In support of free speech and Golding
The scene outside Nationwide News Network after a gun attack Friday afternoon. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Dear Editor,

Jamaica Observer columnist Raulston Nembhard wrote an interesting opinion piece published on September 13 entitled 'We stand in solidarity with NNN'.

Let me publicly declare here that I concur with columnist Nembhard that the recent shooting incident at Nationwide News Network (NNN) is unfortunate, scandalous, and regrettable and must be condemned by all well-thinking, fair-minded, and patriotic citizens of Jamaica. However, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that general secretary of the People's National Party (PNP) Dr Dayton Campbell's comments relating to him stating that NNN is an incubator for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)-led Administration has anything to do with the incident. Police investigations are ongoing, according to media reports.

Nembhard is disappointed in Dr Campbell's comments against NNN. However, I profoundly disagree with Nembhard, for Campbell is entitled to freedom of speech. He was positing a view that some Jamaicans have that NNN is highly favourable towards the JLP, and it is the radio station's right to do so.

Every media entity in this country has some level of bias, either towards the JLP-led regime or the PNP. Extrapolating from Campbell's enunciations I found nothing irresponsible pertaining to them, and I would have thought that the Press Association of Jamaica would be supporting Dr Campbell's constitutional right to free speech as recently stated by the Opposition leader and PNP President Mark Golding. I hear other people referring to another radio station as JLP FM and that comment was not condemned.

Instructively and importantly, PNP President Golding has powerfully stated that he stands in support of Dr Campbell and the general secretary is entitled to freedom of speech, and he is spot on. According to Golding, NNN is quite favourable towards the JLP Government. From my personal observation by listening to NNN radio, I believe that on some occasions it exhibits a strong bias towards the prime minister and the Government, but that is their right to do. What I can further state is that their news reporting and news reports are always fair, balanced, factual, and impartial.

Cliff Hughes, veteran broadcaster and owner of NNN, is of impeccable integrity, character, and probity, and NNN's news department is also of high integrity and presents a first-class newscast on all occasions, with well-trained journalists, reporters, and presenters. Dr Campbell has since publicly articulated that he wishes NNN no harm and respects it as a radio station. Are the media too hard on him?

The PNP is leading the JLP by some 5 percentage points; however, Golding is still trailing Prime Minister Andrew Holness and, therefore, the party's officer corps and public relations team has much more political work to do to better promote the PNP president and positively increase his national profile by allowing him to do more media interviews and having him host more town hall meetings throughout the country.

Golding must be successfully politically packaged so that Jamaica can get to know him more on a national and constituency basis so that he can explain in greater detail his overall vision, goals, plans, and substantial new policies that he would implement if he becomes prime minister. His political appeal towards the youth must be significantly increased by his political handlers and advisers.

The senior officers of the party, along with the shadow Cabinet, must become more vocal and begin to articulate to the country specific, detailed policies that a PNP-led Government would implement from the various portfolio spokespeople. Some of them seem to be in a comatose state.

The hierarchy of the PNP must consistently and sedulously demonstrate to the country that they are in full support of President Golding, the party is now fully united around him, and all political differences within the PNP have now been successfully settled and it is ready to win the upcoming local government election.

The PNP hierarchy has to make more positive usage of the indefatigable, erudite, and firebrand PNP member Damion Crawford and get him to do more town hall meetings with Golding. The PNP must seek to employ a first-class and vastly experienced public relations company to assist the party and upgrade the national profile of Golding.

President Golding is a competent political leader and a very wealthy businessman who did not have to enter representational politics, but he has a firm, fervent, and unyielding love, admiration, and respect for the Jamaican people and would like to assist in the transformation of Jamaica.

As a Jamaican citizen, I truly respect him. And I also sincerely respect the current serving Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Robert Dalley

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