JLP vs PNP: Decision Time

As Jamaicans head to the polls tomorrow to vote in the general elections on who should form the next government, we have to ask ourselves does the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) deserve to remain in office or should the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) get the keys to Jamaica House?

It is a tricky decision because neither the PNP or JLP have been that impressive during the past 4 1/2 years since the 2016 general election.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has developed his image of a strong leader but besides that his government of ministers have been, for the most part, below average. The PNP has been a very ineffective opposition due to poor leadership and its lack of a intricate publicity machine. which is essential for today’s politics.

We have seen in recent general elections where the sitting government has been booted by the electorate after serving just one term. Prior to that period there was a time decades ago when a governing party were given the chance to serve at least consecutive terms. But these days the electorate cannot be taken for granted and this has led to shock results in recent general elections.

My view is that the JLP does not deserve a 2nd term. Opinion polls say differently. But the PNP under Peter Phillip’s leadership has not shown the passion and desire to seize this moment.

This election battle between the JLP vs PNP race is like a 12 round championship boxing match where the champion held on to victory (despite a poor performance) only because the judges felt the challenger did not do enough to wrest the title away.

The JLP has been superb at public relations since coming coming to power in 2016. They brought an air of confidence and assurance to the public.  At times the confidence bordered on arrogance and the JLP would push back hard on any constructive criticism. JLP was smart in highlighting – each day in the local news and via the various government information platforms – the promises delivered and other achievements.

Their PR machine is reminiscent of the Tony Blair administration in the UK.  The Holness government has taken spin to new heights in the landscape of Jamaican politics and government. But the overall performance of ministers has been poor and could explain why Holness had so many ministers without portfolio sitting in the Office of the Prime Minister department.

JLP has disappointed the wider electorate on so many fronts including:

  • The JLP government’s over reliance on the state of public emergencies measures as their leading anti-crime tactic was one of the laziest crime fighting policies I have ever witnessed. It has made little difference but infringe on human rights and crushed the hopes of many small businesses.
  • The endless government scandals of misuse of public funds, conflicts of interest and cronyism would have brought down governments  in other jurisdictions.
  • The sale or lease of former sugar lands to well connected figures without publicly disclosing the sale price was simply wrong. On this, the previous PNP administration was no different.
  • The Holness alliance with Donald Trump was sad. Turning its back on Venezuela after all the years of cheap oil the South America nation had provided to Jamaica was uncalled for but Holness administration caved in to Trump’s coercion.

I was disappointed by the lukewarm stance taken by the Holness administration over the Windrush Scandal and the lack of enthusiasm by some ministers on the issue of  reparations from Europe. To hear Kamina Johnson-Smith (foreign minister) state on the BBC World Service that Jamaicans need to move on from demanding reparations from European was disgraceful.

Final straw for me has been the government’s mishandling of the pandemic where at various stages their delay in closing borders, then opening the borders and deciding on this general election-  right in the middle of the pandemic spiking – showed a lack of forward planning and due diligence. August 27 the total number of COVID-19 positives was 1870, 5 days later the number rose sharply to 2683.

But I will give credit to Olivia “Babsy” Grange over her handling of the sports, culture and gender portfolios. Babsy has made her mark on a number of key issues and credit must go to her and her team for putting forward legislation to tackle sexual harassment.

Special mention too on the work carried out at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security under leadership of the late minister Shahine Robinson.

I have to give the government credit for some of the internet friendly platforms they have introduced to simplify certain administration processes.

The PNP leadership has failed to impress on the public that they are a viable alternative and Phillips has languished behind Holness in all the various opinion polls on their respective leadership qualities.

Phillips has been uninspiring and not showed the energy, hunger or charisma that would appeal to the wider electorate. On many occasions Phillips was missing in action when the JLP were on the ropes.

What has helped the PNP has been the work of a number of opposition members who have been steadfast in holding the government accountable. e.g. Peter Bunting, Mark Golding, Dayton Campbell and Mikael Phillips were some who did sterling work.

It is an indictment of the PNP leadership that Phillips’ best moment since becoming leader came last Saturday’s in the televised debate he had with Holness. Although Phillips’ response to the lack women in parliament was from a bygone age.

Unlike any local or by-election since 2016 the PNP has stepped up their marketing to levels not seen since the 2000s. The marketing of the PNP is no way as slick as the JLP’s but you can clearly see that Bunting has had a major influence into the electioneering since becoming co-campaign chair.

However, I have to question the wisdom of Bunting having political TV adverts just of himself performing in parliament. It as if he is preparing for the leadership race in the PNP should his party lose tomorrow.

I have not followed both parties manifesto that seriously, as given the pandemic and squeeze on economies across the globe many of the pledges promised by both parties in their manifesto will remain just that – pledges.

Here, the PNP could have done a better job on its key pledges by just keeping its message simple and aspirational.

The plan by the PNP  to subsidize utility bills was an overreach and was confusing when their various spokespersons tried justifying its cost. One this matter the PNP could have simply pledged to bring more competition to the utilities market in order to drive prices down and improve quality.

The JLP has not been as bold in its pledges as it did in the 2016 election and has relied heavily on its achievements and promising more of the same.

The polls have been consistent on a JLP victory by a wide margin. But voter turnout will be interesting given the inclement weather and the spike in COVID-19 numbers.

However, the name on every one’s lips during this brief election cycle is not Peter Phillips or Andrew Holness or any member of either party. The name that got people talking is the independent candidate in Manchester Central – Rohan Chung – who has  posted adverts across the various media platforms especially at peak times which must cost big bucks.

Who is Rohan Chung?

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Televised Debate Team JLP vs Team PNP – Who Won? Not Calamity Campbell

Last night’s televised debate between members of the Jamaica Labour Party (Floyd Green, Kamina Johnson-Smith & Christopher Tufton) and the People’s National Party (Dayton Campbell, Lisa Hanna and Raymond Pryce) was a let down and I score it a draw with the JLP having the slightest of edge.

Hanna was clearly to biggest winner of the night in the long term. As her performance would have appealed to apolitical younger viewers. But she may have smoothed over many PNP delegates who have been objectional about her leadership ambitions. If the PNP lose the general elections – as the polls are indicating – then Hanna has positioned herself as a strong successor to current leader Peter Phillips.

Hanna was composed, astute in her delivery and strong in her attacks on the JLP without coming across as offensive or juvenile. The timing of her patois comments was clever. During responses to questions to the JLP members from the media panel you could see Hanna off camera directing her 2 colleagues as to who will deliver the rebuttal.

Pryce equipped himself really well despite saying very little during the first 25 minutes of the debate. He had his usual wry wit in delivering his comments. He was quick and convincing at times. Pryce came across as succinct and by the closing stages of the 90 minute debate he was on a roll.

Hanna and Pryce were last minute replacements for the debate as their colleagues Krystal Tomlinson and Peter Bunting both pulled out for COVID-19 related reasons. Given such circumstances both Pryce and Hanna equipped themselves well.

As for Dayton Campbell, it was just cringe watch tv. Each time Campbell spoke you felt that either he was digging himself into a bigger hole or lacked the usual passion and finesse that we were accustomed to hearing from him.

Campbell’s use of the late Jodian Fearon’s name in attacking the government of its COVID-19 preparation was a head shaker. Why? Was this a pre-planned tactic agreed by the team?

I know what he was trying to say but the way Campbell went about his comments was reprehensible. During the break Hanna should have told Campbell to kool it and engage brain first and think of the wider audience his party is trying to win over for the 3rd September.

But Campbell during a discussion on mental health implied that his team had no mental health issues unlike his JLP counterparts. As a medical doctor Campbell should have known better than play such silly games and for me that the cost the PNP an overall victory in the debate.

Campbell knows better as has been of the top debaters during the recent parliament. So why Campbell went down this futile unprofessional road I will never know.  Campbell just looked distracted and did not look prepared even on health which was his shadow portfolio for most of the recently concluded parliament.

Floyd Green was the top performer from the JLP side. He backed up his arguments with data and examples of success stories in rural Jamaica. Green was articulate and brought an abundance of energy and brevity to his remarks. He was pumped up.

Kamina Johnson-Smith was her usual self as when she is in the Senate. Her repetitive reference to her PM Andrew Holness was a bit over the top and sounded more like Mike Pence’s usual adulation of Donald Trump. At times Johnson-Smith was talking so fast she kept twisting up her words. But she came prepared for a fight and did relatively well to put the government’s case for a 2nd term. Very energetic.

Tufton started off well during his opening remarks but after that he seemed to lose focus and was clearly flustered by Campbell’s remarks on Jodian Fearon.  In that moment, Tufton should not have swallowed the bait thrown by Campbell but rise above it. Tufton was not his usual poised self and Pryce was able to give Tufton the odd verbal elbow.

As for the supporting cast, I did not see the point of Janella Precius as a moderator. The level of questions raised by journalists Natalie Campbell and Vashan Brown was too open ended. The questions should have been more probing with follow-up questions based on the initial comments given by both debating teams.

The moderator should have been in a position to fact-check some of the outlandish remarks and promises made by both teams. Precius for one thing, should have put Campbell in his place over his mental health jibe at the JLP team. All Precius seemed to do was just watch the damn clock.

In all, Hanna came out on top and she must now sense after that performance, her stock has risen within the PNP ranks and that her leadership aspirations are now back on track after a few years where her colleagues/delegates dumped on her to stifle any upward profession to the top job.

Hanna, Pryce and Green may have done the best due to their media careers in front of the camera. Pryce presents a morning show on CVM Television. Prior to 2016, Green used to present same show Pryce is on today and Hanna’s media career goes back decades.

Overall Grades

  1. Lisa Hanna: A-
  2. Floyd Green: B+
  3. Raymond Pryce: B-
  4. Kamina Johnson-Smith: B-
  5. Christopher Tufton: C –
  6. Dayton Campbell: E

I think tomorrow’s debate – between Nigel Clarke (JLP) and Mark Golding (PNP) – will be a more contentious affair.

DEBATE DUEL - Parties clash over disabilities law, women's ...

l-r Green, Johnson-Smith, Tufton, Pryce, Hanna, Campbell


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Jamaica General Election – Move it to 2021

Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ decision earlier this month to call for the general election on 3 September -right in the middle of the pandemic – was clearly ill-judged and he needs to postpone the polls until 2021. Why the leadership of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) did not object vehemently at the time of Holness’ announcement I will never know.

Of all the priorities today a general election is the very least on Jamaica’s agenda and Holness had until next spring to call the polls.

Since the election was called for 3 September the spike in the COVID-19 has gone to panic alarming levels with even a triple digit increase over the weekend.

One of the oddest decision taken by the government was the opening up of the borders for visitors/Jamaican to come on short term visits during the summer. Meaning there was likely to be little space for any realistic quarantine steps for those landing in Kingston and Montego Bay. Here I have to question the wisdom those overseeing immigration policy.

When immigration officials see a Jamaican on a return flight from New York to visit Jamaica for 5 days does the official question the viability of any quarantine taking place by those arrivals?

No Jamaican is coming on a 5 day visit to Jamaica and staying indoors because many are here for some social festivity whether it be weddings, funerals, parties or set-up/wake etc.  Some such individuals were indeed up and the down their local communities the minute they landed.

But the government and opposition PNP are going ahead with the general election. How can that be? The PNP leadership needs to be bolder and not just act like a lame duck to Holness’ every beckon call.

Even though the election date was announced on 11 August, government ministers in particular had been on the campaign trail long before then and thus attracting crowds as they traveled across the island turning on the latest installed water system, opening  housing projects or ground breaking the latest building complex etc.

We have seen where tv debates have been announced and the initial names of some of those participating had to be changed due to them been in close proximity to person(s) who have tested for positive for COVID-19.

Once again the government and opposition could learn from the benchmark set by politicians in New Zealand.

In New Zealand most of the political parties agreed to postpone their upcoming elections and the daily increase in positive COVID-19 that triggered such decisive action was nowhere close to the daily equivalents in Jamaica.

Judith Collins, New Zealand’s the Leader of the Opposition (National Party), called for the election delay and was attacked by government supporters for doing so. But when the governing Labour Party’s coalition partner in government, New Zealand First (led by  Deputy PM Winston Peters) also pushed for the delay, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had little choice but to move the general election from 19 September until 21 November.

The increase of COVID-19 positives was roughly 12 new community cases in New Zealand the day before Ardern announced the postponement of the general election.

Jamaican has had daily COVID-19 positives of roughly 83, 63, 116, 53 and 98 in the past 5 days Given there is just 1.9 million persons on the Jamaican voters list, it would be a travesty if thousands (very possible now) could miss voting due to quarantine restrictions.

The COVID-19 numbers are likely to increase even further given the crowds of party supporters who swarmed the streets on Nomination Day last Tuesday, with little care for wearing a mask or keeping social distancing. It was appalling to see grown men and women – who should know better – prancing up and down near our home partying without care for their welfare and others. Then the recent rainy conditions (Hurricane Laura) would not have helped matters either.

Many have said life goes on and we should not let a pandemic prevent the decision of the people from being made at the ballot box. Really? If that is the case why are our children not in school since Easter?

My advice? Postpone the election until 2021, recall parliament and amend the legislation if necessary.

The current closure of parliament for campaigning purposes has meant that the special parliamentary committee overseeing the COVID-19 operations has not met publicly for over 3 weeks. Given the current surge that committee should be meeting this week as a matter of urgency.

So Prime Minister Andrew Holness, swallow your pride, park your green Clarks, postpone the election and recall parliament. Given the unusual circumstances I would even suggest that if the pandemic is still lurking in 2021 to keep the general election over a 2-3 day period in order to spread out the span for voters to cast their ballot paper and avoid overcrowding at or nearby polling stations.

To me the most important priority for Jamaica today – away from the pandemic – is getting those early childhood kids back into some rhythm of education at this critical stage of their young development.


March 2021 – ” (record daily) 878 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases bring the total number of cases on record for the island to 26,904.” – I rest my case.


MAJ disheartened as political parties, supporters flout COVID ...

