PNP's turn to 'Light a candle, sing a sankey...'Monday, July 19, 2021
IT was coincidental that just a few days after a relative abroad shared an inspiring YouTube video on national hero and founder of the People's National Party (PNP) Norman Washington Manley, news came that the chairman and vice-presidents of the party, as well as the president of the PNP Youth Organisation (PNPYO), had resigned from their positions. The video, produced by YeKengalé and featuring interviews with PNP elders PJ Patterson, Burchell Whiteman and Arnold Bertram, spoke of the perseverance and integrity of Norman Manley. They described his collegiality with Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Sir Alexander Bustamante, whom he supported even after his defeat in the 1962 General Election. Significantly, former JLP leader Bruce Golding also spoke of Manley's dedication to the development of our constitution.
So here we have a political party, founded by this shining Jamaican, now foundering as positions become hardened. The Jamaica Observer's lead story on Saturday, July 17 by Arthur Hall noted, “Last month, the party went public with news of its unity push, with the person given the job to lead the charge, former General Secretary Maxine Henry-Wilson, warning the Comrades that without unity the PNP would be in serious trouble.
“ 'The public can't believe that you have the capacity to lead if internally you can't even talk to each other properly. So the work that the party has to do, and is doing, has to be brought to the fore and the disunity has to take a back seat... It is not going to disappear, but we all need to have a larger purpose around which we are revolving,' Henry-Wilson told the Jamaica Observer.”
Our shop was blessed to serve the then Electoral Advisory Committee led by William Chin See, with membership including Henry-Wilson of the PNP and Ryan Peralto of the JLP. I recall the strong arguments as they discussed revisions to the Representation of the People Act, but with the respect and humour of mature deliberations.
Despite Henry-Wilson's wise counsel, it seems that the damage has gone too deep to resolve internal differences. Arthur Hall quotes from Krystal Tomlinson's resignation letter: “I will not continue to serve where there is a wavering commitment to integrity; where parish and region chairmen engineer and facilitate fraudulent behaviour and have the audacity to parade themselves as 'untouchables' because of their proximity to the leadership of the party.”
It is a crying shame that such accusations are being levelled at the leaders of the party that Norman Manley built. May they find a way to heal – in the words of the late Edward Seaga when he dealt with a rift in his party, “Light a candle, sing a sankey and find your way back home.”
Prime Minister Holness on New York TV
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the youngest Jamaican elected to that office, had an excellent interview with Fox 5 New Y ork host Rosanna Scotto last week, organised by Jamaica Consul General Alsion Wilson. We are grateful to Scotto for her kind words on Jamaica: “I can't wait to come back and visit — the entertainment, the people, the food, the water, the weather — everything is just about perfect there.” In describing PM Holness, she noted that “through compassionate dialogue and inclusiveness he is ushering in a new generation of transformative development and leadership”.
In response to her question on our state of affairs, Holness reponded, “I'm very proud of the fact that Jamaica has resolved its management of its economic affairs and I believe we are on a very good course, having gone through several IMF [International Monetary Fund] programmes to entrench this kind of fiscal stability and fiscal prudence... We are now on a trajectory for growth… We are creating the environment – regulatory and otherwise… we are also tackling other institutional and development issues, such as strengthening our bureaucracy to deal with things such as corruption but, at the same time, to become more efficient.”
He noted the Administration's heavy investment in national security through “long-term investments, which will have signal effects on the transformation of our country”. He disclosed that his Government “in a few months… will roll out some transformative policies for the education sector”.
The PM referred to the Government's work towards containment of COVID-19, explaining our protocols for testing and quarantine and our 'resilient corridor' for visitors. “We expect that in August we should have a sufficient supply of vaccines to start widespread and mass vaccinations,” he said.
In response to his thoughts on the situation in Haiti, he remarked, “It saddens me. I knew President Moïse personally… my heart goes out to his wife. I hope she is recovering speedily… We want to see stability and peace for the people of Haiti.”
Floods in Europe
The heaviest rainfall in a century broke the banks of rivers in Germany and Belgium and a dike in Holland, leaving over 120 people dead and scores missing. It was heartbreaking to see the reports of homes being swept away and small business owners, who had just completed preparations for reopening after the COVID-19-related closure, losing their shops to powerful currents. Leaders have ascribed this catastrophe to climate change. We send our sympathy to these members of the European Union, which has been incredibly supportive of Jamaica.
Best wishes, Observer colleagues
The Jamaica Observer has welcomed back the steady, sharp Julian Richardson as their online content manager; the experienced Dashan Hendricks has been appointed business editor; while ace writer Andrew Laidley has come on board as senior business reporter. Earlier this year, former Advertising Manager Natalie Chin, a veritable dynamo, was appointed deputy managing director. It is great to see our media houses focusing on strengthening their teams — no wonder Jamaica has been in the top ten countries for press freedom for many years.
Concacaf Gold Cup, Tokyo Olympics
Last week we cheered our Reggae Boyz as they triumphed over Suriname and Guadeloupe, making their way into the quarter-finals for the Concacaf Gold Cup. They enjoy the keen guidance of Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, who sent us into a state of euphoria with his two goals in the 1998 World Cup. We wish them well in their continued quest this week.
Meanwhile, more of our athletes are making their way to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics, which will have its official opening this Friday. We have high hopes for our stars and aspirants as they compete in the guarded environment of Japan's state of emergency. There will be no spectators in the stands but we ask them to imagine the loud cheers of their faithful Jamaican fans who will be with them every breathless step of the way.
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