FORMER chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) Dr Herbert Thompson says the decision by the House of Representatives last week to put its report on campaign financing before a special committee of Parliament "is one of the primary indications that there is an attempt to destroy the commission".
On September 24, the Parliament accepted the report broadly, but after concerns were raised by parliamentarians about several recommendations, a decision was taken to put the document before the special committee.
On Monday, Dr Thompson, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, questioned that development.
"In the case of campaign financing we submitted the campaign financing document three years ago," he said. "The Parliament and the Senate asked us to consider all the changes they had in mind, but please understand that the commission in the final analysis had to do what it thinks is the right thing to do. That is why there are independent commissioners and representatives of the PNP and the JLP. It is an insult, in my estimation, for a party in the Parliament to want to tear down the report when their own representatives sat at the table to be part of it."
Dr Thompson said that "all members of the commission signed the report, and all members of the commission agreed to the revision which we did. So now to take it and tear it apart again and to ask a bi-partisan parliamentary committee to look at it is veering terribly away from the convention and the practice, and this is one of the primary indications that there is an attempt to destroy the commission, and we have to make certain that we don't go back where we are coming from.
"It would be a tragedy for our country if we did that, and it is a sad day that the House of Representatives has moved away from accepting the report of the commission without change, that has been the convention," he added.
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) member of Parliament for South West St Catherine Everald Warmington had, on September 24, questioned a number of the proposals, including the recommendation for the use of State funds for campaign financing.
His colleague parliamentarian, Daryl Vaz, the representative for West Portland, also countered the recommendation that no candidate or political party should receive any contribution later than 180 days after election day.
Based on the concerns, the report is to be put before a committee for further analysis and then brought back to the House for final approval.