IF we are to be charitable to political administrations in the post-independence history of this country, the best that we can say of them is that they have been as much facilitators of infrastructural and human development as they have been huge obstructions holding us back from meeting the full potential of our overall development.
In our setting, they are mostly big fish operating in muddy puddles, as a result of which they adopt the mannerisms of the typical village tyrant with an over-bloated ego and having the need to meet mostly the short-term objectives of their personal development.
The really big, game-changing projects are considered too scary, especially in terms of the international scrutiny that such projects would attract. Because many politicians in key ministries tend to find themselves conveniently like so many cats before the butter bowl, they prefer many small sips rather than a few huge dips into big bowls.
The smaller, more 'manageable' projects are ideal in meeting those nefarious objectives. Quite apart from that, even though there are highly trained, competent technocrats attached to many of these key ministries, many well-needed plans for development, either internally drafted or externally submitted for consideration and involvement, are shelved because of the need of a minister to place his personal political survival ahead of national development.
Where a choice is forced upon him between many bits of 'bullo wok' in his constituency (votes) and the really big projects at the national level, the politician will opt for the vote over the praise of those who are unlikely to affect the immediate vote in his constituency.
He wants to think big, but the opportunity cost of doing so is too risky, especially where the educational development of his constituents is a natural hindrance to thinking outside of a box which create too long a time lag before they get involved in that box.
It is said that every administration needs one really big project to allow it to smoothly sail over the first term. If the project has the sustainability, like Highway 2000 had for PJ Patterson, then the third term will be made easier.
With the global economy entering a new, troubling phase of sustained uncertainty, any political administration in Jamaica which believes it can carry on the business of pussyfooting with economic development, because it has guaranteed to it a multiplicity of electoral terms, is flying close to Einstein's nexus between applying failed solutions to new problems, and insanity.
It seems to me that Anthony Hylton, minister of industry, investment and commerce, recognises that the PNP Administration needs something more on its national development plate than the odd jeep passing through on its political trip.
Two Wednesdays ago (June 20), the minister made his Sectoral Debate presentation and in doing so he upped the ante on what the PNP Administration of 1989 to 2007 and the JLP Administration of 2007 to 2011 had failed to do.
A potential game-changer for Jamaica
Twenty years ago, Dr Lloyd Cole, a Jamaican medical doctor, conceptualised a plan that has the workable potential to take Jamaica's development curve out of the incrementalist approach that has kept our economy and too many of our people mired in a long season of barely peeping over the edge of subsistence living. His comprehensive plan for the construction of a major 'state-of-the-art' Dry Dock facility at Jackson Bay in Clarendon capable of meeting the service needs of cruise ships, cargo ships, pleasure boats — of all international marine categories and sizes which, at all stages, needed direct government approvals and allocation of lands (secured), had until recently remained in a state of stillbirth.
In similar manner to how Jamaica's geographic location gave birth to the development of the container terminal and transshipment port in the 1960s and beyond, Cole was always and is still firm in the belief that our location in relation to the Panama Canal sea lanes, the Eastern seaboard of Mexico, the United States and Canada, makes Jamaica the ideal location for a major maritime facility.
On that basis, in 1990 he conceptualised the plan and in doing so, he formed the International Dry Dock Services and Allied Facilities Ltd (IDDSAF), made contact with every conceivable person of importance and authority in Jamaica, politically and otherwise and in the international community, sought approvals, had surveys done, drafted project documents on the plan in which he itemised the numerous linkages and the ability to transform Clarendon and environs into an industrial city and Jamaica as a major international maritime hub.
He has spent millions of his own money in bringing the project plans to as far as he, a single individual, can take it. At a time in 2009 when, through a column, we were trying to pitch the idea to the JLP Administration, Cole said, "At all stages, it was obvious that the Government, at any time, would have to be directly involved. A massive project of this nature would need government-to-government involvement. It makes no sense to me that those in authority, in government, have not seen it fit to pursue this project and run with it. I have had interviews with the Chinese and they have nodded their interest and approval, but only if the Government is on board. And of course, you have seen the e-mail from Dubai showing that they are very interested.
"I have sent copies of it to everyone in Government who knows of the project and had given their endorsement. Minister Mike Henry knows of it. The prime minister knows of it. Just the announcement that the Government is interested in pursuing such a project would lead to huge levels of increase in business confidence in Jamaica and attention from foreign investors."
Although Minister Chris Tufton had arranged for Cole to meet with some of his technocrats, it was always very obvious to me that with the JLP Administration slow off the mark in assessing the impact of the global recession it could not afford to deal with the 'unknowns' of any new proposals or plans for development. Plus, in hindsight, many were unaware that there was the 'little' matter of a pending extradition request.
Minister Hylton steps up
In Minister Hylton not just acknowledging the existence of the IDDSAF but in making a special recognition of Dr Cole and in stating that his Administration intends to facilitate its implementation as one of the big, game-changing projects, for the first time the IDDSAF has approached and jumped that first important hurdle.
