Monday, September 12, 2016

Jamaica needs our brightest and best

Prime Minister Andrew Holness lauds Audrey Marks, Jamaica's newly appointed Ambassador to the US at Vale Royal last Friday.  Sharing the moment is his wife, Mrs Juliet Holness. 
Observer column for MON 12 SEPTEMBER 2016

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

PM Andrew Holness has made the wise move of appointing Audrey Marks as Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, her second such assignment.  We applaud Ambassador Marks who has been the subject of this column more than once, because she is such an excellent role model for young Jamaicans.  She has worked tirelessly, created employment for hundreds through Paymaster, and has taken leadership roles in both the public and private sectors because of her unflagging faith in her beloved country.

In her previous Washington assignment, she introduced such investors as Digicel Chairman Denis O'Brien to prospective US investors, so they could learn about the many opportunities we offer.  She forged ties with the Jamaica Diaspora, traveling throughout the US, to stir their interest in their homeland.

We are blessed that this excellent entrepreneur and management guru is back in Washington DC, where she can enhance our country's image and build important relationships. She will do us proud!

With this commendation, who knows how I will be labelled this week?  Last week I was branded a PNP when I wrote that greater respect was due to Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller.  Over the past 15 years, this column has lauded and criticized leaders on both sides of the fence. There are fine representatives in both parties whom I consider my friends and who know how passionate I am about the development of our beloved country.

That being said, I do see the dilemma that government operatives face in making appointments. In fact, I believe that the Bruce Golding-led JLP Government may have suffered a few setbacks because of an idealistic decision to keep certain individuals in certain positions. At that time, I recall having to convene a meeting at my office for a new Government official to meet the head of a government agency as the person's efforts faced daily roadblocks, which could only be described as sabotage. 

We dearly hope for the day when Jamaica will be able to identify a cadre of brilliant professionals who have been proved to be trustworthy nation builders. If we believe there is a shortage of such persons, we should know that many have tried and have left this country in frustration.

Let our leaders work at finding the brightest and the best among us, and those in the diaspora who still wish to become nation builders. The recent Business and Consumer Confidence report shows that there is much optimism. With strong leadership we can fulfill the prediction of Jamaica Exporters Association President Michelle Chong, that 'Jamaica is ready to take off'.

Local Government Elections

As Local Government Elections approach, while the political representatives use so much of their energy and focus on gaining power, little is left to address the needs of the people. I remember one politician describing Jamaica as "a patient in crisis". He said that this "patient Jamaica" had so many multiple issues that even as one was being addressed, the other was getting worse.

With all due respect to that Minister, our leaders must ask themselves why countries many times larger than us, with fewer natural resources are thriving better than we are.  The buck stops with our leaders both in Government and in Local Government.

The allegations and rumours around campaign financing are very disturbing. When we consider that a complete Food for the Poor house can be built for US$3,200, consider how many of our poor those millions could house!

Campaign Financing

We fully endorse the call by the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica for the laws governing Campaign Financing to be enacted so that our country can be viewed in a positive light by the many investors who have expressed interest in partnering with our people.  If our political parties cannot embrace a transparent system for Campaign Financing, it calls into question their integrity.

Even as I believe that we should show respect for all persons as we sing in our Anthem, that respect has to be returned by our leaders.  Those who have run afoul of the law and have unhealthy alliances are simply not worthy of leading us.

Our Luke Lane Visit

When a group of us from the 51% Coalition and the Women's Resource Outreach Centre (WROC) visited the family of young Demario Whyte, who was so tragically killed in what is being described as gang warfare, we were touched by the deep love and unity among the family members we met.

There was a poster near the gate with a series of hearts in which folks had written beautiful messages to baby Demario and there was a large colour poster from which the shining eyes of Demario broke our hearts.

Jamaica's children have a right to a safe environment in which to grow. The harsh words from political platforms have created an atmosphere of tension and hostility which is rippling throughout the nation.  If our people cannot look to our leaders for responsible and mature conduct, where else can they look?

Week of Mercy in Jamaica

As we celebrate the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, we look forward to the celebration of Mercy Week, beginning this Friday, September 16.  As Shakespeare's character says in 'The Merchant of Venice': "The quality of mercy is not strain'd …It is an attribute to God himself."
The first Jamaican Sister of Mercy was Jessie Ripoll, who with two friends bought land at South Camp Road in 1880, and started Alpha Cottage, an orphanage. With the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy in 1890, this blossomed into islandwide missions for health, education and residential children's homes.
A highlight of the Week will be a Public Lecture and Panel Discussion next Tuesday, 20 September at 5pm at the UWI Library Multifunctional Room, by the inspiring Marilyn Lacey, a Religious Sister of Mercy (RSM), who has worked with migrants and refugees worldwide and has received multiple international honours for her compassionate outreach.  Her topic is: 'MERCY: God's Unexpected Path to Justice'.
Other speakers and panelists are Dr Leith Dunn (Chair), Sr. Theresa Lowe Ching RSM, Dr Anna Kasafi Perkins, Rev Fr. Peter McIsaacs SJ, Sr. Mary Theresa Jackson, RSM, Rev Dr Margaret Fowler of Hope United and Sr. Dr Debbie Ann Chambers RSM.
This Friday evening, there will be a Launch of the Mercy Historical Centre at my beloved Alma Mater, Convent of Mercy Academy 'Alpha'.  Guest speaker will be UK Deputy High Commissioner, Graham Glover.
Let Mercy guide our steps this week.
Jean Lowrie-Chin

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