Portia lashes Andrew

Says PM has ‘memory lapse’ or attempting to ‘mislead’ people

BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-Large South/Central Bureau myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth — Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller suggested Monday night that Prime Minister Andrew Holness was unfit to lead because of what she perceived as either "memory lapse" or a deliberate attempt to "mislead the Jamaican people".

She was referring to statements made by the prime minister late Sunday in Mandeville — prior to announcing December 12 and December 29 as dates for nomination of candidates and parliamentary election respectively — as he criticised 18 years of governance by the opposition People's National Party (PNP), ending in September 2007.

"I don't know how the country could put the wheels of Jamaica in the hands of a man who is suffering from memory lapse or is deliberately trying to mislead the Jamaican people by telling untruths...," Simpson Miller told thousands of orange-clad, flag-waving party supporters at the Black River town centre.

The mass meeting followed an afternoon tour of sections of North East, North West and South West St Elizabeth by Simpson Miller and other members of the party hierarchy.

Long before Simpson Miller took the microphone, speaker after speaker verbally lashed Holness for what they suggested were untruths and misrepresentation of the facts.

They zeroed in on Holness's assertion that when the JLP took power in 2007, the exchange rate was $90 to one US dollar.

Simpson Miller said the exchange rate on election day in September 2007 "was J$69.37 to US$1. One day after election it went up to $70 for one US dollar...

"It only got to 89 to one in 2009 on April 14 under the Jamaica Labour Party Government that he is very much a part of ...," said the Opposition leader.

Holness was also condemned for comments suggesting an absence of economic growth during the PNP years between 1989 and 2007.

Simpson Miller pointed out that there was actual economic growth measured by the country's official statistical agencies in "15 of the 18 years".

Likewise the Opposition leader rejected attempts to minimise or downplay unemployment since the JLP took power in 2007. "No, Mr Prime Minister; over 100,000 persons lost their jobs," said Simpson Miller.

She pointed to figures showing a large segment of the population below the poverty line and accused Holness and the JLP Government of lacking sensitivity to issues of impoverishment and deprivation.

Simpson Miller urged the prime minister to consider the plight of thousands who were out of a job because they had been made redundant or their employers had gone bust. Holness, she said, should consider the suddenly unemployed bread winner who "goes one side and cries tears for his family..." and "the mother who goes to the bathroom, lock herself away, and cry because she does not want her children to see her fear..."

She claimed plans were being made for a restructuring of public sector pension arrangements without careful attention to what she said was the increasing inability of government workers to make ends meet.

"That is why Jamaicans can never make the mistake of voting them in again because they do not understand ...," Simpson Miller said.

In the wake of recent break-ins at the offices of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the Institute of Sports, the Opposition leader called on the Government and all permanent secretaries to do all in their power to protect government documents.

She voiced alarm at what she appeared to suggest were attempts to cover up and even destroy relevant information in a context of allegations of corruption against the Government and audits by the Auditor General's Department.

"I want to ask all permanent secretaries to ensure the safety and security of all government documents at every ministry and agency of government, and while I can't give any instructions I am asking the man that will be the shortest serving prime minister in the history of Jamaica, if he claims to be decisive, instruct that (at) every government ministry and agency that the files and documents be secured and we are not joking because when we take office in a few weeks we want to find the documents intact," she said.

The Opposition leader claimed it was "strange" that "when something came to the fore that things were not right at the Institute of Sports that the place was broken into and files went missing and that (on the weekend) sections of the National Solid Waste Management Authority particularly where they store documents, were broken into and set afire".

She suggested that the contractor general and auditor general should move in and "seize the documents from now" whenever they have reason for concern.

Noting that Nomination Day, December 12, will be her birthday and that the day before elections, December 28, will be that of Campaign Director Peter Phillips, Simpson Miller said both had agreed to postpone celebrations until election night (December 29) when she believes victory will have been secured for her party.

Simpson Miller, who turns 66 on December 12, said the birthday "gift" of an election victory would be particularly meaningful because of the "suffering" under the JLP.

"My God, even the dead a suffer under Jamaica Labour Party Government," Simpson Miller said.

