CHAIRMAN of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) communication commission, Dr Peter Phillips is cautioning that a cloak of suspicion will haunt the ‘Dudus’ Commission of Enquiry.
That is, unless a new set of commissioners was appointed, he insisted in an address to a Rotary Club weekly luncheon at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston last week.
“If the prime minister proceeds on this current course, the commissioners would be operating inevitably under the tint of suspicion, probably unfairly in respect of their own reputations,” said Phillips.
The Opposition has accused Prime Minister Bruce Golding of failing to consult with them before appointing attorney-at-law Emil George, QC as chair, and retired permanent secretary Anthony Irons and attorney-at-law Donald Scharschmidt, QC to enquire into the Christopher “Dudus” Coke and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips affair which triggered a bloody military operation in Tivoli Gardens in May.
“One would hope that even at this late stage the prime minister would wheel and come again and restart the process of establishing the Commission of Enquiry on a fresh footing,” Phillips added.
Still, Phillips said he was not very hopeful that this would happen.
According to him, Golding breached his own commitment given in parliament regarding the process of appointing a Commission of Enquiry when he failed to consult with the Opposition.
“By no stretch of the imagination could the dispatch of a letter three hours before an announcement without even waiting for a response from the Leader of the Opposition be considered a consultation,” Phillips said in reference to Golding’s explanation in parliament as to why the PNP did not have a say in the selections.
Moreover, Phillips said the 2004 Vale Royal talks between former Prime Minister P J Patterson and then Opposition Leader Edward Seaga indicated that commissions of enquiry into matters of national importance should be prefaced by consultations between Government and Opposition to settle the terms of reference and appoint commissioners.
“In the matter of the Coke extradition and associated issues, these are matters of national importance in view of the substantial loss of life that occurred in the police actions and the damage to Jamaica’s reputation and the demands of not only the Opposition but of the general public for a commission of enquiry,” he said.