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The truth! - Jamaica needs honesty from politicians to fight corruption - government senator

Published:Monday | July 17, 2017 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson
Matthew Samuda
Lambert Brown

A truth-telling medium for Jamaican politicians is the latest recommendation from a senator concerned that the corruption fight will not be won with just laws.

Matthew Samuda, a government senator, gave the recommendation last Friday as he contributed to the debate on the Integrity Commission bill that will establish a single anti-corruption agency.

For him, however, while specific acts must be targeted, fighting the perception of corruption in public governance will require more.

"The perception of corruption also hampers investments, it also hampers development. How do we take on the perception? Because, I believe the legislation gives us the framework to take on the actual acts of corruption," he said.

"It is time that we consider a truth and reconciliation commission to be able to clear the air once and for all on many issues that have bedevilled this society," suggested the former head of the G2K, a young professional arm of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party.

One of the first 'truth' acts, he said, much to the annoyance of opposition members, was for their leader, Dr Peter Phillips, to explain why he attended the funeral in 2001 of alleged don William 'Willie Haggart' Moore.

"It would be prudent and perhaps [the] time has come [for him to say] why he felt so strongly that he should attend the funeral of [the] reputed drug lord," Samuda said.

Going down the wrong path

Lambert Brown responded, claiming that Samuda was imputing an "improper motive". That was rejected by acting Senate President Aubyn Hill.

Samuda also denied it, saying he was only asking a question. "Those who seek to lead us now must be willing to face their record."

But Brown maintained that Samuda was proceeding down the wrong path and should also speak of actions of his party. "Some of those who are leading us now threatened to box a presiding officer [and] refused to shake the hands of Bishop Herro Blair, so we could go there about the current prime minister."

In September 2006, Holness refused to shake the hands of Blair, the then head of the Peace Management Initiative, who was leading a tour in his St Andrew West Central constituency. Holness later apologised.

In June 2017, government Senator Kerensia Morrison upset some politicians when she called for some of them to be dragged to jail to remind citizens that the justice system does not recognise status.

Earlier this month, opposition member K.D. Knight said politicians "have something to answer" regarding Jamaica's crime problem. According to Knight, at least two political figures from as far back as the 1960s were major instigators of political violence that have influenced current happenings.

The bill is at the committee stage where it is expected to get approval this week.