JLP General Secretary Horace Chang and PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson
Dr. Horace Chang, General Secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), has said the statement made by Everald Warmington, Member of Parliament for St. Catherine South Western, on a political platform in St. Mary on the weekend has been misinterpreted.
Addressing a campaign rally in St. Mary South Eastern on Saturday, Mr. Warmington declared that members of the constituency are unlikely to receive much government support if they vote for the PNP's candidate Dr. Shane Alexis.
The comment has drawn an angry response from the People's National Party and various civic groups.
But speaking with RJR News Tuesday morning, Dr. Chang said what he understood from the statement was that Mr. Warmington was "indicating that the constituency was severely neglected" and so a switch to JLP's Norman Dunn "would be a positive thing for the constituency."
Dr. Chang dismissed talk of political victimisation, calling the claims "foolishness". He stressed that the government has never supported political victimisation and noted that where cases have emerged, the prime minister has taken steps to correct them.
In the meantime, the People's National Party (PNP) said it wants Prime Minister Andrew Holness to go beyond reprimanding State Minister Everald Warmington and publicly state his administration's policy on the issue.
PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson told RJR News Tuesday morning that the failure of Mr. Holness to speak to the issue suggests that he is in support of the statement.
"To me, whether he takes action against Mr. Warmington is neither here nor there. He must come out and state whether he supports what Mr. Warmington said. He was on the same platform with him, he spoke after him, he had an opportunity to indicate what the position of his government was. He said nothing, and if he said nothing, I can only assume he supports what Mr. Warmington has said," Mr. Robinson asserted.
Civic group Citizens' Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) is among those calling for the prime minister to intervene.
CAFFE's Chairman Dr. Lloyd Barnett has said the statement suggests that persons who vote for a candidate other than the governing party will be at a disadvantage.
The National Integrity Action (NIA) has also joined the call for Prime Minister Holness to reject the statement or say if it is the policy of the JLP.
According to the NIA, it is not the first time Mr. Warmington has made statements of that nature.
It cited a 2014 incident in which Mr. Warmington told constituents that if they do not vote, they should not expect benefits from his office.
The NIA said his recent statement violates the constitution and breaches the political code of conduct signed by both parties.