Paulwell should 'pack his bags and go'

Monday, May 05, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

If Phillip Paulwell were a minister of government in either Canada or the United Kingdom, operating as they do under the principle of the Westminster model, he would not have to wait to be shown the door in relation to the EWI project. Since we say that is the system under which Jamaica operates, even as a matter of principle, he should have done the decent and right thing and resigned.

I watched the hapless minister on TV on Tuesday being interviewed near the House of Parliament, and then I fully understood the expression of "a deer caught in the headlights". He looked scared; he reached for every excuse he could find; and his body language seemed to ask: What have I got myself into this time, and how do I get out?

In my view, the minister has been committing blunder after blunder in relation to this project, which is one of the most important at this point in time to the average Jamaican and to businesses. And his so-called explanations and justifications only seem to expose more blunders and muddy the waters even more.

I honestly do not believe that Minister Paulwell has ever heard the admonition that says: When you have dug yourself into a hole, you should throw away the shovel. Former JLP Works Minister Mike Henry, who resigned over the handling of the JIDP, now looks like a shining star compared to Minister Paulwell.

My hope is that Jamaicans don't miss the big picture. Paulwell is not just fighting to save the EWI project or his job; he is fighting for a much bigger prize. Somewhere along the line some people have convinced Mr Paulwell that he could be the next prime minister and he realises that if he is ousted now, the chance of that happening will significantly diminish.

Paulwell is nothing if not ambitious, but he needs to show us that he has the intelligence and the credibility that goes with that ambition that would allow him to lead a government that is transparent and honest.

If EWI is the test, he failed miserably and should "pack his bags and go". If he doesn't, I hope the prime minister has the backbone to kick him out the door.

Madam PM, the concept of collective responsibility does not just imply that the entire Cabinet is accountable for every decision made by any one of them. It also implies that the entire Cabinet has a responsibility to remove any member who would sully their name.

The Westminster model also has the PM as "first among equals", and she now needs to use that position to send Phillip Paulwell to a place where he can do no further damage to his own, or Jamaica's reputation.

Stephen Harrison

St Mary

stepharrison28@gmail.com

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