Severe dementia has taken root, and while they are in blissful wish, slowly, surely, surreptitiously destroying the remaining vestiges of a crestfallen People’s National Party (PNP). A PNP that has been on life support for some considerable time.
The party has been consumed by a significant loss of intellectual abilities, including memory capacity severe enough to interfere with social, occupational and rational functioning. The voting and engaged Jamaican populace look on in dismay, hoping against hope for an awakening, while the party hierarchy is woefully ignorant of its irreversible and painful demise.
Perceptive onlookers question the timing of the PNP’s decision to withdraw from providing its continued support for the state of public emergency [S0E] deployed in the parishes of St. James, St. Catherine and Kingston and St. Andrew.
Some posit this is a diversionary tactic since the PNP has been implicated in the concerning and very irregular practices at Petrojam and the Petroleum Cooperation of Jamaica (PCJ). Why would the PNP they question, deflect the spotlight from this highly charged issue guaranteed to generate soaring support for the PNP? And relieve the JLP from the attendant significant decline in political support, and offer them a free pass?
The mad rush by the PNP to discuss these same issues at the Public Accounts Committee, they suggest, demonstrates a usual urgency to get this issue off the press and out of the public spotlight. What does the PNP have to hide? Is the PNP trying to goad the JLP into calling early general elections? Are we now in a state of general election watch?
Will the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) gleefully proceed to early general elections if not as deeply implicated as the PNP in these concerning scandals?
People believe Prime Minister Andrew Holness can be trusted, is sincere, committed to the best outcome for the country, is dedicated to doing the right thing by poor Jamaicans as they advance from poverty to prosperity, and that his appropriate interventions produce result. When Shaw spent millions on phone bills Holness cauterised that bleeding. “Man a yard” was not untouchable! When murders mounted to alarming proportions and the society winced in fear, hopeless, he deployed the state of public emergency (SOE).
Finally, the average Joe/Jane is beginning to believe. A politician truly cares about his/her welfare. The murder rate has shown a modest decline. Jamaicans do recognise that having arrested the murders in St. James and elsewhere the police were now successfully targeting displaced criminals. Some suspect the PNP is alarmed by this positive impact, not wanting the death toll to diminish to levels lower than in Hon. Peter Bunting’s time as Minister of Security –which levels though high were considered acceptable by the governing PNP at the time. That murder rate by international standards, was astronomically high. Now the current PNP references in what appears to be callous fashion those numbers in disregard for those lives lost, as though meaningless, in the defense of halting the current public states of emergencies.
Lost on the current PNP hierarchy is the reality that Jamaica once had among the lowest murder levels in the world, and that with purposeful effort, strategic planning, and full societal support returning to those levels is not impossible. Holness understands that behavior change is essential to persistent lowering of the murder rate. His reticence to discontinue these interventions is a clear reflection of his study of the Jamaican crime situation and the lack of impact which resulted from measures which were implemented in the past.
Having tasted an improved sense of security Jamaicans will not be satisfied until the murder levels are in keeping with world norms as documented in some developed and relatively safe societies like Cuba, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
Mismanagement of public funds is not new in Jamaica. Prior Petrojam and Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), the Outameni, and light bulb scandals, and the Trafigura oil fiasco are just a few that persist prominently in the public glare. The PNP remains haunted by their lack of accountability and concern for management of public funds when these were prominent concerns of the Jamaican electorate.
Modern day quality control experts approach accountability by moving away from punishment for all cases when those making errors declare the error, to now focusing on negligence and recklessness. It is unclear as to where along this spectrum the PNP is positioned based on how it has approached accountability.
Jamaicans have for far too long genuinely wondered how fuel could be easily and openly procured from drums in several communities and where those supply originated. Others claim the demise of Air Jamaica was because of similar bleeding of the public purse associated with politicians, their relatives and cronies who amassed multiple free flights while paying passengers could not be accommodated. Spineless, then blind implicated politicians were totally unaware or disinterested in determining how all these government run entities and agencies continued to generate unimaginable deficits.
Nothing was done to either get forensic audits or to effectively and permanently arrest the loss from the public treasury. It is refreshing, the then governing, now opposition, PNP is expressing grave concern about such losses. Most however laugh heartily, wondering if this is an expression of their all-consuming dementia.
Obvious for all Jamaicans to see are the many accomplishments–in these short two years–of Andrew Holness, and the governing JLP. Massive major road construction, significant decline in unemployment, a semblance of stabilisation of the Jamaican dollar. Reduction in murders as a result of commitment and coordinated, consistent efforts. And a young Jamaican prime minister who some claim is blindly optimistic, to a fault about the positive prospects for his country and his clear demonstration of how much he deeply and fully loves his country and the Jamaican people.
Jamaicans have no taste or appetite for returning to the state of wanton, needless murders. The PNP would be better served by asking all Jamaicans to desist from committing murders, report violators of established laws, and pursue their concerns about the state of emergency through the courts.
Andrew Holness and JLP seem to have the PNP tightly and irreversibly locked in a hopeless tailspin. Leaders of the private sector and religious groups have recognised this and are trying to forestall the willful demise of the hapless PNP.
Guest author: Leon Wright
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