Mikael Phillips under pressure for platform speech

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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MEMBER of Parliament (MP) for Manchester North West Mikael Phillips says statements he made on the political platform in his constituency over the weekend are being taken out of context.

Generation 2000 (G2K0, the young professional affiliate of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), has come out against Phillips, calling on the Office of the Political Ombudsman (OPO), the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, and civil society groups, to intervene, stating that, “Mr Phillips' dangerous utterances may be construed as incitement and cannot be left unaddressed”.

The MP, in addressing his constituency conference, said: “North West Manchester people... no Labourite can come yah and gwaan like North West Manchester a dem yard because when we tek road all bwoy haffi run weh, and all gal pickney haffi tek weh demself. We have one likkle tickie-tickie (JLP representative) a run up and dung inna North West; me a tell him seh a one man a yard deh yah and that is Mikael Asher Phillips, so if them thinks eh a done me done, me juss a come,” Phillips said to loud applause.

Yesterday, when the Jamaica Observer asked him to contextualise the statements, he said: “All I was saying was that the JLP is targeting the seat and because I am not fully on the ground they feel that they are comfortable in there, and all I am saying is don't get too comfortable, because a only one man a yard and that's me, and when I start working back on the ground on a daily basis, everybody haffi go run weh and leave the seat (but) you say it in Jamaican parlance.”

Meanwhile, Phillips said the gun lyrics-laced song by dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel, which the disc jockey played during a section of his presentation, was not planned, but that he does take some responsibility for the use of the music.

“I didn't even know that the song was being played. When I knew about the song was when somebody sent me the clip. When you're up there you're not listening to the music that is being played (but) I have spoken to the DJ. The first thing I said to them at the conference, no music with lewd lyrics. I have to take responsibility because I hired the DJ, but I didn't tell him this is what I was going to say and this is what he should play. I'm not a dancehall man, so I wouldn't even know the music. That part is unfortunate and I have spoken to the disc jockey already. I generally don't tell them which songs to play when I'm going up,” he explained.

The Private Sector Organisation (PSOJ), in its reaction to Phillips' statements, said in a release yesterday that certain members of the political directorate either make no connection between their public behaviour and indiscipline and disrespectful antisocial activities of their followers, or they do not in fact care about the consequences.

The PSOJ pointed to the statements made by Phillips, and before that, deputy general secretary of the PNP, Basil Waite, describing the utterances as, “disgusting, disrespectful and potentially dangerous”, and are an indication that the Opposition party is, “still training political dinosaurs”.

“Their unfortunate utterances represent the most regressive and ignorant behaviour that Jamaica had hoped to discard on the rubbish heap of our dark and shameful political history,” the organisation said.

It emphasised that the statements made by Philips, in particular, were extremely disappointing as he is a vice-president of his party “and is someone who hitherto, has expressed himself to be aware of the consequences of permissive and slack leadership in a society which is not anchored by strong moral principles or established cultural strictures against violent language and behavior”.

Last week, Waite came under fire for statements he made at a political meeting in St Elizabeth referring to “dutty nasty naygah dem who call themselves labourites”, which prompted G2K to make a complaint to the OPO.

— Alphea Saunders

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