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Logistics Keeping It real
12/7/2011 - 3:54 PM
One of the advantages that Mr Holness has when it comes on to Finances and Economics is that his wife is a Chartered Certified Accountant. He would hardy made any mistake where statistics and figures are concern.
Joe Robinson
12/7/2011 - 3:51 PM
The Prime Minister need not respond to gutter people & rubbish. He has more important issues at stake than to be dragged down the path of garbage. The opposition leader needs to look at the bigger pictures facing the nation instead of petty politics. I cannot understand how senseable educated poeple listen & follow this quarrelsome madness. We need to change the political culture and be civil.
D Poiltician
12/7/2011 - 3:17 PM
This further highlights the emptiness and desperation this bunch finds itself in. Twenty-two days before the general elections the leader of the oposition should be spending her stage time explaining the tangible differences in her plans on governance. Then again, there would actually have to be a plan. A hope and a prayer won't cut it. We get so excited about sillyness but issues of substance means nothing to us.
12/7/2011 - 3:01 PM
Politicians, and party leaders in particular, should really learn how to moderate their language during election time. Throughout the world Jamaica has an unenviable record of violence at election time and the intemperate language used by these politicians is like a red rag to those bad elements within the electorate which can only add to the death count.
Peter Claude
12/7/2011 - 2:54 PM
Anithony II thank you sir.. But PSM is speaking to who has got her to where she is. most of her audience dont even know how the gov gets its money. They think the gov has a bag of money. So when PS comes out and say "Poor people a suffa" most of who she is talking to are just expecting a hand out. Some never looked for a job in their life. She is not talking to people like me and you who want to go home and make it in our homeland. Plan? what Plan? These people wouldnt know a plan from a Bulla.
Peter Claude
12/7/2011 - 2:42 PM
How many Jamaicans saw growth in the 18 yrs of PNP rule? They took over when the US $ was 5 to 1. left when it was 69 to 1 according to PSM.. Did she forget this fact? How many people lost their job because of FINSAC? Oh i forgot JA was on the path to prosperity for the last 20 yrs until the JLP took over. Some people only see color and thats so sad. The PNP dug JA into hole with no bottom. These people should all be in prison for what they did to country. I guess nobody suffered under the PNP..
12/7/2011 - 12:44 PM
This lady is a joke, let me give you some advice sista P. Clean up your house before you speak about any other house. Stop critizing the JLP and present a new and clear way forward for Ja. Speak not only about the corruption in the JLP but also the PNP. Ask Collin Campbell to resign and stay out of politics. Come clean on the trafigura and light bulb scandal and apologize. I bet if the PNP win the election the trafigura, light bulb and finsac will be lost forever. When this happen Ja lose.
real southy
12/7/2011 - 12:38 PM
the opposite of TRUTH is LIE.there is no such word as UNTRUTH. when i was young my mother use to say I should use the word lie its untruth.Portia should know better
common sense
12/7/2011 - 11:49 AM
You are right PSM, Holness did not really state the facts. The greatest finance minster Davies took the Jamaican dollar from $35 in 2000 to near $70 in 7 years 100% increase yet the Holness gov only increase it by 20% in 5 years from $69 to $85. Growth in Jamaica in your 18 years was so small most people refuse to call it growth because other Caribbean countries were having 5% and upwards ours was 1% and less.
Good work Portia?
ernaldo clarke
12/7/2011 - 11:39 AM
Andrew is being hailed as the new hope and change....realy? Was he on mars during Tivoli hay days? No, he was there hand in hand with Bruce. He has no credibilty, just like Obama he is being presented by the media elite and the inteligensia establishment as the "young and oh so smart one" . He did not come forward and speak out about the above mentioned, that's because he think he is slick. Andrew you are not wise, your recent performance speaks for itself. Just asking, your sons born in the US?
Wayne L
12/7/2011 - 11:25 AM
I wonder if these break in could be the work of PNP activist trying to make it seem as if the government is hiding something. Jamaican politicks is so murky that you can't leave anything out of the equation.
Adam Godson
12/7/2011 - 11:19 AM
Mrs simpson miller,when TRAFIGURA first broke,you were asked about it by a reporter,and you were quoted as saying 'go ask the pnp'. Now lawyers are fighting for you to talk about it behind closed doors instead of publicly.
Were you ignorant of it then,did you have a memory lapse then,or were you trying to not have to reveal the truth then?
I guess the country should feel more comfortable about giving you the wheels. Not to mention admitted 'run wid it' artists.

