On Wednesday, August 12, United Democratic Party (UDP) Junior Cabinet Minister, Hon. Mark King, made serious threats against the Kremandala organization; against Evan X Hyde, the Kremandala chairman; and against Mose Hyde, the general manager of KREM Television and a talk show host. Mr. King’s threats were broadcast on national television news: the threats had been made earlier that Wednesday during a speech in his Lake Independence constituency.
Mr. King, a former Belize Defence Force soldier who was made a Justice of the Peace in 2005 by the PUP Belize Rural Central area representative, Hon. Ralph Fonseca, is thought by some observers to be eccentric. But, he owns security companies, which means he has armed employees at his disposal. Mr. King is also the Minister of Gangs. We are not exactly sure what his portfolio involves, but it is for sure that the Junior Minister has frequent contact with the various Belize City gang leaders who have been in charge of work gangs on government infrastructural projects in the old capital. Overall then, it is reasonable to say that Hon. Mark King is armed and dangerous.
Our response to his public threats was to remind the Hon. Prime Minister, Dean Oliver Barrow, in a short front page article in this newspaper, that the principle of “collective responsibility” exists in Cabinet. So that, until it was established otherwise, Mr. King was speaking for and on behalf of his Cabinet colleagues. We also pointed out to Mr. Barrow that the specific words used and broadcast by Mr. King have specific meanings in the streets of Belize City which amounted to capital threats against Kremandala, Evan X Hyde, and Mose Hyde.
Mr. Barrow is a highly intelligent man, and this newspaper really did not need to spell out everything from “a” to “z”. Mr. Barrow needed to reprimand Mr. King publicly or disassociate his Cabinet from these inflammatory remarks. Mr. Barrow, as of today, Monday, August 24, 2015, is yet to do so. He must have reasons why he is yet to do so.
In his press conference held on Wednesday, August 19, at the Biltmore Hotel, Mr. Barrow’s behavior while being questioned by Marisol Amaya, the news editor of KREM Radio, indicated that he was displeased with Ms. Amaya and her line of questioning. The master of ceremonies, one Mr. Pakeman, attempted to cut short Ms. Amaya’s questioning as she sought to ask the Belize Coast Guard’s Admiral John Borland a question. Ms. Amaya, however, stood her ground, and maintained her dignity and equanimity.
We believe that the leadership of the ruling UDP is very unhappy with an Amandala columnist, attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd. We believe the UDP leadership is quite unhappy with the KREM TV and KREM Radio reporter and commentator, Ya Ya Marin Coleman. We believe the UDP leadership is seriously unhappy with Mose Hyde. These individuals are thought to be too critical of the Barrow administration. But, there are prominent journalists at Kremandala who are friendly to the ruling UDP. We would go so far as to say that they are pro-UDP and that their work reflects that political preference. We will not call any names. The point we are making is that Kremandala is the media house where journalists have the most freedom. We think that our employees’ personal political preferences even out over a period of time. In fact, we are regularly accused by Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) politicians and spokesmen of being soft on the Barrow government. There are occasions when they have gone so far as to accuse us of being “bought by Barrow.”
In his August 12 outburst, Hon. Mark King pointed out that Kremandala had been refusing to accept his political advertisements. The suggestion appeared to be that this was justification for his homicidal threats. Mr. King claimed that he could take Kremandala to court for refusing to accept his material, but that he chose not to do so. Clearly, in his rhetoric, he chose to go the way of the thug.
We don’t know how the law works in these matters,but we absolutely support Cordel Hyde, Hon. King’s PUP opponent in the Lake Independence constituency. It is unreasonable of Mr. King to expect Kremandala to disseminate his propaganda. If it is illegal of Kremandala to refuse Mr. King’s propaganda material, then there is the way of the courts for civilized men to resolve conflicts and disputes.
These public, capital threats represent a slippery slope in our electoral politics and campaigning. As we said earlier, there are some who consider Mr. King an eccentric. Whether this is so or not, Mr. King is Mr. Barrow’s responsibility. This is the point we made to Mr. Barrow in our front page statement on Friday, August 14, and this is the point we are repeating in this editorial.
Some months ago, we heard a ranking UDP Minister boast on his party’s WAVE Radio that the UDP “has street muscle.” We do not consider that an idle boast. The Prime Minister’s refusal to reprimand Hon. Mark King publicly or to disassociate himself and his Cabinet from the August 12 threats, is troubling.