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Portia a weak leader - Holness

Published:Sunday | November 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica Labour Party supporters take part in a mass rally in Spanish Town, St Catherine, last night.

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness yesterday declared that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's address to the nation could not make up for the "weak leadership" she showed in Parliament in her response to the tragic deaths of 19 premature babies.

Holness, in a statement ahead of Simpson Miller's broadcast, said she also showed weakness on Friday when she shielded embattled Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson from responsibility and accountability by shifting him to the labour and social security portfolio instead of removing him from the Cabinet altogether.

"It is sad that the prime minister only acted after considerable public pressure was brought to bear," Holness said.

"It shows that there is no original standard of accountability for this prime minister. Whole families have been murdered, an entire city suffocated by toxic smoke, a major energy project botched, a US$5 billion crown and anchor trick played, and an entire nation crippled by chik-V, yet Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller did not act. She fails to hold her political appointees and others accountable for how their decisions put Jamaican lives at risk."

He added: "All Jamaicans must be disturbed to know that the damning health-audit report was kept secret for so long. It was only after 19 babies died and intense public pressure was applied that the prime minister took any action at all. The prime minister has been absent from the interests of Jamaicans, while crime, health care, and public accountability are in crisis, with ministers who take no responsibility for their failures. This amounts to a dereliction of duty by the prime minister, and Jamaicans must ask themselves if the prime minister cares more about the PNP (People's National Party) or the interests of the Jamaican people."

Holness stressed that under his leadership, he would never have treated such a tragedy or a public-health audit in such a way.

"The prime minister must understand that public trust and confidence are built by positive actions, not just national broadcasts," he said.