Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Think before you vote

Published:Sunday | September 27, 2015 | 9:00 AM

Preparations for Parliamentary elections are moving into high gear. Sooner rather than at the end of the term in December 2016, we would have been called on to elect a new Parliament. Who are we going to elect? In this regard I do not place the emphasis on the party banner under which 63 persons will campaign. Having been totally convinced that there is no significant difference in the plans, programmes and ideology of the major parties, at this time, it will not matter much which is elected.

Let us look to the future. Sixty-three persons will be victorious. What is the quality and calibre to choose from? Can we really choose without knowledge of where the road leads after the expiration of the extended fund facility with the IMF? Our economic problems will not have been solved. At best, we would have made a significant down payment on a better future. We would have provided ourselves an opportunity to manage debt going forward; alleviate pressure on the social services of health and education; identify funding for infrastructure; and induce economic growth.

Given the acceptance of the above, have you given thought to, or reflected on the qualifications and/or suitability of the persons from whom we will choose 63 to sit in Parliament? The government is funded by approximately J$539 billion directly through the efforts of about 120,000 public servants implementing policies set by the 63. Have we thought about the benefit to the country in the contest between Dr Tufton and Mr Wint in St Catherine; Mr Crawford and Mr Blake in St Andrew; Ms Hanna and Ms Richards in St Ann; and Mr Buchanan and Mrs Cuthbert-Flynn in St Andrew? Spend some time and peruse the matchups. Spend some time and determine for your own satisfaction those who in a previous chapter of their lives made admirable contributions to the society that would give them transferable skills for national development. Who are the acknowledged experts in their career fields who now offer to lead us? A failure to elect the most competent leads inevitably to non-performance. Crime plagues the country. The previous administration had three ministers of national security. Do you find any of the current aspirants for the job worthy of your vote? Or are we going to have a longer wait for divine intervention? The current leaders did not distinguish themselves prior to embarking on the narrow career of partisan politics.

 

needed: vibrant, forward thinkers

 

Jamaica operates a representative Parliamentary democracy. We should not elect persons in their individual capacity simply because the system can accommodate backbenchers. We need vibrant, forward-thinking contribution from all members of Parliament. We should not have to accept warm bodies in seats at Gordon House. These persons will pass legislation and they will be asked to set policy. This they will be asked to do in the 21st century. We have major challenges and the ability to do more than engage in sophomoric cross-talk and desk beating is desperately needed. Where is the national nutrition policy? Where is the national water conservation and distribution policy? Are we going to allow the private sector to drive economic growth or does government plan to pick economic winners? Whatever course we decide to pursue, let us have the legislation, regulation, tax policy, manpower initiatives to give the best opportunity to the policy we adopt. This requires a lot of input from Parliament. This places a duty on the electorate to screen the candidates being offered by the parties. Can you find quality from which to choose? Choosing on the basis of green or orange and traditional ties strikes me as an act of favouring the easy way.

We are also, as a nation, to be blamed for the less than sterling candidates being offered to us. Being either green or orange has been good enough. Look where that approach has taken us. We now have a chance to write a new script. Take a look at the candidates. Check their backgrounds, personality traits, ability to contribute, and form a judgement in the case of the variables which appeal to you. The choices may be less than desired but for this election let us begin with a hope for the future.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.