Derrick mined out - Mullings' ministry split to slide in Smith
Tuesday | May 13, 2008
Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
Derrick Smith has been appointed minister of mining and telecommunications. - File
Derrick Smith, who shadowed the former government's ministers of national security for the better part of two decades, was yesterday shuffled out of the security ministry in favour of Colonel Trevor MacMillan, who will be sworn in as government senator and minister today.
MacMillan will replace Ian Murray, who will give up his seat in the Senate.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding's swift decision to replace Smith came at the end of a 12-day period which saw at least 75 murders.
Last Saturday, Smith was at his upper St Andrew home preparing his presentation for the Sectoral Debate as minister of national security.
Less than 24 hours later, The Gleaner confirmed that any presentation made by him in the Sectoral Debate would focus on something other than the country's security crisis.
Smith will now become minister of mining and telecommunications, increasing the 17-member Cabinet by one, with Clive Mullings maintaining the energy portfolio.
Smith, who is still on sick leave, will retain his position as minister with responsibility for electoral matters and leader of government business in the House.
Golding's decision to move the senior deputy party leader out of the security ministry and replace him with MacMillan has been met with mixed reactions, but for security analyst Harold Crooks, the prime minister made the right decision.
"The appointment of MacMillan will bring a clear strategic direction to policing and national security," he said.
According to Crooks, Smith did not present the nation with a clear outline of the Government's crime-fighting policy.
He argued that MacMillan has the experience and knowledge to do a better job.
"MacMillan is a strategic thinker with the needed experience, although I don't expect anything more than a marginal reduction in crime," Crooks added.
Crime rose under Macmillan
Sociologist and university lecturer Charmaine Tapper is also not sure the new security minister will make a big difference.
Tapper noted that during MacMillan's stint as police commissioner, there was an increase in violent crimes.
According to Tapper, the official figures show that, in 1992, the country recorded 49,000 crimes. During MacMillan's three-year period as commissioner, there was a steady increase and, by 1996, the official figure was approximately 56,000.
"I don't know what he is planning now and what tricks he has up his sleeve, but the past does not guarantee that he will be a saviour," Tapper added.
She said the approach to tackling crime over the years has been deficient.
At the top of the list, Tapper placed the failure to address the social conditions which breed crime.
"The social services have not been addressed. We need to include the social agencies in an effective organised way to fight crime," she said.
Shadowing the ministry
The Cabinet shifts brought a sudden, if not unexpected, end to a short stint as national security minister for Smith.
He has been under pressure from the start with many persons questioning the prime minister's decision to choose him as security minister following the Jamaica Labour Party's victory in the general election last September.
However, Golding expressed confidence in the man who spent years keeping tabs on former security ministers K.D. Knight and Dr Peter Phillips.
While announcing the members of his Cabinet, Golding brushed off the detractors and claimed Smith was the right man for the job.
But with a little more than four months gone, the murder toll is headed in the wrong direction and the calls have been increasing for Golding to take action.
On Sunday, the murder total for the year was 564. This was 10 per cent higher than the total for the corresponding period last year.
Murder stats under national security ministers of the last 40 years
Roy McNeill - Minister of Home Affairs and Justice
Noel Silvera - Minister of Home Affairs and Justice
Keble Munn - Minister of National Security
Dudley Thompson - Minister of National Security
Winston Spaulding - Minister of National Security
Errol Anderson - Minister of National Security
K.D. Knight - Minister of National Security
Took office in February 1989
Dr Peter Phillips - Minister of National Security and Justice