Tue | Jan 18, 2022

Holness hanging suggestion hypocritical – Speid

Published:Wednesday | December 1, 2021 | 12:06 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking at the Jamaica Labour Party’s 78th annual conference at the National Indoor Sports Complex on Sunday.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking at the Jamaica Labour Party’s 78th annual conference at the National Indoor Sports Complex on Sunday.
Owen Speid, former JTA president.
Owen Speid, former JTA president.


Former outspoken president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Owen Speid, has declared Prime Minister Andrew Holness as hypocritical for suggesting the death penalty for persons caught with illegal firearms, based on his robust rejection of Speid’s suggestion for the use of the cat-o’-nine back in 2019.

During Sunday’s Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) 78th annual conference, seemingly frustrated with the escalating murder figures, Holness, who does not have a history of supporting the death penalty, surprisingly intimated that he would support the death penalty for persons found in possession of an illegal firearm.

“For this, I would make an exception. Anyone found with an illegal gun should start with the death penalty,” said Holness, who was roundly applauded by the delegates in attendance.

However, Speid, who was accused of being barbaric when he suggested that hardened criminals should be flogged with the cat-o’-nine at the start of their sentence and at the end, thinks Holness’ suggestion is an indication that he does not have a settled position and was therefore hypocritical in belittling the suggestion he made shortly after becoming JTA president.

“In the first week of my presidency, I called for a return to the cat-o’-nine,” said Speid, in referencing the suggestion he had made to deal with the rampant criminality plaguing the nation. “Justice Minister Delroy Chuck described the thought as barbaric and got support from the prime minister.”

In further emphasising what he said was a clear case of hypocrisy by Holness, Speid said that unlike Holness, he was not suggesting that anyone should be killed.

“I did not hear Minister Delroy Chuck nor any member of his party saying to the prime minister, ‘that is barbaric’, but I made the call and I am barbaric,” said Speid, who now serves as the principal of a Kingston-based primary school.

“It is always convenient for the Government to point out how great the Singapore economy is. They do this while ignoring how the country deals with crimes. Singapore has one of the lowest incidences of violent crimes in the world. They have retained corporal punishment and hanging for serious crimes,” Speid said.

Interestingly, Speid is far from convinced that Holness meant what he was saying but was more seeking to score political points to give the impression that he is serious about tackling the nation’s crime problem.

“The Government is not making decisions because the country will benefit. They do so thinking of how it will affect the votes that may be cast for them at elections,” said Speid. “It is time for them to think of the country first. The result will benefit one and all, even if it means they get voted out.”