Lock them up!

Monday, December 10, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I read the auditor general's report on Petrojam and, as a young Jamaican, I must confess that I felt an immense sense of hurt, anger and betrayal.

The revelations are shocking: a birthday cake for $120,000; lavish personal parties for the minister and board chairman at a cost of $2.6 million; an unqualified human resource manager who is alleged to have hired her unqualified brother; questionable expenditure on counselling and consultancy services amounting to almost $15 million; $5 billion worth of oil unaccounted for; and the list goes on. All this whilst Petrojam is in financial straits and has to be seeking loans to stay afloat. These are all occurrences which took place under the present Jamaica Labour Parliament Administration.

Our history is replete with examples of corruption by both political parties. However, past corruption should never be used to justify present corruption. It was wrong then, it is wrong now. Any individual who seeks to defend the sordid activities at Petrojam by referencing previous acts of corruption, is an individual who does not have Jamaica's best interest at heart.

We must stop the practice of saying that the previous Government was also corrupt as it gives the present Administration comfort from the resulting argument of who is more corrupt, and the fight to stomp out corruption gets lost.

We must agree that corruption, whenever it occurs, wherever, and by whomever is a crime against the citizens of Jamaica and should not be tolerated. We must agree that it is wrong for qualified individuals to be overlooked for jobs due to nepotism and for public officials to profit from the public purse.

There is the view that only the poor and politically unconnected citizens of our country get punished and that nothing will come from the Petrojam saga. Too many people believe that “a just suh di ting set”. This is an opportunity to prove the cynic wrong and to make Jamaicans believe again.

It is therefore imperative that the prime minister act swiftly and decisively. If he fails to act, the relevant anti-corruption agencies, such as Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) and Integrity Commission, must. Civil society and all progressive Jamaicans must be relentless. The cycle must be broken.

This is conduct that shocks the conscience of every well-thinking Jamaican. Restitution is only the first step. Life ban from holding public office and incarceration should follow. People need to go to prison!

Zuleika Jess


Caretaker, Central Clarendon


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