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Phillips cites tribalism in naming of highway for Seaga - PNP president says move is disrespectful to Simpson Miller

Published:Tuesday | March 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips (left) chats with Comrade Luther Buchanan at the People’s National Party’s National Executive Council meeting at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on Sunday.

People's National Party (PNP) President Dr Peter Phillips has accused the Andrew Holness-led Govern-ment of engaging in political tribalism through its "misguided decision" to name the North-South Highway in honour of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.

"Listen, I have no objection to naming something for Mr Seaga," Phillips told delegates at last Sunday's National Executive Council meeting in Kingston, "but (not) in the circumstance where he opposed the construction of the highway."

"In the circumstance where there is a living former prime minister who presided over this part of the development and in the circumstance where that same prime minister - when the Labour Party government brought it to a halt and didn't know how to go forward - led Cabinet to move it forward, I believe that that prime minister, Comrade Portia Simpson Miller, should be the one whose name is attached to it," a strident Phillips said.

"It should be her. But hear me. When you do it in the way that they have done, it not only implies an insult to one prime minister; what you are doing is opening the wounds of a tribalism that needs healing," Phillips charged.

The PNP president said that if the prime minister and the Government he leads want to be transformative, they have to recognise that they shouldn't put their half of the country ahead of good sense and the search for peace and harmony.

"We see this quality of self-service and tribalistic behaviour in the way they (the JLP) treat the Parliament of Jamaica. I have been in Parliament for a long time and I have never seen a Parliament where parliamen-tarians who ask questions are treated with the kind of disrespect that is evident in this Parliament," Phillips noted.

The opposition leader warned that a continuation of tribal behaviour by the JLP runs the risk of setting Jamaica back on the march towards peace and unity.