Full disclosure on ‘castle’, Andrew
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Last Sunday, Carolyn Cooper penned a column defending the Leader of Opposition's right to construct his extravagant 'castle' on the hillside of Beverley Hills. She said we shouldn't talk about the house, or the cut-stone wall, because the claims of costs for both are not true. In his defence, she claimed that the "wall cyaahn cost so much". Well, Ms Cooper should know that there is a way to put all speculation to rest.
There is obviously some concern about the purported level of extravagance and the example it sets, especially when the Leader of the Opposition once prescribed bitter medicine for the country. This is not about depriving any man of his castle, but as a leader, is this appropriate behaviour when you are preaching and purporting to care about the suffering of the Jamaican people?
It also brings into question the cost of what seems to be an extremely expensive venture in the context of a public servant. Responding to questions and criticisms surrounding the house by trying to suggest that others have benefited with houses in Miami or "FINSAC" houses does not inspire confidence in the leader of the Opposition's position. The more mature approach may have been to request the Integrity Commission, to whom he is obligated to report both his and his wife's resources, to issue a statement confirming the appropriate declaration related to the house.
This issue is not about wanting and building a big house, nor is it about stifling dreams and aspirations. It's simply a matter of integrity, trust and leadership.
This is only exacerbated by the fact that the construction of the house started very shortly after the JLP was removed from government, this having only served two months as prime minister. As a public servant, there are certain requirements for disclosure annually of financial resources. As the leader of the Opposition and one who aspires to be the Prime Minister of Jamaica, that obligation is of critical importance. Any display of opulence will be questioned and once it has been, it is incumbent that appropriate disclosure be made, if only to dispel any suggestion of irregular or undeclared dealings.