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Leaders urge J'cans to play active role in shaping nation's future

Published:Wednesday | August 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

PRIME MINISTER Portia Simpson Miller is urging Jamaicans to see themselves as stakeholders in various aspects of the country's development, while Opposition Leader Andrew Holness wants the country to craft a vision for the next 50 years of Jamaican statehood.

At the same time, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen is encouraging Jamaicans to look beyond the present difficulties facing the country and work towards making the island the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business.

These sentiments were reflected in this year's Independence messages from the country's leaders.

Using the theme of this year's Independence, 'This is Jamaica, My Jamaica', Simpson Miller said as the country experiences one of the most severe droughts in recent memory, Jamaicans "must take personal responsibility for conserving water".

"We must make the necessary sacrifices. The issues we face are national and broad-based. Because this is our Jamaica, each Jamaican must own and contribute to mitigating them," the prime minister stated.

"Personal responsibility means that we look out for our neighbour and our neighbour's children; that we protect the weak and vulnerable in our communities; and take care of the elderly, the disabled, the sick, and the lonely," said Simpson Miller.

In his Independence message, Holness said the youth of Jamaica should become more vocal and active by defining the future they want for the country.

"Those who prefer to criticise … from their verandas, I urge you to rise up and, among other actions, walk to the polling stations instead. The post-Independence leaders must now emerge and take charge of piloting [the] future and rekindling the hope and optimism about Jamaica," he said.

Additionally, he said the leaders and planners for the next 50 years should commit to ending poverty in Jamaica.

"It is not an impossible task. We must first change our materialistic outlook on poverty," the opposition leader said.


In his Independence comments, Sir Patrick reasoned that Jamaica could achieve the Vision 2030 goals.

"Let us believe in ourselves, remembering - as our first National Hero Marcus Garvey said - that 'if you don't have confidence in yourself, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started'," Sir Patrick said.

Acknowledging that there are issues to be resolved in every sector, the governor general said he was convinced of the "core commitment" of Jamaicans to building a better country. "This fuels my belief that there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica!"

And in his message to mark Jamaica's 52nd year of Inde-pendence, United States Secretary of State John Kerry applauded the Jamaican legislature for passing the Disabilities Act, which ensures equal rights for people with physical, mental, and intellectual disabilities.