The Governor General, His Excellency, Sir Patrick Allen, yesterday lauded outgoing and embattled prime minister, Hon. Bruce Golding, at the ceremony to appoint the new prime minister, the Most. Hon. Andrew Holness.
Sir. Patrick commended Golding on his stewardship and the cordial relations they enjoyed while the latter was in office.
On the face of it, I doubt that there was anything wrong with saying of or to Golding – “Thank you for your service to the nation and we wish you well as you go forward”. That, to me, would have been appropriate and expected. Unfortunately, the Governor General felt it necessary to go well beyond that and – in my opinion – sought to lavish praise on the outgoing prime minister. This, against the background that many within the society are still disgruntled with many of Golding’s actions as prime minister and which discontent, I believe, partly led to his resignation.
Did the Governor General go too far in his comments? I believe so! I also believe that Sir. Patrick’s comments may well have brought his office into disrepute. The Office of Governor General is expected to remain above the fray and at all times to represent a tangible level of impartiality. Indeed, as the representative of Her Majesty, the Queen, the holder of the office is traditionally expected to display a level of stoicism that is almost unreal and – for my part – Sir. Patrick crossed the line.
On another front, Sally Porteous, recently resigned as Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Councillor for the Mandeville Division; ostensibly to make herself available for appointment as Custus Rotulorum for the Parish of Manchester. Media reports also revealed that the date for Ms. Porteous’ appointment as a Justice of the Peace (JP) was moved forward, since one cannot be a Custus unless one is first a JP.
I congratulate Ms. Porteous and wish her well in her new appointment. However, I take issue with the manner in which it was accomplished. Again, the Office of Custus is expected to be a unifying force. It must display impartiality and the ability to bring fractious factions together. I cannot speak to Ms. Porteous’ ability to accomplish this feat; but I can say that it will be a difficult task. It must be; if in one week one is avidly representing the interests of a political party and in another week or two one is assuming the role of an impartial adjudicator.
Yes, I am aware that the late Sir. Florizel Glasspole and Sir. Howard Cooke, both former Governors General, were affiliated to the People’s National Party (PNP). However, my research suggests that their appointments as Governors General were long after they ceased to have any active input in political party matters.
I have no problem with former politicians serving in such offices as Custus or Ambassador – Burchell Whiteman and Anthony Johnson (as well as another former deputy prime minister – whose name evades me now) come readily to mind. However, there must be a level of decorum that will signify a seamless transition. Simply – let some time past between the two roles! Otherwise, again, we run the risk of bringing the offices into disrepute.
Walk good, ’til next time…