|Commentary: Jomo Thomas ULP Senator|
|Published on September 25, 2013||
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By Vinci Vin Samuel, BBA, LLB (Hons), MSc., CPM
From any appearance, Jomo Thomas, Esquire, is a rather ‘stand-up person’, Vincy patriot and prolific writer. Jomo is a friend of my late friend Morris Slater, and a former New York City resident. His “Plain Talk” column in the Vincentian newspaper has addressed important national matters, advocated a better approach to Vincy politics, while chiding both the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) and the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) for actions or inactions not consistent with the best interest of the nation. Consequently, I would have expected Jomo to start a new progressive political party rather than join any of the two majority parties in SVG. So the announcement of his selection for ULP senator came as a surprise.
Vinci Vin Samuel is a Vincentian national currently resident in the USA. He writes on current affairs including labour market economics, agricultural economics, and economic regulations. Among his publication credits are: The Life and Times of Dr John Parmenas Eustace (biography); Regulating Milk Markets in the Public Interest; and The Challenges and Opportunities of New Jersey Dairy Industry. He also writes the quarterly newsletter “Central Regional Focus” that provides economic analysis and statistics on labour market conditions in central New Jersey.
About ten years ago, Jomo left his law practice in New York and returned to St Vincent and the Grenadines, reportedly to manage a poverty reduction program. For reasons unknown to me, his tenure in that position lasted less than a year. Some have attributed this early departure from the poverty reduction program to a falling out with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
He went on to the University of the West Indies law school in Trinidad to complete a short course for admission to practice in the Eastern Caribbean Court and established his practice in St Vincent upon completion of that course. Over the last nine years or so, he has become a fearless legal eagle and social activist in SVG. And, his column in the newspaper, appearances on television, and hosting of a radio program positioned him as a champion of ordinary Vincentians regardless of party affiliations.
It appeared that the PM has a need to court Jomo as an ally. He appointed Jomo to the committee to select “national heroes”. Again, that did not last very long. Jomo resigned from the committee, stating that the PM acted to unduly influence the selection process.
As I said earlier, Jomo Thomas appears to be a quite “stand-up” person who acts on his beliefs and principles. However, Jomo later accepted an invitation to chair the “Reparations for Slavery Committee”, one of the PM’s pet projects. And here we go again: from Jomo as manager of poverty reduction, to Jomo as member of hero selection committee, to Jomo as chairman of the Reparations Committee, and ultimately to Jomo as ULP senator.
The questions that arise are: How will all of this play within the ULP? Will Jomo’s middle-of-the road approach to politics conflict with the modus operandi of the ULP – where the infallibility of the PM and the party are paramount above all else? Will his assimilation into the ULP cramp and/or destroy his ability to be reasonable towards the opposition? Will his perspectives on national development lose ground to the party’s stance? How long will Jomo last in a party dominated by a PM with a fierce antagonist style?
As a person and Vincentian compatriot, I find Jomo Thomas to be a quite likeable person. Wherever this dance with the PM and the ULP might lead, I wish Jomo Thomas well in the role of ULP senator and hope that the experience strengthens his resolve to fight for the betterment of our homeland rather than change him into just another politician dressed in red.
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Errors & Ommissions: After submitting the above article for publication, Jomo provided the following facts:
1. Jomo was at the poverty alleviation program for 27 months.
2. He was nominated by the Governor General, Sir Fred Ballantyne to serve on the Heroes Committee, not by PM Gonsalves. However, the GG does act on referrals from the PM.
3. Jomo started an organization to promote democracy and better relations/actions in SVG politics. That organization is still active.
Vincy Vin, a well written piece, we look forward to more from you in the near future.
By the way I lived in a very nice area in Westfield in NJ, but it was all very nice at that time. I owned a considerable amount of property there which I developed.
Just an addittion, Jomo will be well at home in the red T shirt domain, he is possibly more red then Ralph, even his underwear is red.
Thanks Peter, I am familiar with Westfield in union County, NJ. I cover economic developments from a labor market perspective in Mercer (Trenton-Ewing labor Area); Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Somerset counties (Edison Labor Area). Union County is in the Newark Labor Area.
Jomo means well and I have much respect for his decision to move from the USA to return to SVG in hopes of making a contribution.
MY grandmother always said that Vincentian are pessimistic (a general statement).
Should Jomo continue to write for our enjoyment?
Should one stop talking (as Jomo acknowledged) and be a part of the change and development that is needed?
Should we be proud of every Vincentian who is proactive about the state of the nation and its progress?
Should we encourage anyone who wants to contribute and money is not his or her number one priority?
Should we all make positive contributions rather than continue along the negative,Pull-Down path?
Congratulation on accepting a challenge that might cause a mental disturbance in many drive-by commentators.
