RJRGLEANER-Don Anderson Poll | So what if a 500-y-o wants to be MP? – Veteran Charles shuts down talk of retirement age for politicians

Kenyon W Hemans Ke
Pearnel Charles Sr, speaker of the House, pores over a document in the House of Representatives recently. The 82-year-old says age should not be a barrier to being a lawmaker.

Eighty-two-year-old Pearnel Charles Sr has come out swinging against assertions that a retirement age should be imposed on Jamaican lawmakers.

He was responding to the latest RJRGLEANER-commissioned Don Anderson poll, which revealed that an overwhelming 91 per cent of Jamaicans believe that there should be retirement cap on politicians.

The poll also revealed that six per cent believe that there should be a retirement age, while the remaining three per cent were not sure.

Charles, speaker of the House of Representatives, has been member of parliament for the North Central Clarendon constituency since 2002 and served three consecutive terms in Eastern St Thomas before that. He was also an opposition senator from 1972-80.

“We have democracy in Jamaica, you see, that puts people before people, and gives them a freedom of choice to accept or not to accept them. So if they want to vote for 100-year-old man, or a 90-year-old man, or a 500-year-old man, I don’t see why I would want to disrupt the democratic process because people have a free choice to accept or not to accept when you put yourself,” said Charles, who entered politics in 1969 as a councillor in the then Kingston and St Andrew Corporation.

“So I don’t think that you need to tell me that I can’t represent people whether my experience and my age because you feel I am too old or too young,” the senior parliamentarian added.

Meanwhile, executive chairman of Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP), Jean Lowrie-Chin, said she, too, does not support the view that politicians should have a retirement age.

“I think we should not discount the value of experience in leadership positions, and we should be very careful that we don’t deprive Jamaica of the wisdom and the experience that the more senior leaders can bring to the table. You know, in some cases, we have some leaders up to the age of 80 who do well,” the CCRP head said.

However, sociologist Dr Orville Taylor says that the retirement age ought to be the same across all branches of the public service.

“You have to have a consistent set of rules when it comes to the human resources of the country. And if you have a retirement age for public servants and they are the lifeblood of government, then it makes absolute sense that you should have a ceiling on the age that our legislators work up to, because we have a ceiling for our judiciary, which is another arm of government, so it makes sense to me, given the kind of argument they’d like to use to support it,” Taylor said.

According to the poll, 43 per cent of Jamaicans think that politicians should retire at 65 years old; 24 per cent at 60 years; 11 per cent at 70 years old; four per cent at 66-69; and one per cent at 61-64 years.

The poll was conducted from February 15 to March 5, 2019 among 1,003 Jamaicans across the island. It had a margin of error of plus or minus five per cent.

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News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20190322/rjrgleaner-don-anderson-poll-so-what-if-500-y-o-wants-be-mp-veteran

Pundits: No clear successor to Reid – Sector leaders struggle to pinpoint replacement for education minister

Jermaine Barnaby
Then Minister of Education Ruel Reid and his state minister, Floyd Green, are jovial as they take up their posts on March 8, 2016. Weeks before Reid’s sacking, Green was reassigned to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Forty-eight hours after the sacking of Education Minister Ruel Reid, sector leaders have expressed difficulty in identifying a clear successor.

Reid was forced to tender his resignation as minister and government senator on Wednesday following allegations of corruption involving the Caribbean Maritime University, National Education Trust, and the HEART Trust, which fall under the education ministry.

One such industry leader who is grappling with picking Reid’s replacement is president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell.

“There are experienced politicians in the party. There is Marisa Dalrymple [Philibert]. I doubt that Floyd Green would want to go back there, but he has had some experience,” Mitchell told The Gleaner yesterday evening.

“Other than that, it’s a little difficult to find an experienced person who has had a ministry, but Karl Samuda is an active, experienced minister. It could be conceivable that he could stay there,” Mitchell said yesterday in an interview with The Gleaner.

President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, O’Neil Grant, expressed similar sentiments, but said there are those outside of the political realm who may be capable of taking over the reins of the ministry.

“I am not very familiar with the skills and competencies of persons without portfolios in the Government, so I’m even at a loss as to say who should be the next minister of education. There are persons who are competent in the field of education that could, in fact, chart a proper course for the minister.

