Fri | Oct 7, 2022

Mark Wignall | Apology as strategy

Published:Sunday | August 1, 2021 | 1:31 AM

Richard Azan
Richard Azan
Ian Hayles
Ian Hayles
Rhoda Crawford
Rhoda Crawford

Richard Azan and Ian Hayles have in common the fact that in September 2020,both of them were swept away by the Andrew Holness and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) political tsunami.

After that, the differences between the two People’s National Party (PNP) politicians are a bit stark. Ian Hayles is smart, wily, and can be rhetorically aggressive from the political podium. No one would ever accuse Richard Azan of taking too many brain pills.

Recently, both men were in their political moment, before their own people doing what most political people do. Running up their mouths to the low level they believe their constituents would be comfortable with. In doing so, they verbally disparaged Rhoda Crawford, the JLP member of parliament for Central Manchester, the lady who raced in on the tsunami and toppled Peter Bunting, the man who Hayles and Azan pine for as PNP leader.

Then, of course, when even those in their own party were impelled by the political moment to take a stand and defend the honour and the worth of women, they fell off their high chairs and apologised. And the apologies were accepted by the lady. On that basis, it would be wise for me to keep my mouth shut on a matter deemed closed.

Here’s the rub. I happen to believe that the men were more honest when they were making the initial disparaging comments about Crawford. I say so because they were in the element with which they have been comfortable for at least the last five years. I also happen to believe that the apology was good political strategy in that no other publicly acceptable option was available. Even for the briefest of moments, Hayles and Azan were mistaken for ‘gentlemen.’


I was utterly disgusted when I saw the video clip of a young man verbally tongue lashing the prime minister and using street language to cuss him out over tightening up COVID-19 protocols. At the same time, I was utterly shocked when I saw follow-up video of the police interaction with the man.

In one clip, the police were inside the man’s small apartment while he was putting on pants in preparation to leave. In the other clip, the man is at the police station, where he is being made into a robot with no rights. The police have countered that by saying that the man was a suspect in larceny breaking. So if he is a suspect, is it normal that he be detained behind bars until, at least, he is no longer a suspect?

The man was made out to be a clown in front of all of Jamaica. In many parts of Jamaica, I am sure that there are many people who believe that the name of Andrew Holness must not be trampled upon. Those very people must also appreciate that when they are cussing out those who support the PNP, many people understand that the constitution affords them the right to do so just as long as no obvious threats are made.

What made me really cringe over the police making the young man feel like a half citizen was the very obvious fact that it was being recorded.

I can quite understand that the public marketplace is overrun with bad behaviour and near-murderous driving. If one arm of the law has decided that foolish people making fools of themselves on YouTube or other social media are to be taken in to be publicly paraded.


Thirty-nine-year-old Yvonne, a teacher with two academic degrees, has had enough. She is leaving Jamaica. “I grew up in one of those infamous inner-city areas, but I can tell you, most of the people there are progressive and hard working.”

When I asked her the obvious question as to why she was leaving, she said: “I would like to own a home. Right now through the National Housing Trust (NHT), that is not likely. I can get 6.5 million dollars through NHT, but that is not enough.

“I find cost of living is very high. The salary we earn makes us, basically, live hand to mouth. I live on loans through the credit union. I hate to be constantly in debt.”

Yvonne teaches at a prominent primary school in Kingston.

“One of the main factors holding back education in Jamaica is the teaching administration in the schools. Nepotism in school boards is rife, and too many principals want to be praised and fed gossip instead of doing the hard work of building the teaching unit.”

Yvonne tells me that although she has secured her travel tickets and all the required documents to leave late this week, she is more sad than happy. “Honestly, I don’t want to leave here. While I was in the US at university, I learned how to love my country. Now I have to leave Jamaica, and I have no idea how things will turn out.” According to Yvonne, “One has to have help like a husband to make it economically in teaching, or one has to join those who are using the schools as the point of their main hustling.

“I know that I will come back one day, but for now, I must go.”

- Mark Wignall is a political and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to and