Professor Neville Ying’s Speech at the Book Launch for The Long Road to Progress for Jamaica



DATE: MARCH, 15, 2018

TITLE OF BOOK : The Long Road to Progress for Jamaica

AUTHOR  : Jermel Shim

Professor Neville Ying

Executive Director, Jamaica Diaspora Institute

Pro Chancellor, Mico University College

Ladies and Gentlemen it is my pleasure this evening  to welcome a member of our Diaspora, Mr. Jermel Shim, and to celebrate with him the launch of his new book entitled: The Long Road to Progress for Jamaica – Achievements and failures in the Post -Colonial Era.

This function is like a homecoming for him and  his wife so I would like on behalf of the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation and the Jamaica Diaspora Institute to welcome you both home and to congratulate you on your writing and publishing of this excellent book.

On this occasion I will make two sets of comments.

First on the Strategic Value of the Diaspora to Jamaica.

Second on the value of this book we are launching today.


 The Diaspora has two areas of value to Jamaica. These are

  1. Human Capital and
  2. Financial Capital

In Jamaica both Government and private sector and the Jamaicans living in different communities need to have a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for the strategic value of the Diaspora in relation to these two areas.

A starting point for making this happen is to determine and communicate important metrics related to the value of the Diaspora. This was what prompted the CAPRI – Jamaica Diaspora Institute (JDI) Diaspora Valuation Research Study which will be released later this year.


For the area of Financial Capital, here are some preliminary findings from this study that were shared recently at the UWI MONA RESEARCH DAY, February 9, 2018.

The contribution of the Diaspora to the GDP of Jamaica is estimated to be 28% with the potential to be about  38% contribution to Jamaica’s GDP. This is significant.

No other single sector in Jamaica makes this contribution to GDP.

One important component of this is Remittances which is currently 16% of our GDP.

Remittances in dollar terms annually is in the region of US$ 2.1 billion.

  • It is perhaps the single largest gross for net foreign exchange income earner for Jamaica.
  • Remittances have a significant impact on individual and household income

For instance although Tourism earns about the same amount at least 40% of the Tourism US$ earning goes  back out. Whereas 100% of remittances stay at home.

Findings from a National Survey of Remittance Recipients by EG Ramocan, Bank of Jamaica, show that Jamaicans in communities across Jamaica depend on remittances   for expenses such as light bills, water bills school fees and groceries.

One conclusion is that Remittances is the lifeblood of a significant number of persons in all communities across Jamaica.

From the standpoint of overseas markets for Jamaican goods and services the size and geographical distribution of the Diaspora is important for targeting export locations in the Diaspora for our goods and services. This is especially important for non-traditional food items and  our music  our plays.

So in the case of Trade, a study by the PIOJ shows that the export of non-traditional food items benefit from the influence of the Diaspora. Top agricultural exports to the UK, USA and Canada are yams, sweet potatoes, papaya, dasheen, pumpkins, mangoes, breadfruit, callaloo, and ackees. In addition Jamaican owned companies like Caribbean Food Delights and Golden Krust Bakery  in the USA who have Jamaican patties as  their main product purchase items such as pepper, thyme and scallion.

Estimates by Neville Ying in 2014 , Jamaica Diaspora Institute,  for the size and geographical Distribution of the Jamaican Diaspora show the following:

  1. The Size of the Diaspora is 3 million in all countries worldwide with the largest clusters in rank order from highest to lowest:
  • USA : 1.7 million with largest clusters in the USA North East and Florida
  • UK : 800,000 with the largest clusters in London and Birmingham
  • Canada : 300, 000 with the largest cluster in the Greater Toronto area
  • Rest of the World : 200,000
  1. This Global spread of the Diaspora represents a unique market for Jamaican goods and services, and for members of the Diaspora to be ambassadors for Brand Jamaica globally and a source of investments in Jamaica.

With respect to Diaspora Investments there are two important points to note:

  1. Diaspora members currently make Investments in real estate which usually result in providing funds for construction of houses, payment of mortgages and or property taxes, and maintenance of properties.
  2. Figures from the World Bank show that Global Diaspora Savings is estimated at over US$ 500 billion. Of this, a conservative estimate of Jamaican Diaspora Savings of US $7 billion ( Neville Ying, 2017) is a significant source of investment to be harnessed for Jamaica.

