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Need to win makes leadership change necessary, say Bunting supporters

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Need to win makes leadership change necessary, say Bunting supporters

BY GARFIELD MYERS
Editor-at-large
South/Central Bureau

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — For St Ann North Western Member of Parliament Dayton Campbell, a simple question goes to the heart of the matter.

“How could it be that we have the most corrupt government in the history of this country but by all indications and polls we (People’s National Party) can’t win…?” Campbell asked during the People’s National Party (PNP) Knockpatrick Divisional meeting at May Day High School on Sunday night.

The answer, said Campbell as he endorsed the decision of Manchester Central Member of Parliament Peter Bunting to challenge for leadership of the PNP, was that “something is not right, something is not right” within his party.

Without saying so in as many words, Campbell suggested that current party President Dr Peter Phillips had become unelectable and that the party, in its own interests, had to move on.

“It is the duty of every single PNP to ask themselves the question: What is the best choice for the PNP to win an election? And then we have to support the best choice for us to win an election,” he said.

He insisted that the move to unseat Phillips “is not about emotion…” but was aimed at allowing the party to fulfil its responsibility to take political power, eradicate widespread corruption, and defend the interests of Jamaicans most in need.

Campbell was among several speakers throwing their weight behind Bunting at the first public event for the PNP in the constituency, after the former Cabinet minister announced his intention to contest the PNP presidency.

Michael Stewart, Member of Parliament for Manchester Southern, declared that his constituency would not be “left behind”, assuring Bunting that “we are with you at this time…”

Like Campbell, Stewart observed that the PNP had failed to gain “traction” despite numerous corruption scandals afflicting the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government. “…Something is wrong in the top tier of the party and we need to take stock,” he said.

A medical doctor, Campbell said that on a daily basis he was hearing the cry for change in the PNP.

“Anybody in the PNP who a pretend like they don’t hear that, they are liars because every single one of us hear it every day,” said Campbell.

He dismissed criticism that Bunting’s challenge was selfish. He appeared to suggest that, if anything, that accusation would be more appropriately directed at the party president.

“This is not about selfish ambition. The selfish ambition would be to know that I can’t win but I still hold on like weh Eddie Seaga (the late Jamaican prime minister and JLP leader) do to the Labour Party. We do not want the People’s National Party to be Seagarised…,” he said to cheers.

The PNP, said Campbell, needed to rediscover “its soul” in order to successfully contest for State power and for government to defend the interests of the mass of the people.

He voiced the belief that Bunting would strive to “modernise” the party while strengthening internal democracy, allowing views to contend, and facilitating avenues for the ideas generated at group (party grass roots) level to reach the hierarchy.

Campbell poured scorn on those whom he said sought to portray Bunting’s wealth as a “disadvantage”. Instead, he said, Bunting’s success as an investment manager boded well should he some day take charge of the Jamaican Government.

Others voicing strong support for Bunting at the divisional meeting included mayor of Mandeville and councillor for the Royal Flat Division Donovan Mitchell, and former Mayor of Black River Everton Fisher (Balaclava Division).

Guest speaker at the conference, Dr Shane Alexis, caretaker for St Mary South Eastern, made it clear that he was there as a neutral in the expected leadership contest.

He reminded his audience that after the contest is over, Comrades must come together as “one” to defeat a “corrupt” JLP Government.

The contending forces should make sure that at all times there is due respect shown to others, he said.

The need for Comradely “love and respect” during the internal campaign was a recurring theme for speakers at the divisional conference, including Bunting who said he would “denounce” any supporter who betrayed that principle.

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Audio-visual tech-fitted buses to secure testimonies from witnesses

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THE Ministry of Justice will be providing two buses, equipped with audio-visual technology, to assist in securing testimonies from witnesses in trial matters.

This was disclosed by portfolio Minister Delroy Chuck who said the vehicles, which will be rolled out soon, will be used to travel to remote areas where witnesses may be located.

These, he said, are among the initiatives underpinning the ministry’s commitment to safeguarding witnesses against intimidation, and advancing their role in the justice process.

The minister’s speech was delivered by executive director of the Legal Aid Council Hugh Faulkner, during the opening of the two-day Witness Care Conference at the Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies, Mona, St Andrew, last Friday.

Chuck said other initiatives include equipping 78 courtrooms with digital audio facilities and 19 with audio-visual recording apparatus, noting that “with this technology, witness intimidation will be significantly reduced”.

