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Sunday Brew — January 13, 2019

Sunday, January 13, 2019

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Dr Phillips, the boat is unsteady

The Opposition People's National Party is a shadow of itself, 80 years after its formation.

In every democracy, you always want to see a vibrant and organised Opposition that will keep the Government on its toes. And but for a few news releases here, there and everywhere sometimes, the PNP appears to be sleeping.

There is a glaring lack of energy at the level of the leadership of the party and it is clear as a bright July morning that the combination of Phillips as president and Julian Robinson as general secretary is operating at cross purposes.

It is sad to see the decline of a party that has delivered so much, and which has produced so many outstanding politicians, most of whom have left the scene.

The coming of Portia Simpson Miller as party president set the organisation back by a decade. It is not impossible for all that to be corrected, but based upon what has been happening of late, it seems as if we are all in for a long wait to see the turnaround of a party that Michael Manley and his father, Norman, must be weeping so much about from the comfort of their graves.

Dr Phillips has proven that he is a brilliant public servant, perhaps the best of the current lot. He now needs to surround himself with the people who can make things happen for his party, and ultimately for Jamaica. Those relics of the 1970s who ignore the power of social media, do so at the risk of the party. They need to move with the times and stop saying that social media does not matter. Alas, despite the chronological ages of some, they remain petty and refuse to grow up.

There have been too many instances where the JLP has messed up and the PNP has failed to deliver the knockout punch.

The JLP's Generation 2000 (G2K) seems to have outmuscled the PNP where research is concerned - once the bosom of the PNP.

More of the PNP's Shadow ministers, with the exception of Phillip Paulwell, Peter Bunting, and Dr Dayton Campbell, need to be heard.

The PNP does not behave like a Government in waiting... not showing the people that it is ready to reclaim State power. There is no plan, and without one, the electorate will jusy say, let's stick with the evil that we know.

Dr Phillips, the water is rising. You need several buckets to keep that vessel afloat.

Driver's licence horror (Constant Spring tax office photo)

Have you ever tried to renew your driver's licence? If you haven't yet, please, please, please do not go to the St Andrew office of the Inland Revenue Department at Constant Spring. It is the most oppressive system in place at any Government agency. And I would wager my savings (which is not much) on that.

It took me five visits to the location before I could get my licence, which expired on my birthday, December 12. On the first visit, I arrived in the parking lot at 11.25. It was jam packed and with people driving around and around in search of parking, one brilliant security man suggested that we park over by Immaculate Conception High School, close to noon. By the time I got back to the 'tax office', it was 12.05 - a good time to be told that that section cuts off business to the public at 12:00 each day.

The second incident of torture occurred a day after Boxing Day. The woman handing out the tickets, in a new, frustrating system that a Rhodes Scholar obviously designed, warned that I could be in for a long wait – between two and three hours because of some malfunctioning 'system', caused, perhaps, by too much 'spirits' over the Christmas holiday. She was dead right. After getting there at 11 o'clock this time, waiting almost three hours to pay the licence fee, then heading downstairs to finally be photographed and collect my new licence, one employee on the way up said 'wait, a wey you a go? Dem close off from 12.' Again, a wasted day.

The third visit was last Monday. My arrival time? 10.47. How long was the wait to hear my number (L173)? Two hours and three minutes. But wait, I have a job. I can spend all that time at Constant Spring. I had to leave. So must plan for another day.

It must be done by Wednesday. So by 9.30 I was there, collected a ticket, waited downstairs for over two hours for the number to be called, only to hear that I should have joined a customer service queue. That done, I managed to get in. Whew! The picture was taken, but I guess the camera developed an allergy to the look of my face, so it had to be reetaken. Another wait beckoned. This time for 22 minutes. Oh well, I could go and pay another of the wretched Government bills which I did, and by golly, my licence was ready to be collected upon my return at 12.45. Success at last!

Every day you go to Constant Spring there is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

My advice to you all, if you are from Kingston & St Andrew and want to renew your driver's licence, it's easier to drive to Savanna-la-Mar or Black River and look after it there. At least your sanity will be kept intact.

Slapping Venezuela? (Nicolas Maduro photo)

Are we sidelining Venezuela? There now exists a disagreement between the Government and the Opposition over how the 49 per cent stake that Venezuela owns in the Kingston-based oil refinery, Petrojam, should be handled.

Later last week, it emerged that Jamaica had voted in support of a resolution moved by the Organization of American States to not recognise the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro as President of that oil-rich South American state, while contrarily sending its ambassador to Maduro's swearing in ceremony almost simultaneously.

All I can say is that we should always remember how well Jamaica has been treated by Venezuela over the years, starting from when Michael Manley's good friend, Carlos Andres Perez was president through to the best of them all – Hugo Chavez.

The Venezuelans have gone beyond the call of duty in answering Jamaica's wishes over the past 45 years. Caution should be displayed that it does not come across as ungrateful now, seeing that Venezuela is in such an economic jam, that Jamaica is abandoning them. Nothing beats negotiation, even if it takes long.

I wonder if there are powerful external forces at work here.

We must never forget our true friends, worse when their backs are against the wall. I don't feel good as a human being with what has occurred. Venezuela will rebound, Maduro or no Maduro.

ISSA, the Walker Cup and Ben Francis (Football photo)

Hopefully, now that now the dust has been settled on the 2018 schoolboy football season, officials of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association will get back to their senses and raise the knockout competitions — the Walker Cup and the Ben Francis Cup to their rightful places – competitions that can be won by all schools involved.

The shambolic, watered down competitions only served as a breeding ground for mediocrity. Where in God's world did ISSA come up with this unfathomable idea? We don't need to be encouraging mediocrity.

If ISSA wants the teams not so strong to get a sort of bonus, then a consolation cup could be arranged for both the urban and rural schools.

And speaking of urban and rural. I saw it all over the media last year that Cornwall College became the first 'rural' school to win the President's Cup (formerly FLOW Cup). The last time I checked though, Cornwall College is located in a city called Montego Bay. So how come that school is the first rural team to win the title? How come? Maybe the JPS can shed some light on this one.


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