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Hamilton betrays intellectual dishonesty - Christie
The Editor, Sir:
Re: Gleaner column - 'Horse sense - much ado about nothing' (February 13):
If it was intended to be a grand exhibition of a privileged writer's intellectual dishonesty towards the people and taxpayers of Jamaica, then Howard Hamilton's most recent column, titled 'Horse sense - much ado about nothing', was a rare success.
In his column, he begins his circuitous route around the facts by first lamenting that he has just returned from an apparent junket, "travelling along the coast of Chile and around Cape Horn up to Uruguay and Argentina", only to discover that, while he was away, the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) had disturbed the peace of his supposed fiefdom and, as a result, "the pleasure of those last three weeks has been dampened".
According to Hamilton, the source of his disquiet was the recent issuance of the OCG's special report of investigation conducted into the allegations of irregularity surrounding an alleged proposal by SportsMax Limited to supply satellite services for simulcast racing from South Africa and the United Kingdom to Caymanas Track Limited (CTL), a public body.
The OCG's special report of investigation has revealed, among other things, evidence that the public's money was to be spent to finance a government contract that was inuring to the benefit of a private company, International Media Content Limited (IMC), without the relevant and lawfully required disclosures being made by its chairman, Patrick Rousseau, who was, at one and the same time, the sitting chairman of all three entities, CTL, IMC and SportsMax.
We would venture to assume that Hamilton still possesses a measure of self-awareness to recognise that public bodies, such as CTL and matters having to do with the taxpayers' money, are the fiefdoms of the people of Jamaica and not that of his or anyone else's private domain.
Indeed, it is precisely because these are serious matters which involve taxpayers' money and the laws of Jamaica that all Jamaicans and, in particular, the readers of Hamilton's column, deserve an intellectually honest discourse about the OCG's CTL special report of investigation and not the lame concoction of obfuscatory representations and unsubstantiated imputations that Hamilton has served up in his vacuous and inane 'Horse sense' article.
The OCG, Hamilton should be reminded, is merely dispassionately discharging its lawful obligations pursuant to a statutory law which it did not write. If this, in Hamilton's apparent horse-blinkered view, causes 'mischief' when certain persons are implicated or are referred for prosecution, then so be it.
For reasons that are best known to Hamilton, he has not only disingenuously avoided the substance and central issues of the referenced OCG special report of investigation, but he has failed to credibly articulate and substantiate his imputations and charges.
First, nowhere in his column has he examined or challenged the credibility of the reasons why the OCG's referrals to the attorney general and the auditor general were made in respect of the CTL board of directors and its accounting and/or accountable officers.
Second, and even more conspicuous, is the fact that nowhere in his article, in any manner, shape or form, has he referenced, or even attempted to challenge, the sworn evidence upon which Patrick Rousseau, the chairman of CTL, SportsMax and IMC, was referred by the OCG to the director of public prosecutions. Indeed, he has skilfully avoided even naming Rousseau, SportsMax or IMC in his column.
Third, although Hamilton is well aware that the issue of a conflict of interest is what stands at the core of the findings, referrals and recommendations that are outlined in the OCG's report, he has curiously stayed away, altogether, from making any reference whatsoever to it in his article.
Fourth, Hamilton has revealed his apparent skills in the art of mischief-making and grand obfuscation by foisting the truly indecorous and reckless accusation that he is "satisfied, after reading the (OCG's) report, that the behaviour of the OCG could have been a major contributor" to the death of his friend, Donald Tankoy, a former CTL executive. He then proceeds to use this highly emotive charge as a 'red herring' to disguise what appears to be his unwillingness or inability to address intelligently, fairly and honestly the real substance of the OCG's central Findings and Referrals.
The OCG readily acknowledges the right of Hamilton and anyone else to express publicly their constructive views or criticisms of the OCG. What we would outrightly reject, however, is his distortion of the facts as the basis for an unsubstantiated and, therefore, suspicious attack upon the OCG and its Special Report of Investigation into the procurement practices of CTL.
If, therefore, he is so minded, we would welcome his credible challenge and rebuttal of the Findings and Referrals that are contained in the OCG's Report of Investigation, as well as the sworn evidence upon which they are based. If he is unable to do so, then he should fully disclose what his true interests and positions are. He should also rationally explain the underlying theme of his article - 'Much ado about nothing'.
If he is saying that he disagrees with the Government's procurement procedures or any of the five statutes, viz the Contractor General Act, the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, the Financial Administration Act, the Companies Act and the Corruption Prevention Act - which the evidence that the OCG's investigation has unearthed suggests have been breached at CTL - he must, with respect, take his complaint and grouse not to the OCG but to another place.
If, on the other hand, he is saying that these are all laws and rules which should apply to some Jamaicans but not to others, or that the rule of law should give way whenever it collides with certain practices which he regards to be de minimis or 'nothing', then he must be courageous enough and forthrightly say so.
In the interim and beyond, as contractor general, I wish to publicly state that despite the attacks on my office and the veiled threats to my person that are seemingly becoming more relentless in their frequency and heightened in their tenor, neither my officers nor I will be intimidated or moved.
I am, etc.,