There were three interesting comments from a recent interview with Michael Lee Chin by The Jamaican Diaspora Show, Hartford Public Access TV . The following is a summary of the paraphrase of these comments

  1. Jamaica must target investment from three  groups :  Jamaicans at  home , Jamaicans  in the Diaspora and other members of the Global Marketplace
  2. Now is the best time to invest in Jamaica because we have serious problems such as Crime and Violence. Those who risk in investing now will have less competition and will reap great dividends in the future.
  3. Diaspora members need to be informed so that they not only rely on rumours but in addition they should   get information from credible national reports on the economy and social development in Jamaica

A recent Ad from the Broadcasting Commission about Pinchy being sick makes this point.

In the Sunday Observer , March 11, 2018 the Minister of Tourism , Ed Bartlett urges Jamaicans at  home and abroad to take care of how  you project Jamaica. “Care need to be taken in the way Jamaicans project and commercialize  the social and cultural  activities  of communities and more so the country.”

The Role of the Media is of critical importance in this regard. This is also the reason why I will spend some time this evening commenting on the views of a member of our Diaspora expressed in the book we are launching today. Most importantly as well , the information I am sharing with you today on the Strategic value of the Diaspora to Jamaica is  a deliberate attempt to reduce this information gap.


In terms of Human Capital the contribution of the Diaspora has been outstanding and consistent especially in the areas of Health and Education.

  • Corporate and individual philanthropy for healthcare, education and community development is of significant importance to Jamaica.
  • In the area of healthcare some 200 missions from the Diaspora visit Jamaica each year and provide free services to persons in communities across all parishes in Jamaica. In addition the Diaspora provides equipment and pharmaceutical supplies and contribute to infrastructure development of hospitals and clinics.[1]
  • In the area of Education interest groups in the Diaspora in particular over 130 alumni associations make significant contributions to a variety of educational institutions island wide for areas such as scholarships and student welfare and educational supplies.[2]
    • A conservative dollar value for contributions from the Diaspora to healthcare and education over a three year period is approximately US$ 10 million.[3]

In terms of Human capital transfers from the Diaspora represent a valuable resource base for Jamaica through its intellectual, technical, scientific, professional and entrepreneurial support. This human resource base can be accessed and utilized for priority investment projects such as the Logistics Hub, the Redevelopment of Downtown Kingston and Montego Bay, Agro Parks which are linked to economic growth, job creation and employment.

It was therefore not surprising that the Economic Growth Council (EGC) listed as one of its 8 initiatives: Harnessing the Power of the Diaspora. However to harness the power of the Diaspora the Government and the Private sector in Jamaica  must finance and implement effective and sustained Diaspora Engagement strategies and initiatives.

From my research at the JDI of over 8 countries worldwide including India and Israel. The following conclusion emerges.

To capitalize and leverage the value of the Diaspora a necessary and important process is Effective Diaspora Engagement.

A significant area of focus has to be engagement of 2nd 3rd and 4th generation Diaspora members especially those that were not born here.

Some of these engagement practices include some things we are doing which need to be increased significantly in scope, national reach and engagement of the Diaspora. Some examples of these for engaging with the Diaspora are :

  1. Working in partnership with Diaspora Task Forces and professional groups such as those for Health , Education, Technology, Crime Intervention and Prevention , Immigration and Agriculture
  2. Working in collaboration with Diaspora Advisory Board members in different Diaspora locations
  3. Conducting special Projects for engaging 2nd and 3rd generation of the Diaspora  such as ;
    • The Jamaica Diaspora Institute (JDI) – CUSO Diaspora Youth Connect project which engages young Diaspora members with youth in inner city communities to assist them to convert their creative ideas to income earning activities. This project operates in 8 inner –city communities 6 in Kingston and St Andrew and 2 in St James.
    • Grace Kennedy Birthright Programme which brings down selected young Diaspora members  studying in Universities  and Colleges in host countries to Jamaica for 6 weeks for cultural immersion and exposure to business in Jamaica
    • Support for the Festival Queen projects in different parishes by a Diaspora young persons’ group in the UK, called Jamaicans Inspired.
    • The special project of the Diaspora Agriculture Taskforce for getting more young people in Jamaica involved in agriculture starting with Micro Farming.