Moutha Many – Nomination Day  (photo from The Gleaner)

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Jacinda Ardern & Angela Merkel Ranked Most Eloquent World Leaders

Development Academy – UK based personal development consultancy – came up with a list of the top 10 most eloquent world leaders.

In coming to their conclusion Development Academy said they “analysed more than 100 hours of footage from press conferences, assemblies, political events and other public appearances over the last 12 months to rank the most eloquent heads of state based on their communication and public speaking skills.”

So the top ten world leaders Development Academy decided on was as follows:

1. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
2. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
3. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
4. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
5. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
6. Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark
7. Emmanuel Macron, President of France
8. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway
9. Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy
10. Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia

I agree with Ardern and Merkel being in the top ten. Ardern is one of the best political communicators I have seen in the 4 decades I have followed politics. Merkel is just in a class of her own.

It’s moment like this I want to wave the Non-Align-leaders-matter flag, but I digress.

When surveys and analyses are conducted on certain issues you can guarantee that the usual nations always end up in the top ten i.e. Canada, New Zealand, German, Scandinavian nations and Australia.

  • I could not have Modi in my top 10. But I would have had his chief rival Imran Khan (Prime Minister of Pakistan). Khan’s eloquent statesmanship has prevented his country from going to certain war with Modi over Kashmir. Development Academy stated that “Mr Modi engages very well with his audience, using plenty of eye contact and positive body language to help convey his messages.” I presume there were no feedback from the Muslim community of this assessment of Modi given Modi nationalist persuasions since coming to power. But Khan has faced criticism over his silence on the treatment of Uyghur Muslims by the his pals in Chinese government.
  • In their review of Justin Trudeau, Development Academy  said “Mr Trudeau is a very clear speaker, which allows him to connect with people easily.” Have the assessors at Development Academy really studied Trudeau’s performance in the past 18 months with open eyes? Trudeau has been marred by multiple corruption scandals where he has been coy, evasive and at times obnoxious in his communications. In fact the more he spoke the less convincing  came across outside of his loyal supporters. Turns out JT was not so truthful at times which has damaged his credibility and his party losing their overall majority in parliament. e.g. the current WE scandal has put Trudeau and his finance minister on the brink over his judgement and trust with the public. The JT charm offensive has long worn off.
  • Merkel the finest world leader of the last 4 decades?
  • Ardern is top class. One unique thing about Ardern’s leadership is her ability to just pick up the phone and join a discussion on radio to add substance to the debate going on via the airwaves. Never shy in taking on the tough questionings head on.
  • Having Sturgeon so high is interesting. She seems to have done the best of all the home nations leaders in relation to the pandemic. Not easily flustered when facing public scrutiny by the media.

My own top ten most eloquent leaders would be:

  1. Mia Mottley (Prime Minister of Barbados) – Charming and blunt in a mature respectful measured manner. Not afraid to tell Uncle Sam where to go. The Caribbean has a gem of a leader in its midst.
  2. Nana Akufo-Addo (President of Ghana)  – Now this man is eloquence personified both locally and on the international stage. Charmed his way across the Caribbean and the US in 2019 with his “Come back home/Year of Return” message and gifts.
  3. Tsai Ing-wen (President of Taiwan) – Holds her her own against her cousins in the north. Much is said of Ardern and Merkel’s handling of COVID-19 but President Tsai set the benchmark long ahead of any leader. For Geo-political reasons few global leaders have feared heaping praise on her publicly for fear of upsetting China.
  4. Ardern
  5. Merkel
  6. Pope Francis (Vatican City)
  7. Keisha Lance Bottoms (Mayor of Georgia)
  8. Imran Khan (Prime Minister of Pakistan)
  9. Roosevelt Skerrit (Prime Minister of Dominica)
  10. Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister of Singapore)
  11. Ralph Gonsalves (Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines)

Great publicity for Development Agency though who also gave some useful tips on public speaking.

The world leader that I found to be the most eloquent in my lifetime on this planet is the late former Jamaican PM Michael Manley. He just had something that even when he was angry on the political platform it came across with charm and enthrallment.

It would be a far easier task to come up some of the most charmless and insolent current world leaders including the likes of

  • Donald Trump
  • Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil)
  • Rodrigo Duterte (Philipines)
  • Viktor Orbán (Hungary)
  • Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel)
  • Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Eqypt)
  • Yoweri Museveni (Uganda)
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Turkey)
  • John Magufuli (Tanzania)
  • Alexander Lukashenko (Belarus)
  • Vladimir Putin ?

In some of the above mentioned nations/names eloquence just does not cut it, if such individuals get to win power and fulfill ambitions to remain in office for life.

In the meantime, we can watch for ourselves a pivotal moment when Prime Minister Mottley and President Nana Akufo-Addo shared a public platform in Bridgetown, Barbados in 2019.



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England vs West Indies – The Pandemic Series

As I feared, the visiting West Indies cricket team crumbled to England losing the 3rd and final test match and giving the host a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.

As a West Indies fan I was disappointed at how the West Indies batsmen just folded so sheepishly in the last 2 matches. It was reminiscent of how the batters played the Indian fast bowlers in the Caribbean last year.

When the West Indies squad was selected for the short tour to England, it dawned on me that this was the weakest West Indian batting lineup I had seen in my lifetime to go overseas.

Opener John Campbell was out of sorts. The body language and defensive mindset of Campbell’s opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite just gave the opposing bowlers the confidence that they can get at him as he was not one to rotate the strike regularly.

The way the West Indian batsmen kept getting dismissed playing back was just frustrating to watch.

With Shimron Hetmeyer opting out of the tour the West Indies missed the one player we knew who would take on the English fast bowlers in an aggressive fashion.

But credit to Joe Root’s side for coming from behind and winning so decisively. England gave a team performance with most of the players chipping in at crucial times.

Stuart Broad continues to show was a brilliant and fiery strike bowler he has become. Here the West Indies could learn something from Broad. It was long known Broad-the-batsman had difficulty with short pitched deliveries meaning his wicket was an easy gift for  opposing bowlers.

But in the 1st innings of the final test Broad made a crucial half century that took the game away from the West Indies. Later on Broad told the media that he had worked on his batting to fix some flaws such as keeping his head still.

What can anyone else say about Ben Stokes’ batting in the 2nd test?

Coach Simmons/Captain Holder – Who Is In Charge?

When Phil Simmons was reappointed head coach of the West Indies in late  2019 I was lukewarm about the move as (in team sport) I am against managers return to previous jobs. Such moves normally end in tears. But as a fan I backed him the minute he was appointed.

What was disappointing for me was that the West Indies administration could not find a senior batting coaching position for former West Indian great Desmond Haynes. Haynes had lost out to Simmons for the head coach position.  [England’s batting coach is the tenacious Graham Thorpe.]

I like captain Jason Holder. But he (& coach Simmons) must demand more of his batsmen and get his bowlers to develop an aggressive and hostile attitude towards the opposition. I was bemused by the lack of short pitched bowling from the West Indies. The most aggressive West Indian bowler on show was the one playing for England, Jofra Archer.

I would suggest that – as an all-rounder/captain – Holder studies the leadership display  of another captain/all-rounder from the past – Imran Khan. Imran molded his team of under achievers into a competitive team that even gave the great West Indies teams of the 1980/1990s a run for their money.

