Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | February 20, 2013
Home : Commentary
PM, don't deceive the people
By George Davis

LEADERS OF organisations lie from time to time. Whether it be an otherwise venerable clergyman, avuncular school principal, parent or politician, people in charge are expected to tell lies to get themselves out of a jam.

We seem able to accept the lies of some persons, even as we froth at the mouth in rejecting the lies of others. We can move on from the lies told by our spouses, employers and even those told by members of the clergy, perhaps because of their professed proximity to God.

Politicians, however, are a different breed. They seem to lie and deceive even when they don't really have to. There's something about the lies told by these sworn servants of the people that rankles.

Maybe it's because protocol demands they be referred to as 'Honourable', or by that most supreme of titles, 'Most Honourable'. Maybe it's because of their tendency, whenever a political platform or microphone is handy, to preach about their integrity and how their side is the epitome of transparency and honesty. Maybe it's because they are prone to lament dishonesty in their political rivals, while weeping and wailing that the people are deserving of the cold, hard truth, cost it what it will.

TRYING TO WRONG-FOOT THE PEOPLE

Maybe it's because our political leaders deceive us in rainy season and drought, in Christmas and in Lent, then deny the deception at 8 p.m. before deceiving us again at midnight, that we react with such fury to their lying words and misdeeds.

Last week Tuesday's announcement by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips of the latest tax package is a clear example of how politicians deceive. If you can ignore the stench from the belch of the block-head partisans, you will see a calculated attempt to wrong-foot the masses. The day before, Dr Phillips and Prime Minister Simpson Miller had called the Jamaican family together for a crucial family meeting in a national broadcast. The occasion suggested that serious issues would have been explained and, where necessary, smoothed over.

Forget the fact that Dr Phillips had indeed spoken before of the need for revenue-raising measures in the pursuit of an IMF programme. How could he demand and receive the family's undivided attention yet fail to even remind us that a tax package would be required up-front to secure an International Monetary Fund deal? The spinners could twirl the facts this way and that but the failure to mention such an important decision set to affect the entire family, at a meeting of the family, is an act of deception.

It's no excuse to say the national broadcast was an improper forum for the announcement or that such news could be exploited by persons with evil intent. If not a national broadcast, especially where the Jamaican family is being asked for their understanding and sacrifice, where best to make such an announcement, even if you omit the details? Such an announcement should've been made in the broadcast by the head of the Jamaican household, Portia Simpson Miller, with the message that Dr Phillips would provide the details during the following day's sitting of the House of Representatives. Simple.

IGNORING THE MASSES

There are only 63 members of parliament (MP) in the House, compared to almost three million Jamaicans living on the rock. How can a potential audience of three million be less worthy of hearing such an announcement than the 62 other MPs who would listen to the finance minister's presentation? It's almost certain that no MP resides in Simpson Miller's St Andrew South West constituency or in Phillips' St Andrew East Central.

Nor does either leader reside among their constituents. So how could both ignore a national audience, which contained potentially all their constituents, and instead break the news to a group of persons smaller than the number of votes they received in their weakest polling division? The sequence of events cannot have been a mistake, as the prime minister and the finance minister are far too seasoned in the politics to make such errors. It was deliberate.

Madame Prime Minister, the people will walk with you on the hard journey to economic prosperity. But good God, ma'am, don't deceive us so! Level with us and let us fight back penury and economic perdition together.

Selah.

George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com.

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