OPPOSITION Leader Andrew Holness wants Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to condemn the conduct of swearing-in events for mayors of some new People’s National Party (PNP)-led councils.
Holness, in a release yesterday, described the conduct of some swearing-in ceremonies as “vulgar politicising”.
“Our civic events and symbols are to be treated with respect, solemnity and dignity and any attempt to use the events for political oneupmanship devalues our civic institutions and departs from the civility we seek,” he said.
“We call upon no less a person than the prime minister and president of the PNP to condemn the actions of councillors planning these events,” he urged.
Among the examples of “politicisation” he listed was the “blatant omission of the colour green in a backdrop designed to depict the Jamaican flag for the swearing-in of Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris.
“... The removal of the green from the Jamaican flag at the installation... is the most reprehensible of all. To think that in the 50th year of our Independence when, as a nation, we should be displaying the highest level of regard for our national symbols, the PNP would seek to introduce petty politics in the display of our flag,” he remarked.
“This is a disgraceful violation of our national symbol and raises questions as to the sincerity and trustworthiness of the PNP in carrying out fundamental changes to other important institutions without politicising them.
“It is a slippery slope on which we embark when our government seeks to politicise civic ceremonies and national symbols, and not a far leap to then start the politicisation of other areas of national life that is best reserved from narrow, petty and partisan politics,” the Opposition leader stated.
Other examples he cited were the heckling of the former mayors of Portmore, Montego Bay, and other councils and harassment of their guests during the installation of new mayors and an alleged statement by a new mayor of his unwillingness to work with the “green men” that was reportedly aired on television.
“This statement shows the glaring hypocrisy and inconsistency of the PNP claims of working cooperatively in the councils, during the national local government debates,” he declared.
He also cited the relocation of the swearing-in ceremony for councillors of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) from the Council Chamber to the Jamaica Conference Centre, which he said was a first in history “as the swearing-in ceremony of KSAC councillors has always been held at the municipality's place of business”.
“This move is the equivalent of not swearing in MPs at Parliament, the designated place of representation of the people. And worse, this was done without proper consultation, notice, or even a reasonable explanation for such an unprecedented move,” Holness remarked.