As captain of Pakistan, Imran did not allow for mediocrity to blossom and was not afraid to make his feelings quite clear to his players in clear view of the public. The players feared him.

[In the first few years of the Waqar Younis test bowling career, Imran stood at mid-off and told Waqar which delivery to bowl at the batsman. That’s some attention to detail, but it worked and turned Waqar into one of the greats.]

Holder’s defence of his friend Shai Hope’s dreadful batting form was just ridiculous and even drew harsh criticism from fans back in their home of Barbados. Hope should have been dropped for Nkrumah Bonner for the final test. Bonner deserved an opportunity and it was a waste to take him to England and not blood him.

Hope was selected based his one day form. I expected better judgement from chief selector, Roger Harper.

  • Holder was the highest ranked batsman in the West Indies team so why was coming in so low down the order?
  • How could Holder/Simmons win the toss twice at Old Trafford and bowl first? Twice? Especially when you stacked the team with a long batting line up? Traditionally if you win the toss at Manchester you bat first as the batting last is very dangerous on a pitch well known for breaking up on the last day. Yes, England stepped up their game in Manchester but Holder gave up a psychological edge when he choose to bat first.

Following the victorious first test match, captain Holder told the West Indian media that the preparation for the series was the best he had experienced as a player. Holder also waxed lyrical on the back up West Indian squad who he said gave his main players a working over in the nets. So what happened after that win Jason?

Not playing four fast bowlers was another serious error of judgement on the part of Jason Holder and Chemar Holder (no relation) deserved a debut place to share the new ball in that final test.

Much as Shannon Gabriel bowled brilliantly in the first test we all know his fitness is an issue and could not play 3 straight matches in such quick succession without some set back. He was never the same player after the first test.

The West Indies side lacks commitment, courage and characters. They certainly require a talisman or 2.

But there are talented young players in the Caribbean who with regular experience of the 4 day game could have a successful future for the West Indies test side e.g. Joshua Da Silva, Keon Harding, Chemar Holder and Jayden Seales

Rain Stops Play – No Problem: Roll the Archives

As expected the 3 match series was interrupted by rain. This gave the excellent Sky Sports team an opportunity to broadcast documentaries of previous England/West Indies battles and discuss the state of the game.

Sky also showed features on the likes of Ian Botham, Vivian Richards and Michael Holding. The appreciation that the British media and fans of long standing have towards the likes of Richards and Holding is underestimated by many in the Caribbean. As in certain parts of the Caribbean some have zero clue of the exploits of those former great players.

Ryan Moore is one of  the top jockeys in the UK for the past 2 decades. Moore is known for his dour persona at the track. So too see Moore speaking glowingly and jokingly (in one of the Sky docus) about his long-term friendship with racing-fan Holding is a testament of how the former West Indian great is revered even in rural England.

But Holding will be long remembered from this series for giving one of the most awe-inspiring statements on the issue of Black Lives Matter.

Test Cricket Resuscitated?

In recent years some have tried to write off test cricket. But the last 4 weeks just showed to cricket fans that this format of the game is still relevant.

So looking forward to seeing how the touring Pakistani batsmen play the England pace attack in a few days time. Babar Azam vs Archer looks mouthwatering.

But I am also keen to see the Pakistani teenage sensation, Naseem Shah, given he has the perfect bowling action for English conditions.

Let us hope England repay the West Indies in kind and make a reciprocal visit to the Caribbean in the next 12-18 months.  If not, I would love to see a West Indies A vs their English equivalent play home and away. Our younger talented players need more matches, more experience of the longer version of the game. Plus playing in English conditions would improve their batting technique with the better pitches up there.

The poor standard of Caribbean pitches continues to turn mediocre slow bowlers into budding Shane Warnes at the regional tournaments. Time for quicker pitches across the Caribbean to assist our batters and fast bowlers in equal measure.

Eng vs WI 2nd Test 2020: Stuart Broad breaks into Super 500 club

Broad the Aggressor – Merlin of Manchester



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Time for Jamaica to Honour More of its Local Heroes with Landmarks & Not Just Politicians

The recent renaming of Denham Town Primary after former Prime Minister the late Edward Seaga (died 2019) came as no surprise.

Since Seaga’s Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) returned to government in 2016, under the leadership of current Prime Minister Andrew Holness, this administration has been on a relentless campaign to name landmarks after their own. We all know that Jamaica’s highest award – National Hero – is in the pipeline for Seaga if the politicians get their way with this continued drip-drip feed of all good things Seaga.

Since 2016 Holness has renamed a new highway after Seaga and a building at Petrojam.

  • In February 2018 at the naming ceremony for Seaga at Petrojam Prime Minister Andrew Holness said to his mentor (Seaga)

“Putting your name on a building is just one way of giving that symbol, but it is such an important thing to do because generations will come and the winds of time will blow away memories of the great things you have done, so we have to leave markers behind for (people) to see and appreciate the value (of your work),”

  • At the naming ceremony for Edward Seaga Highway (replaced North-South Highway) in June 2018 Holness said..

“We memorialise his work, his legacy in a physical manifestation, and we inscribe his name on it that it might live on in the minds of those who own the future, that they may be inspired by it and seek to make similar if not greater contributions to building our nation,”

The irony of the highway name change was that Seaga was against its construction in the first place.

The current JLP administration has named places in honour of deceased former colleagues in Dr Ken Baugh (health centre in Point Hill) and Enid Bennett (school in Bog Walk).

Warmington’s Right

In May this year a discussion was held in parliament over the renaming of a road in honour of Clifford Campbell (former Governor General and JLP MP) in the parish of Westmoreland.

Dwayne Vaz from the People’s National Party (PNP) suggested that the road in question should be named after his former colleague and mentor, the late Roger Clarke.

But government minister Everald Warmington stood up in parliament and lambasted his fellow parliamentarians for pushing this constant renaming of public structures after their political friends.

Warmington said

“I don’t support any infrastructure in this country being named after some politician who served here or there. We were not elected to come here to be honoured in that sense”…..Warmington continued  “We have the privilege to represent the people of Jamaica,…So, they owe us nothing to name anything after us.”

PNP & JLP – Two of a Kind?

What was striking about Warmington’s statement was that not one MP from either the government side or the opposition PNP benches rose to support his comments.

PNP members have said little about these renaming landmarks because when in power they too have been equally self-serving in naming structures/landmarks after their colleagues.

We saw under the last PNP administration (2011-2016) the renaming of a school in St Elizabeth after their former colleague Roger Clarke (died 2014) and a highway was named after their former leader/Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.

The way both main political parties have abused their authority to carry out such lavish name changes – not to mention the plush ceremonies on the day – is just sheer arrogance.

One of the more outrageous naming exercise came in 2017 when a centre at the controversial Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) was named after the sitting Energy government minister who had  responsibilty for the CMU – Andrew Wheatley. The signage in Wheatley’s honour was removed in light of the ongoing Petrojam scandals

Community Stalwarts Deserve Greater Recognition

Jamaicans have witnessed landmarks named after Olympians and musicians but those are so few and far between. The recognition of local community stalwarts with similar accolades have gone largely ignored.  In many instances the local icons have done far more for their community than any political figures could ever have done. But it is the latter’s tiny contribution that get exaggerated in media and documented circles.

