Tue | Nov 19, 2019

Reid-CMU affair raises too many questions

Published:Friday | May 17, 2019 | 12:27 AM


President of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), Professor Fritz Pinnock, gave some interesting responses when he appeared before the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) in Parliament earlier this week.

I’ve always learned that if something doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. Prof Pinnock denied that CMU hosted the 50th birthday party at a north coast hotel for embattled former Minister of Education Ruel Reid, who we understand is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

Pinnock also denied that CMU paid for a yacht birthday party for Reid, which he described as an ‘industry’ function. We know that several CMU students, formally dressed, attended the event and formed an honour guard. Were other tertiary students also in attendance? What about officials from other institutions? When one is invited to a party, one is usually aware of who is hosting, why didn’t Prof Pinnock just divulge that information?

Prof Pinnock also stated that as president of CMU, he was not ‘assigned’ an adviser, but confirmed that former JLP MP Othneil Lawrence was hired as adviser at the institution, with a salary of $5 million per year. Who approved the hiring of Lawrence and what special skills and knowledge did Lawrence have that qualified him to be an adviser to the university? Prof Pinnock would’ve known who Lawrence was supposed to advise. Was Lawrence being paid by CMU to do nothing? If so, this raises other ethical questions. And what a coincidence that the hiring took place just eight weeks before Lawrence resigned as caretaker, to facilitate former Minister Reid to assume that the role of caretaker of the constituency, which would’ve enabled him to run as JLP candidate in the next elections. PM Holness must’ve been aware of this arrangement as well. Oh what a tangled web they weave!