Dr Angela Brown-Burke’s political career is one worthy of careful study. She unwittingly courts controversy, whether among her own colleagues or in the wider body politic.
She comes across as being very passionate about the representation of her constituents in South West St. Andrew. She has a lot to prove in a very tough, underdeveloped area which is plagued with crime and violence.
But her passion has come back to bite her hard, as she has been forced to backpedal on the very strong stance she took in the parliament during the debate on the extension of the State of Emergency.
She declared then, that she would have led street protests, should the Prime Minister on the advice of the National Security Council decide to introduce a State of Emergency in areas in her constituency.
Well, the Prime Minister did just that yesterday when he announced the latest State of Emergency that is now in place in areas of South St. Andrew and Central Kingston.
This might have taken Mrs. Brown-Burke by surprise and she quickly retracted her statement, taking a clever escape route, focusing instead on the need for social and infrastructural development in the area.
Perhaps a birdie whispered to her that should she lead an organised protest during a State of Emergency, she may very well have found herself in a small room at Up Park Camp. The birdie might have pointed to the fact that her political colleagues, House Speaker, Pearnel Charles and Culture Minister Olivia Grange were locked up during the Michael Manley-imposed 1976-77 State of Emergency.
That aside, Mrs Brown-Burke needs to face facts. She represents one of the most deprived constituencies in Jamaica – a perfect breeding and feeding ground for criminal elements. The legitimate security forces have very little influence and control in those areas and when there is a coming together of some persons from those areas and the rest of society, mayhem ensues.
So this is not a matter to be taken lightly and if Mrs Brown-Burke means her constituents well, she would want to leave that area in a much better state than she found it.
All of the social and economic decay happened under the watch of her predecessor, Portia Simpson Miller who, interestingly served one term as Prime Minister of the country. The conditions under which people live in her constituency are woeful and she should spend her time and energy working with the government to rid the area of criminal elements, so the good citizens and the children who reside there can fulfil their potential and contribute meaningfully to their community and the country.
It is interesting that while Mrs Brown-Burke and Opposition National Security Spokesman Fitz Jackson are on the blow horns criticising the government over the State of Emergency, the leader of the People’s National Party, Dr Peter Phillips has said he “guardedly” supports the move. It is not clear what he means by that because you either support something or you don’t.
The problem is that the Opposition cannot afford to appear to be seen to be against any measure that is intended to address the crime problem in the country. It would be political suicide to do so because Jamaicans are up to their necks in fear and trepidation from crime.
Rather than simply oppose the enhanced security measures for the sake of opposing, now would be a good time for Dr Phillips to pull Brown-Burke, Fitz Jackson, Peter Bunting, Mark Golding and others in his party together and call the government to the table so that there can be meaningful input in this most urgent matter.
It would be a good look for the PNP and the people of the country perhaps would start to see the party as a credible alternative and not a rioting mob trying to get back on the right side of Gordon House at any cost.