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East Portland – When The Safe Seat Becomes Unsafe

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In Jamaican politics,  a safe seat is often taken for granted. But what happens when the safe seat becomes unsafe? For the previously unseated holder, losing is a painful wakeup call that even safe seats can be lost. For the newly seated victor, winning is a euphoric dream come true – even safe seats can be won!

Clearly, the results in the recently held by-elections in East Portland showed a safe seat changing hands. From the Peoples National Party (PNP’s) 30-year grip to the relatively untested hands of a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) newcomer.

The Comrades in orange didn’t see this coming.

Or did they?

Uncomfortable Numbers for the Safe Seat

PNP Candidate Damion Crawford on Nomination Day. He went on to lose the East Portland By-Elections by 306 votes.

Polls leading up to April 4, 2019, East Portland By-Elections showed numbers the PNP hated to see.

An RJRGLEANER Don Anderson poll released days before the by-elections showed 29 percent of respondents saying they would vote for the JLP if a General Elections were to be called immediately. Comparatively, only 18 percent of those polled would vote PNP. Then there is the hefty 53 percent of potential voters who are still on the fence. For either party to win the East Portland seat convincingly this undecided 53 percent is the group to reach!

History of PNP Victories

So, it is no wonder that the former holders of the safe seat in the East Portland constituency became nervous. A trip down memory lane will immediately reveal why the incumbents would have been edgy at the slightest shift in this safe seat.

The Constituency of Portland Eastern is a predominantly rural area that includes the communities of Fellowship, Manchioneal, Fairy Hill, Prospect, and Port Antonio. Collectively, these communities represent just over 36,000 voters who in the past have predominantly voted for the PNP.

Interestingly, the East Portland constituency has participated in all the parliamentary general elections contested since Jamaica’s independence in 1962. The PNP won that seat ten times while the JLP had only two victories there.

  • PNP’s victories: 1967, 1972, 1976, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2016.

  • JLP victories:  1962 and 1980.

Consequently, the safe seat of Eastern Portland remained in the same political hands for more than 30 years.

Then came the Vaz team.

Following the brutal murder of the sitting Member of Parliament Dr. Lynvale Bloomfield, on February 2, 2019, the by-election spotlight fell on the quiet constituency. The JLP chose Ann Marie Vaz, the wife of Daryl Vaz who incidentally, is the sitting Member of Parliament for Western Portland. Mr. Vaz already enjoys the reputation as “Mr. Portland”, so it was relatively simple for the JLP to solidify its hold on the parish with this husband and wife team.

Caught almost flatfooted, the PNP deployed Damion Crawford to the constituency rather than put Andrea Moore, its on the ground standard-bearer to face Mrs. Vaz. To his credit, Damion Crawford, a relative newcomer parachuted to that constituency put up a credible fight to lose by the narrow 306 vote margin.

How did the PNP lose the safe seat?

Apparently, the PNP’s loss of its safe seat may be attributed to the stronger campaign put up by the well-funded Vaz camp. Using her visibility in the parish to her advantage, Ann-Marie Vaz (and her husband Daryl) blazed a trail, galvanising supporters, fixing roads, even doing laundry (with some help of course). During the high-intensity campaign Mrs. Vaz, or “Action Ann” impressed the traditionally safe PNP seat.

On the flip side, the PNP’s campaign with its candidate Damion Crawford failed to resonate with the Portland masses.  Apparently, the party could not find a message to effectively counteract the prosperity promises advanced by the Vaz team. It didn’t help when the PNP candidate promised more goats to a constituency that has not emerged fully from suppressed economic conditions faced by the farming poor.

The Final Results – a Wake-Up Call to the PNP

The final result rather than being a humiliating defeat it could have been (the PNP loss was marginal under the circumstances), it was a sobering wake-up call.

After the East Portland By-Election, the PNP must review its position with the electorate. It is no longer enough to bank on winning a “safe seat” without effort. When safe seats become unsafe, it is not business as usual. Rather, the electorate is sending a strong signal that parties which fail to take care of the people’s needs will lose the safe seat to the party who can.

 

Peter Parchment is a highly trained professional with twelve (12) years senior executive experience in Policy Formulation, Monitoring & Evaluation, Strategic Planning in the Public Sector, and Social Research. A strategic thinker with strong problem-solving skills, people and resource management skills and the ability to think outside the box. Equipped with sound technical report writing and consultation facilitation skills and knowledgeable in the workings of Government and the Public Service. Experienced in working with rural and urban communities in a variety of locally and externally funded projects. He is also trained in Media and Communications and writes for online clients and publications. [email protected]

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Business

Modernising Jamaican Workplaces

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A lot of changes are being seen in Jamaica, which are steadily improving the economy and the standard of living of our people. A cultural explosion is happening; where our art, music, food and dances are being tapped into and used for various events and initiatives. As we are modernising in most aspects, the state of our workplaces and the archaic structures need to experience a fresh and invigorating renovation as well.

