ITS SILLY SEASON IN JAMAICA

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PM Portia Simpson and Opposition Leader Andrew Holness. Pic courtesy Gleaner Publication 

It’s the beginning of the silly season in Jamaica. In reality, there seems to be #SillySeason year round as our government and opposition consistently do silly things, but the season takes on a special aura especially when elections are called.

The PM , who promised she would  not call elections until she was ‘touched by God’ finally got  the heavenly touch  and elected to ‘Step Up the Progress” on February 25, 2016.  The opposition disagreed claiming their vision was the right vision as they would take the country from “Poverty to Prosperity”. Both parties  laying out  two road maps that are as far apart as the East is to the west coast of Jamaica.

The divide between the parties  are not unusual. From our independence  both parties have colored themselves with different color of prosperity- The PNP choosing the color orange , the JLP green. These colors have become so politically engraved in the psyche of ordinary Jamaicans that many have died wearing them. The silly season takes no prisioners.

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Photo credit: Gleaner photograph. 

The colors represent battle grounds and despite calls and breakfast to pray for unity, during the season these colors never meet. Indeed it is not unusual that people of both parties refuse to even wear clothing of the colors for fear of being called a ‘sell out’ or accused of being a traitor. It was therefore not surprising when an image published by the Gleaner with supporters of both parities hugging and even kissing on the cheek made headlines. Was this a sign that Jamaicans can enjoy the season without fear or repercussions and more importantly co-exist peacefully despite their respective leader’s rhetoric?

This unusual display of unity proved only to be fantasy as no sooner than 24 hours later the leaders of the parties indicated that nothing has changed and silly season rhetoric took center stage on the political grand stand.

At issue is the agreement for both parties to participate in the National Debates and the ruling  PNP is refusing to participate because the PM , on one side is threatening lawsuits and demanding apologies to her integrity  and answers to personal matters relating to the Opposition leader and on the other Andrew Holness refusal to submit the answers and calling on his lawyers to protect his legal rights.

The lines are once again drawn. The supporters are hugging and kissing , the leaders are fighting with legal daggers drawn. I guess the best things in life are silly.

Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a Candidate of a political party; but  I just repeated my self .  To say I am disappointed is an understatement. Politics have no relation to morals. Our entire political history rebels at the thought of somehow giving politicians the power to control men’s minds.

This power was the cause of a torrid history of political violence that made the transition from the politics of violence to peaceful democracy a rather messy one. The name calling by the leaders does nothing to improve the understanding or move the political debate forward and they both know this. Consequently the refusal by the PNP to participate in the National Debates does nothing to advance their political trademark , ‘Step Up to Progress”.

Is it that the PNP seems to have found a political ploy: picking up whatever issue the JLP is vulnerable on and champion the cause? Is the real reason for this posturing a deliberate attempt to divert their own short-comings? The PM  knows the silly season has no morals and name calling is commonly practiced on both sides as cooking ackee with salt-fish.

Both are pandering to their side of the political divide and that only brews up continued political violence from the uneducated mass, and both parties have a surplus. Andrew by his comments clearly seems to be playing the man and not the politics and Portia, by her retisence is putting her feet in tepid waters of paranoia whereby the same uneducated mass will feel justified to turn to violence to remedy imagined threats.

In the silly season one thing is clear and that is political civility is not about being polite to each other . It is about reclaiming  the power of both JLP, PNP and all the other P’s to come together , debate the common good and call  the Jamaican democracy back to its highest values amid our differences.

The silly season does not have to be silly and the voters have already tasted that savory fruit as evident  in the picture above. In the very end this political stand off is only trumping one thing – Whose policies will serve Jamaica best? No debate means no answers. It would therefore seem the 51% of independents  may have a point to their stand off and refuse to participate in this political season of silliness.

No part of a politicians ego is more indispensable than fighting for an informed  electorate and ultimately peaceful elections.

Copyright © 2016 Kwesi. All Rights Reserved.

