Should China build our Parliament at Heroes' Park?

Franklyn Johnston

Friday, June 16, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!

Our new uber-democratic Parliament building may be designed and built by communist China — wow! But then, we could not eat, have health care, education or security, were it not for foreigners, and China is the new kid. Oh, to be sovereign, self-reliant and build our own Parliament. We miss Michael Manley. A new Parliament when many are so poor — why? Well, better tools should improve governance and MPs, senators, ministers' performance; more transparency, better public services — let's do it.

Why China? Well, who else offered? China is a noble, ancient pragmatic nation. Steeped in command and control it spawned a free-wheeling capitalist sector to power its new golden age. They make friends by enhancing the built environment in poor nations while America makes rights, democracy and disease their thing. China is popular as poor people like “things” and democracy gives them indigestion. China built elegant, timeless mega-structures when America was in-utero and Europe in caves; vide Great Wall or Forbidden Palace. Egypt, Toltec/Maya peoples also built monoliths but China and India have unbroken timelines. Our fatherland Africa did not build any; did they not need them?

So what's the deal? Will our Parliament be build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) as our toll roads? Rent house? China built parliaments for Gabon, Malawi, Zimbabwe is next and Congo will get one free. For 60 years they built key infrastructure for mendicant black nations but might a diaspora bond save our face? Toll road investors get guaranteed returns in FX; will our diaspora invest on these terms?

Heroes Park, aka Kingston Race Course or King George VI Park, was the jewel of the Caribbean for the sport of kings, cycle racing for plebs; circuses, gaming, sex, boxing for our city. Cabinet hijacked the park for the dead, did not replace the fun for the living so they turned to crime — connect the dots Andrew. The British also left Victoria Jubilee Park (and hospital) as a military, shopping, profiling Parade (St William Grant Park). Heroes' Park as the locus of a new Parliament should have green space — our Capitol and Central Park rolled in one; small satellite parks in Allman Town, Rae Town, Denham Town, Rose Town, etc; with the Parliament on the north-east perimeter and a Palace of Justice south-west — two pillars of democracy on 20 acres; then gardens, mazes, manicured forests, fountains on 30 acres to electrify the million living in the KMR to success and virtue; growth dismantles ghettos.

Placing parliament buildings at Heroes' Park is not a new idea, but China gives it oxygen and resistance grows. Contrary to uptown wisdom the park was never green. It was brown, barren, and daisy-macca juk we. We have issues typical of ex-colonial blacks — a race which in antiquity did not keep pace in food, weaponry, curiosity or martial spirit and was subjugated by Arabia and Europe. Blacks need nation-state role models to affirm “smaddyness”; so if Nigeria was food secure; had nuclear, space, consumer goods industries (an African car?), like major ethnicities, then black self-esteem, productivity, responsibility would soar.

Prosperity would make us colour blind, but now poverty blinds us — no foreigners, all jobs for us; nowhere pretty as here; nothing sweet as ackee — bull.... but balm for low self-esteem. We will not like Chinese workers until, like The Bahamas, we reach US$25,000 GDP and happily import them to do menial jobs. Growth drives out xenophobia. Still, there are issues around this China proposal.

First is visioning. Must the idea underpinning the structure be local or the best from wherever? Architects, engineers have no monopoly on ideas and Cabinet must launch a portal so you can upload yours. The built environment up to the 16th century was designed by renaissance men, not specialists and China's success today is built on cloning foreign ideas; innovation was later.

A new structure as their supertall Shanghai World Financial Centre was designed by foreigners as the best. We too want the best. Talent is not size, race, cash, but individual so local or foreigner is equal and like Bolt ours must compete globally and win. Our culture is British, a smattering of African retentions and much local verve so ideation by historians, psychologists, fine artists, archaeologists, entertainers, culture gurus is good but must not limit us as success oriented futurists should have a defining input.

Our design community seeks inclusion — fine. Which Australian designed the Sydney Opera House? None! The late Mr Jørn Utzon of Denmark, unknown at 39 in 1957 designed it; “The building transformed his career and in turn transformed the image of an entire nation.” We want this too. We would rejoice if a local wins the bid but don't expect it. Creativity is personal. There are no creative jobs, only creative individuals. But expect an “eureka” moment as we discover another Jørn.

Next, should locals control the project? Maybe; our productivity sucks but Cabinet must ring fence jobs for locals. We have no record in super-size structures; not Tainos, not our fatherland. We are of British artistic and building traditions and use their materials, tools and techniques — get over yourselves guys. So, do you or Cabinet want the best or something Jamaican? If we want a Sydney Opera House icon we need bids and judges from cutting-edge nations. Jamaica is best served when we cause the world to take note of our good works. If 10 million tourists visit our new parliament in 2025; if refereed journals, tabloids, postcards write about or portray our new building in many countries, we win. Stay conscious!


Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon) is a strategist and project manager.




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon