Wednesday, 21 September 2022 15:55

Kudos to Warmington: Introduce Term Limits for PMs and Retirement Age for MPs

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By Andrew Clunis

Many people may find JLP MP and Minister Everald Warmington a very bitter pill to swallow. He is thought to be brash, combathive and uncouth and of a character many would say is not suitable for a public servant.

But whatever views one might hold of him, all can agree that he doesn’t suffer fools.

He has a very short fuse and his intolerance for a lack of adherence to rules is well demonstrated inside the nation’s parliament where he is quick to call out members including his colleagues and the Speaker over their shallow understanding of the standing orders.

He has had public spats with the media, the contractor general, the police and fellow politicians. He has served as Member of Parliament for St. Catherine South Western since 2002. Based on his electoral results over the years he is well-loved by the majority of the people he represents, returning margins of victory of over 10,000 electors.

Now he is ready to walk away from the trappings of representational politics and the parliament. Warmington, who recently turned 70 is setting an example for his parliamentary colleagues, many of whom have long overstayed their welcome.

Resignation of a politician is a very rare occurrence in Jamaica. They prefer to remain in their seats battling failing health and diminishing capabilities until they are forced home. Representational politics in Jamaica is addictive and politicians seem to have an unquenchable thirst for power and attention.

The leaders of our political parties and their MPs are not big on succession planning. They build garrisons that they hope to lead for life.   

Mike Henry

Take the case of Mike Henry, the MP for Central Clarendon. He is now 87 years old and he has given no indication as to whether this will be his final term in the parliament. Some years ago he cheekily declared that he was going to appoint a 10-year-old to push him around the parliament as he had no intention of this stage what does he hope to achieve for the residents of Central St Catherine that he hasn’t been able to do in 42 years? At his age, there must be a vast disconnect between himself and younger generations who might be interested in politics.

Look at the former PNP MP Dr Fenton Ferguson over in St. Thomas Eastern. He inherited a constituency that was once the bedrock of industrialisation and productivity in Jamaica. He won six consecutive terms in Parliament and referred to himself as the six-star general. What has he left to show for the people’s trust over all those years? He presided over the degradation of St. Thomas Eastern which relegated the parish to being named the poorest in Jamaica. He has now walked away with his head hanging down but frankly he should have been stopped in his tracks and never been allowed to heap such misery on the people.

Jamaica’s political system needs a complete overhaul and a great place to start would be to impose term limits or a retirement age on politicians. Political representatives at the constituency and local levels should automatically demit office at age 70, be  appropriately recognised for their service and distinguishably ushered home or back to private life. This would create generational transition to allow younger people space to enter the system. We would be able to retain some of our brightest minds in the country so that we can keep step with the developed nations of the world.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness campaigned on a promise to introduce term limits for Prime Ministers. That has fallen by the wayside and the Opposition’s voice on the matter is deafeningly silent. We  also heard about a job description, report cards and the impeachment of under-performing MPs.

It is time to act Mr Prime Minister. We should not go into another election period with these matters hanging. You at least owe that to the Millennials and those who categorise themselves as Gen-Z. Roll a better wicket for them than the one you inherited. Let this be part of your legacy so that history will remember you fondly.

Last modified on Wednesday, 21 September 2022 17:24