 General Comments

The launch of this book, by Mr.  Jermel Shim, today is a shining example of the Human Capital contribution of our Diaspora. In particular the Intellectual Capital of our Diaspora members.

The content of this Book is provocative in relation some key areas. The author provides an opportunity for us to share contending viewpoints.

I will start the process today by offering some contending views as well as areas of agreement and suggestions for refining some of the key areas dealt with in the book.

I will use the late Morris Cargill’s definition of a mini dress as a framework for my comments. It must reveal so much that what is not revealed leaves room for further investigation.

In other words my comments will still leave enough unsaid for you to do your own detailed reading of the book.

It is interesting that the book is being launched at the UWI at the Undercroft. In a University setting there is a culture of contending viewpoints. So we will agree or disagree with the author on different aspects of what he has presented.

From the point of view of Methodology, the author uses the qualitative research approach which makes it difficult to establish causal relationships. Nonetheless, he touches on some important areas which are worthy of consideration for discussion and analysis. In presenting these areas he draws our attention to critical areas of national importance for which we should have structured Dialogue and arrive at a consensus for action which will lead to inclusive economic growth and improved quality of life for all our people. This takes me to one of the main thematic areas covered by the book. The area of POLITICAL LEADERSHIP


The central thesis of the book is that political leadership is the cause of failures and achievements in our national development and must now seek to be the source of solutions to critical problems which confront us, such as Crime, Environmental Protection and the need for greater job opportunities for especially young persons in the society.

My first comment is that if political leadership is to be effective and its impact assessed we must start by considering politics as a profession. This will provide us with a sound basis for blaming political leaders for failures and a commending them for Achievements.  This means that at the minimum we must ensure that our political leaders are trained to perform their professional functions. I therefore recommend that before ministers are assigned  and during their first three months on the job they should be immersed in  training,  focusing on the Emotional Competences arising from the need for  greater attention to Emotional Intelligence, the Mix of Hard Skills and soft skills and the blending of  transformational and Transactional Leadership. Here we should note that the fundamental difference between Leadership and Management can be summed up as follows:

 We lead people and we manage structures.

I recommend Four Training Modules  for members of the Cabinet:

  1. The basic elements of Transformational and Transactional Leadership
  2. Conversational Competencies for Effective Communication
  3. The Inner workings and protocols of Government Ministries Departments and Agencies and how the Constitution is operationalized by these entities.
  4. Impact of Technology on the Future of work and geopolitical relationships.

This initial training for key members of the political Directorate is a necessary condition for effective political leadership. The book could give more focus to this area.

One of the related points Shim spends some time on in the Book is the emergence of Dons and the Leadership roles that they have assumed. The discourse on this phenomenon in the book is worth reading and interrogating further. This is critical because what the author is drawing our attention to is that a leadership vacuum was created especially at the community level. And hence different leaders have emerged – such as Dons, Area Leaders and Gang leaders – to fill this vacuum.

What I would have loved to see more of in the book is how these new brand of leaders are demonstrating leadership and management skills. For instance if you look at how this cadre of leaders operate they are using   creative and up to date methods of leadership and management. For example the leaders and operatives in Lotto Scamming are using the latest in ICTs, Commercial Law, psychological theories, and persuasive arguments.

I recall years ago some inner-city leaders asked  for a course in Leadership.

The discussion in the book also raises questions about whether or not persons who performed key leadership roles in communities have abdicated their roles. These include teachers, ministers of religion, leaders for youth clubs, 4H clubs, Girl Guides, Boys Scouts, Cadet force.

The book also leaves us to ponder on the need for change in societal values which form the moral compass for how we live and how we respect and love self and others.

Another important area discussed in the book is Measuring the impact of Leadership in Jamaica in particular Political Leadership. In the context of Dependence, Independence interdependence and Global interconnectivity. My contending viewpoint is that the Framework for measuring political Leadership should the 4Ps of the United Nations Sustainable development Goals 2030.

