PM had the better of the two New Year’s messages

Thursday, January 02, 2014    

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ONE has to be extremely careful not to extrapolate too much from the traditional New Year's messages from our political leaders, which are often an exercise in party propaganda.

We believe that a New Year's message from our leaders should, at worst, provide a clear outline of the way forward for the nation that is firmly grounded in the reality we face.

It may contain references to the difficulties of the past year, but should not be a 'scare-dem' tactic intended for no other reason than to win political points. Neither should it be a sugar-coated monologue that buries its head, like the proverbial ostrich, in the sand.

More importantly, we think the message should seek to tap into what essentially is the best of Jamaica and Jamaicans and attempt to draw from the trough of ingenuity, hopefulness, self-confidence, resilience and even audacity — characterisics which richly abound in the typical Jamaican man and woman.

If we examine the two New Year's messages — of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Opposition Leader Andrew Holness — we will find elements of the very things that we should avoid: the scare-the-hell-out-of-them tactic and the sugar-coating.

The prime minister's message which, by the way, was too long and rambling in parts, is at least the better of the two, in appealing to the best of Jamaicans and attempting to rally the troops to face the inevitable problems that will come our way.

Here is an excerpt which sets the right tone: "I reaffirm the words of National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who said, 'Let me say to you that a greater future is in store for us; we have no cause to lose hope, to become faint-hearted. We must realise that upon ourselves depend our destinies, our future. We must carve that future, that destiny'.

"My fellow Jamaicans, the new year will have its challenges but also its opportunities. Let us grasp those opportunities with both hands. Better yet, let us create our own opportunities. Let us face this New Year with courage, determination and resilience. We are a strong people, a proud people with a glorious heritage."

The Opposition Leader's message, which was just about the right length, really should have avoided the lines: "There is a feeling of hopelessness, helplessness and frustration with the high crime rate. Our business leaders have expressed serious concerns as this seemingly out-of-control monster threatens investor confidence in Jamaica and consequently investments, employment and ultimately, the improvement in the standard of living of our people.

"As one priority for the new year, therefore, we must urge the Government to address this major impediment which has many Jamaicans cowering in fear."

We know the problems that were experienced last year. We were there. "Hopelessness, helplessness and frustration" suggests that we have a right to sit back and wait on the Government to solve crime by itself. This is not going to happen under any government. It is through the mobilisation of the people by effective leadership that we will solve crime. We most certainly will achieve nothing by being hopeless, helpless and frustrated.

We are enormously good at rehashing the problems. Finding the solutions is, however, another matter, primarily because some are constantly fighting a political party battle, never losing sight of the election date.

It's a terrible message they are sending. We believe that our country deserves better than this.





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