If you take the town of Old Harbour and its outskirts (MP is Warmington) – where I grew up – the contributions of the likes of Mabel Grandison, Gloria Robinson, Linda Spence, Charles Pryce, Dr James Brown, Oswald Dawkins, Mavis Cohen, Luther Gibbs, Olga Lewis, Carl March, Alrick Mignott, Colin Bradford (Olympian), Judith Spencer-Jarrett, James Dawes and many others that raised the profile of the community.

  • The likes of  Oswald Dawkins and Charles Pryce played a significant role in the infrastructure development of the community of Old Harbour/Old Harbour Bay and its environs.
  • The late Linda Spence (former local librarian) had such a positive impact on the reading culture for young people in the community from the 1950s and was integral to the construction of the then new library back in the late 1970s. It is surprising that the local library was not renamed in her honour.
  • Alrick Mignott, local businessman, may go down in the history of Old Harbour as the most generous to set foot in the community.
  • Judith Spencer-Jarrett may be a cousin of mine but the way she transformed the fortunes of Davis Primary is worthy of loftier admiration than the naming a computer room in her honour. Not to mention her volunteerism.

The Case for Mabel Grandison

Mrs Mabel Grandison, teacher and former school principal, gave 7 decades to the education of youngsters in the Old Harbour, Marlie Mount & Old Harbour Bay. When Mrs Grandison was appointed principal of Old Harbour Primary in late 1960s she faced objections from some of her male peers because of her gender. Mrs Grandison went on to become the first principal of Marlie Mount Primary in the mid 1970s.

Mrs Grandison teaching career in the Old Harbour Bay and Old Harbour primary schools began in the early 1940s. Despite Mrs Grandison retiring in 1979 she continued to provide extra classes at Marlie Mount Primary right up to the 1990s.

Mrs Grandison has received the Prime Minister’s medal but her name should be  landmarked in the community so current and future generations never forget her immense contribution. Why not rename Marlie Mount Primary after Mrs Grandison?

Old Harbour and its immediate outskirts has been crying out for newer primary and high schools since the 1980s as the local population has increased beyond recognition  since the last schools were established in the area in the 1970s. Maybe one of those new school coming to the area should be named after Mrs Grandison.

Bruce Golding, former Prime Minister, can vouch for Mrs Grandison’s positive impact on thousands of Jamaicans and his own family. Mrs Grandison is still alive today and is a centenarian.

Politicians – Violent Enablers?

As Warmington said parliamentarians were elected to do their jobs. It is fair to say the violent crime that’s choked Jamaica’s development since the 1970s can be traced right back to both main political parties and their ties to violent gangs that has transcended generations.  For that simple reason I was never a fan of politicians having landmarks named in their honour.


[Jamaican journalists and historians have had a habit of exaggerating the careers of politicians. Their writings is more gloss and little on substance or criticism.]

Manley/Seaga – Hero Status

Expect the PNP and JLP to try and agree to a cosy deal that eventually upgrades Seaga and former PM Michael Manley (PNP) to National Hero status just as both political parties did when Alexander Bustamante (JLP) and Norman Manley (PNP) were elevated to Jamaica’s highest gong back in the day.

In light of recent international events over landmarks and statues expect some apolitical Jamaicans to push back hard on such a proposal.

S.C. Thompson

Back in my primary school days at Old Harbour school in the late 1970s, there was this life sized framed photograph of a black man on the wall in the main building.

Being a natural inquisitor even then, I asked the teachers – who was this well groomed man? No one knew; not even my then principal of the school had a clue and she had been a teacher there since the late 1940s. Neither my dad could give me an answer and he was a former student in the 1930s.

40 years later, I came across the same image online whilst doing some research and it turned out that the person in question was one Simeon Cornelius Thompson a former headteacher of Old Harbour Primary (then known as Ludford Trust) and president of the Jamaica Union of Teachers. Thompson died in 1918.

So our community and school had a leading educator in the early 20th century and none of us knew for decades because it was not documented or landmarked prominently for of Old Harbourites to understand and fully appreciate.


Modern Landmark Names Do Matter

For such a young independent nation as Jamaica the landmark names it chooses do matter. If we keep naming landmarks after just the political class and the odd sports star or musician, we erase the memory of those real local heroes whose impact were more significant to the development of their community.

It is time for the profiles of those unsung heroes in the community to be raised to loftier and permanent levels. If we continue to ignore these community giants local history will be lost/doctored for good. It is common knowledge that Jamaica has a dreadful record in recording its history at the local community level.

If Enid Bennett can have a school named in her honour in Bog Walk for prosperity, then so too should Mabel Grandison in Old Harbour or its environs, given her 7 decades of significant contribution to the local education sector.

Mrs Grandison (nee Rainford) was born close to Bog Walk. I have never met her but I have witnessed her positive impact on many others.

mabel1 (2)

1970: Mabel Grandison (2nd right) also in photo. l-r Tacius & Enid Golding, Clifford Campbell & Clifford C. Sewell….. [former politicians Tacius and Campbell have schools named in their honour]



1984 – Oswald Dawkins (right)

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What I Learnt During the Pandemic Week Ending 4/7/20

In Jamaica I Learnt..

Politically, it has been a week of reports of corruption, nepotism and cronyism against some high profile Members of Parliament.

  • Andrew Wheatley (MP, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP))

The 2 reports by the Integrity Commission (IC) into the Petrojam scandal – that’s dogged the current government since 2018 and led to the resignation of government minister Andrew Wheatley – were published.

The IC reports highlighted high levels of corruption, conflicts of interest, nepotism, cronyism abuse of authority by certain public officials linked to Petrojam. The IC has suggested that law breaking may have been committed and recommended that further probing is carried out by another state investigative body.

The IC was very critical of Wheatley’s actions as minister. The IC also slammed the actions of Yolande Ramharrack (former Petrojam HR manager), Floyd Grindley (former Petrojam general manger), Dr. Perceval Bahado-Singh, former Chairman, Petrojam and a host of other connected individuals.

In the case of Ramharrack the IC report was highly critical of her diabolical governance and HR practices given she was so unqualified for the position from the outset.

In the aftermath of the report being made public, Prime Minister Andrew Holness came out in support of Wheatley. Both were seen (pic below) hours after the reports were published at a NHT (National Housing Trust) handover ceremony in Wheatley’s constituency of South Central St Catherine.

PressReader - Daily Observer (Jamaica): 2020-07-02 - 'Now is the ...

