A hard lesson for Floyd GreenMonday, September 20, 2021
“What is happening? I see Floyd Green is trending,” said my husband last Wednesday evening. Floyd Green happens to be one of his favourite politicians and so he kept scrolling until he saw the birthday party video. “Oh my Lord!” he said. “He has to resign.”
I thought about Floyd Green's fresh-minded approach to agriculture, his dedication to his constituency and wondered if an abject apology, practically grovelling to the Jamaican people could save him. Well, as the situation escalated, we agreed that his decision to resign was the right one. It must have been extremely painful, but as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “Because right is right, to follow right were wisdom in the scorn of consequence.”
It is a hard lesson for the young Member of Parliament (MP) and a useful one for up-and-coming young people, who should be careful that they do not float above good sense on the wings of celebrity.
It's a hard drop — from a super ministry to none — but life happens, and one must have the courage to face one's faults, pay for one's mistakes, and, to borrow President Joseph Biden's slogan, “Build back better”.
Some of his friends have launched a petition to have Green reinstated but that is, perhaps, more of an embarrassment than a help. It would be more useful if they joined him in his constituency, helping him to organise vaccine blitzes and back-to-school assistance.
We understand that some upset followers were planning a demonstration and it is Green who has calmed them down.
It is interesting that, although there were the usual attempts to score political points, we saw some mellow moments. After Green posted the words of Desiderata on Friday, People's National Party (PNP) politician Damion Crawford commented, “You will always have my support, my brother. Cream always rises.”
We remember PJ Patterson's words, “I shall return,” after he resigned from the PNP Government's Cabinet in the face of the Shell waiver debacle. Return he did, about three months later when Prime Minister Michael Manley retired as prime minister in March 1992. Patterson served as prime minister of Jamaica until 2007, holding the longest record for that office. There is speculation that this may be Floyd Green's destiny — but that would be in the very long run. For the time being, we believe that Audley Shaw will have the former minister's number on speed dial and that Green will humbly and carefully regain his credibility. A good mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Unity for success
It was great to see Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding visiting vaccination blitz sites, together, last Thursday, showing their supporters that vaccination should never be politicised. On Wednesday the prime minister also toured the Kingston Eastern constituency with Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell.
Prime Minister Holness's announcement of the new curfew hours was met with sighs of relief. We NOW have more time to produce and commute — productivity levels, which were already too low in Jamaica, have taken a nosedive.
The new vaccination mobile unit, increased locations for blitzes, and advocacy by political and church leaders give us hope that we will achieve the 65 per cent target by year end. As the prime minister has reminded us, whether it is AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, or Pfizer, the first vaccine offered to you is the best vaccine. This is your protection from the new, super-contagious variants.
Minister Tufton goes to Washington
Despite the brickbats, we can agree that Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has been fighting this pandemic relentlessly. We should be proud that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has selected Dr Tufton to be president of their Directing Council Meeting and to lead their 59th meeting of their 35 member states. The four-day meeting begins today in Washington, DC, and, according to the ministry's press release, will “consider matters, including a roadmap for the digital transformation of the health sector in the region of the Americas, a comprehensive approach for addressing health threats at the human-animal-environment interface, and reinvigorating immunisation as a public good for universal health”.
Our Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie will also be a participant, while Permanent Secretary Dunstan Bryan and other ministry officials will join the conference virtually. Jamaica is looking to join the PAHO executive for the 2021-2024 term. Here's hoping we are elected as we have much to offer, having developed a health system which has won international plaudits, particularly in the area of primary health care.
Social media can, sometimes, be misleading. American rapper Nicki Minaj, who has 157 million followers on Instagram, is the living proof. Last week she is alleged to have posted fake information that her cousin's friend in Trinidad had taken the COVID-19 vaccine, developed swollen testicles, and become impotent.
The Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health did an investigation and announced at a press conference on Wednesday that there was no truth to it. I think they should have simply sent out a press release instead of calling a press conference. The video from the conference was grist for top US comedians – two nights in a row. We must say, though, that the Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh kept a fine balance between information and humour as a guest on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
But it didn't end there. When a Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reporter attempted to contact Minaj's cousin about the allegation, Minaj went on a rampage. The Guardian reported: “Trinidad-born US-based rapper Nicki Minaj has doxxed local reporter Sharlene Rampersad for trying to locate and interview her cousin and his friend, who were referenced in a viral tweet early this week. Yesterday the rapper shared Rampersad's phone number on her Instagram Stories, while threatening the journalist, saying, 'Her days are [expletive deleted] numbered.' ”
'Doxxing' is the sharing of someone's personal information online with malicious intent. The reporter was subject to hundreds of threats locally and from abroad. Instagram and Twitter have removed Minaj's damaging posts, but the damage done to Rampersad's peace of mind is inestimable.
Farewell, Edith Allwood Anderson
During her two terms as president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica – 1997-2000 and 2005-2012 – Edith Allwood Anderson pulled no punches in championing the rights of our nurses.
It was a pleasure to know “Miss Edith”. She had a great sense of humour and boundless energy, organising street protests against two finance ministers — Omar Davies (who she charmed into joining the march) and Audley Shaw.
Having stumped with our beloved nurses since the days of Syringa Marshall-Burnett, Merel Hanson, and Rupertia Smith, I had good chats with Miss Edith. I remember advising her to use shorter sentences when speaking to the media so she could get stronger sound bites.
Her most famous sound bite was the three words she uttered in her challenge to then Finance Minister Audley Shaw, “Play the tape!”, when he denied his campaign promise to double nurses' pay. Then Prime Minister Bruce Golding listened well and awarded a significant increase.
Rest in peace, Miss Edith; you fought the good fight. May light perpetual shine on you.