NHT CANNOT CREATE ANY MORE SINS

                    PM Simpson Miller  expanded on her answer, stating that she had been advised by the board of the NHT that their decision to purchase the property at Orange Grove in Trelawny, and not the attraction known as Outameni Experience, “was firmly grounded in the National Housing Trust Act of 1979”.
Ok I amnational housing trust confused here. The PM just told the nation that the NHT has purchased the LAND that Outameni sits on but NOT the building that houses the brand Outameni? In other words the PM, in reading from her notes, is saying one of two things to the nation. Firstly the NHT, in its agreement with the owners of the property, has bought the land only but the buildings and other improvements is separate from the sale agreement and therefore subject to further negotiations or the NHT has entered into an agreement that is as stupid as the board themselves.
When we pump J$180m of taxpayers money into an ill thought out investment without the taxpayers questioning the purchase, we are building monsters at the gate of capitalism that will sooner be tamed than afforded to be let loose to continue to pillage and plunder as they feel.  The NHT was created by the government of Jamaica as an independent agency. The purpose of the NHT is simple – to assist with and create opportunities for Jamaicans to own affordable housing. This cash cow receives its flow without fear or favor from every Jamaican that is working, employer, self -employed or volunteer so needless to say it has cash, lots of cash,  something the government does not have. If the purchase of the property was land only then whiter the building? The question still prevails what did the NHT buy?
There is a saying in real estate that says what you own depends on what you bought. Only the documents of sale can answer this question . I tried to see these documents but of course you cannot find these records online. Has the NHT bought the land only but now must spend additional money to either remove or refurbish the building? Or has the NHT bought the land and has the right to build houses on the property or has the NHT as the sole owner of land and chattels, decided to exercise its new found powers of becoming investors in an attraction that will generate more than the investment they made to purchase? Is this the NHT’s answer of generating income for its primary focus of increasing revenue to build houses? Are they now entertainment operators?
The PM certainly feels so based from the words coming from her lips that the NHT board was..’exploring the possibility of acquiring and operating  the investment as an educational and cultural heritage as well as a tourist attraction.” So apparently  the NHT is continuing its lucrative portfolio of owning ‘cultural enterprises’ , Emancipation Park being one of the other enterprises, to give back to the contributors as well as to generate funds to further enhance their core portfolio of providing houses for the people of Jamaica. Sounds like a plan but any plan  is only as good as the magical hands that rub it. Does the NHT have a wizard rubbing this plan?
People are skeptical of politics like this in that the truth is rarely a politicians objective, election and power are. On the surface it sounds like a good plan but statutory bodies, like all government agencies, are not famous for their efficient and profitable operation of any enterprise. The NHT should set up a separate management body to manage these assets, monitoring and ensuring profit is not substituted for political gains. The NHT by its makeup and profitability is capable of making decisions of this nature for the intended objective. As I wrote in another op-ed our tourist and people are tired of Dunn’s River. Jamaica needs this portfolio in its arsenal of attractions to tourist and locals alike , but without proper management can lead to a colossal loss, an experience the previous owners knew only too well. Outameni becomes out of pocket, a pocket Jamaicans have long tried to sew the large hole that keeps expanding everytime he shoves his hand to find money to pay for anything!
My advice to the naysayers is this, stop, drink some coffee and calm down it may not be as bad as it is politicised. There are many out there hoping to get the keys to the political city of Fame but thankfully we have changed the locks to free loaders. The NHT can and has made the purchase albeit clandestine and suspiciously. Could it have been done more transparently the answer is a resounding yes. But transparency is never the objective of government which is ironic as transparency manages politics and mistrust,  a lesson they refuse to learn. But unlike the PM and her inept knowledge of issues and pulse on matters relating to Jamaica, the people have a right to ask and require accountability. J$180M is a lot of money and tax-payers want to know their money is well spent with the ultimate knowledge that any investment  of their money will equate over the long term to more opportunities for a lower mortgage to affordable housing. That should be the ultimate objective. Owning a home should not be a luxury only for the rich. Manley in his infinte grace left this legacy for the people of Jamaica an entity called the NHT. This institution, like Jamaica,  is still owned by Jamaicans. Governments have changed but the institution remains but when people’s misery is caused not by nature itself but by institutions such as the NHT, then our sins are great and mortal, very, very mortal.

“FIX IT JESUS”. Jesus replies…”I CAN’T..”

Less for mor

… the GDP has been reduced…..we are doing less with more money…..we have now stopped the 14 consecutive quarters  of negativity……PM Portia Simpson.

There is this particular video that is making its usual rounds on social media.  I tried to capture the video but I couldn’t as i wanted you to hear for yourselves., So I quoted the speaker with her words. The speaker was the PM of Jamaica.

I am not one  that usually seek gratification from people’s personal mistakes. We are not perfect but we can certainly be careful. Any speech by a Prime Minister or President of a country is I would image either written by the leader themselves or by their speech writers and vetted by other departments to ensure the message is not only concise but consistent with the aims and objectives of the  governing administration.. Then I would assume the leader would actually spend some time reading the gospel prepared for them to preach. Don’t really need to know the inner mechanism of these operatives. It is just common sense. But the unfortunate pronouncement made by the Prime Minister at her party conference is a shake your head moment at least or an inadvertent admission to the truth of  her government’s performance since their election.