These goals focus on four important Ps- PLANET, PEOPLE, PEACE AND PROSPERITY. In 2017 PLANET had special meaning for us. The very active hurricane season and in particular the damage done by Irma, Maria and Harvey forced us to take a serious look at climate change and related issues. These include  our network of roads across the country, our utilities – light and water-   our hospitals and clinics, free movement of people within Jamaica and across Caribbean countries , the vulnerability  of Agriculture and Tourism  two of our key areas of  growth ,  the need for  disaster mitigation strategies  and climate change  insurance and our capability for continuous communication in Cyberspace,

These are areas for both political and business sector leadership to address . In relation to the latter this reality demands that companies loyal to their shareholders and all stakeholders must have up-to-date Business Continuity Plans, ready to be activated when disaster hits! Any robust, up-to-date disaster mitigation plan must be constructed using international   best practices standards.

Thank God we were spared  from these major hurricanes in 2017. Yet the unusual rainfall and flooding we  had is a stark reminder to all of us to be always fully prepared.

The first P- PLANET, in the context of sustainable development also draws our attention to how we must balance investments for growth and job creation with Environmental Protection. A key area for political and business sector  and community leadership.

In short   political , business and community leadership must work in harmony  to  balance two related forces of Sustainable Development,   PROSPERITY AND PLANET.

Crime is sapping our energies and retarding our will and ability to achieve the objectives for economic Growth for instance 5 in 4 and now 5 in 3. Hence political, business and community leadership must work in partnership to ensure that two forces of Sustainable Development PEACE and PROSPERITY are working in harmony.

 My suggestion is therefore that the book should focus more on two areas:

  1. Shared and inclusive leadership
  2. Broadening the framework for assessing leadership impact to include the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

When viewed in this context and within the framework of transactional and transformational leadership there could be a better balance in the arguments and enrichment of the arguments  related to two of the leaders which the  book spent some time measuring their impact – Edward Seaga and Michael Manley.

In the case of Seaga,  the impact and legacy of his focus on Culture, community development and management of the economy could have a more detailed analysis and measurement.

Similarly for Michael Manley his views on the New World Economic Order, Social Legislation and Education as an agent of Social mobility, Access and Equity could also have a more detailed analysis and measurement.

Addressing this need for a balanced and enriched set of arguments about these two leaders has already started to materialize.

First there are  two contrasting articles in the Sunday Gleaner of March 5, 2018.

  1. Father of which Nation? by Ewart Walters
  2. Grading Seaga by Martin Henry.

Second , there is an Article in the Sunday Observer , March 11, 2018

Who am I ? My life and leadership by Edward Seaga.

This is the first of a three part series: Overview, Achievements,  Critique of Highlights.

I recommend that This book by Jermel Shim should be read in its entirety in conjunction with these three articles.


Another area covered in the book which has great value is the discussion of Cultural identity and affinity and self-worth. I support the author’s views that these are key imperatives for us as a nation to focus on as we seek to transform our society moving into the future. Affirmation of being a Jamaican is key. The late Rex Nettleford sums this up beautifully in speaking about each of us having this feeling of smadiness.

In addition we should note that some of the countries such as Singapore , Japan and China that we are trying to use as models -for  key development initiatives such as Improved  Productivity,  Development of a Logistics  Hub and  focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) – all spend deliberate and focused  time on this process of Affirmation. This is what we should also emulate.

We should focus on the pride of being Jamaican and the key positive qualities of being a Jamaican. Three of these are:

  • Leadership – we are natural leaders wherever we are in the world.
  • Creativity and innovation shown in our food, fashion, music, entertainment , theatrical performances and
  • Our natural tendency to be hospitable.

The impact of these qualities of being a Jamaican on the development of Jamaica can be seen through important evidences such as following: Jamaica being put on the international map by Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley , Usain Bolt, Performance of our Athletes at Penn Relays and Boys and Girls Champs, Tess Anne Chin winning the VOICE competition , our Jerk plus Reggae Music Festivals in the Diaspora which  combines  the influence and support of  the business sector, the Church and  the cultural and creative industries.

