The departure of Mr Ruel Reid

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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We shed no tear for the departure of Mr Ruel Reid as minister of education, youth and information, a man if he had his way, would rob this country of its freedom of expression and, by extension, press freedom.

Readers will recall that Mr Reid advocated muzzling criticisms of himself through his recently proposed code of conduct for educators and school boards.

He believed that members of school boards should not be allowed “to criticise the minister of education or Ministry of Education personnel in any public fora, including social media”.

Thankfully, his thin-skinned proposal did not reach anywhere, although he tried to slip it quietly to the National Council on Education which, incidentally, he had moved under his portfolio with no public announcement.

Still, things must have been pretty bad for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to fire Mr Reid, who had just about launched out on a path to electoral politics, not satisfied with merely having a Senate seat even though he held a ministerial portfolio.

But then, who is to tell, in the political cosmos, Mr Reid's downfall might yet bode well for the Government, which he embarrassed with his code of conduct proposal.

In the current education ministry controversy surrounding Mr Reid, Prime Minister Holness has demonstrated astuteness and that he has learnt from the Petrojam scandal which led to the downfall of Energy Minister Andrew Wheatley.

Obviously, with the stench of another scandal brewing, Mr Holness did not hesitate — the way he did over Petrojam — in dispatching the education minister. For this, he has been well rewarded by the accolades being showered upon him by many sections of society.

Only time will tell whether the prime minister's decisiveness on this matter will benefit his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the Portland Eastern parliamentary by-election, which is just a mere two weeks away. For what will certainly happen now is that this education ministry imbroglio will be milked by the Opposition People's National Party for all it's worth.

Mr Reid, in his resignation letter, said he had nothing to hide as he believes in good governance and transparency. He also said he had no wish to harm the Government, the JLP or the people of Jamaica in any way. We take him at his word. However, we don't expect that will be allowed to return to be principal of Jamaica College, which had granted him a leave of absence to serve as senator and Cabinet minister.

Neither do we expect that the firing will be the end of the matter. The Jamaican public is entitled to know the facts. There are many rumours about the events and circumstances leading to Mr Reid's dismissal.

Mr Holness should let it all hang out.

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