Salary saga could be a roadblock to republican status
Andrew Holness (Photo: Llewellyn Wynter)

As far-fetched as it may seem, Jamaica's pursuit of achieving republican status may suffer serious setbacks because of the current kerfuffle surrounding the vexing issue of the perceived exorbitant salaries and perks that have been commandeered for and by the political directorate, inclusive of the windfall being given to the governor general.

What are some of the factors and resulting consequences emanating from what is being viewed by John Public as an unconscionable, ill-advised, and seemingly heartless decision to fatten the pockets of their elected representatives who, for the most part, have been performing below par and have failed to govern in the best interest of oftentimes beleaguered taxpayers.

To begin with, there is the matter of emotional intelligence. This characteristic that is usually embraced and practised by effective and successful leaders is described by Google as "the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and emphatically", which is the key to both personal and professional success.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness needs to apply this approach to his governance techniques rather than resorting to an arrogant stance, which occurs when a political leader is basking in the ephemeral belief that he has an abundance of political capital, to the extent that he can afford to squander some of it.

Mark Golding (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Then, too, Holness may have opted to convince himself that this too would be just another nine-day wonder. But it will not be so this time round, "Brogad". Tom drunk but Tom no fool. And, for that matter, Jamaicans do not like when their Government takes them for granted.

In this vein, the botched ways in which the political directorate has dealt with this issue may well have given to a cynical and wary electorate a sign of things to come. And as the Jamaican saying goes, one must take sleep mark death.

The high level of voter apathy in this country is a clear and present danger to our constitutional democracy, and especially now that Jamaica's fate will be entirely in the hands of its citizens, it may well be that the already increasing number of uncommitted voters will grow even larger in the wake of this salary snafu. And with the Opposition People's National Party's waffling and two-faced public show on this matter, confused citizens, especially those who are sitting on the fence, may well have come to the conclusion that it is a classic case of "No better herring, no better barrel".

Against this worrying backdrop, concerned citizens ought to be concerned that outside of the local and general elections, which mostly attract die-hard supporters of the "two gangs of Gordon House", a similar scenario may unfold in a referendum, whereby it is only the minority which decides for the majority.

Merely taking a cut in salary or donating a portion to charity will not cut it, Holness and Golding. The nation wants to be assured that there will be greater levels of accountability and transparency. I am sorry for the Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, who has become entangled in this cobweb. He must be so uncomfortable, as, seemingly, without his compliance, his office has become embroiled in a political fray in which he must not get involved. Then again, should the representative of King Charles III be benefiting from the public purse, even as we move towards republican status? What bitter irony!

In the final analysis, the Holness Administration must take the bull by the horn and set about to gain the public's trust and respect. It is not just a matter of damage control but a case of exhibiting those qualities that are embraced by servant leaders.

Lloyd B Smith has been involved in Jamaican media for the past 48 years. He has also served as a Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He hails from western Jamaica where he is popularly known as the Governor. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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