“We know that there are persons who are very versed at The University of the West Indies on how to treat with the challenges of education in Jamaica, but there are not in the political realm, and I don’t want to call names,” Grant said.

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News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20190322/pundits-no-clear-successor-reid-sector-leaders-struggle-pinpoint

Running scared – Teacher bruised in bust-up with C-Bar track stars; Champs sponsors to probe assault

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Gladstone Taylor
Calabar High sprint sensation Christopher Taylor (left) and middle-distance star Kimar Farquharson go through a training drill at the school’s Red Hills Road compound yesterday. Taylor, captain of the school’s Champs track team, refused to answer questions from The Gleaner on whether he was aware of the incident.
Board Chairman Karl Johnson: I am an open book, and the school has nothing to hide.
Ricardo Makyn
Then vice-principal Calvin Rowe, with head boy Rajay Maragh, walk with the Mortimer Geddes trophy on March 16, 2017. The school has won the boys' title at Champs for seven years straight. File

A teacher at Calabar High School is now scared for his safety after making several attempts to ensure that two of the school’s elite track athletes serve suspensions for allegedly assaulting him in December 2018.

The Gleaner was reliably informed that the teacher told a senior colleague at the Red Hills Road, St Andrew, school that he would not enter the premises after he was summoned to a meeting late yesterday evening for fear of being harmed.

The teacher, who has requested anonymity because of security concerns, had released a media advisory early yesterday saying that he would be pressing charges against the athletes, who are expected to play leading roles in Calabar’s title defence at the 2019 staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships next week, after the school failed to adequately discipline the athletes.

It is reported that one of the athletes competed at the Digicel Grand Prix final last Saturday while serving a much-delayed suspension for the incident.

“We noticed that both athletes were allowed to train on the school compound while serving suspension, and one of them competed also,” a source close to the incident told The Gleaner.

The Gleaner learned that the teacher has been pressing for the athletes to be suspended since December, but senior members of the hierarchy at the school were resisting.

“He has been requesting for the students to be suspended since the incident happened, and in one instance, he was told by a senior administrator: ‘The students are ambassadors of the school. What you telling me, to suspend the ambassadors?’” the source revealed to The Gleaner. “He wrote several letters and nothing was done until two weeks ago, and the boys were allowed to compete.”

The offending boys are medal-winning standouts at Champs and are expected to churn out multiple points to give Calabar their eight straight hold on the boys’ title. They allegedly held the teacher in a chokehold and drew blood in the incident. His cell phone was also reportedly stamped on.

There is video evidence documenting the assault, The Gleaner has learnt.

Several attempts to contact acting principal, Calvin Rowe, were unsuccessful, and when The Gleaner’s news team turned up at the school, they were asked to leave.

Incumbent principal Albert Corcho has been on months-long leave from the school.

“He gave the school the opportunity to deal with it, and they made a mess of it, so he will have to press charges,” the source said.

Up to press time, the matter was not reported to the police.

Meanwhile, Don Wehby, CEO of GraceKennedy, the title sponsors of Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, expressed outrage at the unfolding saga.

“I was shocked when I heard it on the newscast,” Wehby said.

“I haven’t been briefed at all; I just heard on the newscast,” he told The Gleaner last night, moments after flying in from a business trip to New York. “There was a call from an old boy who brought it to my attention. GraceKennedy is going to treat this matter seriously.

“We are not prepared to put up with that sort of behaviour with any event with which we are associated. If it’s true, it’s a serious thing for GraceKennedy,” he said.

Wehby also disclosed that he would seek audience with Dr Walton Small, president of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association, on Friday.

Calabar’s board chairman, the Rev Dr Karl Johnson, admitted to The Gleaner that some of the institution’s star track athletes were, in December, implicated in the assault of a teacher, but was reluctant to confirm names.

He further stated that, following the incident, the school applied appropriate measures to resolve the matter and expressed surprise that a week before the start of the 2019 Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships at the National Stadium, the grouse has resurfaced.

“I can confirm knowledge of the incident. School administrators made several efforts and engaged in initiatives to address the matter. Up to recently, we were of the view the matter was amicably resolved,” Johnson said yesterday.

