Reckless political thinking has no place in our future

Friday, April 05, 2019

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Last week the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) issued a statement that had great significance but which, we notice, did not get the attention it deserved most likely because of the country's intense focus on the parliamentary by-election for the Portland Eastern constituency which was held yesterday.

Ironically, though, the election was the central focus of that statement as it dealt with the thorny matter of campaign financing. But, just as important, the PSOJ also voiced concern about the reckless behaviour of politicians who, in an effort to sway voters, will place people's lives and their investments at risk.

The issue that drew the PSOJ's ire was a political advertisement posted on the Twitter account of a People's National Party official targeting a local private company that has bought property in Bernard Lodge.

Using, illegally we suspect, lyrics of Mr Bob Marley's Redemption Song, the ad suggested that this investor, with assistance from the governing Jamaica Labour Party, robbed farmers of their land. Indeed, one of the headlines appearing in the advertisement boldly stated 'Land taken from the poor sold to the rich'.

As the PSOJ correctly pointed out, the advertisement “compounds the careless comments of a public official with an untruthful distortion of the facts of the divestment of a property in Bernard Lodge so as to give the impression that the investor in the property was in collusion with corrupt elements in the Government to deprive farmers of their rights”.

Added the PSOJ: “The consequence of this careless behaviour could be permanent damage to investor confidence in general, and the endangerment of the personal security of the particular investor.”

The PSOJ is absolutely correct. This type of behaviour is an indication of the reprobate thinking that informs the ideology that people who risk their money by investing in their country are to be regarded as crooks, rather than individuals trying the make a living for themselves, their families, their workers, and others who will benefit directly and indirectly from the investment.

That kind of imbecilic thinking was responsible for the many years of negative growth in this country. It has no place in our future.

The PSOJ noted that under the legislation governing campaign financing, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has the authority to investigate campaign advertisements and to report breaches to the broadcasting commission. While that most despicable advertisement has, we are told, been ordered pulled from Twitter, the ECJ, we believe, should investigate and, where necessary, impose the requisite sanction, because allowing the person or persons responsible to get away with it will open the door to similar breaches in the future.

We also join the PSOJ in supporting the ECJ's efforts to promote public awareness of the legislation and the rules and protocols governing campaign financing. For, as the PSOJ President Mr Howard Mitchell correctly pointed out: “Every Jamaican should be on the alert for breaches of this legislation, because politicians are spending money donated in good faith in a manner contrary to its purpose.”

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