FORMER PRIME Minister P.J. Patterson yesterday cautioned the leadership of the People's National Party (PNP) and Comrades attending the 74th annual conference that the time for jollity had passed as there were huge challenges facing the country which the administration had to confront.
Commenting on the gains by Jamaica's sprint stars at the London Games and the celebrations which accompanied Jamaica's 50th year of Independence, Patterson, who won three consecutive terms in office, said: "We have to realise that the time for the merriment is over and we have to get back to the harsh realities which Jamaica is facing at this time."
Patterson, quoting from the Buju Banton classic, It's Not An Easy Road, reminded Simpson Miller that, at times, it was "a very lonely road".
"I have been there, done that and I want you to understand and accept that the prayers and support of every member of the PNP and every Jamaican who wants to see our nation advance has a vested interest in seeing that you succeed," he said.
Patterson warned the PNP not to make the same mistake as the JLP and "become arrogant and distant from the people".
"We must not hide from the people. When we were seeking their votes, we went and looked for them. Don't let them have to come and look for us now," he advised.
On the matter of replacing the Queen as head of state, the former PNP president encouraged the administration to move speedily to "choose our own head of state as a symbol to the nation that there is no point in our life where a Jamaican born and bred cannot reach the highest heights".
Patterson called for the Government, Opposition and civil society to put aside whatever differences they have and complete the cycle of the country's political Independence.
The former prime minister is also pushing his colleagues to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice as the country's final court of appeal.
He suggested that a counsel or litigant who has a case before the London-based Privy Council could face visa and other restrictions which could prevent them from accessing the court.
Patterson said the "exorbitant cost" involved in accessing the Privy Council was also an inhibiting factor.
The former prime minister reminded his audience that Jamaica had already paid to gain access to the CCJ.
"It will not cost us one cent more. We have to make use of the top-quality judges who preside over that court."