Politricks Again: Sunday, November 18, 2013


Both our political parties went into “shoot yourself in the foot” mode this week, in very different ways. But basically sparking the same general reaction among many of us: kiss teeth, shrug shoulders, sigh, laugh, cry, groan, make cynical noises. And of course, more great fodder for the media.

Let’s start with the party in power, the People’s National Party: As I warned you in Wednesday’s post, at five o’clock that evening the former Junior Minister in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Richard Azan had said he was not aware of any plans to reinstate him. The very next morning at nine o’clock he and his colleagues dutifully appeared all dressed up at King’s House. His colleagues applauded him as the Governor General swore him in. Everyone clapped. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (wearing those hideous sunglasses again, indoors) gave him a warm hug and kiss. The Jamaica Labour Party‘s Daryl Vaz attended (hmm) because the Azans are family friends, or something. Yes, after all the hand-wringing, finger-pointing and recriminations, Mr. Azan is back. He resigned just two months ago after huge public pressure. His return was apparently “urgent” – the reason perhaps being that Mr. Azan’s boss Omar Davies is taking sick leave for an operation.

Oh, what of the promised single anti-corruption agency, which I understand the government had promised to create by year-end? Just a few weeks to go, and… Well?

Welcome back: Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller embraces the newly-reinstated Junior Minister of Transport and Works Richard Azan following the ceremony at King's House on Thursday morning. (Photo: Ricardo Makyn/Gleaner)
Welcome back: Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller embraces the newly-reinstated Junior Minister of Transport and Works Richard Azan following the ceremony at King’s House on Thursday morning. (Photo: Ricardo Makyn/Gleaner)

 

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness. (Photo: Gleaner)
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness. (Photo: Gleaner)

Since the re-election of Andrew Holness as Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader at their conference a week ago, the machinations of the Opposition have become quite complex. The chain of events goes something like this (hope I get this right): Sunday: Holness is re-elected with 57.3% of the delegates’ votes, defeating Audley Shaw. (Fake?) smiles all round. Monday: Holness receives a bunch of resignation letters from Shaw supporters. Tuesday:  Holness wants all eight JLP Senators to resign, and then says he didn’t say that. Holness announces his dreary old Shadow Cabinet. Audley Shaw and Ed Bartlett say they cannot accept positions because of certain issues (including the disputed nomination of two deputy leaders, Christopher Tufton and James Robertson).  Wednesday: What happened? I can’t remember. Thursday: It seems five JLP senators have resigned. Two prominent ones (Christopher Tufton and Arthur Williams) will not. Oh yes, then they did. Williams says Holness used undated resignation letters! Friday: A confused Upper House sits with five out of six remaining JLP senators present. Oh, Holness appointed a new one. His name is Alexander Williams. Weekend: Head spinning. Winner: Andrew Holness. Losers: Audley Shaw. The JLP. Democracy. Governance.

Is Holness the “transformational leader” he thinks he is? Will the JLP ever win an election again? What of all the pieces in this manic chess game? Is there space for them, or have some been knocked off the board? I personally believe Holness has just been a little too “smart” for his own good. At least party chairman Bobby Montague seems to be keeping sane while everyone else is losing their heads…

Meanwhile the private sector is getting antsy again, and it’s not surprising. Businessman Gassan Azan gave a speech recently about this eternal business of “cutting red tape.” If you recall, Jamaica just slipped on the annual “Doing Business” rankings. Mr. Azan wants the government to do something about it, not just talk. But the relevant government ministers are all in a tizzy over the logistics hub. Red tape? Oh, that’s boring stuff. Here is an edited version of Mr. Azan’s speech: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Cutting-the-red-tape–and–making-it-easier-to-do-business–have-become-almost-meaningless_15447161

Businessman Gassan Azan wants action, no more talk. (Photo: Gleaner)
Businessman Gassan Azan wants action, no more talk. (Photo: Gleaner)
The Sunday Observer editorial cartoon, today, depicts the Jamaica Labour Party's Andrew Holness, who has just experienced his Second Coming as Opposition Leader.
The Sunday Observer editorial cartoon, today, depicts the Jamaica Labour Party’s Andrew Holness, who has just experienced his Second Coming as Opposition Leader.

The Contractor General is right. What is the point of the whistleblower legislation passed during the JLP administration at the end of 2010? One could say there is no “culture” of whistle-blowing in Jamaica (how I hate that word sometimes). Instead, we have the “informer fi dead culture.” We are all afraid of our own shadows. No whistle-blowing round here.

