Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 A stroke of genius http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/A-stroke-of-genius_86978 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When I took up the papers this week, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Ministry of National Security took the initiative to host a motivational seminar for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. I think if anyone or group in the Jamaican workforce or public service needs motivation it is the police. How very fitting and well deserved! Even a few hours to unwind and take time to be entertained while garnering tips from guest speakers is a step in the right direction.<br /> <br /> Inviting members of the entertainment fraternity to speak was a stroke of genius. These individuals are quite influential and have a huge impact on society through their music and their actions. Moreover, they have a direct link to communities and the struggles people are facing. I think it was enlightening and encouraging to hear one of the speakers disclose that the crime fight is everyone&rsquo;s business. I completely agree. We need cooperation between the community and police as well as other groups like the Church.<br /> <br /> Bounty Killer alluded to the fact that there are too many people, especially youngsters, who are not in school and have no opportunities available to them. If there were opportunities or jobs or training for these young people, a lot of crime would not take place. I think we should do our part to provide for these youngsters, show them that there is something other than taking up a gun. We can make a change in this regard, each of us can contribute, with a kind word, with a job, by offering some training or sending a child to school, we can make a difference.<br /> <br /> We have to make Jamaica safer; not just for today but for years to come. Start the change now!<br /> <br /> Jeanelle Phillips<br /> <br /> Duhaney Park<br /> <br /> Kingston 20<br /> <br /> phillipsjeanelle@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13579009/253051_79840_repro_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Saturday, January 21, 2017 3:00 AM Strong families the answer to crime http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Strong-families-the-answer-to-crime_86623 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The following is an open letter to Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness:<br /> <br /> I was one of the ministers sitting on the platform at the prayer and fasting service at the National Arena on January 4, 2017, as you gave your address. In your speech you mentioned rightly that &ldquo;having wholesome and functional families will be critical in solving some of the gruesome acts of violence&rdquo; in our nation. I would like to use this opportunity to further state why effective policing and crime fighting alone will not stop murder, crime and violence.<br /> <br /> In Jamaica, in the year 1976, the murder rate was 200. Michael Manley, the then prime minister, introduced the Gun Court. Since then, we have had several commissioners of police, the Suppression of Crime Act, many crime-fighting squads and strategies, yet in the year 2016 the number of murders committed for that year was 1,346 &mdash; 1,146 more than 1976.<br /> <br /> Mr Prime Minister, you are right again that, &ldquo;Evil Spirits have taken possession of some men in society, causing them to do savage things.&rdquo; Jesus in His ministry frequently cast out evil spirits out of people. These spirits &ldquo;steal, kill and destroy&rdquo;, but Christ came to give us life more abundantly. Most men do not want Christ, they love darkness rather than light (John 3:19). A promiscuous man needs deliverance from many different types of spirits (1 Corinthians 6:15-17).<br /> <br /> Christ said in the first commandment, &ldquo;Love the Lord with all our heart (inner self), soul (thought, will and emotion) and mind.&rdquo; The second commandment is to &ldquo;love our neighbour as ourselves&rdquo;. (Matthew 22:37-40). <br /> <br /> I do agree with you, Mr Prime Minister, that wholesome and functional families are needed. A proper functional family consists of a mature and responsible father and mother only having the number of children they can properly provide for and educate. Each child should leave home with an inheritance, the best of which could be a good education. Many murders are done by gang members, many of whom cannot read and write properly were and without a suitable functional father, whose main role is to provide, protect, train and discipline his children (Genesis 18:19). There should be a stiff penalty for men who go around having children, especially with several women, and do not support them as they should. The<br /> <br /> Bible calls them the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 5:8).<br /> <br /> Continue to believe in the power of God and Christ to change lives and make Jamaica a better place to live, raise happy families and do prosperous businesses. As we fast and pray, God will heal our land.