Mon | Dec 11, 2017

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Elect yourself a citizen first

Published:Tuesday | October 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM
PNP supporters in South East St Mary parade on nomination day, October 9, with a placard of candidate Dr Shane Alexis. The medical doctor has been criticised for seeking to enter representational politics though not a citizen of Jamaica.

Call it Miss Cleo clairvoyance, wishful thinking, whatever, all I know is that Shane Alexis needs to lose the race for South East St Mary. My desire for his defeat has nothing to do with Shane Alexis himself, and everything to do with a severely flawed law.

There is just no way a non-Jamaican should legally be able to vote in our elections, let alone run in them. There is no way the Jamaican Constitution should rely on the conscience of political parties to do the right thing, and pick a Jamaican as the candidate that represents them. People will do what they can get away with, and the law makes it possible for any and any Commonwealth citizen to sit in our Parliament. We have no one to blame but ourselves. This should have been sorted back during the 2007 dual-citizenship mess.

To sit in our Parliament, our law should insist that you make a permanent commitment to this here piece of rock. You shouldn't have some escape clause that shelters you from living with, and in, the mess you have made. When some foreign leader makes bad decisions and wrecks my country, my fellow citizens and I still have to live here. They don't.

I accept that Shane, for decades, has been a tax-paying resident of Jamaica. So what? For him and other non-Jamaicans who live here and pay taxes, big up! You're entitled to $1.5m more on your pay, and garbage collection and working street lights and running water like everybody else. You, however, are not entitled to rule over me. Dem days of the foreign master done, and accepting a non-Jamaican leader would feel no less than a big, hot box in the face of 55 years of Independence.

So yeah, purely out of principle, Shane Alexis should not win.

I don't, however, want a loss at the polls to push Sugar Shane away. I really do believe he could be a sweet addition to Jamaican politics (provided he gets his citizenship). Forget political expediency and do the thing properly. Shane and his party put the cart before the horse.

 

Undeniable contribution

 

No one can deny his contribution to Jamaica up to this point, and I don't doubt that he can, and wants to, contribute a lot more. He represents a bright, fresh-faced newness that Jamaican politics needs. The kind of young injection untainted by the influence of the career politicians.

My word of advice to him and any political hopeful: Put in the work. Prove to the people whose vote you want that you genuinely want to serve more than you want the title MP.

I hope that in my generation or the next, people will vote less along party lines and more on results. The man who earns the job will get it, and tribal politics will be a thing of the past. Before they mark the ballots, people will think, "Who has been there?" "Who has made a difference?" "Who has delivered more than promises?" "Who has made my community better?"

You don't need to be an MP to have your name called in response to those questions. And if your heart is in the right place, if you really mean the people well, you don't need to be the leader that 'born ya'. A far more powerful message would be the leader who born somewhere else, but choose ya. Choose to have the same passport as the people who live ya.

If you want to sit in Jamaica's Parliament, choose to become a Jamaican. Either that, or take your 'get-vex' nationality, and have a seat somewhere else.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.