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Unity of purpose

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Unity of purpose

Golding, Patterson urge revival of Values and Attitudes Programme led by four former prime ministers

BY KARENA BENNETT
Observer business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 25, 2019

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AN initiative which was endorsed as the road map for a better Jamaica more than two decades ago, found its way back into the spotlight on Wednesday when two of Jamaica’s former prime ministers — Bruce Golding and PJ Patterson — made a call for the return of the Values and Attitudes Programme that Patterson pushed during his tenure in office.

The twist, however, is that the programme will now be approached as the “last contribution to the national effort” by four of the country’s surviving former prime ministers — Golding, Patterson, Edward Seaga, and Portia Simpson Miller. Additionally, the combined vision will not only seek to promote attitudinal change and social renewal across Jamaica, but will extend guidance to parliamentarians on lessons learnt and the way forward for Jamaica.

The call for the revamped Values and Attitudes Programme comes after Golding, former leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, in outlining five key areas to create good governance in Jamaica — public sector reform, strengthening the rule of law and administration of justice, appropriate systems of accountability and transparency, inclusiveness, and institutionalising a set of shared values — argued that getting the country to this level requires national consensus on basic things, including the difference between right and wrong.

“I don’t know about the other countries in the Caribbean, but I know in Jamaica there are serious disagreements about what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, values float all over the place and it depends on the particular circumstance and the particular personalities that are involved,” Golding said in addressing the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s 14th Regional Investments and Capital Markets conference at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday.

“We need to get to a stage where people come to expect certain things and where people will instinctively refuse to accept other things. [I am] talking about a culture of integrity,” he explained.

“What I’m talking about is beyond the bounds of legislation. No one can draft that into codified law. I’m talking about a situation where something might not be illegal, but it is just plain wrong and the society accepts that it is wrong,” he continued. Golding was speaking on the topic: ‘Governance, Transparency and Ethics: Developing lasting values across the region’.

Twenty-five years ago, Patterson put forward the idea to enter into a national conversation on the institution of social programmes that would teach discipline, good manners and respect for self and country, sharpen communication skills, as well as develop mediation skills by using peaceful conflict resolution.

Despite the best intentions, the Values and Attitudes Programme, as it was called, did not gain the traction which had been hoped for and, in time, it became a ‘political football’. The programme eventually came to an end but was relaunched in 2003.

“I’ve heard Prime Minister [Andrew] Holness make a number of statements that are almost indistinguishable from what PJ had put forward 25 years ago, and I’m just wondering whether the former prime ministers shouldn’t make ourselves ready to lend support to get the discussion going,” Golding said to applause.

“Let us see what are the things that will define our values and our thinking of right and wrong,” he added.

In sharing similar sentiments, Patterson noted that he had also suggested at a Rotary Club meeting in Hanover last year that the four former prime ministers play a lead role in revamping the campaign.

“As Bruce said, every pronouncement that is made, however it is articulated, comes out with the central things. We need to change our patterns of behaviour. It is time we move from talking about it, now that we seem to be saying the same thing, to acting on it,” Patterson reasoned.

“The message to go forth from this conference [is] that there is a suggestion that the political leaders should seek to invoke the help and support of those of us who have retired. We are prepared to get on board and put this thing at a level where the whole nation accepts. This is not an orange or green business, this is a matter of where we are as a nation,” he said.

Orange is the colour used by the Opposition People’s National Party while green is the governing Jamaica Labour Party’s.

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