Drums rolling and trumpets blaring for these awesome people:

MONACO — Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce hold their International Athletics Foundation 2013 Athlete of the Year Awards after a press conference. Don't they look lovely. (PHOTO: AP)
MONACO — Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce hold their International Athletics Foundation 2013 Athlete of the Year Awards after a press conference. Don’t they look lovely. (PHOTO: AP)
  • Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, along with singer Tessanne Chin, are keeping Jamaicans’ morale up. The two athletes were named World Athletes of the Year (Usain for the fifth time, Shelly-Ann for the first) by the IAAF in a glitzy affair in Monaco over the weekend. They both looked gorgeous – and they are two marvelous role models. We are proud.
  • Sheena South and the Portmore Youth Information Centre, who yesterday aired the “Girl Rising” documentary. Here’s Sheena’s Facebook message: “10X10 is a global campaign to educate and empower girls. At the center of the campaign is a feature film, Girl Rising. It’s by an Academy Award nominated director (Richard Robbins) and features performances from Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keys, and others. This important film tells the stories of nine remarkable girls from around the world who are striving beyond circumstance, pushing past limits and demonstrating the extraordinary strength of the human spirit to overcome the odds. Yet it also carries a powerful message: if we educate girls, we can change the future of some 66 million girls around the world who today only dream of going to school.Together, we can create powerful change. I hope you’ll join this movement with me.” Great initiative!
Two young people at the screening of "Girl Rising" at Portmore Youth Information Centre yesterday. (Photo: Sheena South/Facebook)
Two young people at the screening of “Girl Rising” at Portmore Youth Information Centre yesterday. (Photo: Sheena South/Facebook)
  • Dale and Evette Walker and the people of Bunker’s Hill in Trelawny (I love that name) who are working to build their community through the Bunker’s Hill Community Development Committee. “They used to call me typewriter at school,” says Evette, “because I was very good at writing.” Great story here: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/regional/Working-for-Bunker-s-Hill_15432245
  • The people of Trench Town, who staged a special trade and development fair at Kingston’s Emancipation Park yesterday.

 

Jenefer Wilson and  Barbara Dicks of Honey Rose Bud of Rose Town at the Trench Town fair in Kingston. (Photo: Jean Lowrie-Chin)
Jenefer Wilson and Barbara Dicks of Honey Rose Bud of Rose Town at the Trench Town fair in Kingston. (Photo: Jean Lowrie-Chin)

There has been a nine per cent increase in murders to date this year compared to last, according to police statistics. We have passed the 1,000 mark to 1,054. That’s 84 – yes, 84 – more deaths than the same time last year. A retired policeman was found murdered in his apartment, just down the road from our house. The brother of a journalist whom I know well, a netball coach, was also shot dead in Kingston. My condolences to their families and friends as well as to all those who continue to feel the pain of loss.

Kenneth Lynch, 66, Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston

Evon Powell, 48, Sutton/Duke Street, Kingston

“Raymond,” Darling Street/Spanish Town Road, Kingston

George Steering, 45, Spanish Town, St. Catherine

Oliver Kerr, 34, Sandy Bay, Hanover

Keeble Kerr, 36, Sandy Bay, Hanover

Clifford Lindo, 57, Palmers Cross, Clarendon

Infant male, York Town, Clarendon

Killed by the police:

Unidentified man, Spanish Town, St. Catherine

Unidentified man, Spanish Town, St. Catherine

Ryan Clarke, Retirement, St. James

To quote a Twitter friend tonight: “Yellow tape is good business.”

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A few more articles on the Azan and JLP sagas:

http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/civil-groups-strongly-object-reappointment-of-richard-azan_1  Local civil groups strongly object reappointment of Richard Azan: RJR News

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-p-Opposition-slaps-Gov-t-over-Azan-s-reappointment–p—_15444623 Opposition slaps government over Azan’s reappointment: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131116/cleisure/cleisure1.html   Gleaner editorial: PM’s misstep on Azan

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Resigning-after-a-mandate-change-the-ethical-thing-to-do–says-Holness_15444642  Resigning after a mandate change the ethical thing to do, says Holness: Sunday Observer

 http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/principle-not-bitterness-shaw-defends-decision-to-decline-post-in-shadow-cabinet Principle, not bitterness: Shaw defends decision to decline post in Shadow Cabinet: RJR News

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=49289 Holness criticized over Senate “resignations”: Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131116/lead/lead2.html Upper House passes irrigation resolutions after Tufton’s resignation

http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/11/15/5-facts-the-jamaican-senate/ Five Facts: The Jamaican Senate (the photograph is not of a Senate sitting however).  

Fisherman Desmond Phillips (left) and boat captain Michael Grant with a sunfish, which they caught off Boston Bay in Portland. (Photo: Everard Owen)
Fisherman Desmond Phillips (left) and boat captain Michael Grant with a 900-pound sunfish, which they caught off Boston Bay in Portland. I wish they had let it go, though. (Photo: Everard Owen/Jamaica Observer)
Principal of Jamaica College Ruel Reid has been appointed as an Opposition Senator. Reid was formerly an advisor to the re-elected Opposition Leader Andrew Holness when he was Education Minister. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Principal of Jamaica College Ruel Reid has been appointed as an Opposition Senator along with Alexander Williams, replacing Tufton and Arthur Williams. Reid was formerly an advisor to the re-elected Opposition Leader Andrew Holness when he was Education Minister. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)JLP: Old wine in old wineskins (jamaica-gleaner.com)

 

 


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