Sat | Feb 23, 2019

PNP’s ‘born ya’ citizenship hypocrisy

Published:Thursday | October 12, 2017 | 12:00 AM


In the 1976 general election campaign, the People's National Party (PNP) used the song My leader born ya to extremely devastating effect to pillory the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) then leader, Edward Seaga, as not being genuinely Jamaican.

The fact that he had long given up his American citizenship, had attended Wolmers' Boys' school in Kingston before doing undergraduate studies in the USA and had returned to give years of public service in the Senate, and later as a former Minister of Finance, had played a significant role in amplifying our local culture through the national festival movement and creation of Jamaican national symbols and local institutions, did not matter. To PNP die-hards, encouraged by their public campaign, he was just "an ole Syrian" as they said on the corners.

That song was resurrected periodically in the 1980s, the 1990s, and even the 2000s to affirm the 'patriotism' of PNP leaders and the candidates on their ticket.

Therefore, to read in the Gleaner's online edition of October 10 that the PNP were now citing Mr Seaga's being born abroad in defence of their Dr Shane Alexis, a Canadian citizen and now candidate for South East St Mary, just makes me want to puke.

Yes, the constitution allows citizens of Commonwealth countries to run as candidates in Jamaica and sit in the Parliament. But given his own interview with Dionne Jackson Miller (Beyond the Headlines also on October 10) in which he said he was just too busy to join a long line to pursue Jamaican citizenship at this time, one must question his commitment to this aspect of public service.

Forget the other JLP candidates of recent vintage who had to give up American citizenship, some of whom had also lived primarily in Jamaica all their lives, if Mr Seaga, having given up American citizenship and serving Jamaica for as long as he did, could not pass the PNP's 'born ya' test, why should Dr Alexis?

Damnable hypocrites!

Cecil Aiken