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Bad mind, ahoy!

Garfield Higgins

Sunday, September 17, 2017

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To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have change often. — Winston Churchill

Today, 67-year-old Dr Peter Phillips, the fifth president of the People's National Party, is making his maiden address to the 79th annual conference of Norman Manley's party. I expect regurgitation will be made to masquerade as new thinking. The PNP is a politically moribund organisation with an antediluvian leader who espouses 'bad mind' as a virtue.

Recall this banner headline in The Gleaner of November 24, 2015? 'Phillips rides Andrew's house again', the story said among other things: “For the second consecutive week, Andrew Holness's house came in for special mention at a People's National Party (PNP) meeting. As he did in Portmore, St Catherine, two Sundays ago, Dr Peter Phillips turned up in Black River, St Elizabeth, with a mission to put clear daylight between the leaders of both political parties: Portia Simpson Miller of the PNP and Holness of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

“ 'We have a leader with a proven record. I say so and dem don't like it. We know what her values are. She has spent more than 40 years in the political vineyard working for the poor and the dispossessed of this country. Her mission is not to build nuh big house. Her mission is not to accumulate wealth for herself. Her mission is service of the people of Jamaica,' Phillips, the PNP campaign director, said. 'No one in a fi har party can ask her nuh question how she build nuh house with wall that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars... ,' Phillips had said in Portmore the week before.”

I am not surprised that the PNP persists in berating the zone of special operations and community development programme in Mount Salem and its environs despite overwhelming evidence from credible media that the residents are happy with the presence of the security personnel and the provision of social services to improve their lives. The PNP wants it to fail. Why? Recall that Ronald Thwaites, ex-minister of education in the Portia Simpson Miller Administration, told us, “The PNP has presided over the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich since slavery.”

The PNP is once again demonstrating that one of its key preoccupations is the propagation of poverty.

Recall also that Venesha Phillips, councillor for the Papine Division, told us, among other things:

“ 'We have not really been true to the cause, because self-worth and pride have been gutted from our people, and deliberately so.

“ 'Our people today are not recipients of empowerment, but instead they have become pawns used in the games by those who wish to create the PNP that they want to exist in,' she said.

“Phillips claimed that the party has used money to control and manipulate the people.

“ '… So, Comrades, we have moved away from when Michael Manley (former party leader and prime minister) gave us that sense of purpose that we are not for sale, and today we are for sale, because today every man have dem price.'

“Phillips charged that money has been used to manipulate the people because they have not been able to afford some basic items.

“ '…Instead of empowering them… we use money as a weapon, and we have brought our people to their knees just so we can establish our own cause,' said Phillips.

“She added: 'We have not been true to the cause because we have allowed those who would want to break our people so that they can exalt themselves, we have allowed them that space to do it.' “ ( Jamaica Observer, April 25, 2016).

Rustic folks tell us that, 'When fish come from river bottom and tell u alligator dung deh, believe him.'

ZOSO has street credibility

Doubtless the political green-eyed and 'red-yeye' monsters in the PNP became devolved into bad mind delirium when they saw this story in last Sunday's Observer. The story said among other things:

“The joint forces yesterday reported that they recovered four illegal firearms in Mount Salem, St James, where the first zone of special operations (ZOSO) is in effect

“According to the ZOSO Communications Unit, an AK assault rifle with one magazine and five live rounds was found about 7:30 am during the search of a premises on Pedlars Lane. One man is being held and questioned in connection with the find.

“The other three weapons — a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol and two home-made handguns — were found about 1:15 pm, when a ZOSO joint force team conducted a snap raid at a premises on Piggott Street.

“ 'The Sig Sauer was found in a garbage pile, wrapped in a black plastic bag. Two lead sheets used in the illegal lotto scamming trade were also discovered with the firearm, leading the team to extend the search for even more contraband,' the Communications Unit said in a news release.

“The two home-made hand guns were found on the same premises minutes later.

“This now brings to five the number of illegal guns recovered in Mount Salem since the community was declared a zone of special operations on Friday, September 1.

“Last week, the joint force reported that a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum revolver was found in an open lot on Piggott Street about 1:25 am. The gun has since been sent for ballistic testing, the Communications Unit said.”

“No one was arrested in connection with that seizure, the unit said.

“Yesterday, the Communications Unit also reported that, in a separate operation, two men were taken into custody. 'One of the men is wanted for shooting and the other is a suspect in a case of shooting in the Mount Salem area,' the unit said.

“ZOSO Communications Officer Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay said the soldiers and police working in the ZOSO are 'extremely motivated and encouraged' by yesterday's weapons find, and have 'pledged to press on with the search operations even more vigorously'.” ( Sunday Observer, September 10, 2017)

Former Minister of National Security Peter Bunting describes the home-made guns seized in Mount Salem and its environs as “play-play guns”. I expected this kind of narrative from Bunting. He seems to suffer with elephantiasis of the ego.

It came as no surprise to me when PNP surrogates tried in various media to belittle a community fair put on by various state agencies for the people of Mount Salem and its environs last week. The “fair offered a wide array of services including civil registration, health and social protection, employment and skills training. It was staged in partnership with the Child Development Agency, Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Social Development Commission, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Security, Registrar General's Department, HEART Trust/NTA, National Insurance Scheme, Tax Administration Jamaica, as well as non-government organisations such as the Lions Club”. ( Sunday Observer, September 10, 2017)

Prime Minister Holness revealed in Parliament last Tuesday that residents had received the following assistance in the first 10 days of the zone's operation: 258 applied for birth certificates, 72 tax registration number, 470 received dental services, 13 got call centre jobs, 55 registered for the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education, 45 registered for food handlers' permits, and 156 received various health services.