0o k
12/7/2011 - 10:50 AM
So it was true that when the Comrades took over the exchange rate was $5.50?
If Comrade Leader PSM is going to fact check Drew....How come she did not give the Comrade Governments growth rate in the 18 years?
As to employment I think he meant the Public Sector.
Speaking of facts: Comrade PSM is talking about securing files. Where is the 20 computers that went missing out of Comrade Peter David Phillips Ministry?
Jus Irie
12/7/2011 - 10:49 AM
Not a PSM fan at all, but she made some valid points in laying out the facts. The PM had better be careful in his criticisms of the PNP's 18 year tenure, because the longer the current economic stagnation continues, the more fondly people will look at those 18 1/2 years. In '07 the JLP convinced the country to vote for change for the sake of change, much like the US did in 2000 when they voted for Bush. Sadly, the stigma of corruption that was the PNP's undoing in '07 now applies to both parties
Nicolas Henry
12/7/2011 - 10:31 AM
Ms PSM, all we seem to get from you is the cherry picking of words said by Andrew, then taking it and use it against him. Could you pls tell us how and when you became fit to lead JA. For that matter, are u, or any current politician fit to lead JA. Look around JA, u claim that the suffering started under the JLP, are u sick. From I was a boy, shanty twns were all over Ja. When I went back to JA 5yrs ago, I see shanty twns some places that i cannot believe, places like dampy. Get real madam.
Anthony II
12/7/2011 - 10:31 AM
II. What are the PNP's plans to take JAMs out of the sufferation in which the JLP has supposedly put them? Tell us ONE good plan that you have. Speak to people like me, in the diaspora, in the peak of our careers and lives, who are tired of the cold climes of North America and other places, and who want to return at a time in our lives when we can still make a contribution to our country. Think of that audience also, so that you could try to raise the level of your discourse!
justice justice
12/7/2011 - 10:28 AM
Andrew Holness speech in Mandeville prove that he is PM (Pathological Mendacious).
Anthony II
12/7/2011 - 10:27 AM
Are these people in the PNP really serious? Are they really taking Mr AH to task about whether the rate was 70 or 90? Technically, I suppose, it is correct. BIG PICTURE: The PNP presided over a massive erosion of the J$! Find something more substantial to quibble about. For example, it is the proverbial 11th hour and JEEP plans have not been unfolded. How about spending time on the campaign trail discussing those plans with the electorate, instead of investing in Lilliputian pettiness?
Lloyd Blair
12/7/2011 - 10:10 AM
Just out of curiosity, Where are images of the thousands of orange clad supporters Portia is speaking to? PM Holness is always shown amoung the "large crowd" of green. What is the purpose of showing a pix of Portia if it was taken at the same event.
This was the kind of tatics employed by the other major news paper when it was taken over by the CIA prior to the Manley election.
Again report the news instead of creating or slanting the news
Kevin Williams
12/7/2011 - 9:52 AM
If memory lapse is the criteria for which one cannot hold the office of Prime Minister in Jamaica then that position will be vacant for many years. Assuming the Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller knows what memory lapse is, why is she running for PM. Didn't she have a memory lapse during the Trafiguera scandal?
D, r. McIntyre
12/7/2011 - 9:31 AM
Some people, sadly, prefer to live in a fog of stupidity. Portia, sometimes your myopic vision of all things is somewhat comedic, often pathetic. To say that Andrew cannot lead is a stretch even for you. Going on a stage and being loud and quarrelsome is not leadership quality. If you doubt me just ask your friend KD and Peter Phillips.
Kingston Bailliff
12/7/2011 - 9:03 AM
Holness should respond. It is reckless to make these assertions for hype without the real facts - not good!
ja interested
12/7/2011 - 8:45 AM
You know these comments from Portia makes me realize that really PNP has nothing about them... check the figures yes there was growth in 18 years... a total of 1.5%..what is that seriously in a world economy that was booming... and why the movement of the US$ from 5 to 69.. how much devaluation is that....Them Panicking and have no chance to win this election.
12/7/2011 - 8:36 AM
AH does not want the media to say nothing that goes against him.this is the man who get up and tell people he is different.even the observer team got nervous in Portland,the man was on stage setting up his supporter against the media,he must have forget what the media did for his party in 2007.shame on you Andrew,you have no memory, I wonder whose brain is getting eaten by termites.
fiona corder
12/7/2011 - 7:47 AM
hmmmm.... interesting... Portia talking bout memory lapse when she is trying to wipe out the memory of her party's 18.5 years in office.
Every time mi open mi mout mi have a comerade telling mi dat it is in the past??? How can what they did be in the past when their decisions are still impacting the lives of Jamaicans in a negative way. If it wasn't for the PNPs failed policies we would not have to be suffering today. They did not take advantage of the boom years. Go siddung & shut up
Jay Brown
12/7/2011 - 7:46 AM
A loss for the PNP will actually be a win for the PNP as once and for all they can get rid of an unfit leader and Peter can finally attain the position that he is truly deserving.
Then and only then will the PNP be a party with a strong leader and regain the strength of organization and sense of purpose it once had.

Top Rank
12/7/2011 - 6:24 AM
Pot ah call de kettle black!!