Andrew Holness’ Mansion: A Study In Wealth-Shaming

When did it become a thing of shame to be wealthy in Jamaica?

It is quite possible that in the government’s austerity campaign I missed this new phenomenon, but clearly such a thing exists. Wealth shaming must be the new order of the day.

Why else would there be “concerns” and “observations”surrounding the house being constructed in Beverly Hills by Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness?

I admit myself genuinely puzzled that Mr. Holness is being made to give account for the grandeur of his family home. Those who lead this farcical crusade of accountability argue that in a democracy, the private expenditure of a former Prime Minister and sitting Opposition Leader is fair game. I’m not at all convinced by this; chiefly because I believe the argument is a smokescreen designed to achieve sinister political motives.

Make no mistake, by raising this issue, Holness detractors are hoping to cement in the minds of the majority of the Jamaican people the idea that he is not one of them. His wealth creates a distinct “otherness” which makes him somehow unfit for the Office of Prime Minister.

Andrew-Holness-HomeThe very suggestion should be offensive to all Jamaicans striving towards success and wealth. It is the lowest point in the long running saga of Jamaica’s divisive politics of class and poverty. It is necessary to confront and dispel the idea which suggests to the electorate that growing up or living in poverty is a prerequisite for political representation. Political narratives centered around this kind of thinking are ultimately more destructive than they are helpful to our political culture. How will we hope to attract successful Jamaicans to the political process if we continue to make wealth a thing of guilt and shame?
In the grand scheme of real estate development, is the cost (some $200,000,000) really that expensive? When one considers the location, the current land prices in Jamaica and the other incidents of home construction/renovation, have Mr. and Mrs. Holness really offended any principled position? I take no position on the attendant costs of constructing a house in that area, and whether they legitimately amount to $200,000,000, but I believe it may be helpful to the discussion, since we are intent on having the discussion, if some context were brought to it all. Otherwise, we leave it wide open to the snide asides and the petty political posturing we are currently witnessing.

To be sure, I can appreciate a constructive conversation around campaign finance reform and parliamentarians making financial declarations of wealth and assets. That certainly is desirable in a robust process to ensure transparency and accountability. But the ongoing fascination with Holness’ house is not that conversation, it is but another attempt to undermine Andrew Holness as a credible candidate for the Office of Prime Minister. Those of us who believe in celebrating rather than shaming individual success must reject this, and challenge those who would seek to establish this new order in our political narrative.

It’s true that public officials are inevitably subject to scrutiny, I do not dispute that. However, we must satisfy ourselves that in subjecting our elected representatives to the probing lens of accountability, we are reasonable. We must also ensure that we are sensitive to issues related to private family life; at the very least that should be off limits as far as is practical. What exactly is the message we send to the young Holness boys about their parents success when we subject it to such searching and sinister review? I can only imagine a child would conclude that there is something negative about acquiring and displaying wealth in Jamaica.

That shouldn’t ever be a message we want to send.

Contributed by Ricardo Brooks

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Samuel MckenzieLloyd MillerJohn GrayPaul Ricardo RobinsonErrol McIntyre Recent comment authors
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Pete Nicely
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The question I have asked about this issue which no one have been able to answer is that his finances should be in the public record somewhere since as an MP he must disclose his assets to a committee (the name of which I can’t recall right now). I find it curious that not even the local media have tried to answer that question. Information from the public record should be enough to answer any questions about the source of funds for his house.

Annie Paul
Guest

why is this post anonymous?? did Andrew Holness write this?

Henry Bee
Guest

I would hate to think that anyone’s choice of residential construction/acquisition consistent with his taste and affordability can be a legitimate topic for discussino in the public domain. Unless, of course, there is just cause to conclude that it gives evidence of shady dealings. Time was when Jamaicans who offered themselves for political office could reasonably be considered persons of (financial) substance. Such may be seen from the slate of candidates who contested the parliamentary elections of 1955. Their motive then seem more to have been nation building and self actualization. In recent times, however aspirants seem to be coloured… Read more »

Petra Ivy
Guest

Well,the majority of jamaicans dont struggle towards wealth, they struggle to feed, house and get theire kids to school. To question people in positions, people in power, people who are suppose to work for the people, to question these peoples wealth is not common in jamaica, and its a good thing if that could change. What do you mean by” wealth a thing of guilt and shame”? Its the opposite in Jamaica, wealth is never questioned, you can be totally corrupt, a drug seller or smuggler, you name it, and nobody cares where the money comes from, your riches is… Read more »

Janice Foster-Jean
Guest

This article is so biased. Who cares if he is rich or poor. The question of the day is where him get di money from….simple….is it government,drugs etc.

