Training (FACT) Centre for Mechatronics and Automation. Opened last September, the state-of-the-art facility, which aims to deliver international certification in industrial automation and mechatronics, is the result of a partnership between the CMU and globally renowned German training institute Festo Didactic.

The centre, which is the largest to be established globally, has the capacity to train and certify more than 4,000 students annually.

The PetroCaribe Development Fund provided J$402 million of the more than $700 million spent on the facility.

Reid and Wheatley – along with 14 others, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness – were inducted into the wall of fame for their contribution to establishing the centre.

On Wednesday, Archibald Gordon, CMU’s director of marketing and communications, told The Gleaner that he would seek guidance from the university administration before commenting on the issue.

“[From what I know], we had not thought of it. It’s a set of tiles with the names of [persons] who contributed to the development of the centre,” he said.

However, in light of the objections now being raised, Gordon said he would be discussing the matter with the CMU administration and provide an update to The Gleaner.

In May, the CMU removed Wheatley’s name from a centre named in his honour at its main campus following public backlash as details surfaced about alleged impropriety at a number of agencies under the ministry, including NeSOL, Petrojam, and the Universal Service Fund.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com

(EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the $402 million provided by PetroCaribe Development Fund  and $700 million overall spent as US dollar values.)

 

–  Andrew Holness, prime minister

– Dean-Roy Bernard, then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education

– Bishop Dr Wellesley Blair, former chairman of the Universal Service Fund

– Suzette Buchanan, former CEO of the Universal Service Fund

– Shakierah Cowan, client relations manager at the PetroCaribe Development Fund

– Hugh Cross, former CEO of the Universal Service Fund

– Omar Davies, former transport minister

– Dr Alwin Hales, permanent secretary in Ministry of Transport and Mining

– Mike Henry, former transport minister

– Robert Lawrence, former chairman of the Universal Service Fund

– Dr Wesley Hughes, CEO, PetroCaribe Development Fund

– Dr Grace McLean, chief education officer in the Ministry of Education (now acting permanent secretary)

– Phillip Paulwell, former science, energy and technology minister

– Ruel Reid, then education minister

– Audrey Sewell, permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister

– Dr Andrew Wheatley, former science, energy and technology minister