Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Mark Wignall | Horrible time to be weak

Published:Sunday | January 16, 2022 | 12:07 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness spent a few moments while attending a national prayer fest exposing one of his vulnerabilities.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness spent a few moments while attending a national prayer fest exposing one of his vulnerabilities.

In the best of times, a population under pressure finds its greatest strengths in its political leadership even if the trust deficit has always existed. Or if there is no strength to be found there, it will feed on the exposed weakness of the leader, and every available usurper will raise his head and challenge the elected leader.

We are probably experiencing the latter at this time where Prime Minister Andrew Holness spent a few moments while attending a national prayer fest exposing one of his vulnerabilities. A few Wednesdays ago, while speaking at the National Day of Prayer at the Power of Faith Ministries in Portmore, St Catherine, he highlighted recent killings across the country.

He then went on to detail the killings of two brothers and that of a 10-year-old youngster in Central Kingston. “I go to my bed with these things, with these things on my conscience every night,” he said.

He is, after all, the country’s political leader, and it would be a terrible surprise if he was not burdened by the unfolding tragedy of murders seemingly running away, with no end in sight.

He continued: “I know that I have tried. It’s a minefield because every turn you make, there is someone trying to stop it …”

Yes, prime minister. There is someone trying to stop the Government’s every initiative to stem the flow of murders. You may not know them personally, but you and every Jamaican are familiar with their freedom and their ferocity.

They are known as murderers, and they must have had a good laugh as they witnessed you on the verge of breaking down and almost publicly giving in to tears.

I have chosen not to believe that the PM was into a cruel mood of pretending to the nation that his human side is worth more than that expressed by any other Jamaican in their private moments.

The reality is, Prime Minister Holness is a very public man. Expressions that give way to his most private of sides must be kept to himself. In quick time, he has given a few members of the Opposition reasons to find their voices and revive their activist sides.

He has awakened the Maroon Chief in Accompong, Chief Currie, and it seems that Currie believes that the time is right for power sharing between himself and the PM. And just in case the PM needs more time with his conscience and his compassion and laying down his head on a soft pillow, Currie, with his increasingly crazy claims, is ready to step into the breach.


Tough-talking retired SSP Reneto Adams is not about to go soft on the PM and let him off the hook because the PM bared his soft side. As one enters the Houses of Parliament, there is no primer on how our leaders should either bare their fangs and tear flesh in the face of adversity or remove their dentures and massage bland porridge.

A leader innately knows that strength applied smartly and strategically yields the best results.

“The prime minister has blundered terribly as far as I am concerned because you are showing to the public that you can’t manage. We know that some of these laws need both sides in Parliament to agree, but as far as I am concerned, they have their people to advise them how to effect these changes,” said Adams.

“… This is one of the men who have been in our Parliament for the longest while. Even before he had won a seat he had one of the toughest areas to deal with. He knows about criminal elements just like I do.”

And for historical context, in the murderous election campaign leading up to the 1980 elections, that very area that Adams is referencing experienced the most murders. Not downtown Kingston, Grants Pen, and not West Kingston. It was West Central St Andrew, where a skinny young man of East Indian extraction laughed loudly as he told me in 1981 how he had pumped bullets point blank into the side of another man’s head. Absolutely no remorse.

One gets the sense that if Adams should ever say he is available to step once again into the front lines, Jamaicans would line up to support him instead of buying Prime Minister Holness another soft, fluffy pillow.

Every single one of our intrepid crime fighters of the past who has had near-tragic encounters with murderers and cold-hearted gunmen in the past know that crime prevention is a long-term goal, whereas crime reduction IS AN IMMEDIATE NEED.

At this stage, it seems that as much as the talk from our Security Minister Horace Chang and Police Commissioner Antony Anderson may soothe us while they speak, both of these gentlemen know that they are short on solutions re crime prevention and crime reduction.

Maybe there is good reason for the PM shedding tears. The pipe is choked up and the nasty, slimy, smelly stuff is flowing back into the kitchen.


From CNN. One day after the Canadian province of Quebec announced that it would financially penalise residents who are unvaccinated, the province’s health minister said on Wednesday that first-time appointments spiked in the hours following the announcements.

First-dose appointments were the highest in several days. And this is in a province where 90 per cent of the people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Last week, Quebec, where nearly a quarter of all Canadians live, announced that residents would need to be vaccinated to buy alcohol or weed.

Now in Jamaica with extremely low vaccination rates (about 20 per cent), that is a thought that needs consideration. But of course, once the thought of public vaccine mandates enters the prime minister’s head, yes, there he is wondering if the legal fraternity will force him back to bed, to pray and to wonder how many times he must take a trip inside his head before his strength surfaces.

- Mark Wignall is a political- and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to and