Wed | Jun 19, 2024

Mark Wignall | Gaslighting and empty promises

Published:Sunday | May 12, 2024 | 12:08 AM
In this February 2023 photo Governor General Sir Patrick Allen delivers the throne speech during the ceremonial opening of Parliament.
In this February 2023 photo Governor General Sir Patrick Allen delivers the throne speech during the ceremonial opening of Parliament.

A reader reminds me that it has been over a year since the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) imposed the massive salary increase for members of parliament (MP’s), cabinet members and other officials. I distinctly remember the PM stating that with such a big salary increase there would be a code of conduct for MP’s. Where is that code of conduct? Another unkept promise.

Since the salary increase the instances of ineptness, bumbling and bad behaviour have increased. A perfect example was the walking out of Parliament because the Speaker was called to account for her questionable behaviour.

Another reader, a lawyer, suggested that the JLP’s approach to governance is more about politics and gaslighting. “They have lost four constitutional challenges; the last being their unlawful and suspicious approach to keeping the former DPP in office.”

Another reader emailed me. “The PM has deceived the people of Jamaica with such regularity that he cannot distinguish between the truth and the fiction he creates. The current JLP government is so aloof to what the people are experiencing in Jamaica that it is sad.

“Minister Clarke recently announced how large Jamaica’s foreign reserves are. An impressive US$3.5 billion. What does that huge number do for the poor? A poor family in Allman Town, or St. Mary or Hanover or Vineyard town, who cannot get sufficient food for their children, pay school fees and buy shoes for the children are not interested in foreign reserves. They need help with inflation, food, and jobs that pay well.”

The level of tone deafness is staggering. Minister Bartlett proudly asserts over 50 per cent of the money earned by tourism stays in Jamaica. On the assumption that that is so, who is getting that money? Not the workers who clean the rooms, cook the food, keep the grounds beautiful, clean the beaches and serve the drinks.

Another reader emailed. “US $100 m missing from PetroCaribe Fund. No accountability. Nothing, nada, zilch said so far.... A wave of other monetary/government property scandals which puts 18 years of the PNP scandals to shame in terms of their amounts and magnitudes and nothing about them from a regime ushered in on an anti-corruption mantra. Shame on them.”

POOR GOVERNANCE AND BAD POLITICS

One reader who regularly commutes between Washington D.C and Kingston wrote, “I had to laugh when you mentioned your JLP source stating that the problem plaguing the JLP is good governance and not enough politics. That is total rubbish.

“Is it good governance to vote yourselves a massive pay increase but deny a good wage to teachers, nurses, police officers and other public sector workers. It is not, it is rank politics. It is arrogance and self-enrichment. Is it good governance for the Speaker to withhold reports tabled in Parliament and allege the Speaker has a legal opinion supporting such. It is not, it is politics and nasty politics. The Speaker and her colleagues in the JLP did not want the AG reports released prior to the local government elections because those reports contained findings that were very bad for the JLP. Is it good governance for the Speaker to attack the former Clerk of Parliament in a fiercely worded letter alleging she is unfit to do her job but cite no clear basis for the Speaker’s allegations. It is pure politics. Is it good governance to pressure and manipulate the National Land Authority (NLA) to hire someone who is not qualified for the job and waive job requirements. It is dirty politics. Is it good governance to not do a proper Cabinet shuffle to get rid of the many inept, non-performers in Cabinet. It is pure politics. Sorry Mark, your JLP source is completely disingenuous.”

CAN MR HOLNESS RENEW HIMSELF

Prime Minister Holness may not have been in the thick of the 1970s when politicians gave out guns to their favourite thugs to shoot and kill and drive fear in other people just because they were JLP or PNP. Since that time though the political class has felt they are untouchable.

Think of this. In a crime ridden country like Jamaica not one politician has ever been charged with conspiracy to commit murder or possession of illegal weapons. From there the politicians then determined that if murder did not get them in trouble, well, then, drug trafficking, theft from the public purse, corruption at every move, fraud, money laundering and sexual harassment were in play too.

This evil behaviour was keenly observed by the people of Jamaica, who concluded, ‘if dem a do it, we can do it too.’ A complete moral breakdown. Prime Minister Holness needs to be the Renaissance Man that we need.

When Bruce Golding was elected in 2007 I thought he would be that man. A friend inside the JLP called me after Golding’s inauguration speech and I made a grand fool of myself telling him of the wonders I saw and heard in Golding’s speech. Hell, he didn’t even want to be leader of the JLP in 2005, let alone prime minister. Wrong by 180 degrees!

In 2011 and certainly 2016 I saw another hint of freshness, newness and promise in Mr. Holness. The evaporation of that hope began in 2023 and lingers every day so far in 2024.

Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com