Sunday Brew — September 13, 2020

Sunday Brew — September 13, 2020

with HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 13, 2020

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My eyes caught a letter penned by Honourable Justice Seymour Panton, retired president of the Court of Appeal and a man of impeccable integrity and character. It essentially called on Prime Minister Holness to begin the process of finding a successor for current Court of Appeal president, Mr Justice Dennis Morrison, upon his retirement on December 4 of this year, when he would have turned 70.

According to Justice Panton, he was putting forward “unsolicited advice” to Holness regarding how he should exercise his right in recommending someone to the governor general, who will make the appointment.

Justice Panton cited that the candidate ought to be well-learned in the law that governs Jamaica; one who is highly respected by judges and lawyers alike; lead opinion-making and judgement formation at the Court of Appeal, among other things, going as far as saying that such a talent exists at the Court.

While endorsing what Justice Panton has written, I will also add that two judges of the Court of Appeal readily come to mind to fill Justice Morrison's large shoes — Justice Patrick Brooks, and Justice Marva McDonald Bishop. They, like the other judges of the Court of Appeal, are of unquestioned character, knowledge, and fairness.

By virtue of his superior length of service, the scale would be tipped in favour of Justice Brooks… not to act, as now Chief Justice Bryan Sykes had to suffer the unnecessary indignity, but to be duly appointed.

Mr Justice Brooks is the kind of man you would want to be head of, in my estimation, the bastion of integrity in this our land.

With judges like those in the Court of Appeal, one still has to wonder why Jamaica still insists on taking final judicial orders from the United Kingdom Privy Council. This is one that the prime minister could also sleep on.

Paul Burke and his Stone Age thinking

Stone Age cartoon character Fred Flintstone must be upset with former People's National Party General Secretary Paul Burke.

For only Freddie you would expect to come with such a bizarre suggestion made by Burke last week on Nationwide Radio, that Dr Peter Phillips, who offered his resignation as president of that bleeding and badly wounded party, which, to my knowledge has still not been accepted, should stay on in the capacity until September of next year.

So Freddie must be thinking that Burke is trying to imitate his outdated style too much, for even the man from that ancient era must be wondering if someone could be so ridiculous to be behaving like that. But then, that's Paul Burke. That's what you come to expect of someone who has caused more pain for the PNP over the years than joy.

Soon after Dr Phillips announced that he had offered his resignation as PNP president, word began to circulate that there were some in the inner circle of the party who wanted him to stay on and leave at an appropriate time, whatever that is. For what?

After all that happened on September 3, there are still those in the PNP who do not get it. For years, a majority of Jamaicans have been insisting that they do not want Dr Phillips as prime minister, but elements in the party continue to ignore that position, and instead insist that the view of the majority means nothing... it must be Dr Phillips regardless. Well, just over a week ago, the 82-year-old party learned things the hard way.

As for Mr Burke, well, I need to make a call to Freddie to see if the second worst general secretary in the history of the PNP (can you believe somebody finished ahead of Julian Robinson) is forgiven.

Make Golding Opposition Leader; Bunting senator

(Mark Golding, Peter Bunting)

The time has come.

If the Opposition People's National Party does not start the process of reconstruction this month, it will begin a long sentence in the cells of no return.

The party should flatly ignore the utterances of former General Secretary Paul Burke, and go for a new leader of the Opposition. That individual, all things considered, has to be Mark Golding, the Member of Parliament-elect for St Andrew Southern.

When you look around the table and observer the 15 people wearing orange, there is little to choose from. But standing heads and shoulders above the elected few is Golding, a highly competent individual who can make a difference in the administration of this country.

Of the 15 PNP MPs-elect 10 of them openly supported Dr Peter Phillips in the presidential contest against Peter Bunting last year September. Three, including Golding, gave their support to Bunting, while it is unclear about the other two.

Now, should the 10 decide to use their numbers and foolishly move to choose a leader of the Opposition from within their ranks, that will only produce another round of stupidity.

Of the 10, Lisa Hanna almost lost her seat, before now, the PNP's safest in rural Jamaica. That comes down to her divisive style.

Phillip Paulwell cannot become leader as long as he has the matter of the yanked US visa hanging like a millstone around his neck; Mikael Phillips is not rounded enough to get the top job; and others like Natalie Neita, Anthony Hylton, Angela Brown Burke are not as highly regarded to take on such an important task.

Hylton though, could be named leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, which leads me to another appointment, that of leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, a post that should be assigned to Peter Bunting.

In a PNP going forward, Golding and Bunting will be key characters. Any attempt now by the party machinery to push them aside will have devastating consequences.

That PNP attack on Nationwide News personnel

You see these often vulgar behaviour and intimidation of individuals when political parties mess up, do not follow what needs to be done, and end up in the scrap heap of shame … just like what happened to the People's National Party on September 3.

The cowardly way that PNP operatives at party headquarters intimidated two individuals from Nationwide News Network on August 31 is a continuation of the crass behaviour that has followed such institutions.

Thankfully, the two left the location before they were harmed, physically. Rightly, the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has condemned the action. The PAJ has developed into an admirable media watchdog. I was very impressed with the performance of Dionne Jackson Miller as president, and now George Davis, the president.

Media workers do not want to find themselves in situations in which they cannot function. The Nationwide team comprises young people in the business, and would react to the situation differently than a veteran like me. I know how it feels though, for only a few weeks ago, a PNP senior man labelled me as 'Labourite' when we met at an event, all because the truth, which emerged on September 3, was being said all along.

Journalists must continue to do what they believe in, and report on the truth. There are times when we get things wrong and we should do the proper thing and correct that.

But no power on earth should be allowed to muzzle and intimidate those who are doing honest work.

Appointing the President of the Court of Appeal

(Justice Patrick Brooks)

My eyes caught a letter penned by Honourable Justice Seymour Panton, retired president of the Court of Appeal and a man of impeccable integrity and character. It essentially called on Prime Minister Holness to begin the process of finding a successor for current Court of Appeal president, Mr Justice Dennis Morrison, upon his retirement on December 4 of this year, when he would have turned 70.

According to Justice Panton, he was putting forward “unsolicited advice” to Holness regarding how he should exercise his right in recommending someone to the governor general, who will make the appointment.

Justice Panton cited that the candidate ought to be well-learned in the law that governs Jamaica; one who is highly respected by judges and lawyers alike; lead opinion-making and judgement formation at the Court of Appeal, among other things, going as far as saying that such a talent exists at the Court.

While endorsing what Justice Panton has written, I will also add that two judges of the Court of Appeal readily come to mind to fill Justice Morrison's large shoes — Justice Patrick Brooks, and Justice Marva McDonald Bishop. They, like the other judges of the Court of Appeal, are of unquestioned character, knowledge, and fairness.

By virtue of his superior length of service, the scale would be tipped in favour of Justice Brooks… not to act, as now Chief Justice Bryan Sykes had to suffer the unnecessary indignity, but to be duly appointed.

Mr Justice Brooks is the kind of man you would want to be head of, in my estimation, the bastion of integrity in this our land.

With judges like those in the Court of Appeal, one still has to wonder why Jamaica still insists on taking final judicial orders from the United Kingdom Privy Council. This is one that the prime minister could also sleep on.


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