Columns

Do Jamaicans here and abroad trust this government?

MARK WIGNALL

Thursday, August 30, 2012    

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Any political administration that had the good fortune to use its electoral advantage over other political parties and hold power for close to 19 years straight would find that almost all institutions in that country would be overrun with those at the top, in-between, and those at the base having active allegiance to the party.

The PNP pretty much "captured" Jamaica in the period February 1989 to September 2007 when it held unbroken power. Had the JLP existed on another planet close to Earth, it would quite probably have had a similar long drawn-out, boring but somehow effective political orgasm.

This means that the longer a political party stays in power, the longer it has to consolidate the power connections among the affluent strata, including business interests, and the longer time it has at its disposal to convince the many who are looking in from the outside that the Opposition party is quite redundant.

I have never been convinced that political parties such as the PNP and JLP exist for the pure purpose of advancing the interests of the people of this country.

First, there are people with clout; that is, with financial power and broad influence, and then there are the poor who are mostly thought to be gullible, based on their predictable voting patterns. In other words, the politician needs the votes of the blind and gullible to empower him to empower those whose only desire is an increase in their relevance and quiet control over the country. It is done and is euphemistically called democracy.

Slap in the middle is the middle class, which is composed mostly of people who wish that they could go to bed tonight and when next they awake, the problems would evaporate and they could get to feel safer knowing that when their children walk the streets after 6 pm, they will be safe.

Basically, the vote of the middle class is increasingly insignificant because too many of them are cowards and convinced that all they have to do is withdraw from the process and it will go away. For some reason, once this class leaves Jamaica, it discovers its influence even though it had only stowed its cowardice in the nearest foreign closet.

We have been informed that in the PNP administration's attempt to convince the hard-working Jamaicans in the diaspora (USA, Canada, Britain) that they should buy into a diaspora bond, necessary as pre-conditions for a new IMF agreement, it has been met, not with enthusiasm, but with more scepticism than expected.

Some of those have mentioned that the experience of those who suffered under the PNP at the time of the financial meltdown in the mid-1990s (called Finsac times) have made them wary of buying into the bonds now being offered, seeing that the PNP administration in 2012 is basically the same old, rehashed team of that period.

In other words, there is the doubt that no new thinking exists and therefore it is hardly likely that the present PNP administration could dare make the claim that it has any newer vision than it had when the financial sector crashed under its cruel monetary policy watch in the mid-1990s.

Since the PNP won the election in December last year, its inability to bring coherence to broad policy has been spectacular. In fact, the administration, leaderless as it has been, seems to be way in above its head. And just when we thought that those at home were the only ones seeing the lacklustre approach of the PNP administration, we have been jolted into the reality of many in the diaspora sharing our doubts.

The more terrible reality is that the Opposition JLP cannot find anything nearing a critical mass to make any significant appeal to the people. Many out there still believe that Bruce Golding, in his interface with the Manatt/Dudus affair, has all but reduced the JLP to a far-off afterthought. Which means that, as bad as things get - business confidence decreases, more people believe that things are not likely to get better, the macro-economic indicators slip away and people in general fume and cuss the PNP - the JLP can rest assured that not many people are anxious to see it back holding the reins of power.

Don Crawford's mother dies

Some believe that Don Crawford has been the poster name for Finsac, the government scheme set up as a "financial recovery" scheme after the debacle of the mid-1990s.

Having the third largest and fastest-growing bank in the mid-1990s - Century National Bank - Don Crawford was seen as special among our people as he, a son of the soil, so to speak, dared to do what others had thought highly improbable. Crawford and more than a few Jamaicans gave us more than the idea that they could achieve what only multinationals could do.

Under the watch of the PNP, they were eventually decimated and worse, along with others such as Dr Paul Chen Young of the Eagle Group, they were portrayed by the PNP of the time as veritable pariahs. It was the PNP - so the real charlatans said - who was there to save the depositors in these institutions. No one was as decimated as Don Crawford, then head of the Century Group.

Recently his mother, Alma Litchmore Crawford, died as a result of a heart attack. She was 91 years old. On July 26 at the Alpharetta Baptist Church in Atlanta, a celebration of her life was held.

She has left behind her two sons, Don and Ray, three grandchildren - Donovan Crawford, Sian Belinda Hall and Margaret Crawford - in addition to four great-grandchildren.

Don Crawford and his wife, Claudine, have asked me to inform those hundreds of Jamaicans who have remained close to them in heart that Mother Crawford's remains will soon be taken to Jamaica - her final resting place.

Many Jamaicans do not wish to see a repetition of the mid-1990s. Unfortunately, if the doubts - that significant numbers of those in the diaspora still hold for the PNP administration of those times - are brought to bear on the present political administration, we will be in for an extremely rocky ride as the new IMF plan eludes us.

observemark@gmail.com

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