What crisis? Wheatley (left) & Holness (2nd right)

The Integrity Commission Special Report of Investigation conducted into Allegations concerning Donations which were made by Petrojam Ltd to Organizations and causes for the period April 2016 to March 2018

The Intergrity Commission Special Report of Investigation Conducted into Allegations of Acts of Irregularity and/or Impropriety, Conflict of Interest, Corruption, Nepotism, Cronyism and Favouritism at Petrojam Ltd

  • Lisa Hanna (MP, People’s National Party (PNP))

According to reports in Friday’s Gleaner Lisa Hanna has been allegedly caught in her own cesspool of cronyism, nepotism and bad practices in her constituency of South East St Ann. Excerpts from the Gleaner:

“Lisa Hanna, a legislator and spokesperson for the Opposition People’s National Party’s (PNP) election campaign, has escaped criminal charges but has been slammed for nepotism and cronyism in the award of millions of dollars in contracts in St Ann in a ruling by the director of public prosecutions (DPP).

Richard Lake, the husband of the St Ann South Eastern member of parliament, might, however, be at risk of being charged.

The ruling has been with Integrity Commission since July 2019 but has not been made public. And DPP Paula Llewellyn, who, on Thursday, confirmed sending her opinion to the anti-corruption body, declined to comment on the matter.

“During an appearance before the OCG, Hanna explained that she selected the contractors because they “proved to be trustworthy”.

But the DPP said: “Mistake, misjudgement, negligence, or even dishonesty in the award of government contracts are not in, and of themselves, sufficient or conclusive to establish a foundation for a criminal charge.”

The DPP’s assessment, which was also sent to the police, was scathing. It argued that the OCG’s report revealed a “culture of negligence and/or unethical management in the award of contracts developed in the St Ann Municipal Corporation acting under the aegis of Ms Hanna

The DPP ruled in July 2019: “There was no allegation or evidence that Hanna “departed” from established procurement procedures and that a prosecutor could not prove “either wilful misconduct or abuse of public trust “It cannot be said that as a matter of law, the articulated justification is patently irrational,”.

Hanna has responded via social media – “It’s time to stop misleading and desperate journalism.”. Hanna rarely does straight ahead interviews.

In light of these developments how can Hanna remain a member parliament’s oversight bodies such as the Public Accounts Committee? As Hanna can not have any moral compass to question public servants over their own alleged bad practices of (legal) cronyism, nepotism and malfeasance (CNM).

With the general election looming this Hanna fallout was a test of the Phillips’ leadership given he has been lambasting the JLP government over their own alleged ties to CNM.

So it was mind-boggling to see the PNP issue a statement fully supporting Hanna rather than allowing Hanna to first face questions from the media. Phillips should have asked for the report on Hanna to be published, hold a news conference with Hanna and face the music.

Hiding behind written statements and social media postings shows a lack of courage and highlights the hypocrisy of the PNP leadership.

Cronyism claim – Lisa Hanna dodges charges but scolded for contract nepotism

Constituency Offices

One of the common issues in both the Wheatley and Hanna cases is the role of constituency staff.

  • Staff who worked at Wheatley’s office were given roles at Petrojam or were employed as then minister Wheatley’s assistant in government. e.g.
    • [According to the IC…”Mrs Daley nee Bell previously worked in Constituency Officer of former Minister of Science, Energy & Technology Andrew Wheatley…Mrs Daley nee Bell does not have the required qualification for the job nor did she go through the normal selection process. She was given a two (2) year contract instead of a one year contract, as is normally approved by the Ministry of Finance.This contract was signed by Yolande Ramharrack only, and the signatures of the immediate supervisor, Nordia Sandford and the then General Manager, Floyd Grindley were noticeably absent.This is highly irregular”]
  • According to the Gleaner…. “Meanwhile, the DPP has recommended that charges be brought against Joan McDonald, an executive in Hanna’s constituency office, for making false statements to the OCG.The OCG had found that McDonald provided false documents to investigators in breach of the law. McDonald also claimed that she was persuaded by Lake to submit false accounts to the OCG.”

We know these constituency staff members are hired for their loyalty and subservience. So carrying out certain duties on behalf of their political bosses can come with nerve wracking consequences.

Let’s hope these staff members are allowed union membership to protect themselves as they can ill-afford to hire the big lawyers (as their MP bosses can do) when the proverbial hits the fan.

9 Day Wonders = No Criminality

When caught out by their alleged acts of nepotism and cronyism, the political class and  tends to fall back on the mantra that they did not do anything criminal or illegal (as per today’s PNP statement backing Hanna). Their dubious actions might not be criminal but it is clearly dishonourable.

The Americans will take note of these latest developments and when the visas start getting revoked, the reality of the political class’ actions will start to sink in.

2016 Ones To Watch full

Hanna & Lake – The Haves

Abraham Lawrence – released after being jailed for 20 years without trial

Elsewhere in the Jamaica, the long term incarceration of innocent poor black Jamaicans without trial is at crisis levels. Abraham Lawrence was released this week after spending 20 years in prison without trial. His charge? Causing indirect damage to a police car window during an altercation with another man. According to legal representatives Lawrence’s papers “got lost in the system” and was left to rot. Lawrence is mentally ill.

Mentally Ill Jamaican man gets bail after 20 years behind bars ...

Lawrence (centre) –  The Have Nots

Globally I Learnt

  1. In New Zealand Chris Hipkins, the Minister of Education, is now also the Minister of Health – at least until the September election.  Hipkins replaced David Clark, who resigned on Wednesday after a dreadful few months in the role which came to a head over the govt’s quarantine measures.
  2. Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson has been re-elected with a  92% of the vote.
  3. According to NBC “Cuba plans to restart its tourism industry by sending visitors to five narrow islands that will offer all-inclusive vacations and keep foreigners isolated from the rest of the nation.
  4. In the UK parliament former PM Theresa May blasted her successor Boris  Johnson for appointing David Frost to the post of National Security Advisor given his lack of experience in the intel community. For the 2nd time in my life I agree with May. A strange decision by Boris to bring in his old pal. But as one UK radio presenter said “What do you expected when you voted for a clown for PM?”
  5. In Lebanon there are projections that 50% of businesses will go bust by the end of 2020 due to the pandemic.
  6. Vladimir Putin has stepped up his drive for Tsardom-4-life status and could stay in charge of Russia until 2036.

West Indies batsman Everton Weekes dies age 95

Everton Weekes 1925-2020

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What I Learnt During the Pandemic week ending 27/6/20

