Tag: pnp

Beating a dead horse (Why the crime bill won’t solve much)

Beating a dead horse (Why the crime bill won’t solve much)

Finally, after over a year of dilly-dallying the government has passed a bill aimed at ridding the nation of violence (mainly caused by gangs and inflicted by the gun). The bill sailed through the lower house with bi-partisan approval, and though the debate in the Senate went on for quite some time, it got passed again with bi-partisan support. The law as it is now and has been passed allows for the security forces (through the PM and his security council) can declare anywhere a zone of special operations. Some people look at the new law as a breath of fresh air which will see us being both ‘tough on crime while fixing the causes’, but though this bill may make some who reside in the affluent neighborhoods feel like something positive is being done the reality is that no lasting positive changes will be made by this bill while it opens the way for Jamaica to become a police state.

This bill, much like its failed predecessor the Suppression of Crime Act, will come to nothing more than poor people being taken advantage of while failing to actually address the root causes of crime. It is very backwards and in many ways puts the cart before the horse. The prime example being the ‘clear, hold, build’ model that they have been touting. Now it sounds good and that it is a straightforward fix, but ask yourself, where are these members of the social service who are to ‘build’ coming from? When last did you see an advert in the papers recruiting for this key job, this job that is at the heart of this plan? Are we to send in the already stretched CDA or some other underfunded, undermanned and overstretched agency?

While much talk and hot air has been wasted on the areas of crime, no one during this entire debate has looked at what is possibly the biggest thing stopping us from fighting crime, uptown and monied Jamaicans. It is no secret that certain persons who live in the rarefied areas like Cherry Gardens are the ones who finance the guns coming into the wharf to arm men in the ghetto who can’t even buy chicken back. We have seen where this model will lead us, we saw it in the 70’s=90’s, and for those of us too young to remember what that looked like, look no further than Brazil and Rio where even after a decade of ‘clear, hold and build’ for the Olympics and World Cup the favelas are still just as violent as before, only with more police brutality.

The law as written and passed is actually mind-boggling in parts, it strips us of our freedoms and liberties while putting far too much power in the hands of a notoriously corrupt constabulary, the army (which isn’t viewed in a much better light) and a small group of overreaching politicians. It gives the security forces such arbitrary powers under very vague circumstances that are open to abuse, take for example Objects of Act 3 (d): Empowers members of the Joint Force to search a person, vehicle or place without a warrant, within a zone, if they reasonably suspect that an offence has been, is being or is about to be committed.  That bit of legislation is so wide and expansive that it, in reality, will enable the Force to search anywhere in that zone because they have a hunch, no actual proof. A piece of legislation that opens the public up to arbitrary and unjustified stops and searches because a crime is being committed nearby, it is the lazy man’s police work.

Then we get into the fact that it opens the nation up to the rule of an executive PM as opposed to one who acts with the consent of and after consultation and agreement with his Cabinet. This can be seen in Zone of special operation, Declaration of Zone 4(1) The Prime Minister in Council, may, by order, declare any geographically defined area within a single continuous boundary in Jamaica, as a zone of special operations for a period not exceeding sixty days if the circumstances set out in subsection (2) exist.

Now, regardless of how stringent the regulations of subsection (2) are (and they are actually pretty black and white), we have seen on a daily basis where persons from both parties both while in government and opposition frequently play fast and loose (or just being plain corrupt) with the law and freely associate with known criminals. We see where laws are implemented on certain persons or groups based on partisan loyalty and who can pay the most and that up to today has not changed, therefore asking us to accept the Prime Minister will have almost unchecked power as it relates to both when, where, how long and who leads these zones is utter insanity as we have seen where they can be (and are) so destructive with the limited amount of power that they have.

haggartfunerald20010508rb(Peter Phillips, Omar Davies and Karl Blythe at Willie Haggarts funeral)

