You have been compromised, Mr PM

Prior to last Tuesday Delroy Chuck, the Speaker of the House of Repre-sentatives, had very little reason to rule on a point of order from Section 16 of the standing orders. Indeed, Chuck spent more time insisting that questions be answered at the appropriate time, but we cannot recall him being in a situation where he had to adjudicate on whether a member should hide behind the aforementioned.

Standing Order 16 gives any member the protection from being asked any questions which deals with the action of a minister for which he is not accountable to the legislature. It is that rule that formed the basis of Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s covering, as he dodged questions relating to his role in the Manatt mess.

In a statement to Parliament last Tuesday, Prime Minister Golding said he sanctioned a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) lobbying effort to get the United States to soften its position on the extradition request for reputed don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. Beyond answering a few questions, Golding was on the defensive as he begged the Speaker to rule that certain questions may not be asked of him, since he was not wearing the hat of prime minister when he sanctioned the scheme.


We find it, at the very least, incredulous that Golding would retreat behind Standing Order 16, even though he is the architect of ‘Prime Minister’s Question Time’. Section 17B of the standing orders provides that “during the Second sitting of the House in each month, there shall be a Question Time during which responses by the prime minister to questions asked of him in relation to matters of national importance and national interest shall take precedence.”

One wonders if the parlia-mentary Opposition did not remember that provision or if they had little confidence that Chuck would have been a fair adjudicator and insisted that Golding stopped ducking questions posed at him. It is our view that if the role of any member of the parliament, in a private capacity, conflicts with that to which they are accountable to the legislature, the public interest should supersede private con-siderations.

But we don’t believe that Tuesday’s incident just happened. It was clearly a deliberate plan by the prime minister to thwart the efforts of the Parliament to unearth the whole truth behind the engagement of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. We are left to wonder whether Chuck, being a member of the JLP, was in on the plot to stall the efforts in the House.

We feel that Golding, at the very least, abused the standing orders which, in fact, makes allowance for personal explanation. Under Standing Order 19, a member, with the “leave of the Speaker, and the indulgence of the House, may make a personal explanation to the House”. Golding argued last Tuesday that his statement reflected his role as leader of the JLP and not as prime minister. In this case, his statement, on the face of it, appears to be a personal explanation. However, at no point during the sitting did Leader of Government Business Andrew Holness or Golding seek leave of the Speaker to make a personal statement. The matter was not even put to the House for a vote and no form of indulgence was sought.

Standing order sidelined

We also believe that by linking the vast portion of his statement to his sole role as leader of the JLP, Golding either ignored or abused the provisions of Standing Order 11A. The section, which deals with contents of statement, clearly states that “a statement by a minister shall be limited to matters which directly relate to the subject or department with the responsibility for which he has been charged or which are of urgent national importance”.

Perhaps the time has come for the Standing Order committee to revisit sections 11A and 19 or else Parliament may find itself bombarded by other uncon-scionable, self-seeking, hide-and-seek performances. The fact that both Golding and Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Ken Baugh were prepared to answer questions tabled by the Opposition in Parliament last Tuesday indicates that Government was ready to deal with all matters arising. If Golding was not prepared to answer obvious questions from his statement, he should not have spoken to the matter in the House, except when he provided answers to those questions that had been tabled.

Having made his “personal statement” to Parliament in the segment which allows ‘Statement by Ministers’, we are left to ponder whether Golding has reflected on the oath he took when he was sworn in as member of parliament. Like every member, he pledged to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to Jamaica”, to “uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of Jamaica” and to “conscientiously and impartially” discharge his responsibilities to the people of Jamaica – “So help me God.”

Golding has made it clear that his struggle with the United States for it to observe the extradition treaty is not to protect ‘Dudus’ but rather to defend the Constitution and to ensure “constitutional rights do not begin at Liguanea”. We have no doubt that the prime minister is batting on a constitutional wicket.

But let us reflect on a section of his ‘personal statement’ to Parliament: “I sanctioned the initiative, knowing that such interventions have in the past proven to be of considerable value in dealing with issues involving the governments of both countries. I made it clear, however, that this was an initiative to be undertaken by the party, not by or on behalf of the government.”

While the prime minister insisted he was wearing the hat of leader of the JLP at the time, we believe there is everything wrong with the move and wish the prime minister to explain to us why any political party should intervene in a government-to-government affair. Until a suitable explanation comes, we will hold the view that Golding did not “conscientiously and impartially” discharge his responsibilities to the people of Jamaica and for that reason, he appears, on the face of it, to be compromised.