These evidences urge us to ask two questions:

  1. How do we leverage Cultural Identity and Affinity and Self Worth to be significant contributors to our national Development?
  2. Should the key drivers of Economic growth and Social Development in Jamaica be Education, Culture, Entertainment and Sport?

In addition to the points mentioned in the book, we should use this process of affirmation to develop certain important Qualities in our citizens. Two Useful References to guide this process are as follows:


To combat globalization, CARICOM nations focused inward and have adopted policy to create  ‘Ideal Caribbean Citizens’ who are:

  • Expected to demonstrate that they are psychologically secure
  • Value differences based on gender, ethnicity, religion and other forms of diversity as sources of strength and richness
  • Be environmentally astute
  • Be responsible and accountable to family and community
  • Have a strong work ethic
  • Be ingenious and entrepreneurial
  • Have a conversant respect for the cultural heritage
  • Exhibit multiple literacies, independent and critical thinking to the application of science and technology to problem solving

Second Benjamin Gorman, October 2015 suggested 7 characteristics of a good citizen

  1. CARE – being concerned about the   welfare of others
  2. Be Involved
  3. Be Informed
  4. Be educated
  5. Disagree- respectfully and constructively
  6. Belong without being assimilated
  7. Give back

For ease of memory and commitment to action about being a good citizen I would summarize these into three  areas :

  1. Love and respect self and others
  2. Protect our environment and use its resources wisely
  3. Be productive with a good work ethic.

All leaders – political, community, Church, Education, Private Sector, Civil Society – in Jamaica and the Diaspora -must work in partnership to develop these key qualities in our citizens as a necessary condition for the future success of Jamaica.

And back to where I started. These areas of cultural identity , affinity and self- worth  discussed in this book are key elements of engaging the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation of the Diaspora  which is of fundamental importance if the strategic value of the Diaspora is  to be sustained.

More importantly Cultural Affinity, Identity and Self -worth must be the key pillars on which our future development as a country must rest. These pillars must support a process of an inclusive engagement incorporating key emotional competencies by our political and other leaders in Jamaica and our Diaspora.

Four critical components of this engagement process are:

  1. A Compelling vision of the future in which both  Jamaicans at home and abroad use as a call to action for the economic and social development of our nation
  2. A constant search for  and implementation of Creative and innovative solutions for  our current and anticipated future  problems
  3. Leader inspirational and self -motivation towards sustained positive and productive actions by all
  4. A deep and genuine concern for the needs and fears of all as we move together to a future destination in our National Development for which there are no clear pathways.

In summary, for Jamaica to move forward successfully in the Future we need to have Inclusive and Effective Engagement with all our people at home in Jamaica and in the Diaspora worldwide. This engagement process must be well financed through partnership involving the Government and the business sector to make this process sustainable.

As we embark on this journey of effective and inclusive engagement, this book is prompting us to ask and answer the following questions:

  1. Who will lead us to this Promise land of peace, prosperity and happiness?
  2. Should we rely solely on political leadership? or
  3. Should there be shared leadership involving Political Leaders, Business Sector Leaders, Church Leaders, Civil Society and community Leaders?

This book by Jermel Shim is inviting us to do serious cogitation on these things, while we await the sequel to this book which will lead us to answers to these fundamental questions related to our future national development.

In closing, let me again Thank you Mr. Jermel Shim for this book which has aroused and excited our commitment to be an integral part of leading the success of our country, wherever we are, at home in Jamaica or in various host countries across the globe.

Professor Neville Ying

Executive Director

Jamaica Diaspora Institute

Pro Chancellor

Mico University College

March 15, 2018

[1] Ying, Neville and Manderson , Melesha. 2012.Situational Analysis: Diaspora Engagement Strategies and Diaspora Policies, Jamaica Diaspora Institute  and Ministry of Health Reports, 2013

[2] Ying, Neville and Manderson , Melesha. 2012.Situational Analysis: Diaspora Engagement Strategies and Diaspora Policies, Jamaica Diaspora Institute, and reports from Coalition of Alumni Associations in the Diaspora, 2014

[3] Ying, Neville and Melesha Manderson. 2014. Baseline Study on $ value of Diaspora Contributions to Healthcare and Education.