Giving Senator Matthew Samuda a (free) lesson

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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Senator Matthew Samuda, head of communications for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), could learn a thing or two about how he signals what is important on the party's agenda in his news releases.

In his May 19, 2019 release on the deliberations of the party's Central Executive at the Portmore HEART Academy, Mr Samuda listed the “takeaways” from the meeting. If the list of subjects was in order of importance, it doesn't say much for him or his party.

The first takeaway was that the Central Executive “unanimously supported a motion to refer Krystal Tomlinson (the People's National Party Youth Organisation — PNPYO — president) to the Political Ombudsman over her recent public utterances which sought to compare Prime Minister Andrew Holness to Adolf Hitler”.

The Central Executive, which is the JLP's second highest decision-making body, further called on Dr Peter Phillips, the leader of the Opposition, to dissociate himself from these comments, “especially considering Ms Tomlinson works in his office as leader of his PR Team”.

On Mr Samuda's list were items such as an update from the prime minister on the progress of infrastructural developments; the plan to get water to the suffering citizenry; and the PM's recent visit to the ailing former Prime Minister Edward Seaga and former JLP Chairman Dr Ken Baugh.

But as the final item on his list, Mr Samuda left the best for last: “Lengthy discussions around issues of improving the standards of Governance and rooting out corruption were held. The Central Executive recommitted itself to supporting the Government in all its efforts to end the pervasive national problem of corruption.”

The suggestion therefore is that the PNPYO president's puerile and inconsequential comparison of Mr Holness with Nazi Germany's Hitler was more important than the fact that corruption was dealt with by the Central Executive.

The comparison has nothing to do with the price of salt fish and no serious Jamaican is going to take it seriously. It would have gained no traction whatsoever had not elements in the JLP elevated to debate status what should not have been dignified with a response.

On the other hand, corruption or the mere appearance of corruption is a real issue. It has claimed two JLP Cabinet Ministers in Dr Andrew Wheatley, the former energy minister, and Mr Ruel Reid, the former education minister.

The Rooms on the Beach sale at below valuation rates is still on the news pages, with the latest utterance from the umbrella Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) lashing Economic Growth and Job Creation Minister Daryl Vaz for alleged intervention in the process.

To be perfectly clear, no one has come forth with any evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Vaz, who appears to have been just zealous about bringing in investments and creating jobs, as is his portfolio responsibility.

Wily politicians have been able to cast aspersions about Mr Vaz, not because of his guilt, but because the populace is paranoid when it comes to corruption and is unwilling to give politicians the benefit of the doubt.

All of that seems to have gone over the head of Senator Samuda. Unless mentioning it last was a mere ploy to play down what has been an embarrassing, if not troublesome issue for the party.

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