With scamming now almost half of what tourism brings into the coffers of this nation (almost one billion dollars according to a VICE article) how do we expect to get these young men (and women) who have been inculcated with this get rich quick mentality? With the drug scene still prevalent (and really at its same monstrous heights since the deportation of Coke and Ramcharan) where are the plans that we should be putting in place to break the deadly underground and illegal triangular trade we have with the Colombians and the Mexicans (the Mexicans who now control some of our largest and most profitable illegal ganja fields)? Where is the plan to strengthen the border to stop criminals from foreign lands coming to our shores to assist in doing us so much harm, a simple walk to any bar on Water Lane in the vicinity of West Street downtown will have you hearing French creole (in the Haitian dialect) and Spanish (in the dialect of persons from the Dom Rep, Colombia and Mexico), without a safe border how will the crime and the importation of guns be stemmed?

drugRamcharan

With corruption permeating throughout all layers of the Jamaican government institutions just how exactly will this crime bill help stem crime long term? When a man can bribe the customs agent and security to turn a blind eye to guns coming into and narcotics exiting the nation how exactly will the crime end? Going back to ports of entry and exit, the airport is so lax that one has to wonder if we really do have a crime problem and all that it carries, especially when one realizes that a lot of the drugs are going through because there is a network of gang members working as security officers and the persons who check the bags that go into the cargo hold of the plane. This is common knowledge and has been for years yet we can’t (or don’t want to) even manage to crack that illegal ring of drug smugglers, yet we are to rest assured that the same men and women who can’t do the simplest of tasks relating to anti-corruption and crime prevention and fighting will solve the crime problem with a bill that strips us all (but really the poor) of all our legal rights and free to be treated like chattel.

With little to naught being done to tackle the root of crime (such as chronic poverty, a lack of education and little hope of finding a decent job and housing etc) coupled with the total lack of any agenda of tackling those who both finance and profit from the crime that has taken root in the nation then we can safely assume that this Zone of Special Operation will be a dud. It is nothing but a sick repetition of the Suppression Of Crime Act and the results will be the same, an abject failure coupled with the eventual spike in violent crime. Instead of aiming for the ‘silver bullet’ to forever eliminate crime (which doesn’t exist) let us instead roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of actually tackling crime. Let’s improve our education system, employ our people and ensure that poverty becomes a thing of the past, let’s aim to rid ourselves of the rats uptown so that they can stop offering spurious claims of get-rich quick schemes to the kids in the ghetto who only want to eat and see no way out, if not then lets give the keys of state to the army and police as this bill already leaves the door ajar for them to take it.

 

P.S. Read the Act here for further spine tingling revelations of just what is in store for us

A letter to Dr. Phillilips

Mr Phillips, congratulations on your becoming president of the PNP. This i know has been your ambition for quite a while and it is always good to see a person get something that they have so long craved so again kudos. In many ways the presidency of the party couldn’t have been delivered to a better person. You are known as a hard worker, someone not afraid to make tough policy decisions and whose name has never been called in any corruption or pork barrel allegations (something that is a rarity in Jamaican politics). However that alone will not be enough to propel you to the heights of Vale Royal, in fact the hard work has only just begun.

The Jamaican people have been taken for a ride and we know it all too well. Even if we gloss over the ideological war of the 70’s aside (no country could function properly in those conditions) we have been poorly run for the past twenty nine years, twenty three of which your party the PNP was in almost unchecked power. And while it is true that you as party president have apologised for the part that your party has played in reducing our  drainage system to that of a joke a more serious effort is needed if you or party wish to see long term power as you enjoyed in the 90’s.

Firstly an actual mea culpa over the FINSAC debacle is needed. Yes there were circumstances beyond your control (people borrowing money that they had no hope of repaying for example), but the handling of the situation was atrocious and made what should have been a slightly painful set of circumstances become a full blown catastrophe. Those who lost families, those who lost a living, those made homeless and left to wonder the street and the nation that went through a decade of anemic growth as a direct result deserve nothing less.

