Wednesday, January 17, 2018

...Analyst: Controversy could hurt in election


'sacrifice': Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) political leader Ashworth Jack's multi-million-dollar house in Tobago. —Photo: ELIZABETH WILLIAMS

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Political analyst and UWI lecturer Winford James says Ashworth Jack's house and land controversy could hurt him in the January 2013 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.

Jack is the current Minority Leader in the THA and political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP).

He is aspiring to be the next THA Chief Secretary to replace Orville London of the People's National Movement in the January 21, 2013 elections.

"Yes it can affect Mr Jack's campaign negatively and his chances of becoming Chief Secretary," James told the Express yesterday.

"Is it not a matter of perceived corruption? Anytime you put a matter of perceived corruption in public domain, people will have an attitude: there are those who will support, others will dismiss it, while the independent will begin to wonder," he said.

James added that the issues around Jack's house and land on which it is built, "raise suspicions in some quarters" and advised Jack that the way to handle the current situation is by putting everything out in the public domain.

"He must become transparent, put everything out to the public, let them know where he got all this income. I don't know but maybe he has the income to build his house, he must tell all," James said.

According to James, once the suspicion is there, it does not make sense for Jack to deflect but rather to step forward and assure the people that things are above board. He said that as Minority Leader, Jack falls under the glare of the Integrity Commission and should have filed his declarations.

He referred to comments made by chairman of the Integrity Commission, Ken Gordon, about a formal complaint having to be first made to the Commission for any investigation to be launched, saying that the Commission "on its own can launch an investigation".

According to James, "as a public official, if Mr Jack is saying he has done no wrong and he built his house with funds legitimately owned, let us know. If he fails to do so, it will negatively affect his party and chances of displacing Mr London".

James added, "the public needs clarification, not clarification in terms of words saying, I am above board. But he has to show people he is above board."