George Bond
Guest

…i will weigh in on this…….the ” problem ” with fort holness is not that he has built it….for a start off its not worth anywhere near the 250 million often quoted…its closer to 60/70 million but that aside it is being seen that he is making political claims about poverty being a crime and being seen ” comforting ” the ” poor “…..or slumming it as i think of it…….for him to claim that poverty is a crime suggests that poor people must be criminals.!…..poverty is NOT a crime mr holness.its a state of a living level…you are either… Read more »

Sheldon Thompson
Guest

Need to know his job title prior to entering politics, and if he’s so successful in business he should be proud to share it let jamaican know the road he took to wealth. I smell money laundering, favors for potential players because he’s a sure win for next election…

Raymond Sean Kelly
Guest

Whoever wrote this is trying to further the culture of our rich politicians leeching our country dry while we hush up just tru we either say powa or showa. One of the rich making sure that the rich stay in power.

Jamaican Till I Die II
Guest

I came across Warren’s Blog a supporter of the JLP and Mr. Holness who when he had discovered the existence of the Ghetto Mansion in question and not knowing the true owner, wrote a blog post stating: …. “There has been talk going around about a house which is being built for which the estimated cost is in the region of $300m. (“This was accompanied by a Clovis cartoon declaring who fa mansion dis…”, he continued) Tongues have been wagging since the information was “dropped” sometime last week. What is interesting is the media who obviously have more information that… Read more »

Randene Harrison
Guest

Let’s be honest, Andrew is in the spotlight now because he chose to make such a big investment on Jamaican soil. Many other politicians have mutlistorey houses, beach houses n all overseas and they’re not being questioned about it. Maybe if he spend that money overseas like all the others then all this wouldn’t have come up. It’s sad to know that if someone makes big investments in their country they’re instantly scrutinized and have people breathing down their backs and, in Mr. Holness’ position, have that investment, a family home, used as part of a political mindgame. If real… Read more »

Niko VF
Guest

LOL… the question is this: where did he get the money… to start this mansion the year he became de facto PM of the nation? nobody ever criticizes the wealthy business man for his possessions (as far as i see). The writer seems ignorant (willfully or otherwise) of the culture of corruption in Jamaica and the rampant abuse of authority which our politicians are regularly accused of. The fact is, this man, in a position of power, with access to our tax moneys, should be scrutinized, If not, then politicians will rob us blind, and depending on which politician it… Read more »

Michael Morgan
Guest

Why are we acting like this is something new. All our politicians live lavishly, look at the one Phillip Paulwell built during the years of his youthfull exuberance.

Errol McIntyre
Guest

If the average joe build a home half that size he would be a suspect.

Errol McIntyre
Guest

All politician should turn over their finances . Trump have to file his and he’s just running he’s not yet elected

Paul Ricardo Robinson
Guest

This article is of the highest order when it come to either intellectual dishonesty or sheer unbridled naivety. A MP’s salary is public record, also his wealth once he is in the public domain/office must be declared from the onset for transparancy and good governance. With that being said the non-disclosure of his wealth and how it was acquired given his paltry annual salary as an MP and the fact that he has no other claim to the succes of which this article speaks is the root cause of why so many outside of the political arena question his flamboyance… Read more »

Paul Ricardo Robinson
Guest

This article is of the highest order when it comes to either intellectual dishonesty or sheer unbridled naivety, although I really hope that it is down to ignorance of what creates and fosters good governance. Firstly, A MP’s salary is public record and can be found out quite easily. So therefore his wealth, once he is in the public domain/office, must be declared from the onset for transparency and good governance otherwise various questions will be raised irrespective of the underlying motives. With that being said the non-disclosure of his wealth and how it was acquired given his paltry annual… Read more »

John Gray
Guest

Of course its a shame to be “super” wealthy in a country that is near bankruptcy!!! The latest Moody report states that we are near that.

I think a “slap in the face” to poor and starving Jamaicans when people, especially public servants, display this level of spending.

John Gray
Guest

Of course its a shame to be “super” wealthy in a country that is near bankruptcy!!! The latest Moody report states that we are near that.

I think a “slap in the face” to poor and starving Jamaicans when people, especially public servants, display this level of spending.

Lloyd Miller
Guest

That is PNP propaganda at its best. They have that type of machinery at their disposal and they use it successfully on the minds of ‘numb-thinking’ voters to win many elections. Why do you think that will change?

Samuel Mckenzie
Guest

Most time I have to laugh when I hear badminded people talk. Anyone can build any size house if you are working and have collectoral to get a bank loan or loans. I never heard anyone mention that he could be using loans. As a matter of fact, its none of us business where the man money came from or is coming from. Raise your hands who have missed any money and beleive that it has spent on Mr Holness house.