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Pushing a Jamaican Head
Posted: Saturday, January 18, 2003

By Stephen Kangal M.O.M.

Why does the current cadre of Ministers inclusive of Messrs Khan, Imbert, Valley et al. regards Cabinet membership as a licence to spout arrant impulsive negativities, inter alia, about T&T society in the presence of foreigners? This is the same lack of patriotism that PM Manning has identified as the basis for P&O and Princess Cruise Lines blacklisting T&T (Express Jan. 18. p.5; Newsday Jan.11, p.11).

The Minister of Trade and Industry and Leader of Government Business, the Hon. Kenneth Valley, from whom hitherto I have read/heard precious little convincing offerings of intellectualism takes the opportunity before a CPA audience consisting of legislators from other Commonwealth countries to bad talk T&T society by imputing that Jamaican society is intellectually superior and more issues-oriented (Express Jan. 16, p.5; Newsday Jan.11, p.18).

Can Minister Valley then explain why violence is used to settle political disputes and to determine electoral contests in pseudo- intellectually/analytically dominated Jamaica? What is intellectually appealing/superior about some drug and violence inciting- dub and reggae compared to our own chutney, pichakaree and double entendre soca?

In fact self-appointed, intellectual authority Valley, God forbid that he should lead further us into the valley of the shadow of debt with his $5bn borrowing (Newsday Jan.18, p.5) should know that it is intellectually dishonest and unconvincing to compare modern, multicultural T&T society with near homogenous Jamaica.

Was the decision to withdraw from the Federation in 1961 based on issues or on insularity? Why does Prime Minster Patterson not want to talk political integration with PM Manning?

How intellectual and discreet was Minister Valley when he verbally assaulted former PNM Speaker Occah Seapaul in the august Parliamentary Chamber with his infamous words uttered in the full glare of television: You can run but you cannot hide.

How issues-based and analytically convincing was Minister Valley when a novice, minor league politician Dr Roodal Moonilal generated whirlpools around him in the pre-election TV debate? Will Minister Valley agree that the Prime Minister’s Manning’s statement that the 22% flour price hike would make us better citizens shows intellectualism or political expediency?

On the other hand the Minister of Legal and Consumer Affairs the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis is on record as saying that she is opposed to the price increase of flour (Guardian Jan.18, p.13). Will Mr. Valley agree with Best that that both the PNM and UWI, institutions of T&T, is intellectually bankrupt (Express Jan.18, p.11)?

Unlike Jamaica T&T is ethnically polarised with 2 large majorities and several minorities, a huge mercantile/professional middle class and therefore a more complex, literate society in several respects. In T&T we have a mushrooming Media Industry with booming talk shows and a surfeit of erudite commentaries. All you have in Jamaica is the JBC monopoly. You are comparing oil with ackee, Minister Valley.

As a retired public servant with ample time to write letters to the editor, participate in most tv/radio talk shows, of which the national community and browsers are fully aware, I congratulate the print/electronic media and on-line journalism for serving as effective custodians of our democracy by encouraging widespread positive comment. With minor reservations, and having visited Jamaica often, I am satisfied with the level of analytical ferment/debate being fomented by the media in T&T outside of the election scenario and can no find reason to delay broadcasting of Parliamentary sittings.

Incidentally, is this the same Valley that in one breath said that T&T does not BWIA but proceeded in another breath to dole out over $70mTT of tax-payers money in a rescue package? Does this reflect an endemic lack of an analytical approach of which Mr. Valley is a self –proclaimed exponent?

With due respect, if this electorate were issues-based and not ethnically polarised, Mr. Valley would be languishing politically in obsolescence somewhere in the Diego Martin Valley.

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