Golding says opposition not consulted on Manley-Seaga ticket – Jamaica Observer
Opposition Leader Mark Goldingspeaks in Parliament.
The government’s attempt to create unity among Jamaicans by placing former prime ministers Michael Manley and Edward Seaga together on a new $2,000 note appears to be having the opposite effect.
That appears to be the case at least in political circles, where the two men were bitter rivals during one of the most politically charged and violent periods in Jamaican history.
On Tuesday, Opposition Leader Mark Golding, in his contribution to the budget debate, made it clear that the People’s National Party, of which Manley was chairman, did not support the decision announced last week by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Nigel Clarke.
In fact, Golding blamed the government led by Andrew Holness for showing arrogance and disunity in its decision.
While stating that Jamaicans have a knack for identifying something as a ‘poppyshow’, Golding said: “Many saw the unveiling of the new tickets for what it really was last week on Tuesday – a distraction from the real issues. that bite people; it was just another fantasy”.
He postulated that the unveiling of new banknotes would not ease the plight of the people.
“How is that relevant at a time like this?” he asked rhetorically.
“Apart from all the stupidity of the unveiling of the new banknotes, the approach reflects a deeper problem of arrogant governance,” the opposition leader said.
“The government has chosen not to consult the opposition on the design of the new banknotes, even though the proposed design involves powerful symbolism affecting some of our great political leaders,” he said.
Clarke had informed the nation during his opening budget presentation last week that the families of Seaga and Manley had been consulted before the decision was made to have the two former rivals appear together.
However, this did not satisfy Golding who felt the consultations should have been broader.
“Not concerted. You just brought it here last week on Tuesday with a whole bag of hype. That’s not how you build better understanding; that’s not how you promote unity; it’s not how we work together. It’s disrespectful,” Golding said.
The Leader of the Opposition then hinted that it was Prime Minister Holness’s wish to have his mentor’s image inscribed on a banknote.
“We know the prime minister wants his mentor Mr Seaga on a banknote, no problem…” he said.
This comment prompted Holness to raise a point of order and state that “at no time was there ever any consideration of the well-known and close relationship I had with Mr. Seaga as an impetus or a reason or a cause for it to be added to our currency.
“Mr. Seaga is on the currency because he deserves to be there. I want to assure the people of Jamaica that we are not making these national decisions on a political basis,” Holness said.
Not finished yet, Golding responded by saying, “If a new $2,000 bill is needed, that’s fine. Put Mr. Seaga on the $2,000 bill but leave Michael Manley on the $1,000 bill”.
Still irritated, he added: “You changed it without consulting us. You changed it without any attempt to reach consensus and this approach to governance will not stand the test of time”.
Golding said the finance minister said he was ‘doing this out of love’ but said ‘love must be based on truth, respect and understanding. The approach adopted in this matter has none of that”.