Where's the leadership?
BY BALFORD HENRY Sunday Observer senior reporter email@example.com
OPPOSITION Senator Tom Tavares-Finson has taken the Government to task for what he said is its failure to exhibit the management and leadership capabilities necessary to take Jamaica out of the current economic crisis.
In a fiery contribution to the 2012/13 State of the Nation Debate in the Senate, which threatened to break down in disorder on Friday, Tavares-Finson said that the country had reached a standstill, that it was time that the Government took the people into its confidence, and that it needed to "level with us about the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund".
He said that with the Government "approaching its first full year back in power, the country continues to slide inexorably backward instead of propelling forward".
Senator Tavares-Finson said that both Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and People's National Party (PNP) Chairman Robert Pickersgill were "naive" in accusing Opposition Leader Andrew Holness of being "unpatriotic" when Holness stated that the country was sliding backward.
"It is because the leader of the opposition is a patriot and stands as a vanguard for a new generation that he makes clear the position Jamaica finds itself in," the senator said in his leader's defence.
"He distinguishes himself from many of us who can only analyse our own failures," Tavares-Finson said, suggesting that a generational change of leadership was needed from what he called this "Damascus Generation", "to the vibrancy and clarity of sober and analytical youth", under Holness' leadership.
"For who can deny that the Damascus Generation has failed this Jamaica, land we love?" he queried, suggesting that the generational change he is advocating was similar to the "seismic shift" former Prime Minister PJ Patterson had put forward in his speech to the Special Sitting of Parliament paying tribute to him on November 13.
The senator also called for a judicial enquiry into the security forces' operation in Tivoli Gardens in May 2010, during a tumultuous period that he likened to the State of Emergency called by former Prime Minister Michael Manley in 1976. He reached further back in time to also call on the nation to look at the viability of holding an enquiry into the Coral Gardens incident of 1963.
Tavares-Finson also took issue with PNP parliamentarians for claiming that the late National Hero Norman Manley was the "father of the nation".
"It was [Sir Alexander] Bustamante who proposed and fought for a referendum, the result of which took Jamaica out of the Federation and placed us on a road to Independence," he argued.
"I do not wish my words to be misconstrued: As a nation, we are entitled to write our own history and to create our own national myths on which to forge our own future. (But) let us record the role both our heroes played in bringing about our nationhood, and not through some misguided notion of party loyalty, seek to derogate the role of either of them. There is, after all, nothing wrong in a nation having more than one father," he stated.
Bustamante, who founded the Jamaica Labour Party, and Manley, a co-founder of the PNP, were the two political leaders who saw Jamaica through to Independence in 1962, with Bustamante serving as the island's first prime minister.