Additionally, the minister said legislation has been passed to allow witnesses in human trafficking cases being tried in the Circuit Court, to testify before presiding judges without a jury.

“Our goal, mission, and purpose at the Ministry of Justice is to create a first-class justice system that delivers timely justice to all, irrespective of their socio-economic circumstances,” Chuck emphasised.

It is against this background that the ministry is a significant partner in the conference, “because we know that a first-class justice system cannot exist without the proper care and protection of witnesses”.

He expressed the hope that the forum would facilitate stakeholder dialogue on a public awareness campaign, to educate the general populace that locating and procuring witnesses is a “shared responsibility”.

“Discussions will range from creating an enabling environment for witness safety and security to psychosocial interventions and services for witnesses. There will also be a focus on vulnerable witnesses, as well as discussions on designing multi-care systems that involve different agencies,” the minister said.

These engagements, Chuck pointed out, are intended to provide a “wealth of information” that should be used as “critical investments” to yield “tangible results” for the care of witnesses.

This, he added, is imperative in spurring civic-minded Jamaicans into action, and sending a message to the criminal underworld that “witnesses will not cower in fear, but will be motivated to stand and be counted, and play their part in creating a society that is secure, cohesive and just”.

Meanwhile, Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica Laurie Peters, who also spoke, underscored the relationship between the countries in engagements tailored to advance the local justice sector.

“We (Canada) have been a long-standing and steadfast partner with Jamaica, in terms of putting forth, supporting, partnering on a series of reform-focused…reform-centric programmes, all designed to advance a comprehensive and systematic approach to justice modernisation,” Peters said.

In this regard, she said the Canadian Government is honoured to be a partner in the conference’s staging.

The inaugural event is a key activity under the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) project.

The project is a $19.8-million Global Affairs Canada-funded initiative, being implemented by the Justice Ministry and United Nations Development Programme.

It is supporting justice sector reforms through technical-legal assistance; institutional strengthening; and social order.

Peters said the conference forms part of the JUST programme’s social order component, which seeks to facilitate equitable access to justice services for all individuals, particularly the most vulnerable.

“It is commendable that Jamaica has understood and embraced the importance of focusing on witnesses at this time,” she added.

The conference, which ended on Saturday , was intended to discuss and advance solutions for the protection and support of witnesses in the Jamaican judicial system.

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Waite gets ringing endorsements in St Elizabeth NE

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BRAES RIVER, St Elizabeth — Thoughts of the People’s National Party’s (PNP’s) internal presidential campaign were never far away.

However, Comrades focused on Basil Waite at yesterday’s formal launch of his bid here to become the next Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern whenever general elections are called.

The seat is currently held by the PNP’s Evon Redman, who has long indicated he will not be seeking re-election after completing his single term.

“This is about PNP unity; we not thinking about internal campaign right now,” claimed Councillor Everton Fisher (PNP, Balaclava Division).

There were discordant notes though, that were completely unrelated to the challenge to party President Dr Peter Phillips by former Cabinet Minister Peter Bunting.

A message from Redman, absent due to family commitments, was met with derisive shouts of “No” from the large crowd.

Redman, in his message read by Region Five Chairman Hopeton McCatty, said the “transition” of the constituency leadership had not always been smooth, but he and Waite were “working at it”.

Waite got ringing endorsements, including from his brother, Councillor Mugabe Kilimanjaro (Ipswich Division, St Elizabeth north-estern), who jarringly insisted that his brother had been “sabotaged” for years by elements in the PNP.

By press time the meeting had briefly taken on the look of a stage show as Comrades awaited the arrival of Dr Phillips, who was scheduled to deliver the main presentation.

St Elizabeth North Eastern is traditionally among the rural strongholds of the PNP.

Waite is set to be challenged by businessman Delroy Slowley, representing the JLP, whenever parliamentary elections are called.

— Garfield Myers

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PM tours Corporate Area projects

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PM tours Corporate Area projects

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) hugs Traffic Warden Tonya Morris during yesterday’s tour of the roadwork in Manor Park, St Andrew, while wishing her birthday greetings.

 

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) examines one of the new pipelines which will replace the old ones in Manor Park, St Andrew, while touring the ongoing road projects in the Corporate Area yesterday with other stakeholders. Looking on is E G Hunter, managing director of National Works Agency. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)


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