There is not a day in this fair country that someone does not make the headlines as the Comedian of the Day. The recent high climbing tower act by a frustrated singer was the latest one in memory that made the disastrous 7pm news. No surprises here as stress make you do the craziest of things. But you do not expect this from a Prime Minister, not with all her aides and highly paid writers and secretaries and all the other overpaid civil servants on the taxpayer’s payroll.

Watching the conference on the pitiful TVJ news , you saw the high spirited PM running with a hoard of ‘security’ and her suffering supporters embracing her presence. She looked fit and well. If she could only communicate to the nation and her ministers to keep a healthy body , it would be one of the few things we could credit to her legacy. But that is another topic. I am accustomed to seeing the PM with her dark shades of spectacles , looking sinister and mysterious.  Indeed she reminded me in my younger days of a feared security officer who wore a similar dark glass everywhere he went, so much so he was called ‘Man behind the Glass.” But the PM sans her glass,  gave me reason to wonder, can she actually see to read her prepared script? She rubbed her face, she rubbed her eyes. She bucked, she stumbled through her speech. I knew she was in trouble. The speech moved no one, not her, not her ministers nor her supporters.

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I may be giving away my age when upon seeing her reading the speech I reflected on the days of PM Michael Manley whose message you might not support or in agreement with but you certainly did not want to miss the delivery. No leader, before  or after his death has come close to his charisma or his innate talent of commanding a crowd’s attention.. You were mesmerised to hear him. He lighted up the crowd with his dramatic and inspiring speeches.  The world, CNN at the time,  carried his speeches live, not just the local TV. When he spoke , even the President of the  USA listened. I cannot stay the same thing for this PM or those before her.

The attendance to the conference seems paltry, even by some of the supporters standards. TV has a habit of selecting the most comical persons for soundbites and the persons selected all said the same thing, smiling with their gums devoid of teeth,in their heavy, colorful  rural Jamaican accent..

” mi kinda worried bout the attendance…it look bigga a adda  conference..”

politicsThat may be true, after all one of them attended every conference since he knows himself. I am sure the political triumvirate may be worried as well but politicians are unable to tell the truth even when it hits them in the face like PM Simpson. They are too busy fooling the people all the time so they never listen to themselves. When i listen to the Jamaican politicians, something i seldom do, I believe that their interpretation when they speak about the ‘ people of Jamaica” are only referring to those people just beyond Cross Roads in Kingston and heading south. This government has done  nothing for the middle class in terms of enacting legislation and removing cumbersome bureaucratic cronyism to get that sector producing and creating jobs , which invariably affect their ‘people. The social and economic reality in Jamaica is the 1% of the upper class which includes the politicians are doing just fine. Money crosses from one table to the next, generating interest and foreign exchanges that are held overseas in bank accounts. The economy is set up to benefit them and the economic corruption of paying none or very little  taxes is left unchecked.The 90% or the lower class are either  struggling to find money to feed their family, or supported by overseas remittances from their families or working if they are lucky to get a job or they make up the many sellers of panties and bras on the streets. That leaves the 9% of the middle class that are the beating bag of the government , paying the heavy brunch of the taxes, paying the increased JPS bills and are yet to hear any member of government, including the PM, say on a public political stage..members of the middle class, i feel your pain!  Not one politician has ever done anything to support and promote their economic welfare. They  don’t need handouts, they just need an opportunity to grow their business and be a part of the jamaican economy. The PM publicly stated ‘‘she loves poor people..’. That is her mandate. To hell with the rest.

She is correct. Her government has done less with more money. Has she taken a walk in any of the supermarkets lately? Has the PM ever pulled up at the gas station one day and pay $138.00 for gas and the next day pay $142 for the same gas? Has she or any of her party stalwarts ever been to the hospital lately? Has she or her politicians been to a government office seeking assistance and face the gruelling sloppyness of a civil servant?  Has she or her government been to any tourist purveyor and see who controls the tourism market in terms of nationality?  Does the PM realise that investments are welcome but cannot be to the detriment of the people of Jamaica where total control is in the hands of the foreigner and the Jamaicans are left as second class citizens in their own country! The PM said her government is doing an excellent job and the economy is up, yet we spend IMF money to import red peas, red peas in this country! She is correct, the government is doing less for more money!

Seeing the video made me shake my head and pondered, not again. Not another politician publicly putting  themselves up to be a political sand bag . It brought me to a MEME I saw on the net that can easily  be applied to her statement and to Jamaica….

FIXIT

© 2014 Paul Tomlinson