Kudos to People’s National Party deputy general secretary Julian Robinson for his frank and forthright condemnation of the nonsense that took place in St. James, when the stage was decorated at the civic ceremony for the swearing in of the Mayor of Montego Bay with black and yellow (gold?), excluding the green, which, coincidentally, is the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party’s colour of choice.

(Alan Lewin photo)

His open admission that the incident was “embarrassing” shows that he gets it. His colleagues need to listen to him. Too many of them don’t get it.

Too often, we hear politicians try to brush off criticism with various versions of “a nuh nuttin” and the tired refrain that “we should stop playing politics and get on with the work.”

Well, here’s why the vulgar and unacceptable actions of those responsible for those decorations in Montego Bay cannot be allowed to fall into the “a nuh nuttin” category.

  1. Every such incident turns off more and more Jamaicans from involvement in the political process. All this talk about “getting on with the work” will be for nothing if you are turning off the very people you need to work with you. Do we really need another reason for Jamaicans to view our political parties and politicians with disgust?
  2. Patriotism is important. So are national symbols. There was an outcry (and rightly so) when Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt disrespected our national anthem on the podium at the World Championships. And yes, the “a nuh nuttin” brigade was out in full force then, too. If we are to fully engage our citizens, we must demonstrate respect for ourselves, our country and the symbols of that country.
  3. How about at least trying to make us believe that you value country over party? This is yet another indication that some of you don’t. And if it’s party over country, in whose interest are policy decisions being taken? For whose benefit are you spending our money? Do you understand the cynicism? It’s all related.
  4. We talk of moving towards first world status. Well then, we need to act like it. This banana republic display shows clearly that some of us still have no understanding of what is appropriate, and the importance of protocol. Worse, it shows that the St. James Parish Council had no real systems in place for proper planning and organisation. Closely related to this issue, by the way, is the behaviour which we have been witnessing at some of these formal civic ceremonies, including heckling and booing.

 

Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, in her swearing-in speech, promised that that her

“administration will be marked by respect and responsibility

urged Jamaicans to be

“more respectful of our national symbols and national institutions”

and pledged to

“earn your respect by how we conduct ourselves and the nation’s business.”

Well, Madam Prime Minister, maybe that speech should be directed to your own supporters first. Speak out, and speak out loudly! Tell us how you intend to ensure that there is no repeat of this shameful episode.  We need to hear your voice, and others, joining Mr. Robinson’s, to let us know you, also,  get it.

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