Sat | May 30, 2020

Robertson rendered ineffective

Published:Wednesday | November 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM


I MOSTLY agree with the letter of the day, published yesterday, and titled 'Irresponsible, cheap political posturing'. Neither the Jamaica Labour Party nor the People's National Party can accuse the other of bad behaviour without lowering their heads as a sign of guilt for their own bad behaviour.

However, the letter reflects the sad state of affairs in our country where the rule of law has been abandoned and public opinion and perception does not matter. Dual citizenship with certain countries disqualifies you from membership in the House. Yet, members of parliament sit in the House in clear violation of the constitution. These members know this. However, it requires the courts to go through the legal process, at a cost to the Jamaican people, to remove those members. Apparently, public opinion and perception means nothing and does not carry any weight with our politicians.

Flaunting the public

Our politicians break the law when it suits them and hide behind the law when it suits them. As in the dual-citizenship cases, we are seeing the same political approach with Mr James Robertson. Again, our politicians are flaunting the public.

The report against Mr Robertson is a very serious matter. Anytime a citizen goes to the police and reports a crime, the police have to take the statement and investigate the allegation. False reporting of a crime is a serious offense in itself. Therefore, we have to assume the seriousness of the allegation and give it some degree of creditability.

Once the police decide there is credible evidence to substantiate the allegation, then the matter is turned over to the office of the director of public prosecutions for processing. This process typically takes time. Mr Robertson is in this grey-zone period of waiting for an outcome.

It is in this period that the court of public opinion operates. Any public perception of a public official being involved in any criminal activity renders that public official ineffective in carrying out his responsibilities. At least, in most civil societies it does, maybe not in Jamaica.

An ineffective public official should step aside until there is some resolution on the matter, bearing in mind that public opinion does matter. Today, Mr Robertson has been rendered ineffective. We expect the prime minister to act accordingly. Mr Robertson should be relieved of his cabinet position, while remaining a member of parliament. Instead, our prime minister hides behind the rule of law the same way he condoned the breaking of the law on dual citizenship.

I am, etc.,

Dave newman