Land reform is something that has been bandied about by both sides, but mainly the (so called) socialist PNP since their inception,  yet still we live in a nation where the majority of our people live in informal settlements ( or are squatters). The papers and the TV are awash with you having conferences speaking on the topic of land reform but more than lip service needs to be done now. There are ways and means through which everyone in the nation can if not own a home then at the very least live in conditions befitting a human being. Building council houses along the line of the UK where they allow the occupant to purchase and rent control as seen in the US are but only two options that could go a long way towards regularizing housing in Jamaica, but beware for anymore lip service will result in your downfall.

When it comes to corruption you have pledged to not tolerate it, well sir the middle class and youth that you wish to win over are watching with a keen eye to see what you will do. It is clear that the PNP is, to put it mildly home to some bad apples and Mr Phillips I can say safely that until certain MP’s, councilors and members of the party apparatus are thrown out then you for all your nice words will never see office. The people (primarily the youth) to varying degrees are waking up to the fact that corruption is eating away at any chance that the nation has of a prosperous future and as such will not be voting for a party that they perceive to be soft (especially internally) on corruption.

Crime is the obvious monster in the room that must be addressed and again this is an issue that can not be tackled until a mea culpa is done. What both parties did starting in the 40’s, but escalating in the 70’s was unjustifiable and is at the root as to why we are where we are in terms of crime. With your party (and the governing JLP) having intimate links to criminals and  with many garrisons under your parties sway some real introspection and apologizing must be done before anyone will take your plans on tackling crime seriously.

The social issue must be addressed by yourself and the party that you lead. With the society seemingly tearing apart at the seams it is clear that the way that society has operated over the past twenty years with its self-centered ideology has failed. Addressing this will be hard as it entails that people be told uncomfortable truths about themselves and will be (hopefully) held to higher expectations, but it can be done. Just as we went from a society where everyone looked out for one another to one where we all eye each other suspiciously so we can go back to one where we all look out for our fellow man.

Finally what must be addressed by you and urgently is the pressing economic issues of the day. The people need jobs but the service sector alone will not drag us out of poverty. The people need banks and financial institutions that allow for business to be done freely in the nation without the exorbitant interest rates. The people need infrastructure to be built urgently, but not at the expense of our rights and not by giving our birth-rites to foreigners as your party has continually done in the past.

Dr Phillips you are  decent man who has been tasked to lead an organisation that means a lot to the nation and one that has impacted the nation in many positive (and negative) ways and it is going to be  heck of a job to get them back in fighting shape. But be warned, the party needs more than fighters and strategists who will only win elections. Until the people see a humble and contrite PNP, one that is willing to come with ideas of hope and is seen to be clean as a whistle (or as close as possible) then your party will not see power and you sir, the man who is known as Mr get it done will instead be seen as an abject failure.

 

The curious case of Phillip Paulwell

Philip Paulwell has been around the block politically, he is a veteran what with his five stars and counting (electoral victories) and has always been chummy with those at the center of power since the days when P.J Patterson brought him in as a young buck. Paulwell has soared through the ranks of the PNP and a minister since his days as an unelected thirty-something year old senator and has always been considered by some within the party as a possible party leader.

Sadly for Paulwell he seems to be cursed with the Devils luck, always seemingly mired in some controversy, inevitably cleared but with his public political image in a worse and irreparable state than before the controversy. Be it youthful exuberance as Mr patterson quipped as an excuse for a scandal, Kern Spencer who eventually took the fall politically (only to be freed by the courts) or even the ensuing caricel drama, he always seems to be three degrees separated from scandal.

That has however, never stopped him politically, from being an influential P.J acolyte, he transitioned smoothly to becoming one of Portia’s lead henchmen, to seamlessy backing dr Phillips in the farce of a coronation in replacing the incumbent leader of the party Portia. He seems to the outsider anyway, to be untouchable (scandal wise) and has a habit of never really owning his mistakes (to give it a polite term).

Yes within the party he is an untouchable and seemingly immovable being, but he has never had the wide popular support of the general public like say a dr Phillips and the pnp would do well to take note of that.

Yes he is popular within the party but to the general public he is considered to be either incompetent or just plain corrupt, neither of which are good options. He is viewed as at best hype man, all chat and no action (as seen with the lng debacle) and at his worst when the action does come it is almost always shrouded with suspicion and conspiracy such as the Cuban light bulb scandal and netserv.

