Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Letter of the Day: McKenzie overreach a dangerous precedent

Published:Saturday | April 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM


If a minister can decide who is NOT to be hired to a public entity, the converse is also true.

On the footing that a minister can so decide, there is nothing to stop him from also deciding who is to be hired, or fired, or not fired, as the case may be.

I agree with your editorial of April 8, 2016, on the matter of the minister of local government's intervention in the operational matter of employment of staff, which ought to be a matter exclusively for the purview of the National Solid Waste Management Authority.

A prudent minister would have had a private meeting with his son and would have tried to persuade him privately to withdraw his job application.

Any such withdrawal is a matter entirely for his son (a fully formed adult who, from all accounts, is eminently qualified for the job), not the minister's.

A minister must leave day-to-day operations of a public agency to the management of that agency.

He should not interfere and hector any agency into changing management decisions, particularly in matters relating to employment of staff.

What the minister has done, with his ill advised and pandering action, is to set a dangerous precedent which, I expect, will be abused in the not-so-distant future.

He should also be advised that a civil claim can be brought, seeking damages for wrongful interference with a contract. Since the minister is a servant of the Crown, ultimately, it would be the Government of Jamaica which is liable to pay such damages. He should consider himself fortunate that his son is likely to let him off the hook.

Soon we may be having ministers, in this small society, investigating whether one is related in the full blood, the half blood, or any other degree of propinquity.

Civic-minded persons must remain vigilant in guiding ministers away from any misuse of power, no matter how well-intentioned.