When public frustration starts to rise in the face of things done by politicians it’s always worth watching carefully. Jamaica does not tend to explode suddenly when political figures perform badly. Public demonstrations are one of the ways that people use to vent their displeasure. People complain vociferously, using print, radio, and television media, as well as social media now. Their complaints can be very pointed and filled with very offensive remarks. But, the frustrations do not boil over often into situations sometimes seen in other countries, with mobs burning tyres, or having major confrontations with police or military forces, or mounting demonstrations outside Parliament or the Office of the Prime Minister, for example. In that sense, Jamaicans seem very orderly for a nation supposedly filled with hot heads and murderous people.
Recent discussions about the prospective development of a logistics hub in Jamaica are tending towards familiar rocks. The general public is being forced to acknowledge, if not accept, that their elected officials are not as good at governance as they ought to be. The Caribbean has a long tradition of paternalism when it comes to institutional life, meaning that those in power or control are often very protective of information that they have, often holding from the electors much vital and important information about decisions taken or to be taken. The belief is that “We know best” or “The people cannot handle this information”, neither of which would take much to be proven wrong.
One of the local reggae stations (Irie FM) made the point this morning that, if after 50 years certain things have not happened why would people think that today it would be different? The basic point is many doubt that politicians have the electorate’s concerns at heart.
If you have a strong political bias, which many people do, the government of the day if not our party is a ‘bunch of liars’, or ‘all thieves’, or some other breed of miscreants.
What does it take to get people really worked up against politicians? A few clear incidents exist. Hiding things, especially about restrictions in deals that really impact lives. Who knew all the limitations associated with building the toll road? Selling out national interests or assets. Are people getting incensed about apparent moves to take over a piece of land, maybe making it an enclave?
The process of moving ahead with the hub has several instances of politicians doing plenty to annoy their own people. You have to wonder why they’d do that to voters.