Mr. Dennie thanks for the piercing questions. It is so refreshing that you go back to the wisdom of your grandmother in your analysis of present day events. What would we be without our Vincy grand mothers? While I cannot pretend to speak for Jomo, I will take a shot at answering your queries:
1. Should Jomo continue to write for our enjoyment?
Response: Jomo asks relevant questions that are not only for our enjoyment but for our consideration in plans to solve national problems. For example he asked: "Will SVG ever Develop?" His rhetorical answer to that question raised more questions than it answered. But Jomo is one man and does not have a secret treasury or monopoly on answers to our problems. It is enough that he raised the question, highlights his ideas for solutions and start the national debate. Then it becomes incumbent upon all of us to put our collective intellects to work at devising possible solutions to our socio-economic problems. Lets try to stay away from the need to show that we are the smartest and only intellectually gifted person in the nation or the room. There is room for all of us.
2. Should one stop talking (as Jomo acknowledged) and be a part of the change and development that is needed?
Response: As we like to say, "talk is Cheap". There comes a time when we must act on faith to determine whether our opinions and theories would work as we expected. A person who talks all the time without actually acting positively for problem solutions is often a coward who is afraid of failure. Yes, talking is fine. But there comes a time when we must act. And, we are only promised three scores and ten years.
3. Should we be proud of every Vincentian who is proactive about the state of the nation and its progress?
Response: Because there are so many wolves in sheep clothing masquerading as having the national interest at heart one has to be very careful as to the who, what, why, when and how to evaluate persons and events. While history might give us a glimpse into the character of others we must always ask for divine guidance and tread carefully in determination as to whho is genuinely proactive in the furtherance of our national progress. Having said that, we have to give it our best shot and encourage our country men and women to do the right thing. Let's promote consensus rather than one-manism in our national decisions. In other words, beware of braggarts and egomaniacs who try to feed off of the misery of others in order to elevate themselves to high offices.
4. Should we encourage anyone who wants to contribute and money is not his or her number one priority?
Response: Again, encouraging persons to act in the national interest is a good thing. However, we cannot know for sure whether a person has a mercenary mindset. On the other hand, we cannot dismiss a person who seeks to accumulate wealth as not being in the interest of the national good. In fact, we are in desperate need of entrepreneurs to accumulate and utilize wealth in the solution of our national economic problems. Let's be clear about this: money might be the proverbial root of all evil. But in our modern world, the lack of money is the heart of all or most of our miseries. So go ahead and earn as much money as you can. But be sure to protect your principal (do not be a spendthrift) and put your profits to good use in the service to humanity. Your profits could be used in investments that bring forth good-paying and sustainable jobs, philantrophy that contributes to the education, health, service, etc of others and the nation; and creative ways that foster national welfare and prosperity. In other words, lets encourage our people to pursue wealth-building rather than sycophants waiting at the door for pittances (alms and Aids) from the table of others.
5. Should we all make positive contributions rather than continue along the negative,Pull-Down path?
Response: Certainly, we should always try to make positive contributions, even when we address the short-comings of others. For instance, I am not vexed at anyone who seeks to point out the errors of my ways (constructive criticisms) so long as they can point me in the correct direction. That strengthens me. In fact, that could be one of our most damaging problems in SVG as people are so intimately tied to their own opinions and methods that they discard the ideas of others. This is so in our politics. And here is why I respect people like Jomo Thomas as he is willing to consider other peoples opinions.
I do wish others on this site would try to address your questions. In fact, we need many voices and opinions to strengthen the quest for national answers.
DENNIE, it would be quite interesting to hear your own views on the questions that you ask.
I know that when people ask such questions they already have strong views regarding the questions and topics. So lets hear what you have got to say.
Peter, I would also encourage Mr. Dennie to post his views. But his/her silence is deafening!
Was Mr./Ms. Dennie genuinely interested in honest answers to his/her questions? Or were the questions posted as a trap with hopes of unearthing any foolishness that I might harbour? It makes me remember what happened to Stalkey John in England during the fight for ULP leadership in 2000 - 2001.
But, have no fear, whether or not my sentiments are meaningful depends on the various and complex frames of reference to which the reader subscribes.
So, Vinci Vin, your memory serves you right, with regards to the cynical political entrapment of Stanley "Stalky" John, Hudson Tannis' preferred successor.
WHO do you do think WROTE "The LUBBEN Report"?
Now that "comrade ralph" in power, ah wandering WHY it has taken him MORE THAN TWELVE YEARS and still he has failed to ferret out the political rascals who conceived, hatched, incited, produced and directed the onerous political assault on SVG sovereignty as represented in the infamous, spurious, Anonymously written "LUBBEN REPORT."
BUT,like the national flag issue, Comrade seems studiously UNINTERESTED AND UNCONCERNED.
WHO WROTE THE LUBBEN REPORT, in an attempt to undermine and subvert SVG's political order?
Time will still tell.
Indeed, Time will ultimately tell.
What is done in darkness, we are sagely reminded, will all come to light.
Jimmy Cliff sings "Time Will Tell, Time will always tell"!
Hypo, hypo, you're gonna pay the price, some day.
"Hypocrites" by Jimmy Cliff.
Steve: As the old folks used to say - "Time longer than twine". One of these days, perhaps when we are dead and gone, the truth will come out.
By the way, I have a cousin who is married to one of Hudson Tannis nieces.