Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Former President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Howard Hamilton has blasted successive political administrations for leading the country on a perilous path of populism over the past 50 years that has culminated with its current range of socio-economic woes.
Hamilton stopped short of describing the People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party administrations of engaging in cowardly antics in their pursuit of political glory.
"The problem that each of us faces is that it has been a system of populism and power and nobody is prepared to do anything differently," he lamented.
Hamilton suggested that he has yet to see any politician bold enough to adopt what he described as the Barbados-Erskine Sandiford model.
Sandiford is a former prime minister of Barbados who was shunted out of office in 1994, after seven years, for unpopular decisions that he took.
"He (Sandiford) saw the need for some major changes in the direction of the country (Barbados) and he took it knowing full well that his political career could be at an end. It turned out that way but the country is now in a period of growth," asserted Hamilton.
"I can't see in Jamaica and I can't see for the last 50 years, the quality of leadership that can take those hard decisions that will not create for them any continuity in the political scene that happened to Erskine ... he is gone back to teaching and he is happy because he sees the country growing and has a sense of satisfaction for having done the right thing."
Hamilton also had strong words for contender for the post of JLP general secretary, Dr Horace Chang, who was a special guest at the breakfast meeting at the Wyndham hotel in New Kingston.
"You have to convince us that there is going to be a major paradigm shift and that the best people will be selected to hold key positions that are needed to run this country," he said. "Don't pander because I am Portia's friend, and that kind of nonsense has been taking place throughout."
He said that as the Upper Chamber of Parliament, the Senate should avoid the politics that characterise the House of Representatives.
"Why should the Senate be a repository of those who have lost elections and those who need to be honoured by their parties?" he asked.
Hamilton argued that the Senate should comprise the intelligentsia of the country.
"It is the top business people who are to guide the process that comes from the people down in the House of Representatives ... they must be the people who can add that dimension which is not coming from the elected persons because of the populism that exists."
Declaring that it would take a long time to arrest the wave of populism that plagues the elected members in the House of Representatives, Hamilton urged the Government to address this deficiency in the Senate.
"Why can't we put in the Douglas Oranes, the Don Wehbys, the Warren McDonalds and the other people who can guide because of the successes of their own businesses ... and guide the affairs of the country?"