Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Politicians must not be drunk with power

Published:Saturday | March 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Many have asked 'Why does Jamaica do so well in sports and music but so poorly in economics, in security, and in politics itself?' The question needs an answer, at this time especially, when, after billions of dollars and campaigns since last year August, only 42.5 per cent of the voting-age population (see Paul Jennings' letter, Gleaner 27/2/16) actually voted. That was four persons out of every 10.

The question has long needed an answer. Political Culture of Democracy surveys (University of the West Indies and Vanderbilt University), from 2006 to 2014, have consistently shown the very low estimate of the political parties held by the Jamaican people. It is time the political parties sat up, took notice, and acted to regain trust and to remove a serious threat to our democracy.

The answer to the question then, I suggest, is that in sports and in music, the crucial decisions are being made by the persons carrying out those activities, the people involved at ground level. On the other hand, Jamaica's economic life is decided by the political parties. So, too, are security, environment, national identity. But political party leaders do not, and cannot, themselves carry out all the various and multiple economic, security and other activities involved in a country's life.

So the message is a very simple one. But it is very hard for the parties and for the populace to get for two reasons. One, because the hunger for power - winning it and keeping it - gets in the way, determining how many issues are settled. And two, because a party is elected to govern and traditionally, government meant that those so elected must run the show. So people also stand back and are passive.

Times have changed, however. Government has been superseded, in part, by GOVERNANCE. 'In part', because government is part of governance. But only part. There is another part, namely the PEOPLE of the country, also known as civil society and business sector. And they are waking up, making demands.

I mean, of course, ALL the people, ALL THE TIME, not just those in the party and some of the time. So decision-making has to be a shared exercise. Politicians can no longer hug it up. Decisions good for the mass of everyday people are what will emerge. Parties are to serve, not own, Jamaica.

The People's National Party lost sight of talking with, and listening to, people and lost the election. Arrogance killed them. The bright, young, newly elected JLP MPs should know better. We hope, too, that power hunger is put in second place, after and underneath good policy.

This is why, I agree with the Gleaner editorial that the Economic Programme Oversight Committee should stay as a sharing place, just as also Electricity Sector Enterprise Team.



I write in response to an article written by Jaevion Nelson in The Gleaner dated March 3, 2016.He stated that "schools seem to be trying to outdo each other with the ridiculous 'rules' they have implemented".

I want to inform Mr Nelson that school is a formal place to teach our students values, one of which is to observe rules or regulations, whether or not they seem ridiculous to him. It is the duty of parents to be apprised of school rules and to ensure students abide by them, providing that they do not compromise their religious beliefs.

Students should be taught that there are consequences to breaking rules, whether or not they consider them to be foolish. The very same ridiculous rules that students are expected to obey at school are the same ones imposed in the working world, failure to obey which can cost them their jobs or even their lives.

Students knowingly and intentionally break school rules to prove that they are above the regulations. If a hairstyle is not allowed at school, no exceptions should be made to allow for the breaking of those rules, barring religious or medical reasons. It is because the society considers simple rules to be ridiculous why we have so much mayhem in Jamaica. Persons don't see the need to join a line anymore, or when they turn up at the hospital, they demand to be seen first, no matter the seriousness of their injuries.

Codes of conduct are there to teach students to obey simple rules so that they can play their part in making Jamaica a disciplined society. Rules will not always appear to make sense, but they are there to serve a purpose.