John crow-like comments must never happen again, says Holness
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness wants National Security Minister Peter Bunting to go beyond the apology he made for likening members of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to john crows, saying the minister should pledge not to make such utterances in future.
"While we received in Parliament the statement from the minister of national security, which acknowledges the error of his statement, we must have a commitment that such statements will never be made again," Holness declared in the House of Representatives yesterday.
Bunting, who in the past has called for divine intervention in tackling the serious crime problem locally, yesterday backpedalled on his 'john crow' comment, which was made at a constituency conference in Eastern St Andrew last Sunday.
The national security minister admitted that his remark was unnecessarily harsh "and seemed to have caused a fair amount of discomfort".
He said the offensive comment was not in keeping with his approach to handling his portfolio.
"I have been focused on Unite for Change and my remarks were contrary to that objective. I would like to apologise for those remarks," Bunting said.
Chiding Bunting, the opposition leader said the minister, who presides over the Unite for Change programme, should be more careful about his public utterances.
"Ministers of government have a general duty to ensure that they conduct public affairs with a level of decorum and standard of behaviour that is becoming of the office. The minister of national security in particular, since he espouses a programme called Unite for Change, must be very careful in his utterances," he charged.
According to Holness, the fight against crime should not just be a reliance on policing strategies, but also building the social fabric of the society.
"Every statement that is so loaded as the statement made by the minister of national security unravels that social fabric."
Earlier during Bunting's retraction, West Kingston Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie threw cold water on the minister's apology, saying he read from a prepared text when he insulted the Opposition.
"It was written! It was written!" shouted McKenzie across the parliamentary divide.
"Once a john crow, always a john crow," McKenzie charged sotto voce, with government members responding: "Yuh seh suh! Yuh seh suh!" as a large number of government members erupted in laughter.