Sunday Brew — Marh 24, 2019

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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Appoint Pearnel Charles Jnr a minister

The political demise of Ruel Reid must now pave the way for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to appoint Senator Pearnel Charles Jnr as a full-time minister of Government.

Reid stepped across the border of arrogance with alarming frequency. He may well rebound, but for now he needs to go through a period of introspection.

In the meantime, Charles Jnr must be seen as a man who is good enough to, if not occupy the chair at the Ministry of Education and Youth (Information can go to Senator Kamina Johnson Smith), do so as policy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade which he serves now as a Minister of State.

I'm not going to hide my close relationship with the older Charles — Speaker of the House of Representatives Pearnel Snr — one which stretches back to the 1980s when he first served as a Cabinet minister who, along with Hugh Shearer of the BITU, would give members of the Clarence 'Ben' Brodie-led Union of Journalists and Allied Employees, of which I was vice-president, valuable advice regarding how we should deal with industrial disputes issues at The Gleaner newspaper.

But that aside, the younger Charles is a brilliant man. I know him well and I'm sure that he can do the job required, whether at education or foreign affairs.

I'm aware that Charles' father is unlikely to contest the next general election, due in two years' time, and the son will seek to contest the Clarendon North Central seat on behalf of the Jamaica Labour Party. But right now there is a deficiency in the system, as the constitution requires that no fewer than two senators, but not more than four, be appointed to the Cabinet. Only Johnson Smith remains a Cabinet minister from the Senate. That has to change within days.

By the way, I have heard a bizarre suggestion for Holness to appoint Robert Nesta Morgan, who I'm forced to believe is the director of communication in the Office of the Prime Minister, as minister of information and senator. I hope that it remains a suggestion.

Sound budget presentations all round

Jamaicans near and far may not agree, but the just ended Budget Debate in the House of Representatives must go down in history as one of the best.

From the opening bell, Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke's $14-billion 'giveback' package was a decent gesture, whether or not you want to question the motive.

Then Dr Clarke's opposite number, Mark “Deejay South” Golding unveiled a polished reply in his position of Opposition spokesman on finance.

“Deejay South”, with his Parliamentary rendition of 'Santa Clarke, do you ever come to the ghetto? Santa Clarke, do you ever wonder why we suffer so?' showed us another side of him that hitherto was hidden. Golding had before come across as flat … a kind of medium fast bowler who refused to bowl a bouncer, choosing to concentrate on line and length, but this time he surprised the home team with some fiery stuff.

But Dr Clarke was at an advantage based upon the fact that he controlled the multi-coloured balls and knew how to juggle them.

Dr Peter Phillips, the Opposition Leader, was level-headed when he spoke on Thursday, March 14. He gave a reminder that he understood the system well, which is why he has been one of the shining lights when it comes to the policy direction of ministries that he has headed.

When Holness strode to the wicket five days after Dr Phillips, you knew from early that he would play a lot of shots, so as not to look irrelevant, following Dr Clarke's fine innings.

New benefits through the National Housing Trust, a boost for Lupus sufferers and his disclosure of plans to build bypass roads in certain rural areas, among them Hopewell in Hanover, Port Maria and Annotto Bay in St Mary, Long Hill and Anchovy in St James, among others, were effervescent pronunciations.

Most of the congestion in these areas, by the way, is caused by the behaviour of taxi and minibus drivers who the police seem unwilling or incapable of controlling.

But this country still has good political fighters in whom some of us are well pleased.

Let's tell Cameron goodbye … forever

This is West Indies cricket's big day.

It is the day that 12 delegates representing six territories within the English-speaking Caribbean can decide to get serious about the rehabilitation of the game by booting the now president of Cricket West Indies, Whycliffe Cameron, and allowing the organisation to breathe freely again.

If the majority of delegates do not heed to words of some of those who earned the tag 'great' — Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Andy Roberts, and Clive Lloyd — for Cameron to be removed from office, then we will be in for a crisis. Cameron is being challenged for the presidency of CWI by former Windies manager Ricky Skerritt at a meeting in Kingston. If the delegates want to be clannish and retain the status quo, they do so at their own risk, and would ultimately be fully responsible for laying the foundation for the execution of the final rites of West Indies cricket.

It's not only Sir Viv, Sir Andy, Lloyd, Darren Sammy among those who played for the West Indies at the highest level who believe that enough is enough and change should come. There are many of us who love the game endlessly, who suffer night and day when we look on helplessly and see how Cameron has dragged the game into the mud with his egotistic approach to management and his inability to pitch up the progressive ball.

We in the region should never again fall into a state in which our cricket has to suffer so badly. The time has come. There must be change … for our sake.

One thing is critical for the election, the delegates must insist that voting be done by secret balloting, in accordance with the Constitution, or Article of Association, as against a show of hands like what happened the last time that voting took place. If that happens, then we will definitely see a change in the management of West Indies cricket.

Those statements by Lisa Hanna

Two statements in recent time issued by the People's National Party's spokeswoman on foreign affairs, Lisa Hanna, have caught my attention.

The latest surrounds the Government's decision to close Jamaica's embassy in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, “temporarily” due to the uncertainty in that South American country. According to Hanna, the Jamaica Government was seeking to break diplomatic relations with Venezuela. I don't get that impression.

While the Venezuelan situation is ticklish, the Government's move to turn the shop's door should be seen as one to protect Jamaican embassy staff, who may even be feeling the effects of the economic situation and may not be able to readily access basic necessities to assist with their own survival in a strange land. Is it worth it? I see nothing wrong with taking a break until the matter is sorted out.

Hanna, strangely, several days before, raised an issue with the administration of Caymanas Park by the Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment (SVREL) setup. Now what does that have to do with foreign affairs?

I suspect that Hanna might have got carried away by the situation at Caymanas Park because of her husband Richard Lake's connection with racing, and Lake's failed bid to win the right to purchase Caymanas Park. If that is so, she needs to be careful that she doesn't compromise her position as Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs.

The issue of deadlines not being met, according to Hanna, by Caymanas Park Racing and Entertainment, may be due to several challenges, which several businesses face daily.

In my interview with SVREL Chairman Solomon Sharpe some weeks ago, it appears that horse racing is on the verge of getting the tonic that it has been thirsty for over the years. Let's wait a while and see how the creatures involved — both two-legged and four-legged — react to that.

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