Sunday Brew — June 7, 2020

The PNP is behaving like a high school club


The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is churning out more and more hard of hearing politicians as the days go by.

The latest issue to dog Jamaica’s oldest relevant political party never came as a surprise. That’s because the party’s leaders, in particular its President Dr Peter Phillips, have remained stagnant and uninspiring…unveiling the same criticisms of the Government that people have become tired of. There are no new initiatives to share with the ‘masses’.

But how can there be new initiatives when we have seen little movement in terms of the addition of fresh talent that will inject new thinking? Why should voters, by majority, put their trust in the PNP?

The one bright, outstanding spark in the PNP is the addition of economist Dr Andre Haughton to its armoury. He is a special kind. But then you look around and see the same faces who Dr Phillips would want to project, should he be successful at the next polls, among them Lisa Hanna, who is being ridiculously touted as a future president; Dr Wykeham McNeill; Anthony Hylton; and Fitz Jackson. Add some of the other backers to that and you could see a Cabinet list that has Patrick Roberts (my God), Veneisha Phillips (mi head a hurt mi), Rohan Banks (double headache), Raymond Pryce (I really need meds now), Andre Hylton, and more.

You see, the PNP, which said that it has signed off on its slate of 63 candidates for the next general election, has the worst list of representatives that I have ever seen the party assemble since I started following politics keenly in the 1970s as a high school student with strong admiration for the party led then by the inspirational Michael Manley. A related problem, too, is that one of the first-time rural candidates who had a chance of winning is unlikely to go forward because of illness. Sad!


Why the PNP is still not the preferred party


There are some in the People’s National Party who believe that a president should have a God-given right to do as he likes…even if it means loafing while things are happening around him that need his attention.

And this is not a throwing of words at veteran KD Knight, a man for whom I have the utmost respect. But there are so many who are still in their time capsule, who think that even if the majority of the people in the country say they do not want Dr Phillips as prime minister, then to hell with them…their opinions do not matter.

Dr Phillips either does not like to listen to the voices that will make things happen for him, or he has a hearing problem. The reality is that he is now seen by a huge block of people as the worst president of the PNP; and this is fuelled by the opinion that he has the worst general secretary to have represented any party in Jamaica; his party chairman is weak, his vice-presidents are weak, his kitchen Cabinet is also weak, and to compound those problems, the party is flat broke.

His unfortunate illness has made the situation worse, and the reality is that voters are looking at the viability of a man, aged 70, going up against one who is in his prime and turns 48 on July 22. Plus, Andrew Holness continues to do things that earn the admiration of those who matter.

If it is true that since September 7, 2019 Dr Phillips has not reached out, nor spoken to his elected party officials who went against him in the presidential race, then that would be a sign of sure disaster.

And even the man who challenged him last September, Peter Bunting, is being blamed for orchestrating the letter written to him and signed by the 15 parliamentarians, when Bunting neither initiated the move, nor drafted the letter.

The signatories are looking ahead. They see defeat a few months down the road, and want to avert that.

Every recent poll showed the PNP trailing its five-years-younger contender. My nose tells me that the Jamaica Labour Party is ahead in 36 of the 63 seats but I’m never one to write off a political party. Indeed, the lesson of 2016 when a complacent PNP thought victory was a foregone conclusion stands out. But nevertheless, it will take a humungous effort by the Opposition to wrest power from a party that has a positive momentum.

Based upon what has been happening, the PNP is doing itself no good by denying members and officials, who have its interest at heart, the right to express themselves about the pothole-filled road that the organisation has been travelling on.


Shades of George Floyd in Jamaica


The only difference between the United States and Jamaica in respect of the death of a black man, George Floyd, by the police, is that the act was committed largely by a law enforcer of fairer pigmentation.

For in Jamaica, quite frequently, several Jamaicans have met their demise in even more brutal fashion by members of Jamaica’s security forces who seem to be fed up with the scale of crime here and act in merciless fashion when they confront people they believe contribute to it.

The killing last week of a challenged woman, Susan Bogle, in August Town, St Andrew, did not excite the fiery, bloody protests that engulfed the United States, but there was enough room for Jamaicans to stand up and show that they really care. Very little happened! This is not a call for vicious, violent protests in August Town; just saying that we do not pay enough attention to such atrocities and they happen almost every other day, whether it is killings or beatings.

Jamaica has some of the wickedest criminals but Ms Bogle was not one of them. She was lying on her bed maybe dreaming of her next meal when bullets hit her. Allegations are that the only people firing weapons at the time were agents of the State.

Some among us will forget this act, and others before and after, in a jiffy. But like in the USA when a nation of all colours erupted and shouted that enough was enough, Jamaicans also need to ‘bawl out’ when atrocities are committed in their backyards.


The herb man and his COVID-19 promise


There have been largely positive responses to last week’s Sunday Observer front page article about a Jamaican man, Carlton Bennett, who has touted a local herb-based cure for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Now, there are those who will push their noses up and scoff at ordinary people who claim that they know the way to the Promised Land. Those voices believe wholly and solely in conventional medicines, which have not solved the medical problems of the globe. For every disease, there is a cure. It’s just that the cures for some ailments haven’t been found yet. And if, for any reason, a native suggests that he has a way out, he does not need to have an MBBS for people to believe.

Some among us do not believe that the man down the road can find solutions to complex problems. And if you try to allow that other voice to be heard, then you are labelled ‘irresponsible’.

In the same way that we have used herbs and bush medicines in this country to contain the common cold, or influenza – for which modern medicine has no cure – I’m sure that the same herbs can tame the coronavirus, as irresponsible as some people would want to suggest that I am in my thinking.


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