Editorial

No requiem for Dr Shane Alexis

Thursday, November 02, 2017

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With the fury of the by-elections behind us, it is possible to speak frankly about certain issues, hopefully minus the mindlessness of some critics who can't see past their partisan noses.

To begin with, the constituents of St Mary South Eastern were extremely fortunate to have had a win-win situation in having two excellent candidates, either of whom would have been worthy of their votes.

Dr Norman Dunn of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) — the eventual winner of that by-election — and Dr Shane Alexis of the People's National Party (PNP) both showed big thinking, robust energy and a depth of leadership that augurs well for the future.

We hope that Dr Alexis will not be put off by his loss or the baptism of fire that he underwent on the political hustings. He should see that as preparation for the next general election when the lessons learnt can be put to good use.

Dr Alexis must understand by now that in political election campaigns, as in love and war, all is fair. So, as difficult as it might be, he should not see the attack on his not being a Jamaican citizen on paper as anything but politics. Everyone knows that we play rough like that in this country.

No one seriously believes that he is not a Jamaican. Indeed, Dr Alexis can argue that he is more Jamaican than many who have the passport and other documents establishing that they are citizens of this wonderful little country.

He, having been born in Canada, and carrying a Grenadian passport, chose to live and serve in Jamaica. Most people are Jamaicans only by an accident of birth, meaning that they had no choice in the matter. Dr Alexis has made a deliberate choice. And it is clear that making the most money was not his principal motive.

Moreover, he has been on a trajectory of leadership that suggests that this one setback in St Mary South Eastern is not the end. Politics is not finished with him yet. He must, like Dr Dunn, stay in the arena, bloodied but unbowed.

Dr Alexis is somewhat the sort of political template that a country like Jamaica should want in those who offer themselves for leadership. He has exhibited a sense of integrity and credibility that is rare in politics and public life and at such a young age — in his 30s.

He most certainly would have attracted a more lucrative salary package and better conditions of service as afforded in First World countries like Canada, not to mention greater opportunities for his family. Still he has maintained an obvious love affair with Jamaica.

To quote one of his supporters: “He was not born in Jamaica, but as a young man he has invested his heart, energies, time and reputation to serve the Jamaican people in our health system, at a time when we were in dire need of this kind of commitment.”

His leadership abilities have been recognised by his peers who entrusted him with the job of president of the Junior Doctors' Association; the Medical Association of Jamaica and the Medical Doctors' Association.

The PNP is fortunate to have him as a future leadership prospect, and so is Jamaica.

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