Lisa and Mark make pitch to delegates

Lisa and Mark make pitch to delegates

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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IT was not something Mark Golding and Lisa Hanna had among their future plans, but both were open yesterday when questioned by Jamaica Observer reporters and editors why delegates should support their bids for presidency of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP).

Hanna insists that her inside knowledge of how the party works should be enough to ensure her victory on November 7.

“I have seen the party at all levels. I have worked with the Jamaican people at all levels,” she stated, admitting that the party's performance in the September general election was “devastatingly low”.

“However, this loss was not spontaneous, there was a steady progression over time. For me, I am running because I want to unite the party,” she said.

She added that her agenda is to bring to an end the divisions, upgrade the internal structure at the constituency level, and modernise the party machinery across the island.

“For too long, because of internal conflicts, we have really not been focusing on what our real mission has been or ought to be, which is to work with the masses of the people. We have got to get back to the days when we listened to the people, when we were with the people...I have the ability and the track record and the energy,” she insisted.

Hanna, who was born in 1975, is a former Miss World. She represents the St Ann South Eastern constituency which the PNP has never lost but where things are fairly divided, especially among the party's local government representatives, some of whom feel the constituency was unfairly bequeathed to her by Portia Simpson Miller in 2012. She was also minister of youth and culture from 2012-2016 under Simpson Miller.

A graduate of The University of the West Indies, she was born into a middle-class family in St Mary. Her part-Lebanese father, Rene Hanna, was a farmer, and her mother, Dorothy, was a hairdresser.

“Everybody can say...she was with us in all the by-elections, and when we asked her to come with us to be our guest speaker she was there,” Hanna told Observer reporters and editors.

“From Negril Point to Morant Point, every single constituency has been able to say, 'You know, Lisa has been there for us'. So that's the difference also between myself and Mark. He is not on the ground,” she argued.

Golding, meanwhile, said: “The time has come for me to put myself forward, and I think that I bring to the table the range of skills and attributes and approach that the party needs at this time.

“So it is really out of a sense of duty to Jamaica because I regard the PNP as a very important institution in Jamaica, and I have a sense of duty to my party that I am putting myself up,” he told yesterday's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

“The RISE Campaign is over. The One PNP Campaign is over, and indeed we have to put these things behind us on consignment to history; because the fact is that this challenge that we have is the lingering effect of many years of internal contests which have affected the cohesiveness of the party and the unity of the party,” he said.

“So I have really made a brave effort to indicate that I am doing this as Mark Golding, with a sense of duty and a sense of purposefulness and passion for the party that I believe in, and the Jamaica that I love – that is why I am doing this,” he said.

Golding was born at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew and is the only son of Sir John Golding and Lady Patricia Golding. He studied in Britain after high school in Jamaica.

Sir John served as a doctor for British forces in World War II and moved to Jamaica the following decade, where he was instrumental in ending the island's polio epidemic and founded the Mona Rehabilitation Centre, a charity foundation for people with physical disabilities, where he directly impacted the lives of thousands of Jamaicans. The centre was subsequently renamed in Sir John's honour.

Golding yesterday denied that his aim is to revive Peter Bunting's RISE group which challenged and lost to Dr Peter Phillips last year in a close run for the presidency.

“The factionalism and divisions of the past must come to an end. We must move beyond that, and I am running a campaign of unity, of rebuilding and of coming together, under one big tent, as the PNP family,” Golding said yesterday.

There are still four days left before nominations close for the election of a new president of the party who will succeed Dr Phillips, and there is no indication that by Friday any other Comrade will throw a hat in the ring. But, in the meantime, the campaign between Golding and Hanna, which has already begun and looks like another close contest similar to last year's unsuccessful bid by Golding's former business partner, Peter Bunting, to unseat Phillips, is bringing back some life to the party.

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