“Efforts included action taken at the student level and a confession made at the teacher level, so we thought the matter was settled. I am an open book, and the school has nothing to hide. [However], we don’t normally discuss internal matters with the public.”

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News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20190322/running-scared-teacher-bruised-bust-c-bar-track-stars-champs-sponsors

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Social media followers react to Ruel Reid's resignation

Reid… Was asked to resign yesterday

The Gleaner’s social media pages have been flooded with reactions to yesterday’s resignation of  Education Minister Ruel Reid over corruption allegations.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister says Prime Minister Andrew Holness requested and received Reid’s resignation after meeting with him.

Here are some of the reactions by our followers:


For the first time in Jamaica, people are being held accountable for their actions

Dis yah administration a real joke….. What’s really going on? Everyday is a new scandal!!! Nuh wonder dem ban scandal.

These ministers should resign and be arrested, charged and imprisoned. The same crap keeps happening because they are only allowed to resign as if to say “oops, so sorry ” and life goes on. And how will the prime minister do his job, if he constantly has to be taking control of these ministries?

Really now!! Is it voluntary or was forced to? We need an independent investigator to probe this. Too many of them getting away. We have prisons waiting. Is the prime minister going to put this one under his arms too?

These men and women who are voted for by Jamaicans must be held accountable for every single action taken when serving in a PUBLIC OFFICE! For far too long they have gotten away with it, with just being asked to resign or just a simple cover up… enough!

No sah JLP full a corruption like how Buju show did full a supporters. One scandal after another…. The worst part about it is NO ONE is EVER held ACCOUNTABLE for their crimes whether JLP or PNP…

Well at least it’s a step in the right direction. I’m only hoping that these people don’t only get to resign but also pay for their crimes. Clean all of them out @andrewholnessjm but be careful not to take on too much load which will affect you doing your job as something tells me there are a lot more who needs to be out of the Senate and Cabinet.

Image result for jamaica gleaner ruel


Jason Sterling
This is transparency at work… a very powerful move. Prime Minister, you now run a country where corruption is punishable! A depart from years of PNP where corruption was a norm! We ask for good leadership and good governance, now we have it.

Lorde Hyia 
I don’t care which government weed them out. The point is, we the people need to be more proactive in making them accountable for our money. Jamaica is rich but most of us are broke. The next ministry should be health and bringing the regions who are recruiting people on ridiculous contracts and sending them home after years of service with nothing and the minister doesn’t have a clue about what is really happening.

William Thomas 
I think this is a good move by the Hon Prime Minister and I also hope that civil society and special interests groups won’t quick to judge. Remember that someone’s reputation is at stake. I urge everyone to wait until the investigations is completed.

Jannet Simms 
I’m so disappointed in Ruel Reid. These people should be helping to build the country than taking it down. I born and live here and I want Jamaica to be out of the wilderness. Members of Parliament, stop being greedy and desist from wrongdoing.

Vassell Davidson 
Me lose track now. From Audley Shaw phone, Petrojam over and over again and now this and the man resign too enuh, not to mention the hospital sagas and the government workers wage bill saga. Me no like politics but JLP government coming like one big soap opera. Every time something die down then the next season start with different drama it don’t look good and it always blow down with either Andrew a take over cause people did trust him or them say a the PNP fault.

Domanic Nic 
These comments though… Unuh think Andrew did this in the name of good governance? He did this in the name of PR. He lost some of his shine with Petrojam. 

RD Campbell 
The PM knew of the theft and plundering at the MOE when he stood in Parliament yesterday and had the gall to declare that they have been the best managers of the country? This government is really outrageous!

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News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20190321/social-media-followers-react-ruel-reids-resignation

Political Analyst Lauds Holness’ Handling of Corruption Allegations at Education Ministry

Political Analyst, Kevin O’Brien Chang, says the Prime Minister’s handling of the corruption allegations at the Education Ministry must be lauded.

As news began to emerge of a corruption scandal involving Former Education Minister, Senator Ruel Reid, Prime Minister Holness moved to demand Reid’s resignation. He says the swift action of Mr Holness must become a standard for the future.

