No room for corruption in PNP, says Phillips
President of the People's National Party (PNP), Dr Peter Phillips, on Friday served notice that he would not tolerate corruption of any kind within the party, while also declaring that he would not engage in witch-hunts or persecution based on frivolous allegations.
Last year, allegations of a campaign-donation scandal emerged in the wake of the party's general election loss to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), triggered by a leaked report by treasurer Norman Horne that senior party members collected money from donors which they failed to turn over to the party. The Office of the Contractor General has launched an investigation into the matter, the results of which are still pending.
The party has since initiated an internal oversight body to safeguard against any such occurrence, said the recently installed president.
"We are going to be establishing trustees of the party, a trustee group, people of high repute and integrity who will have oversight of how we conduct ourselves. We await the contractor general's report and will respond to it as is necessary if he finds that there is any need for concern on the basis of things that are said," Phillips said.
"I'm very sensitive to the fact that there is a need to rebuild public trust in the political process and in the PNP in particular, which is my immediate concern, and that public trust means that people have to believe in the integrity of your purposes, because we are a low-trust society. A lot of cynicism abounds and there is, quite frankly, no (obstacle) greater to the nation-building project, in my view, than the degree of cynicism and the apathy which it breeds [and] that is affecting our population as a whole, and particularly the young people," he added.
Even as he admitted that persons running for political office in Jamaica were subject to malice and other acts of discrimination, Phillips charged his colleagues to conduct themselves always in a way that would leave little ground for character assassination.
"The only thing you can do is to ensure that your conduct is such that even the most bad-minded person won't be able to make an allegation that is substantiated, because there is no fire to support the smoke that people might be trying to blow. Now, I need to have all colleagues understand that and at the same time, I can give the assurance that during my tenure, where issues arise and there is evidence that is available, we will act to ensure that the name of the party is not besmirched by any reputation for bad conduct," the PNP president said.
Phillips said he would initiate a robust investigation into any allegations of impropriety, but this would be conducted in a way to ensure that the reputation of the person in question is not sullied in the process, only to find out afterwards that there was no merit to the charges.
"A man can't just jump up and say something and I move to act on that rumour without more evidence," he said.