Sun | Jun 16, 2024

Ashley expects Clarke to backtrack on ‘Massa Mark’ remark today

Published:Tuesday | March 28, 2023 | 1:27 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

Political commentator and attorney-at-law Dr Paul Ashley believes that Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke will today withdraw his controversial “Massa Mark” slur, which was aimed at Opposition Leader Mark Golding in Gordon House last week.

At the same time, St Andrew South Western Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Angela Brown Burke, whose “Shut yuh mouth” outburst directed at Kingston West MP Desmond McKenzie triggered a verbal tussle between herself and Speaker of the House Marisa Dalrymple Philibert, is also expected to formally withdraw the comment today.

“I expect Brown Burke to withdraw officially ... . I expect Clarke to say that that was not what he had intended. I cannot speak to the sincerity of the actions, but superficially, they will go through the parliamentary ritual,” Ashley suggested.

The political commentator argues that the language that is used on the campaign trail should not find its way into Parliament during debates about matters of national importance.

“The parliamentary rules are there to maintain the decorum of the House of Parliament where people make laws. There is no need to deal with personal characteristics. Let us focus on substance and deal with the issues that affect the majority of people in Jamaica and not get distracted by loose talk,” Ashley, who is also an attorney-at-law, reasoned.

He noted that in Jamaican politics and life, the race card is still present.

“What is happening is the colour thing. This raises its head now and then. The class thing raises its head now and then ... . The colour thing is always there and the race thing is there. It is omnipresent; it cannot be avoided and it permeates the culture and the lifestyle of Jamaicans,” he told The Gleaner.

However, historian and political commentator Shalman Scott is of the view that there was an overreaction to remarks stemming from the heated exchanges in Parliament last week.

“We are not to make any excessive worry about exchanges of a racial dimension because we have always had that in our politics, both inside of the Parliament and on the campaign trail,” he told The Gleaner.

Scott suggested that the country should look at the country’s motto – ‘Out of Many, One People’ – and examine to what extent Jamaicans from the various ethnic groups have been interacting with each other.

“You just need to look around and you will see that racism is more talked about and used as a tool to get at one another very often than the reality of our social and even marital relationships in the country, and so I think we are making a mountain out of a molehill,” he opined.

Scott added that some of the same political actors who trade barbs during parliamentary sittings are close friends behind the scenes.