Views of a Non-Tribal Jamaican
Published: Sunday | September 18, 2011 

A letter writer to Kevin O'Brien Chang says the Portia Simpson Miller administration cannot stand up to the Government under Bruce Golding. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer

Kevin O'Brien Chang, Contributor


A few months ago, a gentleman we shall call Lancelot Murray (not his real name) telephoned me. He said he heard me on TV and looked up my number in the phone book. He described himself as someone who loved politics and followed it closely.

We had a long talk, and then I said, "Your views are very interesting. Why don't you write down all you are telling me and have me run it as a column?" He agreed. Things take time, and this week he sent it to me. So me get it, so me give it.


"I am a traditional supporter of the PNP ... never voted otherwise. I was, however, turned off from my party prior to the 2007 election, and I abstained from voting then. Here are a few reasons why:

a. Lack of confidence in Mrs Simpson Miller as party leader and PM.

b. Level of arrogance displayed by some senior party and government officials.

c. Being a non-tribal person, I was not prepared to accept the portrayal by many PNP members and supporters that every Labourite is a damfool. To their credit, they have a far superior PR machinery, coupled with a pro-PNP media, for the most part. Many Jamaicans were tempted to accept that line, which only breeds added tribalism.

d. I was not impressed with their efforts at creating jobs and containing crime.

However, my main problem was the attitude of almost every minister, officer, member and grass-roots supporter. Whenever the Government or party does something blatantly wrong or makes the greatest of blunders, the impression is given that 'a nuh nutten'. The PNP is always right. In addition, they always come across as if they have a God-given right to govern Jamaica. Such an approach was hard to accept, and I won't accept such garbage from either side.

I was personally expecting the PNP to win the 2007 election; having lost it, and upon reflection, I couldn't avoid coming to the conclusion that it must have been divine intervention that carved out that narrow JLP victory based on the level of high-handedness that had been used to govern the country. Though not a JLP supporter, I was not unhappy with the result.

Based on the state of the economy when the JLP took over, coupled with the international recession that followed shortly after, I was not expecting much improvement on the economic front. However, I, like most Jamaicans, was expecting a new approach to governance based on utterances from Mr Golding and other party officials on the campaign trail, not to mention Mr Golding's election-night victory speech and his inaugural speech as PM. They have been a big letdown in that regard. I think every reasonable Labourite will agree that a few of the present ministers and party officials are equally guilty of some of the issues which I highlighted above.


Though not an authority on politics or governance, I frequently start up debates on said issues and, not surprisingly, come across many persons that share my opinion. I hope this letter will help to sensitise those in Government as to how most Jamaicans feel about them and that they will at least make an attempt to start governing the country in the best interest of us all. I honestly believe, however, that in many respects, this Government has done better than my last PNP government. I came to this conclusion after doing a scoresheet of ministers/ministries of the last PNP government and the present JLP Government.

In analysing the performance of both governments over the last two terms, aside from the most unfortunate way the PM dealt with the Dudus extradition, the Government has done no worse than the last PNP Government, and I think most of us feel a bit safer. I, personally, would probably do a tyre change at night in my vicinity if I should get a flat, not so in the past.

I think we should accept the fact that we all have limitations, and that Mrs Simpson Miller is obviously not stupid. However, just like a Bruce Golding, you get the distinct feeling whenever Peter Phillips addresses an issue, he has a proper grasp of what he's talking about. I was always impressed with Peter Phillips, but that 'HardTalk' interview on the BBC some years ago further convinced me of his immense capabilities.

I would like to get a copy of this document to relevant persons in Government and Opposition, so they can at least be reminded that all Jamaicans are not political tribalists, and we are very unhappy with the way the country is being governed. One other positive that would come out of changes to our governance structure would be the engagement and re-engagement of many Jamaicans who had abandoned the electoral process.

Finally, I am an ardent talk-show listener and newspaper reader, so I am looking forward to responses to hear how stupid I am or if I make any sense at all.

Here is my opinion of the performance of ministers/ministries in the last PNP and present JLP governments. The tick indicates the party I think has done better.



Prime Minister






Labour &

Water &

Industry &


Transport &





Local Gov't

Total 3 6 6


There are a few reasons why I think most of the present ministers have done a better job than the last PNP administration. Getting the best out of an employee depends, to a great extent, on the strength of the supervision and, as I intimated earlier, they have great respect for Mr Golding's grasp and analysis.

Mr Golding's more wide-ranging understanding of the various issues might also be a reason influencing the ministers' performance. Having these attributes would, therefore, go a very far way in motivating and getting the best out of his subordinates. To put it bluntly, with such capabilities and background, you should usually have the capacity to ask the relevant questions at the right time.

Young, vibrant and bright ministers

There are also some young, vibrant and bright ministers in the present Cabinet that are eager to prove their worth. On the other hand, there are also a few senior citizens that are ministers and are trying to do their best to leave a so-called legacy. In addition, having been out of office for more than 18 years, I am sure they all would be trying their best to remain in office as long as possible.

I know they won't publicly admit it and, understandably so, but nobody in the JLP takes it at face value when Jamaica is referred to as country. Therefore, all things combined, they have been trying their best, with a few blunders, of course. I personally think their positives have outweighed their negatives.

Let's say my assessment of ministers and ministries is fairly accurate in the eyes of most Jamaicans; something ironic comes to mind immediately, which I have always known. Jamaicans just don't vote on issues or performance. The year 1989 was a prime example.

I am a person who moves around a lot on the ground and I am picking up the same trend the polls have being reporting. I won't attempt to be presumptuous by trying to indicate percentage lead but, I am most definitely picking up a PNP advantage in all my travels. I must, therefore, ask if we are about to see a 1989 repeat of history?

If the answer is yes, my other question is this: Are we once again prepared to accept some more years of governance similar to what we had subsequently to the JLP loss in 1989, or might we just get another assumed divine intervention? I am forced to ask those questions because what is quite evident so far is that the PNP's slate of candidates comprises most of who were in the last government."

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