What’s wrong with protecting Jamaica’s interests?
In a Sunday Gleaner report on labour unions expressing concerns over the lax methodology used by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to grant working permits to foreigners, it was revealed that "1,022 new work permits have been approved in a 120-day period". And the ministry is unable to state a number of those illegally taking possible jobs that Jamaicans could have filled or operating entrepreneurial ventures.
In this globalised and interconnected world, who is willing to protect Jamaican instead of allowing powerful investors to pillage and undervalue our human resource?
I adhere to values denoted by our national motto 'Out of Many, One People', in that we are able to link the presence of Chinese, Syrians, Indians and other minorities that came as indentured workers or sought refuge in Jamaica centuries ago. They have been vital to our development and are inseparable from the Jamaican experience. Nevertheless, we are faced with a new global threat that is less linked to race/colour but rather sustainable economics and patriotism.
Invest in Our Own Country
In a June 2015 article titled 'Jamaicans must read China's record, not just its lips' and submitted by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), Andrew Lumsden, research associate at COHA, said, "The Government, however, demonstrates no clear understanding of China's record in previous dealings with developing nations, specifically sub-Saharan Africa, and the socio-economic and environmental consequences brought on by engagement with China."
We are not short of reports like Old Fort Bay being impacted by construction and workers frustrated by unfair labour practices.
Let us not fall into sensationalism and label as "xenophobic" where national interests are at stake. This goes beyond a single country, as global influences continue to meddle in our internal affairs using the purse strings to puppeteer our democracy and values as a people.
However, it is unlikely that local investors alone will be able to meet the demands of a developing Jamaica, and we are serious about seeking more external investment. Let us look to the expansive diaspora.
Among Jamaican expatriates, there are skills, experience and wealth to which we can tap.
We will never get away from the trappings of colonialism if we don't see the value in promoting and protecting the sovereignty of our nation.
JOSEPH L. PATTERSON