Wed | Aug 23, 2017

PJ, too, has much to apologise for

Published:Wednesday | October 14, 2015 | 10:04 AM

This is an open letter to P.J. Patterson.

I note and appreciate your letter to Prime Minister David Cameron on the matter of reparations.

But your letter is a few decades late, as I do not recall any aggressive effort on your part, as prime minister, to extend the cause of reparations.

Nonetheless, I accept your letter with sincerity, as I know it comes from a fellow black man with possession of the facts regarding slavery, its abolition and long-term consequences.

I would be grateful if you would use your significant influence within the governing party to have them table the memorandum of understanding concerning Mr Cameron's prison offer in Parliament for analysis.

We, the people of Jamaica, believe that, like Mr Cameron, you have some questions to answer as well. This relates to your tenure as the longest-serving prime minister of Jamaica.

Given the current vulnerability, economically and socially, which you have significantly contributed to, an honest and full explanation would be highly appreciated.

Former Prime Minister, your most noble intentions have been jarred by those portions of your tenure which, based on objective assessment, have been found wanting.

Even though some would say this was a long time ago, as Jamaicans, we cannot move on together to build for the future without dealing with the past.

We, the people of Jamaica, remember the high-interest rate policies of your Government in the 1990s and the resulting formation of FINSAC, which devastated many families and even led to some persons committing suicide.

We also remember the liberalisation of the foreign exchange rate, which led to the precipitous slide of the Jamaican dollar. We also remember that in your 14 years of leadership, Jamaica did not grow significantly while you built toll roads and other infrastructure.

As a learned man of consequence and significance, I suspect that you, too, are tormented by the memory of the past and I plead with you to rescue us from this torment by setting the record straight.

It is our view that the policies of you and your Government constituted a most heinous attack on the working people of Jamaica. There have been some attempts to diminish the significant impact of your acts and omissions as prime minister, but the effects of those are still with us today.

I also wonder how Jamaica would be today if your government had not pursued a "run wid it" approach that has fostered a culture where a large number of Jamaicans lack confidence in the government and politicians on both sides.

You argued that, under your tenure, "More people have car than anytime else. More people have phone than anytime else. More man have gal than anytime else." But you have yet to outline how your actions have helped to cause not only the economic malaise in which we currently find ourselves but the moral degradation of the society.

I put it to you, Mr Patterson, that your government more than any other, fashioned, legalised, perpetuated and prospered under a modus operandi of reckless abandon.

Mr Patterson, you have never apologised to the Jamaican people for the fact that under your watch, Jamaica became one of the most murderous places on earth. You have never used any of your political capital to seek to correct some of the negative actions that emanated from your Government.

Are we, the people of Jamaica, not worthy of an apology for your clear failures as prime minister?

Contrary to your view and many of your supporters, the Jamaican people will never emerge completely from the devastation wrought by you and your Government until there is a full confession of guilt by those who committed transgressions.

We, too, look for honesty and justice as the beginning of shaping a new future. We invite you to engage in removing this blot on our history so that together we can create a new and secure future.

Like Cameron, you too have much to apologise for.

- Robert Morgan is JLP deputy spokesperson on education and youth. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and robertnestamorgan@gmail.com.