Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Suzanne Leslie-Bailey: Holness’ house on hill is a molehill

Published:Monday | July 6, 2015 | 7:00 AM
Andrew Holness

While Opposition Leader Andrew Holness and his wife, Juliet, are busy constructing their house in Beverly Hills, certain persons are busy constructing a mountain out of a molehill. When I surf the social media landscape, I am amazed that a couple's house construction can generate such widespread interest and negative commentary. However, Mr Holness can take comfort in the knowledge that 'people nu stone fluxy mango'.

This Holness house matter has brought some important issues to the fore. Undeniably, the activities of public officials should come under some scrutiny, and they are largely accountable to the public. Regrettably, corruption and lack of transparency have characterised governments and political parties. The 2014 United States (US) Department of State report on human rights practices describes the current Jamaican government as corrupt and lacking transparency, and accuses it of allowing officials to engage in corrupt practices with impunity.

In my view, some critical stakeholders, such as politicians, the police, the media and government agencies, are not serious about stemming the tide of corruption. They will allude to, or start, investigating a corrupt practice but stop short of any deeper investigative journalism or action, to ferret out the whole truth and bring the person(s) to book.

An Organisation of American States 2014 report supports this view, as it criticised Jamaica's prosecutorial agencies, in particular, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, for their general failure to prosecute corruption cases.

Unnamed sources

A media report on Mr Holness' house construction stated that Jamaica Labour Party insiders, who are nameless, have expressed unease that donors, who are also nameless, are concerned about his source of funding. My concern is the faceless and nameless insiders and donors, which leaves me to question the credibility of the information and deduce that persons and entities are pawns in a sordid game. This highlights the importance of regulating political party registration and financing, as donors will not be able to hide behind the mask of anonymity.

Based on the puerile commentary on the matter, one must not be fooled that there is any honourable concern over the opposition leader's house construction. The motives are clear! There are special-interest groups that are intent on destroying the reputation and political career of Andrew Holness!

However, persons who have come out in fierce defence of Mr Holness and dismissed as sheer 'bad-mindedness' the criticisms levelled at the construction of his house must honestly ask themselves: What would have been their responses and reactions if the house was being built by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller? In addition, are you happy for other people when they succeed or do you also bad-mouth them? Honest answers to these questions will determine your own credibility.

Mr Holness has dutifully given an account of his house construction to the nation, with no evidence of corruption. He has moved his own life from poverty to prosperity; and, therefore, demonstrated his capability of leading his fellow Jamaicans, similarly, from poverty to prosperity! Mr Holness is focused on solving the mountainous problems affecting the lives of Jamaicans. I invite you to be so focused!

Lack of leadership

Currently, under the stewardship of Mrs Simpson Miller, Jamaica is like a rudderless ship, just drifting further out to sea. We are in dire need of strong, caring, visionary, visible and vocal leadership to steer us back to shore. Let's focus on that!

The health sector is in a chronically unhealthy state! There are reports of flies in the operating theatres, mildew on the walls, and medical instruments meant to be used only once being reused! Doctors are reported to be wearing scandal bags as surgical aprons in operating theatres. Let's focus on that!

The crime wave threatens to overcome us! It is reported that murders are up 18 per cent as at June 27, when compared to the corresponding period last year. Let's focus on that! The Jamaican dollar continues to be devalued, limping at J$117 to US$1. Let's focus on that!

The latest State of Global Well-Being report published by Gallup-Healthways ranks Jamaica lower than Haiti and the lowest in the Caribbean with regards to its perception of its financial well-being. It also places Jamaica in the lowest category of 'suffering'. Let's focus on that!

Jamaica has a mountain of problems that should occupy our minds and mouths. I appeal to Jamaicans not to be distracted by matters that are mere molehills.

- Suzanne Leslie-Bailey is JLP deputy spokesperson on foreign affairs and foreign trade. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and slesliebailey@gmail.com.