Wednesday, 22 March 2023 10:45

PNP slams Clarke for ‘racist utterances’

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The People’s National Party (PNP), along with its Youth Organisation (PNPYO), is expressing outrage at the “racial inference” used by Finance Minister Nigel Clarke to characterise the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Golding, in Parliament on Tuesday.

The Opposition Party said the incident could not have come on a worse day, as the world observed International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Tuesday.

“In a premeditated act of prejudice and racial discrimination, Minister Clarke read from a prepared text, thrice referring to Mr Golding as “Massa Mark”, inferring that the Leader of the Opposition is a racist oppressor,” the PNP said in a statement on Wednesday.

Clarke was speaking about a recent party meeting in St Andrew, in which Golding referred to members of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as “damn fools” after allegations that the Budget presentation of Prime Minister Andrew Holness was sabotaged, delaying it by nearly 90 minutes last Thursday after a microphone malfunction.

This prompted Clarke to repeatedly refer to Golding as "Massa Mark", which resulted in an unprecedented move by the Opposition to walk out of the closing Budget presentation of the Finance Minister.

Describing the incident as a “shocking attempt by Minister Clarke to malign the character of Mr Golding,” the PNP said it is “reverse racism.

“To use the hallowed chamber of Parliament to hurl racial invectives was appalling behaviour by the Minister of Finance and should be roundly condemned by well-thinking Jamaicans,” the statement read.

“The Budget debate is a serious matter. Tabling a trillion-dollar budget that will be financed on the backs of Jamaicans through high inflation and taxation is not a laughing matter, and ought not to be polluted with political gimmicks and insults. Our history of slavery and colonialism is also not a laughing matter, and our politics should be used to contend with and correct the injustices emerging from that history,” the release read.

According to the PNP, “Mark Golding’s political career shows him to be on the side of the descendants of Africans enslaved in Jamaica. The Jamaica Labour Party would do well to contend with its own history of actions against those descendants. Such actions by their first leader Alexander Bustamante against Rastafarians and other black nationalists are well documented. So too, are the actions of their first black leader, Hugh Shearer, against the Black Power advocate, Walter Rodney,” the PNP said.

The Opposition said that this is not the first time that the JLP has made racial jabs at Golding.

“In fact, the Speaker of the House, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, once again abandoned even a veneer of impartiality when called upon to adjudicate the matter, and this encouraged additional racist insults from government members in the chambers,” the PNP said, adding that Golding is a born Jamaican, “whose family has contributed distinguished service and sacrifice for the most disadvantaged Jamaicans. Like any other Jamaican, he is deserving of respect and regard and should not be made the brunt of cheap political PR [public relations] jabs by anyone, much less a Jamaican holding the high office of Minister of Finance.”

At the same time, the PNPYO echoed the Opposition’s sentiments stating that it is disgusted at what it deems to be “repugnant and racially charged” comments made by Clarke.

President of the PNPYO, Senator Gabriela Morris lashed the Minister for what she calls an “unparliamentary and despicable display.”

“It is most unfortunate that members of the government side and sympathisers of the Jamaica Labour Party continue to use divisive and racially charged slurs to attack the Leader of the Opposition. It is unbecoming, especially coming from Senior Government officials who should know better,” She chided.

Morris insisted that the government's effort on inciting hate against Golding for the colour of his skin should be transferred to revisiting government policies that are financially enslaving the Jamaican people.

Morris also expressed concerns over the growing number of instances of unsavoury behaviour in the nation’s Parliament.

“The Parliament is where the business of the nation is discussed. While there is room for banter, recent events have indicated that Parliamentary decorum has been replaced with gimmickry and insulting puerile behaviour. Jamaicans continue to take notice of the petulant and rude behaviour, especially of members from the governing side. These displays do little to inspire the confidence of the youth of Jamaica to believe in or participate in the political process,” She said.

The PNP and the PNPYO are therefore urging Clarke to withdraw the comments and apologise to Golding and all Jamaicans, “including those of a different hue from his.”

“Minister Clarke’s words are signalling to Jamaicans that it is acceptable to once again divide Jamaicans based on colour. Under Golding, the PNP will be the party seeking to build a national alliance with anyone willing to work for a better Jamaica,” the PNP stated.