Mr O’brien Chang says both the Prime Minister and the governing Jamaica Labour Party, JLP, have been benefiting from Mr Holness’ decision to have Minister Reid resign amidst the investigations.

Meanwhile, Mr O’Brien Chang says he’s hoping that the Office of the Prime Minister, OPM will not be overseeing the affairs of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information beyond three months.

He says anything beyond three months could result in a repeat of what happened when he assumed responsibility of the Energy portfolio following the recent Petrojam scandal.

Meantime, the political analyst says he doesn’t foresee much fall out for the Holness administration without Minister Reid.


News Credit: Nation Wide Radio | Read here http://nationwideradiojm.com/political-analyst-lauds-holness-handling-of-corruption-allegations-at-education-ministry/

PSOJ & NIA Laud Holness for Swift Sacking of Reid

The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the anti-corruption lobby, National Integrity Action (NIA) are lauding Prime Minister Andrew Holness for firing Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator Ruel Reid.

Nationwide News first revealed this morning that Prime Minister Holness had fired the Education Minister. A statement later from the Office of the Prime Minister confirmed that the Prime Minister requested and received Mr. Reid’s resignation from his Cabinet and the Senate.

In his statement, Mr. Holness said he met this morning with Minister Reid regarding certain allegations in the public domain. The Prime Minister says the decision to secure Minister Reid’s resignation is in keeping with the principles of good governance.

Prime Minister Holness says Minister Reid’s resignation will ensure that any investigation into issues of concern will not be in any way impeded by his presence or oversight of the Ministry.

PSOJ President, Howard Mitchell is commending the Prime Minister for being decisive.

And, Executive Director of the anti-corruption lobby, National Integrity Action, NIA, Professor Trevor Munroe is also commending the Prime Minister.

The NIA boss says Prime Minister Holness’ speedy action in upholding the good governance principle of ministerial responsibility and accountability must become the norm in such circumstances.

In a statement this afternoon, Professor Munroe also commended the Opposition for raising concerns earlier this week about the management of agencies under the remit of the Education Ministry.

Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, JTA, Dr Garth Anderson, says he’s shocked at news that Mr. Reid has been fired from the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association, JMEA, Metry Seaga, is also commending Prime Minister Holness for firing the Education Minister.


News Credit: Nation Wide Radio | Read here http://nationwideradiojm.com/psoj-nia-laud-holness-for-swift-sacking-of-reid/

Why Did Holness Sack Ruel Reid?

There’s more information emerging about why Prime Minister Andrew Holness fired his Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator Ruel Reid.

Nationwide News sources say at the heart of the issues is a messy state of affairs at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU). Our sources say a female consultant was contracted and paid sums of money by CMU. The consultant is said to have directed that the money be paid into the bank account of a woman who’s Mr. Reid’s helper.

The Police are investigating to establish whether the money paid into the woman’s account was for work actually done. But, senior officials in the CMU administration are insisting that the consultant had actually done work for which the money was paid.

The JCF’s Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Agency (CTOC) and the Financial Investigation Division (FID) of the Finance Ministry, are investigating.

There are also questions this afternoon about whether Mr. Reid’s predecessor as JLP caretaker for North West St. Ann, Othneil Lawrence, was contracted to the CMU. It’s understood that Mr. Lawrence was given a $5-million contract and appointed as an advisor to CMU President, Professor Fritz Pinnock.

Last year, after a few weeks of contention, Lawrence stepped down as JLP caretaker for the constituency of North West St. Ann, and paved the way for the installation of Ruel Reid.

There are also questions this afternoon about whether an elected parish councillor in North West St. Ann has a contract at the CMU.

Calls placed this afternoon to Mr. Lawrence and Professor Pinnock were not answered. CMU is one of the agencies under the Ministry of Education.

Prime Minister Holness’s decision to sack the Education Minister has surprised some people in the administration, the Opposition and the private sector.

Director of Communication in the Office of Prime Minister, Robert Morgan, spoke this afternoon with our news centre.


News Credit: Nation Wide Radio | Read here http://nationwideradiojm.com/why-did-holness-sack-ruel-reid/

Opposition Bemoans ‘Cancerous’ Level of Corruption in Holness Administration

The People’s National Party (PNP) says the depth of corruption in the Holness administration has become cancerous.

Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, was reacting to the sacking of Education Minister, Ruel Reid, over damaging allegations of cronyism and nepotism.

Dr. Phillips was speaking this afternoon at an emergency media conference where he called for an extensive, unfettered investigation into the brewing scandal.

Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips says the malignancy taking root in the Holness administration needs to be cut out.

Dr. Phillips argues that the hasty sacking of Minister Reid suggests Prime Minister Holness had full knowledge of the issues prior to the Opposition raising the concern in the public domain.

Dr. Phillips says of particular concern is that one of the state agencies implicated in the latest allegations, the HEART/Trust NTA, now falls under the portfolio of the Office of the Prime Minister.

He’s also calling on the Prime Minister to learn from the Petrojam scandal and not to place portfolio responsibility for the Education Ministry under the remit of the OPM.


News Credit: Nation Wide Radio | Read here http://nationwideradiojm.com/opposition-bemoans-cancerous-level-of-corruption-in-holness-administration/

Clarke Chides Opposition for ‘Inaccuracies’ Budget Assessment

Finance Minister, Dr. Nigel Clarke, is criticizing the Opposition for what he sees as inaccuracies in their assessment of the government’s budget for the next fiscal year.

He says despite criticizing the growth numbers for the current administration, the opposition is not entitled to its own facts.

Dr. Clarke was closing the budget debate this afternoon. He accused the opposition of taking credit for the current growth in the economy despite previously questioning the government’s shift from direct to indirect taxation.

Dr. Clarke also attacked Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Mark Golding, for questioning the 4 billion dollar increase in the PATH programme.

During his budget presentation Mark Golding said the expansion translated to only 32 dollars per day per student not enough to a buy a patty.

However Dr. Clarke says the Opposition’s comment is misguided.


News Credit: Nation Wide Radio | Read here http://nationwideradiojm.com/clarke-chides-opposition-for-inaccuracies-budget-assessment/

Tufton rated best performer by a mile – Clarke and Johnson Smith out of limelight


Although 24 per cent of Jamaicans who participated in the latest RJRGLEANER-commissioned Don Anderson poll have rated Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton as the best-performing minister, the absence of some of his colleagues in the top five has caught the attention of political commentator Kevin O’Brien Chang.

“The minister ratings are very interesting in terms of not only who is there, but who is not. Nigel Clarke and Kamina Johnson Smith have gotten rave reviews from the media, but the public doesn’t seem to share that … . Dr Tufton clearly, despite the issues at Cornwall Regional [Hospital], and stuff, he’s the people’s choice; … everybody else is quite a bit behind,” Chang said.

The poll, conducted among 1,003 Jamaicans islandwide from February 15 to March 5, revealed that Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett was seen as the second best-performing minister at 11 per cent.

Chang said this was not a surprise.

“Ed Bartlett is a name you expect to be called. He was world Tourism Minister of the Year last year, so he is, in the nation’s eyes, doing a good job,” Chang told The Gleaner in an interview yesterday.

Other ministers were Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie at 11 per cent; Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw following closely behind with 10 per cent; Culture Minister Olivia Grange with seven per cent; ministers without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mike Henry and Daryl Vaz, with six per cent and four per cent, respectively; the now former education Minister Ruel Reid with five per cent; Justice Minister Delroy Chuck and Finance Minister Nigel Clarke, both with four per cent.

Meanwhile, 46 per cent of respondents rated Damion Crawford as the best-performing opposition spokesperson.

“He’s five times as popular as the next person. That says a lot and certainly must give him big hopes within the East Portland by-election. Clearly, whatever the media criticisms, the public seems to love him,” Chang said.

Angela Brown Burke, the spokesperson on local government, was second to Crawford with nine per cent.

Opposition Spokesperson on National Security Fitz Jackson and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Lisa Hanna were ranked joint third with seven per cent, followed by Opposition Spokesperson on Industry Peter Bunting, at six per cent.

Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw is viewed as the worst-performing minister, by 14 per cent of respondents, while opposition spokesperson on local government Angela Brown Burke was viewed as the worst-performing opposition spokesperson by 12 per cent.

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News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20190321/tufton-rated-best-performer-mile-clarke-and-johnson-smith-out