FOLLOWING the recent torching of the People’s National Party (PNP) St Catherine South Eastern constituency office Dr Afred Dawes, who was selected to represent the party in the next general election, said the list of perpetrators will be reported to the police.
Dr Dawes, in a 10-minute-long video that was seen by the Jamaica Observer, bemoaned the “dirty underbelly of politics”, which he said played a part in Thursday’s attack at the office in Independence City, Portmore.
“Since that red line was crossed I have started my investigations and I have the names of the persons who were in that car that started the fire, and I know who was the mastermind behind the whole thing. I am going to be turning over the names to the police for their further investigations, and I am going to hope that the witnesses who saw and heard of the plans are willing to step forward,” Dr Dawes said.
It was announced last week that Dr Dawes will represent the PNP in St Catherine South Eastern. That announcement was met with disapproval and annoyance by some party supporters who believe that deputy mayor of Portmore and councillor for the Edgewater Division, Alric Campbell was snubbed.
Supporters of long-serving Councillor Campbell went as far as to burn T-shirts bearing the image of Dawes, and vowed to vote for the Jamaica Labour Party in the next election. Some party supporters claimed that Campbell had topped Dr Dawes in an internal poll, and that had the party hierarchy put the contest to a vote — in keeping with its stated mode of choosing candidates — the councillor would have won. That suggestion was dismissed by Dr Dawes as false.
Campbell also expressed his disappointment with the party’s selection by stating he believes that leader of the PNP, Mark Golding was influenced into appointing Dr Dawes as the man to run.
“Based on his demeanour when he [Golding] was telling me of his decision, I think that he was influenced. He did not decide on his own volition,” Campbell told the Sunday Observer.
However, Dr Dawes stated that he was selected “fair and square” by the Opposition party after the internal poll was done. Acknowledging that he has remained silent on the matter since news broke of his post as the standard-bearer of the St Catherine South Eastern constituency, Dr Dawes said that it had caused a slew of misinformation as angry supporters believe that he was favoured by the party.
“My silence has allowed a lot of misinformation, half-truths, and blatant lies to take root. Chief among these is the assumption that I lost the internal run-off. In every single constituency that has polled it is the winability, the electability of the candidate passing that benchmark of 25 per cent, that has been used. Nowhere in any constituency have the favourability polls been used to make any determination on a candidate’s ability to win an election. It is misleading to put out a favourability poll and claim victory,” Dr Dawes stated.
“When this misleading information is put out to make it appear as if I lost the selection and then I was foisted up on the people who are resistant, it led to a very careless move to rile up supporters. And what that has done is to a cause a mob who are unrepresentative of the wider constituency or the party to take upon themselves instructions that they ought to fight back,” Dr Dawes said.
In the meantime, Dr Dawes said that he has also received a threat since the torching of the office, but indicated that he is not fazed and has no plans of stepping down as the standard-bearer.
“I received a threatening phone call, with the caller stating that what happened to the constituency office was only the beginning, and they would find me where I lived. Now when you cross that line of threatening my family, all gloves are off. And in deference to unity I thought about being silent about the matter, however I am going to make this clear: I am going nowhere. I have been selected fair and square based on the party’s internal polls,” said Dr Dawes.
According to Dr Dawes, both his vehicle and the PNP’s campaign vehicle were recently defaced by angry supporters. These attacks, he said, have indicated a need for the relevant people to step in. However, he pointed out that this has not been the reality.
“They were emboldened by the silence of those who ought to have reigned them in. The firebombing of the constituency office is one of the darkest days in the history of the People’s National Party where people who claim that they are PNP supporters would rile up a group, finance them, and have them torch a constituency office that is going to be serving the community and the workers,” Dr Dawes said.
The medical practitioner further called on party supporters to join hands in his fight against “this dirty type of politics”.
“I am calling on all well-thinking supporters to reject and publicly denounce all acts of violence and intimidation that are towards me and the party leader. When we as one stand up to those violent dredges in our midst and let them know that they have no place in the PNP, then we can stand up to the people of Jamaica and let them know that we do not tolerate any criminal activity and we are the solution for crime. Until we do that we are going to be in Opposition for a long time,” Dr Dawes said.