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JM | Oct 22, 2020

‘Cool-headed’ Mark Golding ready to lead new era of PNP

/ Our Today

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Mark Golding during his official ‘Go With Golding’ campaign launch on Sunday, October 18. Up against Lisa Hanna, Golding is seeking to become the sixth president of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) (Photo: Facebook @MarkJeffersonGolding)

People’s National Party (PNP) presidential candidate Mark Golding is confident he’s the right fit to usher the organisation into a new era of rebirth, growth and success should he win the November 7 leadership race against Lisa Hanna.

Golding, who provided some insight into his motivations and aspirations on television programme, On Stage, on Saturday (October 17) , said that on the heels of the crushing 49-seat deficit by the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the September 3 general election, he felt it was as good a time as any to offer himself as the next leader.

“We suffered a devastating blow, we ended up with 14 seats out of 63. Many good MPs (Members of Parliament) [who] served the people well, put in a lot of effort and resources ended up losing – and losing quite badly,” Golding explained.

“So we recognise that the party needs to ‘wheel an’ come again’, we need to really rebuild the party and the whole campaign between Lisa [Hanna] and myself is to see who best to do that and the delegates will make that decision,” he added.

Still, Golding assured that there was no bad blood between the two candidates—calling Hanna “my friend, my comrade”—and that he would run a respectable campaign.

‘Friends always’ but rivals now, Mark Golding goes up against South East St Ann Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna for the PNP’s top post, made vacant since the resignation of former president Dr Peter Phillips. (Photo: Twitter @LisaHannaMP)

Golding, who said he had always considered himself a ‘team player’ staked his claim as to why he was vying for the PNP’s top post, after several years of working for the people while quietly standing from the sidelines.

“I’ve been quite happy to serve the movement in whatever capacity I’ve been asked to—[as] senator, Member of Parliament, former Minister of Justice, [PNP] Treasurer—I’m committed to serving Jamaica through the People’s National Party as a vehicle of change and transformation,” he began.

“In terms of leadership, I have seen the situation we now are in, where we are coming from, how badly we were beaten, the issues that we need to correct in the party to rebuild and become strong again…I just think this is my time to offer myself not because of any egotistical reasons but primarily because people want to see me go forward and I believe I have what it takes to lead the party effectively,” Golding continued.

Golding told On Stage host Winford Williams, that the decision to contest the PNP leadership race was a ‘big one for him’ but he’s committed himself to see the race through and wants to give it his all.

“I bring integrity, ethics and a lot of love and respect for people,” he said.

The aspiring presidential candidate also spoke at length about his younger years and how he nurtured a deep love for music and Jamaican culture. This, he argued, was why reggae and dancehall are hallmarks of his leadership bid.

Waiting in the wings to become the sixth PNP president Mark Golding was the latest guest on Winford Williams’ weekly television show, ‘On Stage’ on Saturday, October 17. (Photo: Twitter @ShariAnnHenry)

“I’ve always been involved in music as a child. I used to sing and later on, as an adult, I got into music production,” the seasoned intellectual property lawyer and financier said.

The former choir boy and band member started writing his own music as an adult. Years later, with the experienced and decorated Ray Hithcins as engineer, Golding disclosed that he was behind the production of the acclaimed 1998 project by Della Manley, Ashes on the Window Sill.

Golding at the launch of his PNP campaign last Saturday. (Photo: Facebook @MarkJeffersonGolding)

He further recalled having written and composed campaign songs for past PNP MPs, as well as for the wider party in the 2011 general election campaign and most recently the 2020 polls. 

Touching on why he felt the use of music was so integral in his presidential campaign, Golding reminisced on his formative years growing up near the University of the West Indies’ Mona campus in St Andrew. At that time, Golding said he wanted to experience more of Jamaica and music was the avenue that provided that connection he so longed for. And now, years later, he wants to incorporate the culture into his campaign to give it a personalised, ‘Golding-feel’.

In fact, it was these particularly fond memories of building camaraderie with the surrounding communities; seeing the difficulties why he feels now is the perfect time to meet the challenge and become the next PNP president.

The man with ‘passion n’ purpose’, Mark Golding, promises to run a respectable campaign in his for president of the PNP. (Photo: Facebook @MarkJefferyGolding)

So much so, that he criticised the lack of respect given to the local entertainment sector, especially by the powers that be and the flawed permit system.

“The whole permitting system and this is not COVID-related because this predates that but the way in which the right to put on entertainment operates in Jamaica, I don’t think it is a good system. I’m not happy with it. It’s a big industry at the grassroots level, many people ‘eat a food’ and we really need to sustain it,” Golding argued.

He went on to renew his advocacy for entertainment zones to be established to promote a thriving night-life scene in Kingston and the rest of Jamaica. 

“We need to encourage our night-life in the country and not just ‘on the corner’ but at a bigger level,” he explained.

Patrons partying at the December 2017 staging of iLoveSoca’s Cooler Fete event at the Sabina Cricket Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo: Twitter @MayorWilliamsJA)

The 55-year-old candidate, who recently returned as MP for South St Andrew, said that he doesn’t believe in the use of Jamaican music as a tool to secure votes and connect with the people as the primary goal. According to him, Jamaica’s culturally rich and internationally respected art form deserves more than pomp and pageantry—as politics’ tentative relationship with reggae is lop-sided and manipulative.

“Politicians can’t just use music to gee up a crowd to big up themselves or whatever, you have to understand to embrace the music. You have to support the music. It is the source of much of Jamaica’s brand strength, our international recognition, and the livelihood of many people. So it has to be a symbiotic relationship,” the

Golding meets his first hurdle in the race to become the sixth PNP president this Friday, October 23 on Nomination Day.

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