Paulwell whether he is actually corrupt or incompetent perfectly embodies all that is wrong with Jamaican politics generally and with the pnp specifically. He has risen to the heights that he has because he was a decent attorney (at a time when they swelled the chambers), a great brown-noser and a genius when it comes to controlling delegates. He has no natural political talent to speak of (he is neither diplomatic, a long term thinker or partial to constituency redevelopment) and the people know this, and while they may in the end become disillusioned with the Jlp if they dilly dally and break promises, the pnp will not see power again and in a long term fashion unless it jettisons persons like paulwell.

Jamaica needs a new breed of politicians and age really is no factor here as paulwell is only a sprightly 54, we need honest persons, people who are actually talented and offer something through public service (government etc) and who can leave a positive mark on the nation. Let us in short be rid of acolytes and lackeys and instead promote and hold on to those who can make moves without the public constantly and with reason looking suspiciously at them.

PNP folly

The dictionary describes pig headedness as willfully or perversely unyielding or being obstinate. One would be hard pressed to find a more apt description of the PNP and its leadership at this point in time. That is probably why Paul Burke made reference to the pig sty and squealing, because he knows subconsciously that the PNP has become a pig wallowing in muck.

Pig headed is a lovely appellation for the current opposition leader. What else does one call a leader who when reportedly asked for her plans in the event of an election loss said I am not a loser and ended it there, or a leader who when asked if she would step aside after leading her party to an embarrassing and unexpected defeat responds that she is not British. How else does one describe a leader who when faced with serious internal and external corruption allegations allows the hearsay and innuendo to fester like and open ulcer, waiting days to finally call for an enquiry that she then walks back on?

Pig headed best describes an MP and aspiring party leader who even after allegations of serious corruption, siphoning of party money and basic petty backstabbing (thoughh his name has never been mentioned in scandal) sees clearly and speaks knowingly of enemies of the party who wish to destroy it from within by chatting too much? Would the former finance minister then not report the corruption to the police if he were party leader, as he hopes to be? And pray tell are the enemies the ones making information public or the ones committing these alleged crimes?

Pig headed is an apt description for the PNP officer corps at this point in time as well. How else can one describe a group of people who allow for not one, but two massive corruption allegations to go un investigated? How else does one describe an officer corps that allows its leader to be totally uninformed about these allegations before speaking to the media (giving Portia the benefit of the doubt)? How else does one describe an officer corps that allows the party to become a by word for corruption and graft? Pig headed describes them perfectly.

The stubborn PNP chooses to pause the investigation before it begins as opposed to working in tandem with the OCG and MOCA and expects the nation to be pleased with that even though we as a nation are demanding more accountability, is that not pig headed? 

The PNP, as it currently exists is tainted goods, run by pig headed people who believe that Jamaica would die without it. It is a party of persons who you wouldn’t trust with a red cent let alone the government coffers. Trafigura was no one off, that much is clear now, what is also clear is that the PNP, the party of the people, do not love the people, only the money and positions of authority that they can wring from them. The PNP, the party of firsts, massive achievements and lofty goals has been battered and bruised by persons who have no notion of either patriotism or party loyalty they will do anything to stay alive even eat there young like the swine that they are.

The party of Fairclough and Manley is gone, instead replaced by a poor imitation run by persons not fit enough to lace there boots. That it is dead is sad indeed, sad because of the hope it represented and encapsulated right up until ’92, but we must realise that it is gone and act accordingly. Party rank and file members who have been taken for fools must demand root and branch change in the party, from leader to speech writer. It will be painful, it will mean a long spell on the opposition benches, however when the alternative is the total implosion of the party and the forming of a brand new party to contest elections (we all know how those stories end) it suddenly doesn’t look that bad. Hopefully, for Jamaica’s sake they can make it out of this quagmire, it would be a shame for such a rich legacy to be wasted and more importantly we need a stable and viable opposition, because if the ’90s taught us anything, it’s that Jamaica simply can’t function without a credible opposition to keep government on there toes.