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Youth see eye to eye with Patterson - Young leaders welcome former PM's charge to break from old politics

Published:Thursday | November 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

The admonition by former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson to his former political colleagues to break the back of the combative approach to politics has been greeted with shouts of approval from young professionals from a wide cross section of the society.

Patterson warned on Tuesday that many Jamaicans who have a genuine desire to serve through the political process are fearful of doing so because of the tendency of politicians to demonise each other.

Pastor Errol Bolt, a noted church leader, agreed that Jamaican politics has been plagued by this problem for decades.

"People are interested and are enticed by that which is reputable, progressive and brings result," Bolt told The Gleaner.

"If something is bad-mouthed and it is perceived to be bad, you are not going to want to go there. There are some people who find their worth by putting people down."

"We are not perfect, but we spend too much time denigrating the wrong in people rather than building up the good by encouraging and praying for each other," the clergyman added.

Similarly, Jeffrey Brown, treasurer of the National Youth Council, said people who serve outside of politics are usually labelled PNP or JLP and argued that it is time people stop looking though political lenses.

"I think we need to put an end to this practice, but I don't know that we will be able to do that in the near future."


Another young leader, Tafari Grayson, who is president of the Portmore Youth Council, said the negative picture of politicians that exists is turning away young, bright persons from service.

"At least 70 per cent of the time, people who have expressed a desire to serve are held under suspicion," Grayson charged.

He added: "There is the belief among many Jamaicans that persons who go out to serve don't just do it for the good of their country, for persons around them to have a better life. They just think there is an ulterior motive."

In the meantime, Samuel Coates, the past president of Young Entrepreneurs Association as well as the Junior Chamber International, has pointed to Audley Shaw's posture on the debate surrounding the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as an example of what is wrong with Jamaican politics.

Coates argues that Shaw, the opposition spokesman on finance, through his utterances on the IMF, has been contributing to weakening the confidence in the economy.

He said such posture is unfortunate as Shaw, a former finance minister, "has sat there and knows what the intricacies are, and is politicising" the issues surrounding the IMF.