Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Profile on Dr Wykeham McNeil
PETRE WILLIAMS, Observer staff reporter
Saturday, May 04, 2002




WITH talk of general elections in the air, the Jamaica Observer's Western Bureau will help you get to know your candidates in this end of the island.

Check this column every Saturday for information about those who are seeking your vote. Who are the candidates and why should you vote for them?

This week, meet the People's National Party's candidate for Western Westmoreland, Dr Wykeham McNeil.

Date of Birth: October 10, 1957.

The 44 year-old Westmoreland Member of Parliament (MP) for the People's National Party (PNP) was born and raised in Kingston and is one of five children born to former PNP government minister, Kenneth McNeil, and his wife, Valerie.

He graduated from medical school in Cuba in 1983 and later worked as a physician and surgeon in St Ann's Bay, Spanish Town and the Kingston Public and University Hospitals.

With his chosen area of interest being Sports Medicine, McNeil was among the team of physicians selected to attend to the National Football Team. He also travelled as a team physician with the National Olympic Team to the 1996 games.

McNeil was also a member of the Jamaica Boxing Board between 1994 and 1997 and chaired the Amateur Development Committee for two of those years.

He was chairman of the Sports Development Foundation from 1995 until February 2000.

McNeil was appointed Government Senator by Prime Minister P J Patterson in 1995 and was elected as the PNP's MP for Western Westmoreland in 1997. Then in February 2000, he was appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism.

Q: Why should people vote for you?

A: "It is always very difficult to answer questions like this. But basically it goes back to some years ago when I saw something that is very true. It says: to whom much is given, much is expected. And I have really been blessed. I have been blessed with good parents that taught me a lot in terms of integrity in the sort of social life that I lived. I was given a lot in terms of my education. I was able to get a profession, medicine... I've been given a lot and I have to give back. I believe in integrity. I believe in hard work and these are the things I can put into it. I became a senator in 1995 and went into active politics in 1997. During my period of time I think we have accomplished a lot in the constituency.

We have done more water projects and given more water to people than any other Member of Parliament in a similar period of time.

We have done more roads... we have really made strides never before seen. We have a lot of work to do but we have started that transformation. We have done a lot of work in education. We have a new junior high school, a new all-age school... The things that I set out to do in 1997 we have accomplished a lot of them... Being an MP has been an honour for me and what I can commit to is to continue the hard work and to doing what I am doing as an MP.

There are other things. In the last two years I have also been a Minister of State. A lot of times people well say he is working as Minister of State but as a Minister of State I have a constituency that relies heavily on tourism as well. But in the last year both myself and Minister (Portia) Simpson-Miller (have worked) on Operation Grow, but what could have been an absolute disaster for us, has been mitigated. We have had a fairly good recovery based on the work that we have done, which in its own way has helped our constituency. In all areas I think that what I could have done I have done it. And basically at the end of the day I think one has to feel comfortable that one is working hard and giving what can give," he said.

"We have a lot of work left to do. We have started on a process where we have worked on the infrastructure side and I'd really like to see the completion. On the work that we have done, in excess of 75 per cent of the constituency now has running water. In excess of 30 communities have got water in the last four years and I think that I would like to see the completion where everybody can get running water. In terms of roads, we have done a lot of work. And I think we have broken the back of the major road projects. We still have a lot to do but I think we can get it up to a standard of which we can be proud in a short period of time. In terms of the social aspects of it we have focused on education and we have a lot to do but we did a lot of work on all the schools in the constituency... One of the things I want to see happen is not only that we are fixing schools but we want to work more closely with the PTA, the boards and the communities to try and set the proper climate for education. The climate in which we want to teach our children is very important and I'd like time to be able to work on that."