Mark Wignall | Score one for Peter Bunting?
A few political pundits who I spoke to after the huge salary increase self-served on a platter to Cabinet members and other parliamentarians was percolating throughout the society, we figured that an increase in senators fees was not very far behind.
It could best be explained like a Sunday, curry goat cricket match. JLP Government versus PNP Opposition. Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke is batting. He had partied the night before and had had only three hours sleep. Clarke goes forward to a ball and expertly and deliberately slaps it down the throat of Peter Bunting comfortably fielding in a cover position. Bunting takes the catch and Clarke heads to a lounge close to the changing room. To finish his napping.
Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Peter Bunting, opened his mouth last week by saying that the 179 per cent increase per meeting for senators (to $148,000) was ‘neither justifiable nor appropriate’.
To a few of the senators, $148,000 is not unsubstantial. It may be able to cover two car payments for the month. For someone well-heeled like Senator Bunting, it may only cover the price of one of his less expensive Japanese Koi in his beautifully set out, huge, floor-level aquarium in his airy living room. In the magical serenity of cool St Andrew hills.
“Amnesia is the word that comes to mind,” said a reader last week. “Jamaica is still grappling with the outcry about the large salary increase, even if the intensity has waned.”
He was baffled. “The minister of finance announced the rescinding of the increase, which means he could have stopped it before it took effect.”
No one believes Dr Nigel Clarke is anywhere near stupid but I doubt that he would deny that he has been visited by the gods of arrogance. On occasions. “This is just plain bad leadership and incompetent governing,” he said.
The SSL saga and the troubling uncertainty of its final destination along with the socially insensitive salary increases has tripped up Minister Clarke, even though I suspect that in instances decisions could have been made by ‘an important few’ to push him out into the busy traffic because of what some in the JLP cabinet believe is his ‘survivability factor’.
The shelf life of that factor ought not to be taken for granted.
GREG CHRISTIE AND CRUCIAL KNEE JERK
Some time in 2017, Mr Greg Christie emailed me after I had criticised him on a matter which had occupied the public domain for much more than a moment. He was quite correctly pointing out what he saw as my inconsistency in my harsh criticism of specific matters he had written in a report as contractor general.
“I have read your Sunday Gleaner column …
“You may not recall but you had written to me, under confidential cover, via email, on two separate occasions, during my tenure as contractor general. Below are extracts from your two emails that I now feel obliged to share with you. Extract from email of January 25, 2011.
“I implore you to continue in your work … I am saying to you, you have my support and I am certain that you recognise the limitations there.”
Extract from email September 12, 2012. “You have done FAR MORE GOOD for this country than you have erred. I believe that history will absolve you.”
Over the last two months or so, it has been obvious to me that JLP government members in Parliament have waged a verbal war against the members of the Integrity Commission (IC). Greg Christie is a key man there, executive director. It appears that the piling on by government members and other matters (seemingly concealed by certain power centres in Jamaica) may have gotten to Mr Christie. A furnace was approaching dangerous temperatures and, an explosion was feared, expected.
Immediately after the shooting and wounding of an IC director in the car park of the IC’s office, Mr Christie was questioned by the press. ‘What’s your thoughts on the shooting?’
“Ask the government.” Mr Christie’s response may turn out to be the three worst words uttered by Mr Greg Christie. He even restressed the original response.
I have always heard that there are certain members of the IC whose biases towards the JLP are known. I have never heard that Greg Christie has any open political biases. The thing is, no matter how venomous the piling on from the JLP has been on the IC, it is Mr Christie’s job to see politicians in general as the world’s most needed set of educated buffoons.
He allowed the dangerous and imminent explosion of the furnace to get to him.
LEE KWAN YEW VS ANDREW HOLNESS
Another reader emailed me last week. “What has caught my attention is the glaring silence on key matters from the PM. Is he in Jamaica? Is he alive? Silence, silence, silence.
“A true leader faces those he leads in good and bad. He should address the nation and state that proper, full, complete and transparent disclosures are a must with the IC. He should also tell the nation he expects his members to do better. Silence and evasion are not leadership.”
When the Singapore leader Lee Kwan Yew was working to magically transform his people and his nation, he stressed the FIBRE and the METTLE of his people. He was there with them in the public square stressing that they must be identifiable and recognisable; that they had personal and broad social responsibility.
He never once felt scared to communicate with his people, for example, about simple matters like courtesy. Remember when P.J. spoke about Values and Attitudes. And then the talk and the subject self-immolated.
It is the duty of the opposition PNP to drive the JLP into the belief and the fear that its return for another term is not guaranteed. If the JLP believes it has a free run then the JLP need not even report to us that Brogad will soon return from the mountaintop with the ten great solutions and a magical basket of bread and nuff fish.