Jamaica Gleaner

In­de­pen­dence pro­pa­ganda

- Gor­don Robin­son is an at­tor­ney-at-law. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com. Politics · Elections · Westminster · England · Jamaica · Elizabeth II · Elizabeth I of England · International Monetary Fund · Las Vegas · London · God · Germany · Pete Seeger · Communist Party of China · Santa Claus · World Bank · United States of America · Public Service Commission · Delroy Wilson

THE PAST week marked 180-odd years of Eman­ci­pa­tion and 50odd of po­lit­i­cal In­de­pen­dence.

Yet we still op­er­ate a cor­rupt sys­tem of gov­ern­ment com­pounded by a cor­rupt na­tional mind­set; a gen­er­alised dis­dain for pro­pri­ety; and a deep-rooted belief in en­ti­tle­ment. Westminste­r, a gov­er­nance sys­tem cre­ated in Eng­land cen­turies ago to pro­tect its monar­chy’s en­ti­tle­ments, is the ori­gin of these prob­lems.

Westminste­r’s roots were planted by the Magna Carta, pro­pa­gan­dised as a harbinger of democ­racy, but, in re­al­ity, a des­per­ate ploy by King John to pre­vent the monar­chy’s im­mi­nent, bloody demise. In­stead of democ­racy, the Magna Carta’s long-term ef­fect has been Westminste­r, an op­pres­sive, dic­ta­to­rial rule mas­querad­ing as free­dom.

Westminste­r was ex­ported to Ja­maica dur­ing slav­ery and colo­nial­ism. The con­comi­tant brain­wash­ing was hugely suc­cess­ful as 50-odd years af­ter po­lit­i­cal In­de­pen­dence and al­most 200 years af­ter Eman­ci­pa­tion, we main­tain this per­verse sys­tem cre­ated to shore up a to­tal­i­tar­ian-style monar­chy, then blended with pseudo-democ­racy and im­ported here to keep us sub­servient.

De­spite in­ter­minable, in­tol­er­a­ble, in­sin­cere lip ser­vice about con­sti­tu­tional change, Queen El­iz­a­beth II re­mains Ja­maica’s monarch. We still spend an an­nual for­tune, de­spite tyran­ni­cal IMF fis­cal re­straint, on a gover­nor gen­eral, his staff, res­i­dence and ‘of­fi­cial’ du­ties. We’re mad!

WESTMINSTE­R PER­PET­U­ATED

And lov­ing it! We’ve built gar­risons to per­pet­u­ate Westminste­r. We slav­ishly fol­low Westminste­r’s tenets even when they re­duce our tiny tal­ent pool of prospec­tive na­tional ex­ec­u­tives (aka ‘Cab­i­net’) from three mil­lion to 40-odd. We em­brace Westminste­r’s au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism to the ex­tent that al­most ev­ery na­tional ap­point­ment must be ap­proved by our monarch-in-res­i­dence, the PM.

In­de­pen­dently ap­pointed ju­di­ciary? LOL. Who ap­points the Ju­di­cial Ser­vices Com­mis­sion? Who de­cides and pays judges’ salaries? In­de­pen­dently ap­pointed public ser­vants? DWL! Who ap­points the Public Ser­vice Com­mis­sion and fires them at will if they don’t ap­point the monarch’s choice of so­lic­i­tor gen­eral?

Colo­nial­ism op­pressed all Ja­maicans. In­de­pen­dent Ja­maica op­presses po­lit­i­cal

op­po­nents, keeps ‘cit­i­zens’ men­tally en­slaved, act­ing as lead­ers’ lap­dogs beg­ging for scraps. We’ve even cutely chris­tened na­tional scraps ‘scarce ben­e­fits and spoils’.

Most im­por­tant, we LOVE Westminste­r’s un­ac­count­abil­ity and will do any­thing to con­tinue it.

We shall not, we shall not be moved. (re­peat twice) Just like a tree that’s planted by the wa­ter we shall not be moved. Take, for ex­am­ple, Del­roy Chuck, part of Par­lia­ment’s joint se­lect com­mit­tee con­sid­er­ing a bill to raise the thresh­old for declar­ing gifts to par­lia­men­tar­i­ans from $20,000 to $50,000. If not for Del­roy’s cham­pi­oning of in­di­vid­ual rights, this dis­grace­fully procor­rup­tion bill might’ve passed with­out a blink. Not that he was cham­pi­oning our in­di­vid­ual right to trans­parency in gov­ern­ment. Chuck that! He was cham­pi­oning HIS in­di­vid­ual ‘right’ to ac­cept $500,000 worth of se­cret gifts.

