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Daryl Vaz Newsmaker:

BY DESMOND ALLEN Executive Editor - Operations

Sunday, February 10, 2008    

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CHIEF Justice Zaila McCalla is likely to be spending today pouring over vast amounts of evidence and submissions that came in the much-publicised election petition by Abe Dabdoub against Daryl Vaz.

Dabdoub, the defeated Opposition People's National Party (PNP) candidate for West Portland, wants the court to unseat Vaz, his victorious Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) counterpart, on grounds that by being a United States citizen, Vaz can't constitutionally sit in the Jamaican Parliament.

Vaz counters that he became a US citizen because his mother, Sonia Vaz, was, and that he has dual citizenship, which the Jamaican constitution abides. On that basis, he pleads, the court should send home Dabdoub empty-handed. Either that or Ms McCalla's court should order a by-election.

But whatever Jamaica's first woman chief judge finds, Daryl Wesley Philip Vaz is ready to roll with the punches. It's what he's good at and what he's done all his controversial life, from the time he was falsely accused of rape and murder.

Daryl Vaz is one of those men who were to the political manor born. His famous father, Douglas Vaz, was a minister in a previous JLP administration before he fell in with the so-called Gang of Five and out with the then JLP leader, Edward Seaga, over Seaga's perceived autocratic leadership style. Daddy later followed Bruce Golding into the National Democratic Movement (NDM), lost his first election and subsequently hung up his political gloves.

More to the point, the elder Vaz passed the mantle to his son who, in any event, had been bitten by the political bug from age 13. That was in 1976, a time of political turbulence. His father, then president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), had come home on the night of the 1976 State of Emergency (June 19) to consult with the family about an invitation to join the JLP.

"I supported him wholeheartedly," says Daryl Vaz. "I followed him night and day throughout the campaign. He was one of only 13 JLP candidates who won a seat in the December 15 general elections of that year."

Incidentally, that was a sort of birthday gift for Vaz who was born on December 15, 1963, in Jamaica, he adds for emphasis.

He got his first taste of representational politics running successfully as councillor in the Waterloo Division of his daddy's North Central St Andrew constituency in 1986. Taking his cue from daddy, he did not run in 1991 because of the falling out with Seaga.

Young Vaz put his political career on hold and set his gaze on the world of business as a car broker. He would become well known for pioneering the used car business in 1993, importing the first 78 used cars from Japan and lobbying for a used car policy.

He acquired the Homelectrix building on Hagley Park, Road, Kingston. But that was bad timing, he says now. "It was the time of the financial meltdown and I was hit hard. It was a financial disaster and I was forced to sell the business."

When Douglas Vaz joined Golding in the NDM, Daryl followed suit. He also ditched the NDM when Golding did in 2002 to rejoin the JLP. Later he headed the anti-Seaga campaign which helped to bring Golding the prize of leader of the party, and in a way achieved revenge for his father.

Vaz stamped his authority on electioneering when, under his stewardship, the JLP scored a 5-4 victory in the 2003 local government polls in traditionally PNP Portland. He controversially, thanks to Dabdoub, entered Gordon House after trouncing his PNP opponent in the West Portland constituency in the September 3, 2007 general elections.

Prime Minister Golding rewarded Vaz with the position of minister of state in the Office of the Prime Minister and put his talent for getting things done to work in project implementation and service delivery.

But all that has been overshadowed by the election petition which, he says, has represented "an emotional roller coaster" for his constituents and maintained political divisiveness well after the elections.

Yet Vaz says he refuses to be fazed.

"I have tried over the last several years to prove who the real Daryl Vaz is, as a result of all the rumours, innuendoes and propaganda that have been spread about me," he says calmly. "But I think that in the last 12 months I have been able to show Jamaica, by my action, the real Daryl Vaz. And I look forward to continue working for my country."

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