Will the real Karl Sa­muda please stand up?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

AGREAT hoax must have been per­pe­trated on Ja­maica’s me­dia by a tal­ented and skilled im­per­son­ator who fooled them into be­liev­ing that he was Karl Sa­muda. For how else could we ex­plain last week’s in­tim­ida­tory as­sault on the ju­di­ciary by a se­nior min­is­ter, es­pe­cially one whose port­fo­lio in­cludes pro­mot­ing in­vest­ment, job cre­ation and eco­nomic growth.

In this re­gard, the real Mr Sa­muda has an obli­ga­tion to, forth­with, stand and re­claim his iden­tity and ex­cul­pate him­self from those defam­a­tory dec­la­ra­tions against him. On the chance that the of­fend­ing state­ments were prof­fered by the real Mr Sa­muda, Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness has no al­ter­na­tive but to read him the riot act, de­mand that he pub­licly apol­o­gise, and warn the min­is­ter that it is the first of a few strikes lest he be shown the door out of the Cab­i­net.

The real Karl Sa­muda is a long-stand­ing politi­cian who has served in the leg­is­la­ture for well over three decades, and switched par­ties twice while re­tain­ing his seat for the con­stituency of St An­drew North Cen­tral, which in­cludes some poor, gritty ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties. Red Hills Road is a pop­u­lar and im­por­tant artery run­ning through Mr Sa­muda’s con­stituency.

One day re­cently, there were tele­vi­sion im­ages of res­i­dents of ten­e­ments at 85 Red Hills Road, and their sup­port­ers, burn­ing shirts with im­ages of Karl Sa­muda. Bailiffs, backed by the po­lice, were at­tempt­ing to en­force evic­tion no­tices and his con­stituents were an­gry that there had been no ap­par­ent in­ter­ven­tion by their MP. In the face of the protest, and in a bid to pre­vent it from be­com­ing vi­o­lent, the po­lice backed off.

Then oc­curred last week’s very public in­ter­ven­tion by who we pre­sume to be the pseu­doKarl Sa­muda. He said, be­fore tele­vi­sion cam­eras, that the Government would seek an in­junc­tion against the evic­tions and that the Ja­maican State – and its tax­pay­ers – would pur­chase the land from the owner to pro­vide homes for his con­stituents. The Government, pre­sum­ably, would ap­ply the doc­trine of em­i­nent do­main.

SA­MUDA SHOULD CLAR­IFY

That, as a broad le­gal prin­ci­ple, this news­pa­per does not chal­lenge. Ex­cept that there are two other deeply trou­bling dec­la­ra­tions by Mr Sa­muda.

One was this state­ment: “Any judge who de­clares that a per­son who claims to own the land, whether it is so or not, has a right to evict peo­ple is not be tol­er­ated.”

Per­chance that this were a state­ment by the real Mr Sa­muda, the ques­tion is, how should the phrase “not to be tol­er­ated” be in­ter­preted? In the wrong cir­cum­stance and with the wrong peo­ple, it is po­ten­tially in­cen­di­ary. Mr Sa­muda, there­fore, should clar­ify the re­mark, making it clear it is not meant to im­ply any flout­ing of legitimate di­rec­tions of the courts, to un­der­mine the rule of law, or in­still fear in judges. We of­fer him the ex­pla­na­tion that the in­tent is to use the le­gal sys­tem to its full ex­tent.

The other point is a state­ment im­ply­ing that there was some­thing un­to­ward about the prop­erty’s owner want­ing to “build ex­pen­sive projects”. The real Karl Sa­muda, MP, is the min­is­ter of in­dus­try and com­merce, who should want to see in­vest­ment in an area that used to have thriv­ing busi­nesses but is be­ing turned into a slum.

In­vestors ought to be en­cour­aged, not os­tracised. And when they have dis­putes, they must feel free to seek res­o­lu­tion in the courts, with a free, in­de­pen­dent, un­in­tim­i­dated ju­di­ciary.

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