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Jack told: It is part of the job

Jamaican minister responds to 'Observer' editorial

By Jensen LaVende jensen.lavende@trinidadexpress.com

IT is part of the job and it will pass.

This was the message to Minister of National Security Jack Warner yesterday by Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson in relation to comments made in the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

Ferguson spoke with the Express at Capital Plaza hotel during the sixth meeting of the Caribbean Public Health Agency.

In the newspaper editorial which was printed on Tuesday, the Observer said minus the hiring of Warner, the Government was practising "ethnic stocking" in an editorial entitled "The more important issue is abuse of substance".

"The real problem in the energy-rich republic is not substance abuse, but the abuse of substance. By that we mean the abuse of the substance of government business because of the ethnic stocking of public offices and the widespread perception of corruption. Notwithstanding Minister Jack Warner, the current Government of Trinidad and Tobago has systematically practised ethnic stocking; rewarding individuals with positions even though they (are) not qualified, either by professional training or by pertinent transferable work experience," the editorial read.

"As a politician I think we are always subject to the whims and fancy of the media. For me it is part of the problem we face as political leaders that we are exposed to these comments. It is almost that you have to recognise that it is an everyday occurrence. Oftentimes there are things that are said that we regard as unfortunate regardless of what might be the antecedents of persons coming into politics," Ferguson said.

"We become the victims often times of the press in terms of comments. I say to Jack Warner it is one of the adversities of the political process... all of us have had our bad days relative to the press and I say to him that that too will pass," Ferguson advised.

On Thursday Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Suruj Rambachan said the media house should apologise to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the country for the remarks.

Asked whether he agreed, Ferguson who admitted that he did not read the article said he did not want to pass judgment and call for an apology without reading the editorial.

"I can sympathise with the comments of the Minister of Foreign Affairs because I know that it is for us as political leaders we are faced with these comments daily," Ferguson said, adding that politicians in his country have grown accustomed to comments like that.

Ferguson added that the view expressed in the commentary was not that of the Government or the people of the country.

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