June 30, 2022 | By Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |
The time has come to continue take a critical look at a matter of national and international impact on Jamaica and the Commonwealth. This is my view on the recently concluded race for the position of Secretary General. Kamina Johnson-Smith was a credible candidate of unquestionable integrity. Baroness Patricia Scotland has serious questions to answer although she won the race by 3 votes. That is 27 to 24 in her favour.
It is not my intention in this perspective to devalue this hitherto the high office of Secretary General and to degrade or tarnish in anyway the holder of this high office. However, in light of the narrow win that returned the Baroness to power as head of the Commonwealth I have been reflecting on same.
My approach to public opinion is free speech. Jamaica, as was pointed out ironically in Kigali, Rwanda by a veteran Jamaican Journalist Dionne Jackson Miller that Jamaica is rated number 2 behind New Zealand as the highest rated press freedom nation in the Commonwealth of nations. With this coveted credential I somehow feel compelled to believe that I have the licence to speak my truth to power. To do so without fear or favour. In a nutshell, let the chips fall where they may. Having said all that above, is it fair game to ask: Is Baroness Patricia Scotland damaged goods? Let us examine that view point.
After a recent fire burn in my native homeland Jamaica where I got some decent looking fireburn items at bargain prices, I am bolded to feel confident to speak with some authority now, also having reflected on the recent race for the position of Secretary General, I am compelled to conclude that BPS can best be described as damaged goods.
Went downtown Kingston Jamaica recently and must admit that I have a penchant for bargain and am known to be a bargain hunter and a cheapie.
As a result I am always looking for used items and slightly damaged goods to either restore them or just to do some form of conversion to usefulness.
My friend and colleague Emprezz Golding tend to be that type of person also. On her very popular evening lunch show she is always giving away slightly worn clothes like strollers and cribs to the public. Emprezz Golding has no apology for this her trademark modus operandi. You either like it and embrace same or hate her for this type of marketing. Just be her guest. Her show is very popular.
It is with this background that I or we should somehow view Baroness Patricia Scotland, the recycled head of the Commonwealth. Having been returned by a slim margin as the Secretary General of the 54 nation Commonwealth having beaten her challenger, a little known Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith from Jamaica by only 3 votes … 27 to 24 on Friday, June 24, 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda to continue her incumbency as Secretary General.
Her Fall In Grace
There seems to be a cloud hanging over Scotland as it relates to her stewardship as Secretary General. Unconfirmed reports are of less than honourable dealings or plain shady deals have been noised about her leadership. Are these allegations credible is left to be seen? Where there is smoke one is compelled to conclude that the likelihood of a fire should not be dismissed or ruled out. This is the reason why a bid was launched to replace her as Sec. Gen. in the first place.
She had a two year period left on her term, but claimed that there was no vacancy. Knowing very well that the reason why she was continuing on to be in office uninterrupted was caused due to the onset of the pandemic which prevented any gathering of persons so as to allow for an election or an endorsement of her incumbency. She knew better, but said otherwise to mislead deliberately. Can someone like that be trusted?
The Baroness who was a former Attorney General knew very well the circumstances why she was still sitting as SG yet she was publicly declaring that she was in her second term. She was in fact, but it was by default and she knew this was not an entitlement, nor a right of passage. It was just a set of unavoidable circumstances which was beyond the control of all and sundry. Yet she was prepared to exploit this to her advantage. You be the judge how she should be viewed. Cliff Hughes said inter alia:
“Scotland is a politician …”
What he was conceding is that politicians can be excused to use sleight of hand in their dealings. In
my perspective Scotland has been disingenuous. I could be wrong, but that is my call.
Change in Strategy
When the writing was on the wall and she realized that her position was threatened, she said she was just wanting to finish her last two years. This change in her utterance, did tip the scales in her favour. African delegates were swayed to support Scotland as it is well known that by rotation they are scheduled to sit in the chair as Secretary General when Scotland’s two year term ends. Was this a sleight of hand? You be the judge.
It is my considered approach that not only Caesar, but his wife should be above reproach. Of course we all have different ethical standards. Everything seems to go these days. I still beg to differ. I cannot trust people who are prepared to turn a blind eye on the truth when such conduct suits their purpose or purposes. Are we to believe that this noted legal luminary was ignorant of the rules that govern the job she occupies? Really now Baroness Patricia Scotland, you are a lawyer, aren’t you?
There are also allegations of questionable decisions taken under Scotland’s incumbency with very little evidence to get to the bottom of same. So we have to leave it there. In the final analysis even at the gathering of the General Assembly there were reports that a financial report to be circulated of the figures containing statements relating to the affairs of the organization had been withheld by the secretariat due to inaccuracies. It is not immediately clear when the uncirculated report will be followed up. What is in that report? Would the release of that report at that time … make a difference as it relates to the outcome of the race to replace Scotland? Was Kamina Johnson-Smith stabbed in the back?
We have no hard evidence of impropriety, it should be noted. There is considerable suspicion, but as you are aware suspicion is not guilt and may not be solid evidence also.
It is still our perspective that in light of the unresolved issues surrounding utterances made by Scotland and the activities of the secretariat makes the incumbent prime candidate to be seen as damaged goods.What is your perspective? Feel free to disagree.