Del­roy preached it’s un­rea­son­able to in­sist a public of­fi­cial de­clare cer­tain gifts. He ac­tu­ally said ( Gleaner, June 11, ‘Chuck: It is my busi­ness’)

“A lot of my clients know I en­joy go­ing to Las Ve­gas. You’re go­ing to say I must de­clare a trip to Las Ve­gas or to Lon­don?”

I swear to God. I know you be­lieve I in­vent my satire, but NO­BODY can make this chuck­ery up. No colum­nist has been more caus­tic in cri­tiquing this Gov­ern­ment than I, but, if this is a se­nior mem­ber of the al­ter­na­tive Cab­i­net, I say chuck the JLP. Has Del­roy for­got­ten the PNP state min­is­ter who gam­bled away con­stituency fund do­na­tions and was fired? Is it pos­si­ble to se­ri­ously be­lieve we mustn’t know who pays for Las Ve­gas hol­i­days? How’d we cross-ref­er­ence re­ceipt of any scarce ben­e­fits and spoils?

So, I con­tinue to look to youth for Ja­maica’s fu­ture and per­sis­tently sup­port peo­ple like Ray­mond Pryce, Ju­lian Robin­son, Lisa Hanna, Kam­ina John­son-Smith, Floyd Green and Mar­lon Mor­gan as na­tional lead­ers. Re­cently, Lisa was crit­i­cised for vol­un­tar­ily dis­clos­ing she’d paid per­son­ally for her son to ac­com­pany her on an of­fi­cial trip to Ger­many. She was ac­cused of protest­ing too much. Puh-leeeeeeze! This only proves we’re so deep in the morass we don’t recog­nise trans­parency in gov­ern­ment when it bites us on the nose. We should DE­MAND, not crit­i­cise, this.

SMART­PHONE GIFTS

There’s worse. Del­roy, ag­gra­vat­ing his foot-in-mouth dis­ease, con­tin­ued rant­ing about en­ti­tle­ments. Em­bold­ened by Sen­a­tor Lam­bert ‘Ou­ta­meni’ Brown, who lob­bied for ‘smart­phones’ to be se­cret gifts, Del­roy bab­bled on, “All of us get smart­phones. All of us would have to de­clare we got a smart­phone from a ser­vice provider.” Only Char­lie Brown can re­spond ad­e­quately: “Aaaau­u­u­uggghhh!”

I ex­pect no bet­ter from Lam­bert, who told the world that NHT’s Ou­ta­meni ac­qui­si­tion made a “profit” be­cause, ac­cord­ing to him, it was val­ued at $300 mil­lion-plus but pur­chased for $180 mil­lion. New chair­man, Carl­ton Davis, a su­perla­tive Ja­maican public ser­vant, re­cently told the Public Ac­counts Com­mit­tee: “It isn’t the ap­proach I would have taken in deal­ing with this mat­ter ... it is not an area within the NHT’s core com­pe­tence ... .” So much for Lam­bert’s loud and stout de­fence of the pur­chase. Is he off the NHT board?

So, Del­roy’s in­sis­tence MPs should be en­ti­tled to se­cret gifts is un­sur­pris­ing. But his dec­la­ra­tion that “a ser­vice provider” give the phones is be­yond Alice in Won­der­land. Is Del­roy un­aware par­lia­men­tar­i­ans pass laws gov­ern­ing ser­vice providers’ li­cences and, wear­ing min­is­te­rial hats, ap­point tele­coms reg­u­la­tors? Does he care? Or is it ‘chuck that’?

If par­lia­men­tar­i­ans are gifted 10 cents from tele­coms ser­vice providers, I want to know.

In fact, I take the view ALL gifts to par­lia­men­tar­i­ans or their im­me­di­ate fam­i­lies should be de­clared. Mon­e­tary value can be de­cep­tive. In my Septem­ber 30, 2014 col­umn head­lined ‘It’s al­ways about the money’, I told a very per­sonal story that’s worth re­peat­ing ver­ba­tim: “When I was ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of a public body in sen­si­tive ne­go­ti­a­tions with a pri­vate-sec­tor as­so­ci­a­tion, the as­so­ci­a­tion’s head told me he had a rare photo of my fa­ther as sports master at JC. The next day, the photo was on my desk. I’m cer­tain the ges­ture was guile­less, but I re­turned it within the hour.”

