Orville Taylor | Debt before Dis-Hanna
Jamaica is privileged to have a cadre of late 30s to late 40s women, who carry a lot of weight internationally. Say what you want about the expenditure and the failed campaign to become secretary general of Queen Elizabeth’s Commonwealth, Kamina...
Jamaica is privileged to have a cadre of late 30s to late 40s women, who carry a lot of weight internationally. Say what you want about the expenditure and the failed campaign to become secretary general of Queen Elizabeth’s Commonwealth, Kamina Johnson Smith is a bright woman, who always sounds like she knows what she is talking about. Of course, she and the Jamaican Government need to explain not only what was the total amount of money spent on the venture, but most important, what were we expected as a Jamaican people to gain. For all the controversy, including whether she is a principal of an interested organisation, there is a debt of accountability that has to be paid to the Jamaican people. We absolutely need to know if indeed there were hidden interests backing it. Revelations of sources and amounts of funding are indispensable elements of our democracy. It might be politically convenient or expedient for sycophants to shy away from the issue, but many of them were the very same set of critics who rode the Trafigura train, as they had a right to, until its finality. As long as public money is involved or funding is channelled to a public official, it is our business and there is no right to secrecy.
In fact, having now being advised that the position, now occupied by Baroness Patricia Scotland, is one that is clearly more than just personally prestigious, what good has her incumbency done for us as Jamaicans or even CARICOM citizens?
The average Jamaican knows nothing of this. So answers, please.
On air last week, some partisan extremists felt that my relegating the decision of People’s National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna to a secondary story was an indication of being biased. Two weeks before the beginning of the new school year, when schools are short of between 100 and 200 teachers, and principals having kittens that up to 1,200 could leave the profession over the next year, the impending departure of Hanna is, in real terms, a storm in a teacup.
Almost as sudden as the accidental fire that almost ended the career of another homophonic public figure, American journalist surnamed Storm, a decade ago, Lisa dropped the bomb almost like a Nicodemus.
For many, she was seen as the hope of the party and country. A beauty with brains and guts. I remembered this 15-year-old Senpai Lisa who, along with junior Senpai Dalton, was masterfully doing Gekisai Sho, and wielding the bo.
One thing one learned in Seido was to never underestimate your adversary, show them respect and always assume that they were at least as good as you. Having read some of the contents of her departure letter, there is much unsaid.
For some, her admission that she has oftentimes stood alone on principles in the interest of the party or nation, and her references to adherence to core values of the party suggest disquiet with, if not the leadership, key members or sectors of the 84-year-old institution.
Doubtless, it is a surprise, which caught the party leader and public flat-footed. But trust me, that’s exactly what one does in kumite. Kata is prearranged mock fighting, with predicted moves. This was no kata. Lisa timed her strike to suit herself. Its scheduling fits an agenda that she knows precisely what it is.
As surprising as this is, the impact of Hanna leaving or staying in active politics is more of a big deal to her and family than the nation. Despite the discord regarding the reduction of her lead in a safe PNP seat, where she won by a cockroach whisker in a magisterial recount, the fact is that she won. True, delegates such as Lydia Richards worked like nowadays slaves to get Comrades active. But truth is, no amount of activism could’ve saved the seat if the non-PNP electors were against her.
Hanna’s loss of popularity might very well have had a cause and effect relationship with the leadership of the party. However, from a one-seat margin in 2016, the PNP got many, many more kicks than Hanna ever delivered in a tournament. A net loss of 17 seats, including some of my most respected politicians and a green wave in Westmoreland, where the oranges never ripened, is a butt kicking it never asked for.
As it was with the Jamaica Labour Party’s leadership during the 1990s, the Jamaican non-partisan electorate simply fell out of love with the leader of the Opposition. Twenty-twenty vision sometimes blinds.
Hanna may or may not rebound or return to active politics. She has a fat resume and I suspect a bank account that matches, and little to prove.
When we have found teachers in the schools, found ways to stem the fugue and we are told in no uncertain terms what was the Commonwealth prize we lost, we can come back to Hanna.
Dr Orville Taylor is head of the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies, a radio talk-show host, and author of ‘Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets’. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.