The world as we know it is actively changing. The development of technologies and the ease of accessing information are continuously being revised, improved and refined. Societies have come a long way due to the benefits of globalization and international trade.

Competing in the Global Arena

Recently, JAMPRO had a Future of Work Conference and it shed light on many things, in particular, our great need to change our structures. One of the speakers, Ms. Gloria Henry, the President of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), instilled that:

“We need to look at communities that support the wellbeing, the cognitive development, the lifestyles and the new mind-set that we are seeking to cultivate.”

This is a stark realization that Jamaica has a need to make changes within. This changing global environment has our current structures and processes seeming completely obsolete. We are no longer in a bubble, we are in a global arena, where our people have to compete with many others. Competition is fierce, and only the best of the best are drafted onto teams for many world-leading organizations.

Unlocking Our Potential

As the world is revolutionising itself, Jamaica needs to be adequately equipped to be on the track and not on the side-lines. Our potential for greatness is unmatched and we are truly a force. Jamaica is a blessed country with talented individuals who continue to make a mark on this Earth. A quick scroll through social media will see many Jamaicans flying the flag high in various countries, golden representations.

It is puzzling though how the Jamaican work environment remains stagnant with all these changes. The practices that we have are no longer serving us but drastically limiting us. The management of our organizations need to start building and not restricting individuals.

Structures such as flexi-work and work from home need to be implemented in order to contribute to our productivity, innovation and creativity. Employees need to start experiencing more autonomy and not be stuck at a role for years that doesn’t challenge them. Why are we moving at a snail’s pace with this needed change to our structures?

Building Anew

It is clear as day that employees have no need to remain in this strict nine to five atmosphere that is stifling creativity and creating misery. This traditional style of management is surely becoming a hindrance to our nation, and many young persons are voicing their displeasure. A work environment that is constantly being likened to slavery is a cause for concern. A look at the state of the actual environment is also a matter to discuss for another day, or at least another article, “Better Work Spaces, Increased Productivity“. Work is only one aspect of our lives, where we have to be juggling many other issues and situations, but the nature of work in Jamaica seems like a vise grip to many nowadays.

In shaping and changing our infrastructures and practices, the creation of a modern work environment will boast many benefits to our standard of living and the way in which we do business. In defining a modern workplace, the website NH Learning Solutions remarked that “An organization must evolve into a flexible environment that allows for continued communication and collaboration.” The innovation and creativity of our organizations are guaranteed to also impact the society. A modern workplace will increase productivity and improve our work-life balance, where factors of health and wellness can be better adapted. Jamaica needs to enter this path of growth, our future leaders need it.

 

 

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Jamaica News

#BreastCancerAwareness

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October is a month of internal reflections and changes, and importantly, it is the month of Breast Cancer Awareness. Think Pink, this colour is being championed all over the walls and banners of organizations, who are actively pledging their support. Requests for donations in the form of cash or by purchasing items supporting breast cancer awareness are also being circulated in emails and across social media platforms. Breast cancer is a serious condition that affects many and support must be given to those that have been affected. It is a fight for life when one is diagnosed with breast cancer.

What is Breast Cancer?

This is a condition where the cells in the breast start growing out of control. This type of cancer affects both women and men, with women being the majority. In highlighting the severity of this condition, the cancerous cells can also be transported by the blood or lymph system, and as a result spreads throughout the body.

How does it affect the Body?

There are many ways in which breast cancer affects the body, which shows the true strength of all those who have been in this struggle. Ignorance of the effects still persists though there are numerous articles and television programmes that inform the public on how to identify breast cancer. The method of identification can be done by self-check, as well as doing the medical checks such as mammograms.

According to Healthline, “Breast cancer is a disease that affects both the body and mind.” The breast, being the main affected area, will experience many changes. These changes include the difference in size or shape, development of lumps, bloody discharges from the nipples as well as the difference in the skin. Fortunately, diagnosis and treatments are steadily advancing and it is no longer a death sentence for many that have been diagnosed. In order to fight the fight, there are many treatments but they also pose many issues such as a change in hormone production. Subsequently, the change in hormone production can affect fertility, and can also cause joint pain and hot flashes. Hair loss and weight gain can also be as a result of the treatments.

For anyone, hearing a negative outcome for one’s body can affect state of mind. This diagnosis has been known to be detrimental to one’s mind as it relates the severity of the condition and the expense of the treatments. The stress of everything can lead one to develop poor mental health and can further develop into mental illnesses.

