Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Gordon Robinson | Forward in reverse

Published:Sunday | September 18, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Lisa Hanna - the face of renewal in the PNP.
The Rev Al Miller makes his way to the Half-Way Tree courthouse along with his wife, Jasmine (second left), and other family members.
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Two recent political events have cruelly exposed the absence of hope for good governance for Jamaica.

Take the PNP conference and election of officers. The way in which PNP dinosaurs (oops, sorry, 'stalwarts') inside and outside the party have closed ranks against Lisa Hanna, the PNP's obvious future, is instructive, although unremarkable. 'Unremarkable' because this is how it is in any organisation. Leaders who may have contributed extraordinarily to the organisation's progress over time but who have long since passed their sell-by date cling desperately to 'power' and sideline bright, young successors in the process.

In my opinion, six of the seven candidates up for election as PNP president or vice-president are securely encased in that long-passed-sell-by-date category. The only one with any chance of influencing real renewal in the party is Lisa Hanna. Don't get me wrong, there are others, but they haven't shown the testicular fortitude to step forward and offer to begin the obviously necessary cleansing and renewal process. Persons like Peter Bunting, Julian Robinson, Damian Crawford, Raymond Pryce, Mikael Phillips, Dayton Campbell, and Lisa Hanna are perfectly positioned politically, philosophically, and attitudinally to sit with some of the dinosaurs to ensure a smooth and balanced transition from a tired, arrogant, old-style politics party to one committed to serving Jamaica's evolving needs.

But, it seems only one pair of testicles exists among those named and they belong to Lisa Hanna. Peter Bunting hesitantly put his big toe into the water and immediately withdrew because the temperature was too cold. Mikael elected traditionalism and made a pandering, pusillanimous, putrid public presentation endorsing his father, who'll be over 70 years old if he ever becomes prime minister. Julian has been sitting on a political fence for so long now that he's become the fence. Damian, always the class clown, has thrown himself fully into entertainment as the PNP token on JLP radio. Raymond seems to have accepted his banishment to Twitter, and Dayton Campbell appears content to succeed 'Miss World' as Region Three chairman and not get too 'uppity'.

Having effectively stifled all but one of the party's future, the savage personal, public attacks on Lisa Hanna by PNP insiders have been as transparently motivated as they've been loud and persistent.

PNP dinosaur Louis Moyston used his media access to produce a repetitive rant about Lisa Hanna, including a variety of distasteful personal attacks, that one can only hope has succeeded in opening readers' eyes about the author. His 'opinions' or 'conclusions' seem to be pulled out of the air (the facts upon which they are allegedly based are seldom listed) and are always demeaning to Lisa.

Much use has been made of the contractor general's somewhat unwise, off-the-cuff public statements regarding his incomplete investigations into affairs at the South East St Ann Parish Council. Why an investigation into the parish council's award of government contracts could affect Lisa Hanna baffles me, but remarks by the contractor general suggesting that this one is much worse than Hanover has energised PNP dinosaurs to call for the publication of the report before the VP elections and to engage in all sorts of silly, illogical, non-consequential speculation about Lisa's personal integrity. I find it amazing that so-called Comrades would be reduced to behaving like ancient Roman senators towards one of their own. Again, it more exposes those Comrades than it ever could depict Lisa Hanna.

Of all the many recent personal attacks against Lisa Hanna, the most laughably pathetic is the constant reference to her alleged past JLP affiliation. I don't know if these allegations are true (she was once married to a JLP senator), but so what if they are? Sir Alexander Bustamante was a PNP founding member. 'Madame' Rose Leon was a rock-stone Labourite, JLP chairman and government minister before switching to become a PNP stalwart, PNP deputy mayor and PNP government minister. And don't get me started on Karl "What a way PNP sweeeeet!" Samuda.

Finally, PNP conference's usual 'private session' where candidates would be able to address Delegates collectively was cancelled. This eliminated any opportunity to sway delegates from previously purchased or dictated loyalties. More anxieties exposed?

These are transparently recognisable lashings out by weakened and wounded dinosaurs desperate to cling to the past and to positions of privilege. History is replete with similar examples that have all failed to stop the tide of change. So all I have to say to those fighting so hard to keep Lisa Hanna from becoming an agent for change within the PNP is "ho-hum". Maybe you succeeded yesterday, but, if so, her moment (and your party's renewal) would only be postponed. She and the group of youth who are PNP's future won't and can't be resisted.

The second political event extinguishing the last flicker of hope for good governance is the justice minister's announcement that an apology for the 2010 Tivoli invasion will be made in Parliament by Prime Minister Andrew Holness. It seems politicians just can't resist making grand announcements even about as grave a matter as this.

Speaking for myself, Tivoli residents who were terrorised unnecessarily and whose family members were slaughtered like hogs don't need insincere apologies. They need justice. An apology that, according to Delroy Chuck, has to be "crafted" and "in a matter of weeks, it's LIKELY that it's to be presented to Parliament" is no apology. It's a public-relations press release. "WEEKS?" C'mon, man! The PM must get up in Parliament on Tuesday and speak from the heart.

But, even that would be nowhere near enough. It's true that, as a member of the 2010 Cabinet, Andrew Holness must accept culpability for the travesty in Tivoli. But he wasn't the chief engineer. The nation should reject any apology, except an unreserved and unconditional one from Bruce Golding. Bruce should be joined in that apology by Dwight "I can't recall" Nelson, who was quoted in the midst of the turmoil: "We are going to hunt them down as they ought to be hunted down and bring the full brunt if the law on them." The result: 73 dead! (though the commission of enquiry puts it at 69)

Bruce Golding must also apologise to Jamaica for orchestrating the retaining of an American law firm (Manatt, Phelps & Phillips) whose task was to thwart the efforts of US Justice and State Departments to extradite Dudus, a confessed mass murderer and drug don. Thereafter, he wove a tangled web of deceit to cover up his involvement until, in its finest moment in living memory, Jamaica's free press relentlessly campaigned for truth and forced him to confess "I sanctioned the initiative". In this regard, Jamaica's press was every bit as resolute, principled and effective as was the Washington Post on Watergate.

While we're on apologies, Jamaica is also owed a fulsome apology from Rev Al Miller, Dudus' chauffeur. Rev Al is a lucky man today having only to pay a J$1-million fine having been found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Remember, 'justice's course' was the extradition of a mass murderer and drug don. James Forbes had to pay J$800,000 for the same offence in relation to a traffic ticket and Constable Lyn-Sue spent six months in prison for the same charge regarding fabricating evidence.

It's time for Rev Al to take his own advice and do some serious repenting. Apologists like Herro Blair are doing him a disservice. As part of his penance, Rev Al, himself a dabbler in electoral politics who was, at the time, Director of a thing called "The National Transformation Programme" (whatever THAT was) situated in the OPM at Jamaica House, needs to come clean with Jamaica NOW. How did he know where to pick up Dudus? Was this the first time he was doing his Driving Miss Daisy act with the fugitive? If everything was pre-arranged with embassy (who denied any arrangement) and police commissioner (who refused to testify for Al and who was not subpoenaed), WHY WAS THE FUGITIVE IN DISGUISE?

At this point, no wishy-washy "crafted" apology taking weeks to be polished before being presented by the then education minister will cut it. Stand up Bruce, Dwight and Al! Take your medicine like real men. Unless, of course, you still maintain you did nothing wrong and "constitutional rights don't begin at Liguanea".

Isn't it obvious that neither the PNP nor JLP has any intention of improving Jamaican governance? If you agree, what'll YOU do about it? Vote dem out AGAIN?

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.