Sunday Brew – May 9

Golding’s worrying silence on Lambert Brown

TWO weeks have passed. Yet, some of the nation’s citizens are still waiting to hear even a peep out of the more than quiet president of the People’s National Party, Mark Golding, about his Opposition Senator Lambert Brown’s outburst in the Senate in respect of taking the law into his hands.

No amount of body shifting, little of which Brown did while he represented Jamaica College at schoolboy football during the late 1960s, can allow him to worm his way out of the stupidity that he displayed in that Senate sitting, and it is an affront to this nation that his superiors – including his Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Peter Bunting, nor Golding, his ultimate leader – have not told the people of this country how they view the rubbish of this full-of-chat individual.

Golding in particular needs to trash the tagline out there that his critics are posting, which says ‘Silence is Golding’. But will he attempt to? Of the available PNP numbers, he is still best suited to serve as president, so those who think that Lisa Hanna would have been a better choice need not begin rejoicing. Even Phillip Paulwell would have been equipped to lead the party, but alas, he still has issues to sort out before he can contemplate anything like that.

Unless there are things going on that the public does not know about, Golding has been far too muted. And the situation which involves Brown is one in which that silence can be broken. He must be man enough to act, and do so firmly; for history, like it did to Dr Peter Phillips, one of Jamaica’s finest scholars, will be unkind to him.

My earlier suggestion for there to be a meeting at Golding’s office, after which Brown’s resignation should be sought, and if not received, the president should dissociate the trade unionist from his party’s efforts in the Senate, still stands.

Political leadership, by and large, entails tough decision-making. The matter involving Lambert Brown and the decision that ought to be made is anything but tough.

By the way, something is just not right with the PNP’s public relations machinery. In the afternoon of May 4 the party dispatched a statement from spokesperson on local government, Denise Daley, calling for “equitable farm work programme overhaul”, and spoke at length on the failings of the programme while urging Labour and Social Security Minister Karl Samuda to set aside a “special quota” for new recruits.

Eight minutes later, another news release saying basically the same things about the farm work programme was sent out, this time attributed to General Secretary Dr Dayton Campbell. That should not have happened. Firstly, the spokesperson on local government has no business preaching about the farm work programme. Secondly, two people should not be saying the same things eight minutes apart. It looked rather tacky. 

India deserves high praise 

THE Jamaican saying that “Parson christen him pickney fus” (first) did not apply to the Asian nation of India when that country was in position to assist others with COVID-19 vaccines.

The crisis that faces India now is sad, but the bigger picture is that while the populous country was assisting other people around the world with generous vaccine handouts, its people were waiting in the queue. It is not something that you see happen every day, and people need to understand what it means to share.

Of course, there are those who will say that India was foolish not to have vaccinated more of its population instead of the around just under 140 million who got the COVID-19 drug up to last week; or that Prime Minister Modi is a fool to have ignored his people so badly, but regardless of that, India decided to share. Jamaica owes that country a huge debt of gratitude. It was India that offered Jamaica the drug, the first Caribbean island to have been afforded that privilege, but it was, strangely, turned down by a high-ranking official of this Government for reasons best known to him, reasons which I am aware of but will not disclose on this page. It was only later on that Jamaica decided to accept the goods.

India could have used those vaccines that it sent to Jamaica in the first phase, to fully vaccinate 25,000 of its citizens. It did not. Now, India is suffering from a major outbreak in its land and, while blame may be placed on the chest of politicians there for not introducing certain strategies that could have controlled the spread better, the people of the rest of the world should laud that great country for showing the sort of kindness and caring attitude that is so sadly lacking globally.

Too many lives have been lost, and it hurts me to see the indefinite suspension of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket championship, matches which I try not to miss.

India is a magnificent country which I have had the honour to visit and where I was treated regally and royally by its people. It shall rebound. 

A weak Jamaica $, and gas prices 

HOW best can we as a country find a way to handle the disastrous effect of the disgusting fall in value of the Jamaica dollar against its major trading currencies, in particular, the United States dollar; as well as the almost weekly hike in the prices of petroleum products, which cannot be matched by movements on the international circuit?

At the rate at which things have been going, Jamaicans will have some brutal economic months ahead. The onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic has made things worse.

No one in authority seems to care as the vicious bidders line up for US dollars during weekdays, unmindful of what the average Jamaican is facing, or will face soon, if the value of the Jamaica dollar keeps dropping, and the domino effect that it produces.

As for petroleum prices, three months ago, on February 11 of this year, the ex-refinery prices of 87 gasolene was $122 per litre, while a litre of the 90 grade was $125, ex-refinery. On May 6, the ex-refinery prices were $147 for 87, and $148 for 90. Of course, marketing companies add their markups on the commodity, so you will see 87 and 90 fuel selling for a low of just over $160 per litre, to well over $200.

But when I check with people in other nations there has been little or no movement of petroleum prices over the last three months, although there has been motion, to and fro, in respect of the price of oil on the world market.

There have always been calls for full disclosure regarding the way that Petrojam calculates prices, but any feeble attempt over the years usually results in pushing of information that’s full of rhetoric.

It cannot be disputed that Petrojam has thrown $23 on the price of 87 and 90 petrol in three months. Over a longer period, the increase has been more.

Now we have heard, too, that the negative movement of the Jamaica dollar has little effect on the cost of petroleum products. Is that for real?

What’s for sure is that if the dollar continues to be flogged like a race horse unwilling to win a race, and Petrojam continues to push up the prices of its imported products, we can look out for some serious occurrences in Jamaica soon, which could have even more devastating implications than COVID-19. 

George Wright must be having a good holiday 

A little over a week has passed since George Wright, the elected member of the House of Representatives, was granted two months’ leave to go and put his feet high at any of the posh resorts that border his Westmoreland Central constituency.

Why was he so rewarded? Well, he was said to have featured in a box office, action-packed scene, which he has a problem admitting, or denying. But there was action somewhere, and so tired did he get that he needed time from the Parliament to rest.

I wonder what George’s average day is like since he was so generously rewarded by House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple Phillibert?

Continental breakfast cannot be the way to go. Oh no, it must be a choice of ackee, salt fish, corned pork cooked in chef Wyatt “Spur” Williams’ style…oops, hope he is not Adventist and seeks to bun fire; but surely, salt mackerel, even liver and kidney to put back some iron in the system. Callaloo is good too, going down with some good St Vincent yam, tight dumpling, and St Mary banana. Pear (avacado) is out of season, so other fruits will have to make their way to the table. Wash that down with some chocolate tea, or the in-thing, Turmeric and ginger, and brother George would be well on his way to having a good day.

Splashing in the sea while the constituency that he was elected to serve is left breathless, could take him up to noon, and after that the lunch meal could be anything from curry goat, brown stew or grilled fish, or pot roast chicken, partnered by two beers, or if he can stand on his own feet, a flash of Appleton 12-year-old rum. For dinner, a meaty kind not touched at lunchtime could suffice, digested by watching the latest Netflix production late into the night until most is repeated at dawn. Might I suggest to George that he tries to go back in time to some of the most entertaining karate/kung fu vintage films, while he is at it.

That’s the privilege of getting two months off from representing the people in the House of Representatives for supposedly starring in an action packed movie – all scot-free.

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