PNP's comedy of errors continues...

The PNP has now fine-tuned the art of political miscalculation. Recall that after ex-prime minister Portia Simpson Miller declared she was “touched by the master”, the PNP had a rally in Half-Way-Tree on Sunday January 31, 2016 to announce the date for our 17th parliamentary election. I remember watching the spectacle on television. Songs such as Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, Popcaan's My God, and Alkaline's Champion Boy got many 'forwards'. Popular soca song Differentology by Bunj Garlin was played several times.

The PNP left the meeting titillated with the false belief that the massive crowd meant certain victory at the polls. Maybe the crowd was merely enamoured with the antics of the music selector on the night, who credible political commentators said was the star of their show. They did not learn from former Prime Minister Michael Manley's famous political gaffe in Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay, St James, prior to the October 30, 1980 General Election. Manley famously declared, “150,000 strong cannot be wrong.” When the votes were counted, the JLP won 51 of the then 60 seats in Parliament, and Edward Seaga became Jamaica's fifth prime minister.

Recall also that on July 19, 2015, then Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, fresh from his political junket in Addis Ababa, while speaking in York Town, Clarendon, placed Comrades in the 'stand behind your blocks' election mode. The PNP, then worked overtime to brand the election campaign as one of 'ray ray', standpipe brawls, fluff, and amateurish pyrotechnic stunts. The PNP outspent the JLP in millions on media advertisements. Notably, for every JLP advertisement in the electronic media, the PNP had four. Their strategy failed dismally. Why?

The power is gone

Largely, the PNP and its surrogates no longer have primary control of media and the conduits that direct real-time information flow and content consumption. Additionally, the credibility of the former prime minister's Administration flatlined. As country people put it, you had to take what they said with a pound of salt.

The JLP ran a strategically brilliant and well-timed campaign. They went into the general election with 21 seats. They did not lose any. Sir Alexander Bustamante's party won 11 of the PNP's seats and thereby formed Jamaica's Government for the fifth time since 1962.

The PNP's relentless and tiresome attempts to discredit the Andrew Holness Administration's zone of special operations and community development will be another political miscalculation that will cost 89 Old Hope Road dearly.

I suspect that Dr Phillips and his wrecking ball crew had abnormal heart palpitations last Sunday when they saw this screaming headline in The Gleaner: 'Mt Salem Success'.

I imagine they are still having frequent trips to the bathroom after reading this excerpt from the story: “Community stalwart, businessman Errol Lamey, told The Sunday Gleaner that, while he has issues with ZOSO, he was pleased with the fair, which he said brought much-needed services to many persons who were perhaps too lazy to go out and access them.

“ 'This part of the ZOSO is very good, and I believe that it is something that should be applauded,' said Lamey.

“ 'There are many times that opportunities open up for people, but because they don't have the documents they need, the opportunities pass them by. Now they will have no excuses not to have the documents, because the various agencies have brought the services to them,' added Lamey.” ( The Sunday Gleaner, September 10, 2017)

Those in the PNP who are 'burning bad lamp' for the JLP must have had political kittens when they saw this Gleaner story last Tuesday:

“Gunmen are reportedly fleeing from St James in droves as indications are that they are fearful that the zone of special operations, which is now concentrated in Mt Salem, might soon be expanded into the other problem-plagued communities in the parish.

“ 'We are getting intelligence that many of the violence producers in communities like Bottom Pen, Norwood and Salt Spring are running away to other parishes,' a senior policeman, who asked not to be identified, told The Gleaner over the past weekend. 'They see what is happening in Mt Salem and it has driven fear into them.'

“The lawman said that, based on their information, the retreating gangsters are targeting parishes like the neighbouring Westmoreland and Hanover, as well as St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon.

“ 'The criminals, especially those with resources such as the lottery scammers, turned gangsters, are not hanging around, they are running,' the policeman said. 'Many of these guys are part of an established criminal network, which spans several parishes.'

“In Westmoreland, which has been having its fair share of criminal challenges with more than 90 murders since the start of the year, commanding officer, Superintendent Lansford Salmon, is warning the migrating criminals against seeking safe haven in that parish.

“ 'We are warning them not to come to Westmoreland because they are not going to find any safe haven here,' Salmon said recently. 'We are also asking the residents to be on the lookout for strange men and to alert the police whenever any is spotted.' “ ( The Gleaner, September 12, 2017)

The new paradigm

Prime Minister Holness's statement in Parliament last Tuesday was a point of light for the future of this country. He said, among other things: “ 'I am not standing here in Parliament bragging about that, the point I am making is that Jamaicans have the capacity to pursue what is right, without doing what is wrong. If nothing else, this is a proof of concept that we can fight crime and fight the criminals without killing innocent people,' Holness insisted.” ( Jamaica Observer, September 12, 2017)

Dr Phillips and the PNP simply do not understand this new paradigm of governance.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan but also believe. — Anatole France

Garfield Higgins is an educator; journalist; and advisor to the minister of education, youth and information. Send comments to the Observer or higgins160@yahoo.com.

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