Sunday 15 September, 2019

VIDEO: Holness behaving like dictator, says Bunting

Peter Bunting

Peter Bunting

Another prominent member of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has accused Prime Minister Andrew Holness of behaving like a dictator.

However, while Peter Bunting has charged that Holness has been displaying the characteristics of an authoritarian leader, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Central Manchester did not go as far as to compare the prime minister to Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler, as another PNP member did last week.

President of the People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO), Krystal Tomlinson, was widely criticised by social media users and other Jamaicans for likening the prime minister to Hitler. Despite offering an apology in response to the public outcry, Tomlinson is to face the glare of Political Ombudsman, Donna Parchment-Brown, who has indicated that she will be probing the matter.

Prior to Bunting’s political address on the subject, whether before or after Tomlinson’s stated position, there was or has been no public position on the matter from any other figure at the leadership level of the PNP.  

While addressing his constituents recently, Bunting, a former Minister of National Security, said Holness has been running the country like an authoritarian leader. He stated that the prime minister has 23 areas of portfolio responsibility within the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation that he heads.

The Opposition Spokesman on Industry, Commerce and Competitiveness also said that Holness is presently the Minister of Education after the departure of Ruel Reid in March, amidst corruption allegations, and Holness was previously the Minister of Energy after the former minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley, resigned at the height of the Petrojam scandal.

“That is not good governance. That is how a dictator runs a country. And him think because him have a lot of the media behind him, and him spending taxpayers’ money on the PR machinery of Government and of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP); him think him can do anything and get away with it,” declared an animated Bunting.

“Him think him can do anything and bully anybody into submission,” added Bunting before declaring that “not everybody” is submissive (to dictatorial tendencies).

He accused the prime minister of arrogance and of trying to “force things down people’s throat”.

While Bunting, who was addressing Comrades, was more measured than Tomlinson, the reasons that he gave for comparing Holness to a dictator were the same ones that were highlighted by Tomlinson in several Twitter posts last week.

It was unclear exactly when Bunting was speaking at the meeting, but it appeared to be earlier this month.

Like Tomlinson, he referenced the now infamous undated JLP Senate membership letters and the initial temporary appointment of Chief Justice, Bryan Sykes, to the top judicial position, for justifying his comparison.

In 2013, when he was Opposition Leader, the Constitutional Court ruled that the undated letters that Holness had used to remove Opposition Senators Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton from the Senate, were unconstitutional, and both men were later reinstated to the Upper House.

The two then senators had supported Audley Shaw in his failed bid to oust Holness as JLP Leader.

And there was widespread condemnation of Holness’ decision to put the Chief Justice on probation at the time of his appointment.

The prime minister quickly reversed that position in the face of widespread criticism from across the society, including within the judiciary.

Tomlinson, on her dictator reference, had noted that Hitler deployed the military before taking over Germany and plunging the world into its worst conflict –World War Two - which cost nearly 50 million lives, according to historians.

She drew reference to Holness deploying the military locally in three states of emergency (SOE) that were imposed in 2018 to rein in rampant crime, in particular murders, with one in St James lasting a year. The parliamentary Opposition had notably pulled its support from the emergency measures last December, resulting in them being discontinued.

However, on April 30 this year, an SOE was imposed in three western parishes – Westmoreland, St James and Hanover - and received Opposition support in both houses of Parliament to remain in force for three months until July 29, after the initial two-week declaration period.

Quite noticeably then was that Bunting was the only Opposition MP in the Lower House to vote against the emergency measure, and he told Comrades in Manchester that in doing so, he had voted his conscience.

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