Tue | Nov 28, 2023

Letter of the Day | Undermining guardrails of our democracy

Published:Friday | March 3, 2023 | 12:13 AM


The recent imbroglio surrounding the Integrity Commission’s (IC) handling of investigations implicating the prime minister’s integrity, and its subsequent report to Parliament, have resulted in many Jamaicans, as individuals and members of civil society, calling for the review of the Integrity Commission Legislation, while others are calling for the resignation of its executive director, Greg Christie.

Those of us who are old enough to remember will recall there was a time when issues of corruption were front and centre in Jamaica and we constantly showed up at the top of the Corruption Perception Index.

The legislation to establish the Integrity Commission received broad support from both sides of the parliamentary aisle, as it should, in what most Jamaicans saw as building an important guardrail to protect our democracy and decency, and change the perception of us a country that was plagued by corruption.

Against the background of the points referred to above, l am flabbergasted and disappointed that some of the very parliamentarians, including ministers of government, civic organisation like the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica who supported the IC legislation, are now calling for the removal of Christie, an individual who has proven himself to be of impeccable character and who continues to enjoy the confidence of the chairman of the commission, retired eminent jurist Seymour Panton.

The Integrity Commission is not infallible. It is a large organisation with many moving parts. It is conceivable that there could be some administrative mis-steps that resulted in what we are now talking about, but absolutely nothing here rises to the level that requires any changes to the mission of the IC or its management structure.

While discussions are taking place on the IC issue, the government has postponed the local government elections for a fourth time. This move should be seen for what it is, a blatant erosion of an important guardrail of our democracy, given that local government is of critical importance to the electorate and all citizens in the upholding of their constitutional and democratic rights.

As Jamaicans, we need to wake up and smell the coffee or we will be smelling something else which might not be so pleasant.