With apolo­gies for the trum­pet solo, THIS is the be­hav­iour I ex­pect from par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. It’s time to chuck Chuck.

Pete Seeger, Amer­i­can folk singer, song­writer and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist, was black­listed dur­ing the McCarthy era for be­ing a Com­mu­nist Party mem­ber. His was the voice of a gen­er­a­tion of protesters against in­jus­tice. Pete Seeger was one of many civil­rights ac­tivists who adapted the lyrics of the tra­di­tional Ne­gro spir­i­tual We Shall Not Be Moved into a protest against 1960s prej­u­dices, in­clud­ing seg­re­ga­tion (“We’re black and white to­gether we shall not be moved”); gen­der in­equity (“We’re women and men to­gether, we shall not be moved”); ageism (“We’re young and old to­gether, we shall not be moved”); and dis­crim­i­na­tion by sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion (“yes, straight and gay to­gether, we shall not be moved”).

This was lost on mu­sic pro­ducer Cle­ment ‘Sir Cox­sone’ Dodd, who butchered the song and its tra­di­tions in a 1966 lo­cal cover, (fea­tur­ing a teenage Del­roy Wil­son) by chang­ing the lyric to “I Shall Not Re­move”. Aah, bwoy!

So as we mark In­de­pen­dence, I’m ask­ing In­de­pen­dence Santa to con­vince Gov­ern­ment to scrap ex­pen­sive cel­e­bra­tions (this ar­ti­cle was sub­mit­ted for pub­li­ca­tion a week ago) and, in­stead, com­mit to AND BE­GIN a process of real con­sti­tu­tional change. Abol­ish Westminste­r. Give us trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in­stead.

Do we want sim­ple, easy changes like fixed elec­tion dates and term lim­its? Do we want even more? If yes to ei­ther, don’t be de­graded or de­prived for another minute. Stop sup­port­ing de­ceit­ful cel­e­bra­tions of aus­ter­ity, curry goat cam­paigns, and un­demo­cratic elec­tions based on wide­spread voter in­tim­i­da­tion con­ducted ONLY so ‘your’ party wins the right to ig­nore you for five years.

WITH­HOLD VOTES

Tell them, “No ac­count­abil­ity, NO VOTE”; “No trans­parency, NO VOTE”.

In 1962, 72.28 per cent of the elec­torate voted. Since then, those num­bers have been: 81.46 per cent (1967); 78.2 per cent (1972); 84.5 per cent (1976); 86.1 per cent (1980); 77.59 per cent (1989); 66.74 per cent (1993); 65.22 per cent (1997); 59.06 per cent (2002); 61.46 per cent (2007); and 52.76 per cent (2011).

The pre­cip­i­tous de­cline since 1990 can’t be ig­nored. Next elec­tion might see a mi­nor­ity turn­ing out. This loud cry from the peo­ple for fun­da­men­tal change has been ar­ro­gantly snubbed by PNP and JLP alike. This isn’t the ‘ar­tic­u­late mi­nor­ity’ cry­ing out. It’s EV­ERY­BODY out­side of hard­core party sup­port­ers.

No Gov­ern­ment with 25 per cent of the elec­torate’s vote is le­git­i­mate. We must de­liver this mes­sage loudly and in an or­gan­ised way to the IMF, World Bank, Eu­ro­zone grantors, and the almighty USA so they hear and un­der­stand how un­govern­able Ja­maica is be­com­ing.

Trust me, they’ll en­sure true democ­racy for Ja­maica. Why? Good­man’s Law: Don’t ask if it’s about the money. It’s AL­WAYS about the money!

Peace and love.

 ?? RI­CARDO MAKYN/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER ?? Mem­bers of the Is­ling­ton Dinki Mini Group from the Is­ling­ton High School per­form at the In­de­pen­dence Day pa­rade at King’s House. But Gor­don Robin­son ex­plores whether Ja­maica is re­ally in­de­pen­dent and demo­cratic.
RI­CARDO MAKYN/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER Mem­bers of the Is­ling­ton Dinki Mini Group from the Is­ling­ton High School per­form at the In­de­pen­dence Day pa­rade at King’s House. But Gor­don Robin­son ex­plores whether Ja­maica is re­ally in­de­pen­dent and demo­cratic.
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Del­roy Chuck has railed against a $50,000 ceil­ing on pri­vate gifts to politi­cians.
Del­roy Chuck has railed against a $50,000 ceil­ing on pri­vate gifts to politi­cians.

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