In Jamaica I Learnt

  1. A Joint Select Committee discussed the Sexual Harassment Act 2019. J
    • Some members of the committee give the impression that sexual harassers are exclusively from the working class and does not happen in their own circles. There was too much slamming of bus and taxi drivers and not accepting that sexual harassers come from all levels of Jamaican society including the political class.
    • Delroy Chuck, Justice Minister, said he does not wish for any metoo-movement-type legislation that allowed alleged victims to raise complaints  years after the alleged incident(s) took place. Chuck suggested that alleged victims should have a limited window of 12 months from the alleged assault to file their complaint to the authorities. Chuck’s entire contribution incl. innuendos (“woman should take the balls and report it”) was  unprofessional. Chuck has since apologised.  Equally disappointing was that not one member from the select committee challenged Chuck over his comments. This was a golden opportunity for committee members to put Chuck in his place and show Jamaicans watching the proceedings that they are taking the issue of sexual harassment seriously. Not even the chair of the select committee – Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange – raised any objections to Chuck’s comments and she is the Minister for Gender Affairs. Simply not a good look all round.
    • Danny Roberts was doing his best Meg Ryan impression (When Harry Met Sally) when he “yes,yes, yes” to Chuck’s suggestions.
    • The strongest arguments during this week’s session came from Horace Dalley People’s National Party (PNP), JLP Senators Kerensia Morrison and Dr Saphire Longmore. But their non-response to Chuck’s remarks was a blot on the overall discussions. But I disagree with Dalley’s suggestion to restrict  victims to 2 years from the alleged sexual harassment to officially file their complaint. Why is there a push to restrict the time scale for victims to file such accusations? Are some employers lobbying to limit the time frame?
    • The sexual harassment bill has taken 3 decades to reach parliament and from the discussions I have witnessed I little little faith that the proposed legislation will go far enough to give victims adequate recourse. For sexual harassment to be effective the media has to play its part to expose sexual harassers in high society. But the current antiquated libel laws means the media could not report such allegations. No point having sexual harassment legislation if the Harvey Weinsteins in Jamaica are not brought to book because of powerful lawyers and a scared media. Real press freedom is paramount.
    • Every Jamaican woman I know under the age of 55 has told me they have been sexual harassed. In same cases the alleged aggressor is a pillar of society and the alleged victims know they had no chance of any justice. In some cases the alleged victims emigrated vowing never to return Jamaica.
  2. With Peter Bunting now in place as the newly appointment Opposition Leader of House Business he has moved to sit next to Peter Phillips -Leader of Opposition- in the debating chamber. The optics of Phillips & Bunting side-by-side presented a  powerful image of unity between 2 political heavyweights that has been missing from that PNP’s front bench since 2016. Both gave strong speeches in the debate over crime and the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) overuse of states of public emergency. You could see the energy of Bunting and Phillips feeding off each other. Bunting said to Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ face “Unity cannot mean that the Opposition capitulates to your (national security) position every time. That is not unity Prime Minister that is appeasement.” Strong stuff. It was one of those rare moments when both PM and Leader of the Opposition were in parliament at the same time.
  3. It has been a week since Lisa Hanna, MP, was made the PNP’s chief campaign spokesperson. But Hanna has said very little since the appointment. You would think Hanna would have made her presence felt throughout the week by giving interviews via the various media platforms. No official date for the general election has been announced (August) but the governing JLP has been in campaign mode for months and Holness’ impromptu appearance this week on Radio Jamaica’s Hotline -hosted by Emily Shields- was more evidence that the PM is limbering-up to fit into his green Clarks shoes.
  4. One thing you learn about Jamaican governments is that cabinet ministers don’t get fired that easily. So this week cabinet minister Dayl Vaz lost the land and environment portfolios but has been tasked to oversee water and housing. This is in light of Vaz’ controversial bid to lease land on a world heritage site. Vaz was forced to withdraw his application following public and media outcry over his poor judgement and conflict of interests. But he remains in the cabinet.
  5. George Williams has been released after spending 50 years in prison without trial.
  6. On Television Jamaica (TVJ) Simon Clarke Cooper’s debut her live evening chat show. It was deep and moving. Big up to Neville Bell for his own honesty over failing at fatherhood.
  7. Saharan dust storm smothered the entire island for days. Some places – due to the humidity – felt as high as 104 degrees.
  8. Growing number of journalists who are working in public sector roles as PR/communication managers. You have Dennis Brooks (police), Dara Smith (Factories Corp) Andrew Canon (water), Cecil Toms (buses), Archibald Gordon (CMU). Hiring journalists by governments has been common practice across Western and developing nations since the 1990s. A reminder how governments value the art of messaging and spin when sharing information with the public. Pay & perks are better too.
  9. In light of the outrage over the Governor General’s Order of St Michael and St George insignia, that depicts a white man as the angel and black man as satan, is the whole governor general style of of governance relevant to a modern Jamaica?


Warm Up Session -Emily Shields & PM Holness

Globally I learnt

  1. 868 children arrived in the tiny island of Malta last year after being rescued at sea. They included 768 who were unaccompanied or separated from their parents. Most originated from Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.
  2. Rwandan journalists and media practitioners are set to have free legal representation when faced with lawsuits concerning their work.
  3. People in several parts of Greater Lisbon will have to go back to staying at home from next week as Portuguese authorities deal with a worrying wave of coronavirus on the city’s outskirts
  4. Canadian authorities knew that an accused Liberian war criminal – Bill Horace – was  living freely in this country for at least a decade before he was gunned down during a violent home invasion in London, Ontario.
  5. In Ireland, the excellent jockey Rachael Blakemore rode in the prestigious Irish Derby (flat racing) over the weekend. Back in March this year she also rode in the grueling Cheltenham Gold Cup over 3+ miles (jump racing).  Given these are 2 different racing disciplines Blackmore’s achievement is a rarity.
  6. Greater London Authority/London Assembly building that also host the mayor of London is owned the government of Kuwait.  The idea of UK government offices in London being owned by a Middle Eastern country would be preposterous 2 decades ago.
  7. Ireland has a new prime minister (Taoiseach) in Micheál Martin of the Fianna Fáil party in a 3 party coalition government with Fine Gael  and the Green Party. Martin will hand over the premiership to Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar in 2+ years time. Still it is weird to see Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael sharing power. But no doubt Sinn Fein will be waiting in the wings should the coalition fall apart.
  8. As a Queens Park Rangers fan you are conditioned not to say positive things about Chelsea football club but I must sing the praises of its manager Frank Lampard for the sterling work he has done in giving the younger players a chance in the senior squad.
  9. After more than 100 days still no conclusion to the elections in Guyana. The latest move by Guyana electoral officials to delay matters even further (invalidating 115,000 votes) drew a public stinging rebuke from Mia Mottley (Prime Minister of Barbados and outgoing Head of CARICOM).
    • Mottley said “…we must ask – on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Elections Officer determine that he should invalidate 1 vote, far less over 115 000 votes when the votes were already certified as valid by officers of the Guyana Elections Commission in the presence of the political parties”
  10. Ghana’s government apologised to Nigeria after a building at the Nigerian High Commission was destroyed by armed men.
  11. Malawi has a new president in 65 year old Lazarus Chakwera after a re-run in the election. Headline writers will have a field day given Chakwera is a philosopher, theologian and clergyman by training.
  12. Dumbest answer of the week came from Canada’s top cop Brenda Lucki who was asked by parliamentarians to provide examples of systematic racism. By even Trump’s standards Lucki’s response was on another level.

