Sunday Brew — August 10, 2020

Sunday Brew — August 10, 2020

with HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 09, 2020

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That hairy Supreme Court matter

I refuse to join those bashing the Supreme Court which ruled last week that a young lady's constitutional rights were not breached in the everlasting saga of the Kensington Primary School hairstyle matter.

All along I was of the view that the child's parents were hard core Rastafarians who followed Rastafari teachings and customs to a T. I never knew that the hairstyles of the parents and child were not of pure Rasta material.

It is good that a settlement has been reached and the new school administration has decided to keep the child for the start of the upcoming school year. But when you look at what has transpired, I am yet to see what wrong the Supreme Court committed, even after rushing through the written judgement, which was quite lengthy.

I respect Rastafarians. Many of my friends are. I don't smoke their favourite thing, or smoke at all, but I admire them for what they value as their sacrament. What we see emerging from the Kensington saga is not a religious issue, and I did not see in the written judgement anything mentioned that the defendant's lawyer pleaded Rastafarianism as a religion, which would have been natural in such circumstances.

Schools must have rules. General standards must be maintained. There cannot be a free-for-all. Jamaica does not want a situation whereby there is no uniformity in schools. That's why uniforms are worn. There must be rules relating to dress, how long or short skirts ought to be, the wearing of jewellery, usage of cellular phones, etc.

What could happen any day now is that some fellow's parents will get up and say it's their child's constitutional right to wear braided hairstyles, or wear the trousers at the hip in clear prison style, or bleach their skins to devalue their cultural identity, or even put some of those avenues in their hair that will only take them on the road to doom. Is it that the parents in this matter need parenting?

We must be clear on this issue. I, for one, chose to avoid any potential dispute about my hair by cutting it all off. This could be one way out.

Visit by a JLP campaign team

Confirmation that a general election is near came last week when a Jamaica Labour Party team visited me at home in St Andrew North Western, during a “courtesy house-to-house stop”.

My first impression of Councillor Vernon McLeod, who led the team, was that he was a nice man, quite pleasant, and willing to listen. I gave him a message which I hope he would have delivered to the Member of Parliament for the area, one Nigel Clarke Esq.

My message to the goodly MP is that he needs to start acting like MP as he does as finance minister. Mind you, being finance minister is a huge responsibilitymbut there is one hurdle that he would have had to clear before he got to sit in that expensive high chair at National Heroes' Circle – the majority endorsement, by vote, of the people of the constituency.

Dr Clarke is a clever man, with a personality that many like. His father, the late Mr Justice Neville Clarke of Kingston College and Court of Appeal fame was my personal friend, and he would have been proud of what his son has achieved. But my MP still needs to connect a bit more with the people of his area…he must abandon the cold air of that section of Allman Town, back off his Italian-styled jacket, and walk the streets at times in the heat with those who respect and adore him.

When I travel the area and his name is mentioned, the usual cry is that people do not see him. That has to change. He doesn't have to get into the habit of handing out money that he may or may not have, but even establishing a presence and telling the people that the economy is so bad that he cannot even give them a $500 would be sufficient, I believe.

Knowing Dr Clarke, he might want to take these comments personal, too. He need not. For someone who is being touted by the upper class as the natural replacement for Andrew Holness, he would do well the listen some more, just like Councillor McLeod did.

US-China battle and a lottery licence

(Donald Tapia)

As the days progress more things are coming to light surrounding the hastily granted licence, at least the first phase of it, to Mahoe Gaming and the company's use of Chinese technology firm, Genlot, to set up things in Jamaica. Easily, it is turning into a budding war between economic powerhouses the United States and China.

US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia has made it clear, in non-diplomatic talk, that he has safety concerns about the selection of Genlot by Mahoe as its technology provider, which the Chinese Government has dismissed.

Things are much deeper than we think.

This is the fastest that I have ever seen the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission grant a licence to an entity for a lottery licence, thereby raising natural questions about connections higher up, although the Government would want us to think that its decision to take the Cabinet out as the final stop on the road to approval clears the Administration of blame. We all know about something called influence.

But this is not a good-looker. There are simply too many questions waiting to be answered, and the longer the wait, the more the smell of rotting meat will permeate the atmosphere.

Wheatley, Juliet Holness and the political campaign

(Andrew Wheatley, Juliet Holness)

It is unlikely now, that a general election will be held before September of this year. And if that is so, the official announcement would be by the middle of this week, perhaps during a meeting of the Jamaican Parliament, considering the COVID-19 challenges in whipping up crowds at field meetings. Both relevant political parties have declared their readiness, but how ready are they?

The Jamaica Labour Party has hinted that it has adequate funding in place to run the show; all candidates are confirmed but working out the protocols regarding coronavirus procedures, among other things, is still being done.

Across the political road, the People's National Party has also messaged the masses that it is up to the task. However, there is still talk about making last-minute adjustments to its candidates' roster, and the vexed question of money for the campaign still lingers. Also, the choice of Phillip Paulwell as co-campaign director may not be ideal. There is little chemistry between Paulwell and Peter Bunting, the other co-campaign director, and the yet unresolved issue of Paulwell's loss of his United States visitor's visa must be worrying for him.

The JLP could pile on the pressure even more if the party positions Juliet Holness, MP and wife of the prime minister; and Dr Andrew Wheatley at the forefront of the campaign. They are perhaps the top two on either side of the fence, when it comes to leading a campaign successfully. Don't believe me? Just check their involvement in campaigns over the last five years and you will see the evidence.

I saw Mrs Holness in action during the 2016 election in St Andrew East Rural, and remember, she was originally the campaign manager for the first declared candidate, Alexander Williams, and then, later on, for the by-election in St Mary South Eastern when she virtually turned PNP strong areas into JLP territory.

Dr Wheatley, despite his challenges with the Integrity Commission now, was the main man behind the victory of Andrew Holness over Audley Shaw in the 2013 leadership contest, soon after Holness's campaign was launched at Wheatley's constituency office in St Catherine South Central. He was that silent hand that guided the party home in 2016; and in the by-elections between 2017 and March of this year, he was the conductor.

He, like Mrs Holness, is exceedingly bright and a thinker par excellence, something I found out when I interviewed him for the first time a few weeks ago.

Dr Wheatley and Mrs Holness could be game-changers.


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