A Jamaica Gleaner article reported Dr. Peter Phillips is now committing himself and the People’s National Party (PNP) to building a better Jamaica.
This stunningly enlightening and candid declaration came after the culmination of the recently concluded Party Retreat held at Hope Gardens. The article alludes to input by former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson. Some party faithful insist P.J. Patterson yearned during his time at the helm of power and party leadership for a more equal and fair distribution of the political spoils. His wise counsel was ignored. Back then that approach was too forward thinking and way outside accepted norms.
Is this new declaration to build a new Jamaica an embracing of that old, more reasoned, now long deserted past? Others, no doubt, openly will speculate that since no mention was made regarding comments by the most recent Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, her values and contribution would have diverged from this new direction and approach. Or as others question, is this acceptance by the PNP that the party is failing in its mandate? And a recognition that negative criticism of the governing JLP is having no traction with the public. After all positive changes are being made to the justice system – requirement by the new Chief Justice for judges to be more accountable. Establishment of the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), an independent comprehensive body, to investigate and prosecute facilitators of high crimes and other illegal activity including corruption, is a major step forward.
The benefit of sobriety alluded to by the Reverend Ronald Thwaites, not too long ago, in his article commenting of inebriated politicians is clearly demonstrated here. Krystal Tomlinson, the new PNPYO president must relish this new PNP approach. Her plan to engage and attract to the PNP, information technology savvy, young people is visionary. She will garner significant political following, and accomplish much if her innocence and pragmatism, rather than blind political allegiance, are allowed to flourish. The old paradigm of love for the poor, and policies that facilitate poverty are now clearly unappealing.
The PNP’s new, not yet fully articulated plan to accomplish massive land reform and unlock the potential of landless farmers is welcome. This is unlikely to mean granting of land titles to squatters who believe they should own property by adverse possession. However appealing adverse possession may be in the appeal for votes, such an approach would likely meet overwhelming resistance from legal land owners. This adverse possession approach, unfortunately it is rumored, is not monopolized by the poor. Many wealthy Jamaicans have conscripted valuable property using this same technique. The details of this well needed land redistribution plan are eagerly awaited.
The PNP’s legal challenge to the implementation of National Identification System (NIDS) may appeal to some who view the defense of their privacy as being severely threatened. The decision of the court will have major political and privacy rights impact.
Decrying the planned housing development in Bernards Lodge St. Catherine may also be appealing to many Jamaicans. However with there being such a great demand for affordable housing the PNP should proffer their viable alternative. Still others will gravitate to the reasonable concerns the party is expressing about excess banking fees. Most Jamaicans would do well with, and relish a decrease in the oppressive banking fees.
Yes there are many issues the PNP can successfully harness to ‘light fire’ under the ruling JLP and shift them from their comfort zone. To accomplish this buy in from average Jamaicans will be crucial.
However Trafigura remains unfortunately and obstinately relevant as it worms it’s way to the Privy Council in England. And the highly publicised sale of the Outameni property is still an economic albatross on tax payers and government funds. The police are still under-resourced. Rural and parochial roads remain, in a predominant state of disrepair. Questionable behaviour continues at some parish council offices as recently reported in Manchester and St. James.
In order to remain relevant pronouncements of a genuine rebirth by the PNP seem reasonable. Many Jamaicans, fairly or not, still attribute large swaths of the county’s failings to the party’s leadership and policies. After all the party oversaw many of the country’s failed accomplishments.
With hard work, artful, attractive, new branding, and aggressive attention to making positive changes to the many failings retarding successful development in Jamaica, the PNP may yet re-assume the trappings of power.
Jamaica needs a visible, viable, vigilant but humble opposition.
Best to the PNP as it carefully crafts its rebirth.
By Guest author: Leon Wright
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