Sat | Nov 27, 2021

Holness: I’m no lightweight on world stage

Published:Friday | March 19, 2021 | 12:30 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Thursday blasted Opposition Leader Mark Golding for suggesting that Jamaica’s standing on the international stage has crumbled under the ruling Jamaica Labour Party.

Holness declared that his administration would not get “tied up” in ideology and would seek to promote Jamaica’s development.

While making his contribution to the Budget Debate on Tuesday, Golding expressed alarm over what he claimed was a departure from long-established traditions that have burnished Jamaica’s prestige globally.

Golding was particularly critical of Jamaica’s role in having the Organisation of American States rap the Maduro administration in Venezuela in a geopolitical controversy that sparked a rift in the Caribbean Community.

“Many Jamaicans were ashamed to hear Prime Minister Andrew Holness declare openly on an American news channel that Jamaica understands the orbit in which we are; we are in the backyard of the United States.

“Jamaica is not in anyone’s backyard. We are no puppet or stooge to any foreign power. We are not for sale,” charged Golding as he tackled Holness over his perceived cosiness with the United States under the Trump presidency.

But on Thursday, Holness, in seeking to rebuff Golding’s suggestion, said he, as prime minister, had been invited to participate – even as the only leader from a small economy – in numerous high-level conferences, including G7 and G20 summits.

“Jamaica represented the issues and the positions on the global stage. We brought the concerns of small countries and small economies,” Holness contended, defending his record on foreign policy.

He accused Golding of advancing positions that reflected a lack of research.

And addressing the issue of vaccine politics, Holness also pointed out that he was one of five leaders invited by India’s prime minister to speak at a special United Nations event celebrating the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi.

“When Jamaica is one of the countries selected for a vaccine gift and we don’t make a lot of noise and public relations about it … Jamaica has quietly, steadily, and consistently represented on the international stage, and our voice is respected,” Holness declared.

In taking aim at the Opposition People’s National Party umbilical ties with socialist-leaning countries, Holness said that that world view had evolved.

“They are still on the path, holding on to old ideas, not recognising that the world has changed and moved beyond that,” an annoyed-sounding Holness said.