Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Government should resign

Published:Sunday | April 11, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Lambert Brown, Gleaner Writer

Harold Brady, a senior Jamaican attorney, has admitted that he made a mistake in signing a contract with United States law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips (MPP), indicating that he was a "consultant to the Government of Jamaica," and "hereby confirms that he is authorised on behalf of the Government of Jamaica to approve of the engagement of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP, as set forth in this letter".

Mr Brady has been described as a "political power player" with very close connections to the ruling Jamaica Labour Party. However, the Government of Jamaica has said that he signed such an agreement without any authority from it to do so. Mr Brady was asked by the Government to provide evidence that he had taken steps to correct the misrepresentation that he was acting on its behalf. It is now three full weeks after the request was made of Mr Brady and the country is none the wiser. In the meantime, the Government allows Mr Brady to continue to occupy important positions, such as chairman of the Jamaica Railway Corporation, to which he was appointed by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

In a country run by rules and in which decency dominates, such scandalous conduct would not be tolerated. Sanctions would already have taken place. The police would have been called in to investigate whether a case of impersonation, public mischief, or whatever other possible offence, might have been committed. Not so with Jamaica, where partisanship dominates and principle is trampled underfoot. What we are getting are red herrings being drawn across the trail, aimed at masking the deterioration of the relationship between Jamaica and the United States.

Democracy requires that officials who serve the state and the people be held accountable for their mistakes, indiscretions, or misjudgments. To the degree that a country allows friendship, cronyism and political expediency to undermine fundamental principles of our democracy, that country runs the risk of descent into dictatorship. The way we deal with what is being called the 'Bradygate Affair' will be an acid test as to the extent to which we value our freedom.

Let us not forget! Mr Brady's contract indicating that he was acting on behalf of the Government of Jamaica was signed on October 31, 2009. Since that time, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips declared that it was acting on behalf of the Government through Mr Harold Brady. In keeping with the signed contract and receipt of approximately US$50,000 from Mr Brady, MPP reported that it had held a series of meetings with senior United States government officials on behalf of the Government of Jamaica in October and November 2009. On Tuesday, March 2, before the MPP/Brady contract came to public notice in Jamaica, Prime Minister Golding told Parliament that our government was engaged in "discussions", which "involved several meetings both here and in Washington, DC", over the extradition matter at the centre of the dispute with the US government.

At one such meeting, according to the prime minister " ... the legal position was fully outlined by the Jamaican authorities" and "the US authorities undertook to consider the issues and requested time to do so". Both the prime minister and the solicitor general have confirmed that at least in this meeting held in December, a representative of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips was present. What is amazing is that at least one of the senior US government officials present at that meeting was involved in the previous meetings with MPP while it was acting on behalf of the Government through Mr Brady, as it claims.

Perplexing situation

This is a most perplexing situation. Our Government is denying that it had a contract with MPP. The US lawyers say they had a contract with the Government and reported that they were paid a part of the amount of money contracted. Citizens ought to believe the word of their government without demur. Integrity and transparency require that our leaders tell us the truth and not lie to us. They may chose not to tell us something at a particular point in time, but when they talk to us, we must be able to trust their word.

Unfortunately, history is replete with political leaders who were very economical with the truth and often engaged in obfuscation. One such leader was President Bill Clinton of the US. He was accused of having sexual relations with a young intern in the White House, Monica Lewinsky.

President Clinton spoke at the White House and issued a forceful denial, which contained what would later become one of the best-known sound bites of his presidency.

" ... I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you."

Damning evidence

History recorded that Miss Lewinsky had kept what is now famously called 'the blue dress', which contained damning evidence which would lead to the impeachment of the very popular US president by the House of Representatives. Today, in Jamaica, as we listen to the denials by our political leaders, many people are waiting with bated breath to see if somewhere in this sordid affair the equivalent of the truth-revealing 'little blue dress' exists.

Mr Brady has further whetted our appetite for truth with his recent comments about what he knows that Minister Daryl Vaz knows but seemingly the rest of us are yet to know. The reputation of our country has been seriously damaged by what appears to be a scandalous and dastardly attempt to mislead senior officials of a friendly foreign government. The damage is being compounded by the incredible cowardice, if not complicity, on the part of our government in abandoning its responsibility to always protect and preserve the best interests of Jamaica. Outsourcing that function to a political party, as the Cabinet is attempting to do, is tantamount to an abject betrayal of the nation. The Government should resign and save Jamaica further shame and disgrace. O what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.

Lambert Brown is president of the University and Allied Workers' Union and can be contacted at Labpoyh@yahoo.com.