#BreastCancerAwareness

It is truly a war with one’s body. Breast cancer does not discriminate and can affect anyone. With the information provided, support and understanding must be given to these warriors as they are in need. Donate and assist in whatever way that you can. If you are aware of someone battling this illness, please reach out and offer your support. Though this condition is recognized in this month, it must be noted that it is an ongoing issue for many, and while the pink banners and quotes change to reflect the trends of the time, the battle still goes on.

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Opinion

Developing Healthy Eating Habits

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Eating is a vital aspect of our day to day life. It is a very important thing that needs to be taken into consideration. What it all boils down to is that no amount of beautiful materialistic items can truly make us feel better if our bodies and minds are not in the best shape. Sadly, many of us have decided to dump any and everything into our bodies, with no thought to the later consequences. Excuses will be heard and excuses will be shouted. Possibly along the lines of, not enough money, too busy, healthy things taste awful, and the list continuously goes on.

This is not an article to berate and discourage junk eating. There are many such articles that can be found scattered all over the internet as it pertains to the consequences. This article will be an eye opener to the importance of certain meals as well as the ease in adapting certain habits. The main goal is to live a happy and healthy life, where we can spend valuable time with our friends and family in great condition. Making the decision to start the healthy habit of healthy eating is one core way to treat the body right.

Breakfast

Breakfast is the first meal of the day; doctors and nutritionists praise the importance of such a meal. It is for a valid reason. Breakfast is typically the meal that you should eat like you are a king due to the many benefits that it poses. The Better Health Channel remarked that “Breakfast is considered an important meal because it breaks the overnight fasting period, replenishes your supply of glucose and provides other essential nutrients to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.” It is the ultimate way to starting off your day right. Do not be too busy with all those paperwork and end up neglecting your body. Coffee is simply not a great fuel and though it worked for you when you were younger, it will not continue to work that way.

Start forming healthy habits for yourself. There are many easy breakfast options available that do not take a lot of time, such as egg sandwiches, avocado sandwiches and yogurt parfaits. For those that are like road-runners, smoothie is a delicious meal that you can make jam-packed with fruits and vegetables. This leads to your body being fortified with essential nutrients and minerals. It does not take a lot of time either and can be securely poured in a bottle to bring along to wherever you need to be.

Lunch

In Jamaica, our typical lunch orders include fried food, a lot of gravy and a whole load of rice and peas. It absolutely gets us filled and it can be very delicious. Unfortunately, it is not very healthy for our being if we decide to eat it every single day. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are individuals who completely forego lunch, which only makes it worst for the body to maintain its momentum. Schuna states that “Eating in the middle of the day, several hours after breakfast, re-energizes your body and can raise blood sugar levels when focus and concentration are flagging.” Lunch is essential to keeping you on task, and though the work might seem too much, the break is much more effective.

Lunch also does not need to be boring and unsatisfying. Even the tasty lunch meals from restaurants nearby our workplaces can tend to get dull and repetitive. Bring some excitement to your lunch, homemade is technically better as you are aware of the exact ingredients that you are putting in your body. Start to prep lunch meals beforehand to make it easier and healthy lunch ideas can include pastas, filling salads as well as baked chicken or fish meals with lots of vegetables.

Snack

Issa snack, not the soca song, but it a very important filling between the main meals. It maintains our energy levels and makes it possible to consume the daily amount of nutrients and minerals. Snacks can be a handful of nuts, and there are many to choose from such as almonds, pistachios, cashews and even pecans. It simply depends on your preference. Fruits are also wide in the list of options, and can be easily bought from the market vendors, fruit carts or at supermarkets.

Dinner

In considering the amount of hours that our bodies will go without eating or drinking anything, as we will be sleeping for hours, dinner is another royal meal that we need. The body is complex and there are a lot of things that happen due to our eating habits. Foregoing a healthy dinner can lead to problems sleeping and mood disturbances.

Dinner plans can be made to make it easier to create something, such as prepping vegetables and staples, preparing sauces, as well as marinating different types of meats. It will make it much easier to get a healthy and satisfying meal in less than an hour. As many persons tend to work late hours and can barely find the time, it can be a task to choose to eat healthy instead of simply buying a number 1 from our favourite fast food restaurants. Again, this is the time to think about the consequences.

Developing healthy eating habits is very important to this society, so that persons can live a happy and healthy life. The Health Ministry also sends out many broadcasts to show the importance, as it is a fact that a lot of the non-communicable diseases are because of our eating habits. Choose to live right and enjoy your life. 

Check out this article, ‘Summer Body On A Budget‘ for ways to maintain and keep your body fit and healthy.

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