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12 Responses to “You have been compromised, Mr PM”

  1. S.R McIntyre says:

    If a minister was to knowingly mislead his constituency, it is the duty of the Prome-minister to remove that minister from office.
    When a Prime-minister knowingly mislead the Nation, he must sign his letter of resignation and delievered it to the Govern General. Please remind our current Prime-Minister of this and also of his duty to all Jamaicans as Prime-Minister.

  2. guest says:

    This should be the least of worries at this time. As far as I can ascertain, the PM did not break the law. The media and the opposition is making a mountain out of mole hill. There are PNP members that have done worst things, they are worst than the PNP party. We have try and get out of this What the PM did was in the interest of a Jamaican citizen. What happen towards being innocent until proven guilty? Lets not be too quick to give up our own or ask our PM to resign.

  3. tony blair says:

    As a Jamaican, I ask , can the SDA church handle whole stinking truth?
    I call on both both the GG and the Prime Minister to resign

    Fact 1. The GG deceived the nation and the PM. He had dual citizenship prior to 2009. The nation was not notified and we dont know if he still has it. He acquired this while he studied at Andrews University. If the PM was aware and said nothing he is revealed as a deceiver. Why was not the nation told?

    Fact 2. The GG could not do nothing but sign the Casino Bill or have someone sign it for him. This because he is caught up in a 1.5m usd fraud case with the SDA church. This is kept hushed by the church because they are innately corrupt. Thus he had to accept the call to be GG and has to do Bruce’s bidding by default. The church dont want him back. He is in a do what bruce “says default mode” not moral or ethic mode. Before he left the church he placed persons in the top position of the church( during this time auditors had not picked up the fraud as yet) who would cover for him, they are all corrupt.

    The entire Government is in a mess from top to bottom

  4. james says:

    I am very disappointed I the decision of the pm not to step down . he is just like any other politician who is power hungry . holding on even when the message is loud and clear then again it makes me wonder if it is the older person in his party who see this as their last chance . voted for 1st time not again . death of a new day when he stayed.

  5. karen says:

    Mr Golding
    laugh at Jamaican people last night.who did he give his resignation,to. that is bullshit. tell people what they want to hear.jamaican are bunch of fool’s.and of the 400,000 they spend for a drug lord is poor people money.the gov dont want to spend money to pay teacher.and they hav to pay to protect a known drug lord what is this country comin to.

  6. Uforatie says:

    I really would like to comment on the issue, but I know that my comment would not be published if you don’t agree with every word I say. And that’s a shame!

  7. vk says:

    woow! I am just seeing this. Very important analysis!

    On purely procedural grounds, it seems to me that the PNP were caught off-guard; I asked the same question of the PNP as I listened to Peter Phillips and figured out that they had not prepared a strategy that would have anticipated the JLP’s attempts to deflect questions, and be able to counter it to get at what they needed to know. I think our lawmakers need to be a lot, lot smarter about how they conduct business. They need to know the rules and how to navigate the rules; they need to do adequate research rather than relying solely on their innate powers of persuasion. Bullying and cussing each other is soo schoolyard and yesterday’s politics. We need to do better.

  8. Jan Lopez says:

    Should anyone be surprised. Which one is not corrupt!?

  9. Gabeng says:

    I tend to agree wholeheartedly with the above article. Mr. Prime Minister you owe the Jamaican people the TRUTH. The time is now for accountability for actions and responsibility for words and speeches made contrary to the public’s trust, while appearing to have the countries interest at heart.Unfettered,such behavior creates an undercurrent of cynicism and dis-trust.

  10. Jamaican says:

    Mi no know how mi can trust Bruce now. long time him should let go of dudus. no matter fi Dudus have all the money JLP need, we need the support of the USA more.

  11. K says:

    Why should we wish the prime minister to explain to us why any political party should intervene in a government-to-government affair? It is obvious he was trying to protect Dudus and his own political future. So to ask why is myopic and naive. Are they seeking an impeachment or looking to score political points?

  12. Lee Wright says:

    How dare you risk the integrity and honor of our beautiful Island Nation. In this period of hard economic times we can’t afford to allow thugs (not Dons as they puport themselves to be) to freely run our country. Get your government together and stop the corruption, stop the free fall of our currency, bring back jobs and right the economy so our country can prosper AGAIN.

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The Gavel Posted by: The Gavel May 17, 2010 at 11:53 am