Holness: Help make Jamaica great again

Dr. Julius Garvey (left) and Jamaica’s prime Minister Andrew Holness at the town hall meeting in Queens.
Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness did not parody the words of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump when he addressed nationals from his island during a town hall meeting in Queens recently.

However, it was evident from his message and visionary projection that with the help of diasporans the most telling campaign political promise of the November elections here could appropriately apply and motivate Jamaicans living abroad to help reclaim the pride and standard of living that led to the island’s prominence of being the first independent English-speaking nation in the Caribbean.

As a matter of fact, the Democrat’s popular “Yes We Can” mantra that elected President Barack Obama the first Black to win leadership, could also brand his mission convincing diasporans to become more involved in helping to elevate the standard of living on his island and perhaps return the hey-days when dollar for dollar the economy was better and crime was not the number one issue.

Echoing a similar message to the one he delivered two years ago at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan when as Opposition leader he vowed reform to a bureaucracy he said foments stagnation, growth and prosperity, the youngest leader ever to win a national election in Jamaica said the large immigrant population residing in Canada, the United Kingdom and here could play a vital, participatory role in advancing a better Jamaica.

He listed three major areas of concern saying crime, education and the reduction of bureaucracy are the principal focus for reforms by the current government.

His assessment was heavily endorsed by a majority of nationals that filled the 400-capacity venue and even the dismayed crowd that spilled over into the lawn and lobby unable to see or hear the leader.

Not overlooked by the expressive audience was that a myriad of solutions should be implemented in order to resolve a plethora of issues that plague the island.

More than a few proposed ways to combat criminal activity. One suggestion was to task the Jamaica Defense Force with policing duties. Another was that education and jobs should be the priority to decreasing crime.

There were references to inferior medical services, domestic violence, investment opportunities, youths, divestments, violence, Spanish-owned hotels and alleged mistreatment of local workers and even making Jamaica, Queens a sister-city to one on the Caribbean island.

Violence was rebuked with a warning by the prime minister to “stop beating the pickney.” Dismissed as a primitive form of punishment he urged reform and a more tolerant approach to dealing with youths.

Youths in the audience volunteered suggestions. One, a recent graduate of Kingston College said a huge percentage of his graduating class of 2000 had migrated because of lack of opportunities.

Another offered her commitment to advancing the economy.

The prime minister was able to provide insight to the off-shore, Goat Island controversy which he said he held the highest concern.

When asked about the purchase by Chinese interests, he assured the audience that his government is saying “No to Goat Island – we must preserve it.”

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