The PM, Perkins & Personal Politics

It is indeed very rarely that I get t to listen to daytime talk radio, but today I was afforded this privilege to listen briefly to daytime talk Mutty Perkins.

The main topic most callers wanted to discuss was the now well known farmer Greg the pig farmer from St Catherine who was given a plot of land by Prime Minister Bruce Golding after much appeal last year. Sadly this ambitious, out spoken 27 year old was maliciously murdered, many speculated by his own brother.

After listening to Mr. Perkins he made a few comments that seem to trivialize the sort of personal politics being practiced by the Prime Minister such as personally helping the once productive farmer in his farming. The talk show host also made reference to other instances where the PM helped a child in a wheel chair to get some sort of surgery among other personal stories the PM got involved in.

This annoyed many listeners and a few called in to confront Mr. Perkins who they accuse of mocking the Prime Minister for helping people. Finally during these discussions several things were revealed into the true thinking of Mr. Perkins.

The question that he sought to address was. Is it useful for the Prime Minister to be doing his own special brand of personal help on an individual basis? Obviously the intentions are noble but the question or questions that linger which Mr. Perkins sought to address were:

Instead of the personal help on an individual basis wouldn’t it be more useful for the PM to be looking at ways to help most if not all Jamaicans who face similar challenges?

After all as one caller said the problems that we face intertwined and well known.

Another question, what are the implications of  the Prime Minister helping Jamaicans on an individual basis?

It was after all very interesting that one listener called in sharing his own story of wanting to buy an industrial blender and fryer for his fledgling business. In his own sarcastic way Mr. Perkins told the caller that maybe the PM is listening and will offer help to this ambitious entrepreneur who was finding it very difficult to purchase the tools to take his business to the next level.

The potential implications include many more personal appeals by individuals directly to the Prime Minister himself. These potential appeals take us back to the original question. Is this the most practical use of the Prime Minister’s time however noble his intentions are?

I think what Mr. Perkins found particularly annoying was the way the Prime Minister ran his monthly radio show. Scenario, a woman calls in to discuss that she can not afford to send her children to school or she is going through hell getting registrar office to issue her the birth certificate for her child even though she ordered it several months ago express service with no success. The PM empathize ask the woman to hold so the producer can take her number off the air to see how they can help.

Not that these are not real problems that deserve attention but they do not warrant the attention of the PM. One of Mr. Perkins caller suggested the PM spend 15 to 30 minutes outlining his immediate and long term goals for the country then have people call in to give their ideas, suggestions and opinions.

The Prime Minister has long had a history of his personal brand of governance. In the Portland market truck accident last December where many Jamaicans were killed, the PM was there on the scene even as they took the truck out of the ditch. The recent Hijacking of the Canadian CONjet the PM took the Canadian PM who was visiting along with him directly to where the action was taking place at the Sangsters International airport in Montego Bay. Other noble actions by the PM include replying directly to students who wrote him asking for books for the library at their school.

The complexity and numerous challenges that Jamaica faces, I can not imagine the PM would have much time to address all Jamaicans problem that can be addressed by government on an individual basis. Surely I would assume that is why he has a cabinet filled with hopefully the brightest minds and the countless government agencies to address our problems.

Again I go back to what Mr. Perkins said about this whole issue, if the PM himself has to address these issues personally then what this is saying is that current systems that are in place to address these issues have failed us.

There is a water pipe on my street that seems to burst ever so often and the National Water Commission can not seem to render a permanent fix. They take forever to address the broken pipe when it is brought to their attention.

What should a concern citizen who is directly affected do?, should I appeal personally to the PM to fix the broken pipe. What about the bigger issue of fixing the agency and ministry charged with such responsibilities.

I can argue however that there is nothing wrong with a little personal touch in governance. In fact if we are to compare our leadership with other admirable leadership style, the US president often make reference to a personal story of an individual which the president himself invites to the State of the Union and has offered personal assistance or just pure accolades for something outstanding.

Many have accused the PM of governing from a bubble. The PM is not the most charismatic of leaders. These personal acts of kindness humanize a PM that might appear disconnected from the public.

With Jamaica’s tribalistic political environment there are certain to be discussions about who was wearing a green shirt or who is align to which tribe. This of course is a whole new discussion.

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~ by RB on June 8, 2009.

6 Responses to “The PM, Perkins & Personal Politics”

  1. What PM Golding is engaging in is just a more transparent form of patronage. Every one of the individuals are experiencing situations that are reflective of some serious problems in the system of distributing resources. Golding wants to be seen as more compassionate and more hands-on, but he does so at the expense of leaving entirely dysfunctional and diabolical systems in place for the rest of us to contend with. Because he doesn’t want to be seen as a callous or uncaring person, he takes this personal touch approach that completely panders to the sense of dependence that many Jacns have on government to fix their problems. PM Golding is now saviour, and that sure works to his benefit. What he should do is address the individual’s issues AS WELL AS demand that our not so competent bureaucrats address the systemic problems. This sunday’s paper – gleaner I think – had a job posting for someone who would assess why and where the fuckups – they called it bottlenecks – are being produced in the National Land Agency, and how to deal with them. I don’t think we will see the report, but I can tell them that the first problem is in the fact that few of the people who answer the phone can actually answer any question you ask, or know who can answer them.

  2. Longbench-The PM I am sure is aware hat addressing the systemic problem is more crucial than showing that he is compassionate. In politics especially in a by election environment appealing to the countries sensibilities is a wise move.

    With regard to the ad in the paper at the NLA which sounds like they want a problem solver I am surprise the civil servants who operate that agency can not solve the problems themselves. After all they created the system/processes.

  3. RB, appreciate this article. I am reminded of Golding on more than one occasion mentioning that interest rates were too high and how they affect businesses and Shaw saying more than once that he is ‘tired’ of writing waivers for importing agricultural goods that could be produced in Jamaica. These are the things that they need to be putting their minds to solving, no one is helped by them stating the obvious helps no one, and giving a hand to ‘one or two’ people here and there is not what Bruce Golding and the other parliamentarians receives a salary to do. They were elected to legislate and govern, people didn’t elect social workers.

  4. Rolin-Great analogy of comparing what they are doing as social work. If they are “tired” of signing waivers they should figure out a way to set up a system making it easier and more business friendly the import process to importers. If these goods can be produced in Jamaica then that is good news. How do we start. What is the first next step.

    Good ideas are just good ideas. they need to put it into practice. Lets get started. The Pm and his ministers should be visionaries looking at the big picture. The technocrats they employ should help them solve and implement.

  5. Interesting discussion !! The Prime Minister and his team need to utilize and employ systems and structures to address the various problems as opposed to utilizing this personal or individual approaching in resolving issues and problems of the electorate and the Jamaican people in general.

  6. Correction with regard to my comment above:please read approach as opposed to approaching.

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