As the JLP’s political apparatus fulminates against Peter Bunting, given his telling probing of former Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Andrew Wheatley, in Parliament and the subsequent embarrassing fallout, they have been rocked by another Bunting-linked revelation which could possibly force the cabinet dismissal of another high-flying cabinet minister.
Two courageous journalists, through diligent investigation, have discovered information that points to Bunting’s National Security successor; Robert Montague; overriding legislated protocol and ignoring the warning of the National Intelligence Bureau in order to facilitate a suspected high value gangster/criminal’s retention of his gun license which was revoked by the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) following more in-depth investigation of the individual’s character by the security forces.
Following that jarring disclosure, coming on the heels of the Wheatley fiascos and resignation, one gets the impression that Jamaica is fed up with the cavalier behaviour of this government. Despite his leadership position in the JLP, Montague is skating on thin ice. He has worn out his welcome. His incoherent explanations surrounding the police used car scandal have not been forgotten, not by the PNP, not by civil society and certainly not by the taxpayers of this country. Now here comes this glaringly obvious breach.
Montague, while denying impropriety, admitted the following: Fact #4 The person in question had been charged previously under the lottery scamming legislation. The charges were thrown out by the Courts as no evidence was provided. Subsequently, the police officer, who had charged the person in question, was alleged to be corrupt and was separated from the Police force.
Fact #5 The person in question is from the constituency of Western St Mary that the minister represents as Member of Parliament. Though not relevant, the minister finds it important to provide all pertinent information to the country, which he can responsibly provide. In essence, providing details as opposed to allowing rumors prevail.
Fact #6 The person in question (making the appeal) became a “National Security Asset”. The information provided by him regarding the FLA unearthed scandalous issues which were associated with the entity. Proof of these issues was provided by him, and actions have been taken since, including FLA personnel being fired and arrested, along with licenses being revoked.
By his own admission, Montague is in essence saying he knows the man who is one of his constituents. There is nothing wrong with a Member of Parliament rendering aid and assistance to a constituent, however, when as M.P, you are the minister charged with presiding over the most critical arm of governance in Jamaica – crime, one has to exhibit better judgment in aiding that constituent, particularly when that constituent is linked to a criminal gang by the intelligence arm of the Jamaican police force which you have portfolio responsibility for.
NOT THE ONLY OPTION
Montague ought to have known that overriding the revocation order was not the only option he had in treating with this euphemistic “National Security Asset”. There is the Witness Protection Programme which is used to facilitate highly endangered government informants. If I am getting the story correct, the individual is no longer in Jamaica. That said individual could have been removed from Jamaica through the Witness Protection Programme. Or was he at a later date? Frankly, I do not believe that the former minister explored all his options but acted with audacious recklessness to prove his power over the police. His history of arrogance serves to buttress that point.
This is not Montague’s first rodeo, he became a parish councillor for the Carron Hall division in the St Mary Parish Council, which he served from 1990-2007. He would subsequently become Mayor of Port Maria from 2003 to 2007; he became Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government between 2007 and mid-2011, when he was promoted to Minister of Agriculture for approximately five months. His years of service have not gone without controversy.
If one is to be judged on their history, the Prime Minister is honour-bound to fire Mr. Montague. Here is a brief snippet of his parliamentary life over the life of two JLP administrations. As a junior minister, he was shown on national TV arrogantly and disrespectfully berating a nurse at an infirmary. His arrogant behaviour drew the ire of most Jamaicans. His brief tenure as agriculture minister would not be controversy free. In the aftermath of the 2011 General Election, it was discovered that in the months leading up to that election, millions of dollars’ worth of black water tanks were given out ostensibly to farmers in a partisan political manner. There is no empirical evidence of any impropriety by him, but it happened under his watch.
Following the 2016 Local Government election, the now defunct Office of the Contractor General (OCG), led by Dirk Harrison, investigated the scandalous $900 million de-bushing pre-election spend. Following Harrison’s investigation, the OCG’s report found, and I quote, “36. Messrs Vincent Taylor of Construction Solutions Ltd … advised the OCG of an established protocol/practice of members of parliament being consulted by the contractor prior to the execution of the contracts with a view to mobilizing the community members to execute debushing and drain-cleaning works.
“37. Dr. Andrew Wheatley, Shahine Robinson and Robert Montague denied the allegations made by Vincent Taylor that they specified the persons to whom cheques were to be made payable and the manner in which same should be apportioned.” History, it’s the darnest thing.
As the Troglodytes take aim at him with their spears and arrows, Bunting should remember the words of the great American patriot and statesman, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
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