In a letter written to the minister, Dr Cole said, "I appreciate and thank you for the honour of inviting me to your Sectoral Presentation 2012-2013 in Parliament on Wednesday, June 20, 2012.
"Your delivery was masterly and befitting both in presentation and substance as an index of the direction of your ministry and Government for the positive transformation of Jamaica's socio-economic and industrial horizon.
"I am particularly humbled and grateful that in your presentation you singled out and confirmed 'the international drydock project at Jackson Bay/Vernamfield' as one of the major projects for implementation, while placing me on record with credit for its conception and persistent development 'for well over 20 years'.
"Your own outstanding insight and commitment to this great project gives hope for the future of our country and people, and I exhort you to pursue this project with the necessary and sufficient thrust and creative guidance for its successful implementation.
"Best wishes and Divine guidance."
While the project has been accepted by the present PNP Administration as one of the big ones to facilitate/pursue, we are still some distance from it being considered a fait accompli. That said, the Administration has gone beyond what others before were too unsure of.
Congrats, Minister Hylton. The first real step has been made. The next thousand are likely to be more difficult.
The PNP dare not back the pro-homosexuality crusade
The level of anti-homosexuality in Jamaica provides one with more than enough reason to raise the question: Why did then Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller promise a review of the buggery law, plus admit in the pre-election debate that she would not have a problem appointing gays to her Cabinet when she knew that Jamaica was in no cultural shape to shift gears and accept openly gay people on our roads and in our places of business?
As prime minister, she has gays in her Cabinet, but as I had pointed out they have to be 'creatively deceptive' to survive socially. The prime minister knows who they are, but I wonder if she is prepared to say, 'I actually did what I said I would not have a problem doing and appointed a few gays to Cabinet positions. They are minister of...'
It could be that the PNP received funding from a gay organisation last year and the feeling was that a kind word had to be uttered. If that was so, that organisation should know that they were given 'a ullo' by the PNP and nothing more is to be expected.
One reader suggested that since the PNP kicked off the ball, that party should be the first one to allow their gays to walk out of the closet as the first step in accepting what is, for all intents and purposes, a reality — gays living and working among us.
Of course, the PNP will do no such thing.
Another writer who foolishly believed that prayer could change one's sexual orientation was more forceful. Said he: "I am in agreement with your general tone and sentiment on the issue of homosexuality; as well as on how it affects our society, and also on how outside influence with the help of the PNP is dead set on making the Jamaican people proselytisers of homosexuality.
"What our current Government and international backers of homosexuality fail to understand is that, in accepting homosexuality as a natural way of life, through legalisation, it will have a tremendous dysfunctional impact on society — just as the devastating effect crack cocaine will have on society if it were to become legal.
"There is no impartial scientific data that conclusively states that individuals are born as homosexuals. However, there are many agenda-driven data which purport that individuals are indeed born this way. One thing though is certain — we human beings need not be instructed by data for us to determine the true purpose of sex. A simple observance, and not a deep prying one, will do.
"The mere fact that two males or two females in a relationship cannot produce an offspring, this tells the absolute truth about the purpose of sex. Further, it is also from this fundamental truth that marriage ultimately establishes its true nature and as a union between individuals of opposite sex.
"Now, if one's main purpose in life is self-gratification, or the epicurean thought which declares that pleasure is the greatest good, then I see that individual embracing homosexuality or, for that matter, all forms of pleasure-induced immorality to his delight
"Now, in your last paragraph I have a little difference with how you view education. Yes, the society needs to be more educated, as the illiteracy rate is very high, both the official and unofficial rates. However, despite this level of illiteracy, ordinary Jamaicans are heeding to the wisdom of nature, not bloviated knowledge, to guide their steps as they navigate the slippery slope of human sexuality and its purpose.
"On the other hand, learned Jamaicans who are ostentatious with their knowledge and who also falsely believe that they are superior to average folks, do have a greater propensity to embrace the goodies that homosexuality offers. They are so bright and in the "know", but still they are in the dark, confounded by the simple truth about sex and its intended purpose.
"In contrast, those considered to be children of the dark and thus backward are illuminated by the instructive wisdom that comes from nature — and so they hold fast to the natural order.
"Yes, Jamaicans must be tolerant of others who are different, but the most important question is how and how much should they be tolerant of homosexuals? I say, only to the point of not killing or denying them food, shelter and clothing."
Based on my observations, the upper crust of society is just as likely to have homosexuals among them as the poor and downtrodden. Plus, I disagree with the reader who stresses that the main purpose of sex, normal or 'the other way' is the production of an offspring.
As much as I consider the gay act between two men repugnant, for me to agree with the reader that the main right I would give to gays is to not kill them would be to bow to barbarity.
But, what's the surprise? That's how we are.