By Dionne Jackson Miller
Lisa Hanna is Minister of Youth and Culture and a Member of Parliament. She’s also a former Miss World. She’s a beautiful, stylish woman whom the photographers love, and people love to talk about her. So when a gorgeous photo of the Minister at the beach in a swimsuit (come on, it was) hit social media, via her Instagram page, we came close to having to call in the Office of Disaster Management and Emergency Management to coordinate the resulting crisis.
I can see ODPEM head Richard Thompson trying to decide whether the Fire Department or the Jamaica Defence Force would be better able to handle the public fall-out. And he’d better make sure the hospitals were on stand-by to handle the palpitations and raised blood pressure!
Ok, let’s get serious. Apparently the issue is whether the posting of the photograph was appropriate. Let’s be clear. If it were a public, government account, it wouldn’t be. Full stop. However, it doesn’t look like an official account. It doesn’t have any of the trappings of officialdom. Photos of Miss Hanna on official business are juxtaposed with motivational sayings, photos of the Obamas, animals, and baby pictures. I’m pretty sure that it’s a personal account. So is it then a matter for public debate?
Well, with 25,000 followers on Instagram and a high public profile, Miss Hanna would be aware that anything she posts on the Internet is public, and could wind up on the front page of any newspaper, website or blog. I’m going to assume that she therefore posted the photograph knowing that. Anything she does is going to make news, on one page or another.(By the way, what looks like the Ministry’s official Facebook page – with no swimsuit photos- has a mere 4,090 likes. Just saying.)
The account is in the name lisahannamyc. Should the initials myc (presumably Ministry of Youth and Culture) be excluded? That seems to be the only possibly contentious issue left. As long as she’s not using official signs and symbols such as government crests for a personal page, I don’t personally have a problem with it. I know others disagree, and I suggest Ms. Hanna may want to at least consider those particular concerns. Whether we agree on that or not, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable point to raise. I know some people have issues with her posting a photograph in a swimsuit at all, but I saw nothing inappropriate in what she was wearing, so I’m not going there.
With that settled (at least for me), we can get back to the real issues.
Here’s the thing. I’m far more concerned with the plans and policies emanating from Miss Hanna’s Ministry than anything I’ve ever seen her wear. During this year alone, Miss Hanna and her Ministry have been in the news over what appeared to have been bungled attempts to get rid of Permanent Secretary Sydney Bartley (who’s taken the matter to court); the dismissal of the Director of Cultural Dahlia Harris, a dispute with Rastafarians over lands at Pinnacle; a sex education programme implemented by human rights group Jamaicans for Justice in some children’s homes; and her revelation of the decision of one children’s home to discontinue its residential programme, among other matters.
She raised in her budget presentation some of her portfolio issues that warrant more attention than we’ve given them: missing children, job training for young people, the nomination of the Blue/John Crow Mountains to the World Heritage List, and a proposal for the establishment of a Therapeutic Centre for abused children.
Any one of these on any day of the week is more important than what Lisa Hanna looks like in a bathing suit and whether she posted a photo of herself on a beach, in said bathing suit. We can’t tell people what to feel strongly about and what to speak out against. But wouldn’t it be nice if just a fraction of the energy and passion over the “Swimsuit Scandal” were devoted to say, our missing children?
Dionne Jackson Miller hosts the radio current affairs programme "Beyond The Headlines" on RJR 94 FM and "All Angles" on TVJ. An attorney at law, she has a post-graduate certificate in Media Law and a post-graduate diploma in Public International Law, and is pursuing a Master of Laws degree at the University of London. She has tutored in Constitutional Law, and Media Law and Ethics at the University of the West Indies. She’s the current president of the Press Association of Jamaica.