Vaz calls out PNP on its ‘hypocrisy’

JAMAICA Labour Party (JLP) Member of Parliament for Portland Western Daryl Vaz yesterday blasted the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) for fielding a Canadian candidate for the upcoming by-election in St Mary South Eastern, saying that the decision was morally bankrupt.

“I want to make it clear from the outset that this is not about legality. This is about morality, and this is to show clearly the hypocrisy of the People’s National Party, how politically bankrupt they are morally and, as I would say in my own style, how bad-minded they are,” Vaz told journalists yesterday at a press conference called immediately after one hosted by the PNP, also at Gordon House.

Vaz, who was the subject of a dual citizenship controversy in 2008, said the outcry was not about Dr Shane Alexis, the candidate at the centre of the controversy, but instead, more about the PNP and its hypocrisy.

According to him, the JLP did its own investigation which revealed that Alexis is “neither a Jamaican citizen nor the holder of a valid Jamaican passport”.

“I was born in Jamaica, raised in Jamaica, never left Jamaica; I became a dual citizen by virtue of my mother being an American citizen. So my situation was never about whether or not I was born in Jamaica; my situation was the fact that I had another nationality,” Vaz recalled, claiming that Alexis was also the holder of a Grenadian passport.

“The question that I ask is why not — if your commitment to Jamaica is so strong that you seek to go into the House of Parliament — why would you not make all efforts to become a naturalised Jamaican citizen?” the Portland MP questioned, later answering that Alexis was not inclined to do so.

The PNP, in responding to concerns raised by the JLP over the citizenship of Alexis — who was Monday nominated to represent the party in the October 30 by-election — said he is committed to Jamaica’s development.

The party said Alexis, by virtue of being a Canadian, is eligible to run for office. The Representation of the People Act indicates that a citizen of a Commonwealth country can run for office.

“Having lived the majority of his life in Jamaica, Alexis is committed to service and the country’s development,” the PNP said in a news release yesterday.

The party said he was born in Canada but came to Jamaica as a young child and attended Saints Peter and Paul Preparatory School and Campion College. He completed his undergraduate education in Jamaica before receiving a scholarship to study medicine in Cuba, the party said.

“The Jamaican Constitution is clear that individuals born in Commonwealth countries are eligible to sit in the Houses of Parliament,” the PNP stated, adding that, after completing his medical training, Alexis returned to Jamaica and worked in several public medical institutions, including doing training and working at Kingston Public Hospital, Bustamante Hospital for Children, and the Annotto Bay Hospital.

The Opposition also pointed out that Alexis has served as president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Association and was appointed to the board of the National Health Fund by the present JLP Administration.

Alexis is expected to run against the JLP’s Dr Norman Dunn in the by-election.

— Kimone Francis

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