VIDEO: Robert Chin's triumph and the end of a dynasty
Surprise victor in Manchester Southern eyes development pledges
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
Sunday, September 06, 2020
NEWPORT, Manchester — Parachuted in as a late replacement for former standard-bearer Junior Robinson who bowed out suddenly one week before nomination day, the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Robert Chin took many by surprise as he unseated the People's National Party's (PNP) Michael Stewart at the polls last Thursday.
It was one of two major upsets suffered by the the PNP in Manchester with Rhoda Moy Crawford defeating incumbent heavyweight Peter Bunting in the neighbouring Manchester Central constituency.
Chin shattered the PNP's consecutive hold of Manchester Southern for over three decades by securing 6,810 to Stewart's 5,916, a margin of 894 votes following a preliminary count.
Chin, who is not new to politics, had previously represented the JLP in Kingston Central in 2016 and lost to former PNP MP Ronald Thwaites by 1,229 votes. Thwaites had got 5,190 votes to Chin's 3,961.
“Words cannot express the feeling [of victory] …. I was going for a bigger margin, however, the rain of the day set back the voter turnout, but I am extremely happy for the victory. This is not my victory; it is for the people of Southern Manchester. The strategy going in was really very simple, because we had an organisation in place and the team delivered,” Chin told journalists on Friday.
During an election watch tour by the Jamaica Observer, some JLP diehards were upset that Chin had been put in the constituency at that time.
Chin said that his late entry was just in time and caught the PNP off guard.
“It would appear to be a late entry. However, the results were very favourable, so I would say it was just in time. I would also add that because of the late entry, the PNP were caught flat-footed in that there was no activity going on… They didn't expect to have a [strong JLP] candidate, so I think they didn't prepare for this election. There was absolutely no organisation in the PNP camp,” Chin said.
“I would also say, because the constituents know the [former] MP well and he wasn't performing, that went against him,” Chin added.
Better roads and water supply, which the constituents have been in need of for years, are among the current MP-elect's priorities.
“I campaigned for better roads and water and economic growth and prosperity for the constituency and I will deliver on that…. It is a farming constituency [and] I am thinking of agro-processing as well as securing markets for the farmers to drive economic activity in the constituency,” Chin stressed.
He is still familiarising himself with the terrain of the constituency which spreads across four divisions: Porus, Grove Town, Newport and Alligator Pond.