George Anthony Hylton is, on paper, perhaps the most educated member of the Portia Simpson Miller Cabinet. Those who bleed purple will say the minister could very well have stopped with his education after attending the great Kingston College. But he carried on to attend the University of London, London Institute of World Affairs, Georgetown University and Morgan State University.
A holder of a diploma in air and space law, Minister Hylton is a member of the Jamaican and Maryland Bars and is listed as having passed the exam for the New York Bar. Since 1993, Minister Hylton has convinced two prime ministers to place him in charge of the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Mining and Energy, and now Industry, Investment and Commerce.
For all his education and experience, though, there's something troubling about George Anthony Hylton's ministerial persona. He comes across as a man who thinks in cursive, when he really ought to be processing his thoughts in script. The difficulty with thinking this way is that when he speaks, Minister Hylton always seems to be aiming for something stratospheric. This, when his audience is mere yards away, gazing at him from ground level.
It's as if the minister has cultivated a way of speaking, and answering questions, that serves only to communicate the extent of his education and training to his awe-struck audience. The minister oftentimes speaks as if he's in a straitjacket, totally incapable of clear message transmission to his publics.
In his quest to appear learned and scholastic, Minister Hylton only succeeds in overcomplicating his communication, especially when he's answering a question. Not everything can be simple. We all know this. But the difficulty for Minister Hylton is his apparent unwillingness to deliver the straightforward response that an uncomplicated question demands.
There have been many times, during his various presentations in Parliament or at press events, where the minister comes across as robotic; a manufactured man, designed to do only a strict list of things and lacking flair.
So when the minister explains what the logistics hub is, how it will be developed, how it will be financed, and its possible future economic benefit to the country, he does not connect. If you submit yourself to the pain of relistening to his presentations on the logistics hub, you'll be convinced that he does, indeed, understand what he's talking about.
But you then become puzzled as to why it comes out of his mouth as something algorithmic for which Apple will have to design a special computer to decipher and unravel. It's possible the minister was weaned on the adage that if you speak it and people don't understand it, then it means you are bright.
CLARITY AND PRECISION
Someone may need to remind the minister that he's in the business of communicating. And that he must do this in clear, crisp and precise terms. Every Cabinet minister must sound like an expert on his or her portfolio. Whether they are gifted orators or not, they must be able to articulate a clear understanding of policy positions.
Minister Hylton's curse is that his lack of cogency, allied with the method and manner of his speech, make him out to be rather challenging on the ear and concentration, especially when he's delivering a speech of parliamentary debate length.
Ask around among those whose job it is to listen to the parliamentary proceedings and they will tell you that Minister Hylton is one of the quickest speakers in the chamber to lose the attention of an audience. I've heard it said, perhaps a tad unkindly, that if the minister were allowed to speak long enough, his organs would shut down in protest at how boring he was.
The minister needs to listen to the chorus of the Melody Makers' 1995 hit, Power to Move Ya, and strive to be like the person being sung about by Ziggy Marley.
In the same way that every class batsman knows he can't stroke every ball to the boundary, the minister needs to accept that there can't be a Hollywood answer or remark to every question. He needs to believe that keeping it simple doesn't mean making it dumb.
George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.