(old Lasmay cartoons for reference)
With the Manatt monkey still fastened to its back, more Jamaicans think the less than three-year-old Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government is more corrupt than its People’s National Party (PNP) predecessor.
In a twist of ironic proportions, the JLP government, ushered in from the cold political wilderness by the electorate in September 2007 after 18 years of wandering, won the race to Gordon House on a platform of change that had anti-corruption and accountability as priority agenda issues.
But it seems the JLP, led by Prime Minister Bruce Golding, the self-proclaimed ‘Driver’, is not changing course.
A Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll conducted on April 24, 25 and May 1 unearthed that 36 per cent of Jamaicans think there is more corruption in the current JLP administration, while 23 per cent believe the previous PNP govern-ment was plagued by more acts of corruption.
Even with a former PNP junior minister before the courts battling charges of corruption, the JLP government is still seen as the more corrupt of the two administrations.
Forty-one per cent of the 1,008-strong sample said they could not determine which government was more corrupt.
The poll results, with a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent, also suggest that the Jamaican media need to pick up the slack on revealing corruption. Fifty per cent of those polled believe that the local newspapers and radio and television stations are not doing enough to expose corruption in Jamaica.
Forty-two per cent of respon-dents disagreed, while eight per cent said they did not know if the media were doing enough to unmask corrupt individuals.
Scratching the surface
Contractor General Greg Christie believes that both the magnitude and consequences of corruption are yet to be fully understood by most Jamaicans.
“There are telling indications that it (corruption) is operating in a highly efficient but surreptitious manner as it criminally redis-tributes the country’s wealth from the poor and middle classes to the connected and privileged few,” noted Christie in a written response to a Gleaner query.
Christie opined that it was a grave mistake to continue to focus the bulk of the country’s anti-corruption assets and efforts on rogue cops.
“We are barely scratching the surface,” he stated.
“There are much bigger fish to fry, many of whom come in suits and in ties and occupy high places in our society. With each passing day, they laugh their way to the bank with taxpayers’ (dollars) as we make-believe that we are dealing with the problem.”
Consequently, Christie wrote, media editors and practitioners will have to step up to the plate to build a sustained anti-corruption societal groundswell to keep the issue on the front page.
While conceding that there was room for improvement, Byron Buckley, president of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), thinks journalists are doing a fair job in exposing corruption.
“It must be that we are doing something good for international agencies like Reporters Without Borders to elevate us to high positions in the world press freedom index,” Buckley argued.
The PAJ boss also argued that the investigative efforts of the various media houses are being muzzled by outdated laws, one of which the previous government pledged to repeal after the advent of the Access to Information Act.
“I think that, to a large extent, we are being hampered by the existence of the Official Secrets Act, as well as the libel laws which come down hard on any attempts by media to try to get information that we think is in the public interest.
“But, because the libel laws are antiquated, they are still reflecting the interests of the ruling class,” Buckley said.
See also The Line in The Sand for the JLP series on Gay Jamaica Watch
(The Linkwithin feature should show the other parts on that page)