St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Operation Rescue’s Dwyer Astaphan, long an advocate for Integrity in Public Life Legislation and other good governance measures for the Federation, is challenging the appointment of one of the Commissioners of the Integrity in Public Commission, and maintaining that mere appointment does not make the body ‘operational’.
Monday (August 27) Governor General Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton appointed, in his own deliberate judgment, Mr. Damian Kelsick as chairman of the Integrity Commission; Mr. Franklin Maitland on the advice of the Prime Minister and Ms. Carol Boddie on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition Dr. Denzil Douglas.
” Why is it not correct to say the commission has been ‘operationalised’ is because it needs its secretarial and administrative infrastructure and its funding in place before it can actually operate; but there’s something that comes before that that I think warrants fair and reasonable and objective discussion: are the members properly appointed?” Mr. Astaphan asked on Tuesday.
The former national security minister contends that the Commissioner recommended by the Prime Minister was not properly appointed and pointed to the provisions of Section 12 of the Integrity in Public Life Act to make his point.
“…it says that a person shall not be qualified to be appointed as a member if the person is a person in public life or is otherwise exercising a public function; (b) If the person has at any time during the three years preceding the date of appointment been a person in public life or a public servant; (c) Has at any time during five years immediately preceding the date of appointment held office in a political party and would otherwise be disqualified in accordance with the constitution to be a member of the National Assembly.
“Well, Mr. Maitland is a member of National Bank’s board so that can be considered, in my view, according to the definition and parameters of this Act ‘public’, but he can easily resign from the Board which would remove that disqualification if my read of it is correct”, he added.
“Secondly, he performed a very key role – if not the leadership role – in the program the government instituted after the election to disperse funds/gratuities to former sugar workers and if this would have taken place in the last three years then that one might be a disqualification.”
But Mr. Astaphan believes the strongest argument for his disqualification is the fact that neither Mr. Maitland nor his parents are born here.
“Section 27 of the Constitution says that a person shall be qualified to be elected or appointed as a member of the National Assembly if and shall not be so qualified unless he is a citizen of the age of 21 years or upwards, and he or one of his parents was born in St Christopher and Nevis and he is domiciled there at the date of the nomination for election.”
“Well, Mr. Maitland was born in St. Lucia, he is a citizen of this country and a very productive and constructive and responsible citizen of this country, but he would not be qualified to be nominated or elected to Parliament, and that same disqualification that exists in the Constitution is the very one that is referred to in Section 12 (d) of the Integrity in Public Life Act with regard to being a member of the Commission. So, in my humble and respectful opinion, Mr. Maitland is not qualified to be a member of the Commission.
“If I am correct, I do hope that the government takes quick remedial action and also takes all of the necessary steps to ensure that the administrative, secretarial and fiscal and financial apparatus in place so that the Commission could be ‘operationalised’ as soon as possible.”