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What I Learnt During Pandemic During week ending 20/6/20

In Jamaica I Learnt

  • George Williams, 71, appeared in court this week having spent 48 years imprisoned without trial and will be released. Williams was arrested and charged with the murder of a man in July 1970 and was declared unfit to plead. The psychiatric unit within the prison service was closed in 1975 and the impact of that decision has cost lives.  The media and historians should request access to the government papers that led to such an ill-conceived decision by the then Michael Manley administration. Makes you wonder how many other inmates have died in prison since the 1970s who were incarcerated for over 5 years without facing a trial.
  • In his address to parliament over current prison scandal Horace Chang, National  Security Minister, described the situation over the late Noel Chambers (40 years on remand without trial) as a comedy of errors. Comedy of errors Dr Chang? Chang did pin the blame mainly at public servants. But no one in the system including parliament can be absolve of blame here.
  • Mike Henry, 85, has been appointed Minister of Labour and Social Security  (MLSS). Karl Samuda,78, has been confirmed as Minister of Education, Information and Youth having covered those portfolios in an acting capacity since early 2019.  I know the pc machine is spinning the age-is-just-a-number claptrap but this is just ridiculous given they are talented Labourites who deserve promotion to the cabinet. Zavia Mayne, 42, the current junior minister at MLSS must feel insulted.  (Leslie Campbell was just made a cabinet minister which is a good decision by the PM.)
  • Peter Phillips, People’s National Party leader, made some smart staffing changes in preparation for the upcoming elections. Peter Bunting (Shadow Education) will co-lead the party’s election campaign as well take over as Leader of Opposition Business in the lower house. Lisa Hanna has been appointed chief election campaign spokesperson. A good move given Hanna’s popularity, star appeal and her own future leadership ambitions.
  • Television Jamaica’s (TVJ) replaying of some of their archived local current affairs programs shows that the issues that were covered then – e.g. crime, religion, children, public transport – are still been discussed today.
  • TVJ’s popular School’s Challenge Quiz final was won by Ardenne High despite luckily getting through the semis, when the judges messed up on an answer given by Ardenne that would have given Kingston College a nail biting win. Some will say Ardenne was lucky to have won the quarter finals over Munro College following another blunder by quiz officials.

Karl Samuda - Jamaica Information Service

Karl Samuda, 78, Minister of Yout


Globally I Learnt

  • Taiwan has reported no local case of the coronavirus for over two months.
  • John Bolton vs Donald Trump over a book release.
    • Trump’s worst decision as POTUS (there are many) was appointing the war hawk Bolton as his National Security Adviser in 2018.
    • With his new position Bolton was masterminding all sorts of regime change war games. Bolton even dragged that Iran-Contra holdover – Elliott Abrams – from the grave to drive hardline measures on Venezuela and Cuba.
    • It was no coincidence that Nikki Haley resigned as US Ambassador to the UN months after Bolton was hired by Trump. As Bolton wanted a big say on UN issues and Haley was having none of it on her watch.
    • In the book Bolton boasted at how he, Mike Pompeo and Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu ensured Trump could not speak directly with Iran’s leaders, despite Trump’s willingness to do so. Shame. But it tells you how weak and naive a president Trump really is, if his own staff can block his intentions of such needed peace talks.
  • Kenya, India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway are the new 5 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. Canada made a big play for a seat and lost out which has caused consternation for many in Ottawa.
  • The British government is planning to merge the Foreign Office and Department for International Development. Just like when the Labour govt merged the Inland Revenue with Customs & Excise in the 2000s this move is just an awful decision.
  • With 210.9 deaths per 100,000 population, the London Borough of Brent was the worst affected of all areas in the UK for coronavirus deaths.
  • To ease their debt concerns Angola has opened up its oilfield holdings to Chinese interest.
  • Zimbabwe’s Health Minister, Obadiah Moyo, charged with corruption regarding a $60m deal to procure COVID-19 test kits and medical equipment.
  • New Zealand government has enjoyed plaudits for its handling of pandemic. But that praise came crashing down this week over blunders which included  two new imported cases of Covid-19 who visited a dying parent under compassionate grounds. The new arrivals had not been tested for Covid-19 before leaving isolation, despite new rules saying they should be tested on the third and 12th days of isolation. PM Jacinda Ardern was slammed for this failing.  Ardern has now put the military in charge of border quarantine processes which is embarrassing for her government.
  • Israel’s parliament – the Knesset – passed the ‘Norwegian Law,’ that allows political parties to replace newly appointed ministers with more Member of Knesset (MKs).
  • English football is back (spectator free) and I love how we can hear the comments made by players and managers alike during the games. I like the 5 substitutes rule, let’s hope it stays.
  • Facebook joined Google in rejecting Australia’s ‘pay for news’ proposal, telling publishers: You need us more than we need you:
  • Montreal has been accused of turning ‘blind eye’ to systemic racism and discrimination in police and the city administration.
  • Three US senators (Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz & Rick Scott) introduced a bill named “Cut Profits to the Cuban Regime Act” would require the US State Department to publish the list of countries that contract with the Cuban government for its medical missions program. I doubt this proposal will get must traction in the House but Caribbean and African nations must feel concerned about this move and must push back hard with effective lobbying.
  • Mary Elizabeth Taylor resigned from her senior position within the Trump administration (State Dept) due to his chaotic limp response to the current race related crisis.
  • With a vote of 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring sex discrimination in the workplace protects LGBTQ employees from being fired because of their sexual orientation. Decision was a big deal when you see that a Trump Supreme Court nominee – Neil Gorsuch – wrote the majority opinion. Not a good week in the courts for Trump as he also got scorched over his plans to remove DACA.

Who is Mary Elizabeth Taylor? Social Media Loses It Over Woman at ...

Judge Neil Gorsuch and Mary Elizabeth Taylor – 2 Conservatives who pissed off Trump this week

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General and Local Government Elections in Jamaica on the Same Day?

General and local government elections are looming in Jamaica but no dates have been set as yet. The rumour mill has it that the general election will be held in August.

But there have been discussions on whether to hold both elections on the same day which according to election officials could save the Jamaican tax payers approximately $JM 750 million ($US 530k). The government has set aside $JM 2.4 billion ($US 17m) for both elections.

I doubt such cost saving measures would increase the voter turn out as most Jamaicans have grown uninspired by the leadership of the 2 main political parties that has run Jamaica since 1944.

In the 2016 general election, just 47% of the electorate voted and a miserly 30% in the local government election a few months later. In the latter election one division had a voter turnout of just 16%.

PNP Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips has tentatively voiced his support for the same day election suggestion.

I feel the dates for the general and local govt elections should be kept apart. What the political officials should be doing is coming up with initiatives to generate greater voter participation at the ballot box. One possible measure could be to introduce referendums on national and local issues and tie with both elections.

So the electorate could have a say in referendums on issues such as

  • Term limits for elected officials at the national and local level.
  • Term limits for elected heads of government
  • Elections for the Upper House (senators)
  • Move from first past the post elections to proportional representation.
  • New national heroes
  • Membership of the Commonwealth/Jamaica becoming a republic
  • Public disclosure of political donations
  • Names on bank notes
  • Revoking the buggery law
  • Same sex marriage
  • Making the assets/liabilities/expenses of parliamentarians public
  • Fixed election dates
  • Elections to regional crime, health and education boards
  • More Mayors for the larger non-capital towns
  • Election of police commissioner and Director of Public Prosecutor.

We have seen where referendums have ignited interest and passion on local issues in other countries.

The Jamaican electorate has seen how slow their govts have been in not fulfilling their manifesto. But the electorate has also witnessed how their parliamentarians have used their authority to reward their own at the expense of more worthy and noble Jamaicans.

Just imagine the kerfuffle if same sex-marriage or new national hero nominations were up for a referendum and attached to local government election ballot papers?

Something to ponder.







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