<br /> <br /> Rev Dr Errol J Wright<br /> <br /> Ambassador at Large, UN Economic and Social Council<br /> <br /> Pastor, Hope & Mercy Ministries International<br /> <br /> Westchester, St Catherine<br /> <br /> righte2005@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13585635/Leader-at-breakfast_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Saturday, January 21, 2017 3:00 AM Solid message from DJ &lsquo;lecturers&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Solid-message-from-DJ--lecturers-_86985 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Rodney &ldquo;Bounty Killer&rdquo; Price and Desmond &ldquo;Ninjaman&rdquo; Ballentine were used as motivational speakers at the Jamaica Constabulary Force&rsquo;s Blast Off on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. Both were invited to share encouraging words to members of our security forces.<br /> <br /> From all the articles I&rsquo;ve read, it&rsquo;s clear that the entertainers&rsquo; messages were well received by the officers. Many will debate that these two shouldn&rsquo;t have been invited to address the officers because they encourage violence in their lyrics, or have had run-ins with the law, or whatever the case may be. Realistically speaking, though, both men are legendary grass-root dancehall artistes who uphold the culture and have the respect of many Jamaicans. Who else could deliver a solid message than two of Jamaica&rsquo;s greatest artistes? Bounty and Ninjaman have survived the streets of Jamaica; they understand the hardships that a lot of our youth face. They know what leads to someone taking up a gun over a book.<br /> <br /> Despite what they&rsquo;ve sang about or have been accused of in the past, both men have been contributing significantly to different communities. They have independently funded several back-to-school treats, fun days, and Christmas events; nobody seems to be talking about that. Ninjaman currently hosts a treat every Sunday called Ice Cream Sundays for the children living in and around Jackson Town, Ackee Walk and neighbouring communities and Bounty Killer is well known to send youngsters to school.<br /> <br /> Konshens, Spice, Ding Dong, Aidonia, and other artistes have been giving back to the youth of this country as well. I&rsquo;m sure many people didn&rsquo;t know that &mdash; or they just refuse to highlight the good people are doing. It&rsquo;s about time we stop dwelling on negativity and uplift positivity.<br /> <br /> Sharon Silvester<br /> <br /> Kingston 6<br /> <br /> shar.silvie@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13584405/253497__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, January 20, 2017 12:00 AM Jamaica must not become extension of any country&rsquo;s penal system http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Jamaica-must-not-become-extension-of-any-country-s-penal-system_86874 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This is a case which reminds of &ldquo;look a gift horse in the mouth&rdquo;. The UK offer seemed a good deal considering our overcrowded and deteriorating prisons. But the reality is that we would be relieving the UK of three million pounds annually by taking their prisoners. On top of that, we would have to provide for them, according to international standards and their UK customs, fish and chips with a &ldquo;pint&rdquo; perhaps, and tea and biscuits?<br /> <br /> Would doing that for our &ldquo;friend&rdquo; be justified when other social priorities abound? Was this the first step for Jamaica to become an extension of foreign government&rsquo;s penal system by a &lsquo;contracting-out&rsquo; process for their prisoners, Jamaicans or not? When these people commit crime, then they must pay their dues to that society from which they are a product.<br /> <br /> What is so special with Jamaican prisoners, who commit their crimes in UK or elsewhere, that Jamaica should take them in to serve their sentences? What have they done for Jamaica, other than give us a bad name? Such arrangements are for rich countries, example the USA and Canada, where social conditions are way ahead of Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Jamaica&rsquo;s social priorities demands much attention but resources are scarce. Imagine what improvements over fifteen million pounds, if available without raising taxes, would do?<br /> <br /> Jamaicans who are &lsquo;deportable&rsquo; are in that position because of their negligence. It tells me that, for all the years they are resident abroad, they did not appreciate the limited rights of a resident compared to that of a citizen. In school there is civics as part of the curriculum. Further, as adults they chose to remain on the edge of society and are seemingly not willing or able to participate in any elections &mdash; and never even take steps to rectify that undesirable situation.<br /> <br /> Yes, Jamaica has an obligation to take in its citizens, but it would be political suicide for Andrew Holness to make building a prison to suit UK&rsquo;s priority of cutting expenses for its non-citizens criminals &mdash; a top item on his social infrastructure improvements. When they have served their sentences and are released then that&rsquo;s the time to take them in &mdash; not before.<br /> <br /> Norman Lee<br /> <br /> Brampton, Canada<br /> <br /> namronlee@rogers.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13581818/253158_79979_repro_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 19, 2017 12:00 AM Murray&rsquo;s involvement blown out of proportion http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Murray-s-involvement-blown-out-of-proportion_86880 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Heather Murray, principal of Hampton School, unfortunately, became the centre of the sexual offence matter involving clergyman Rupert Clarke. She is a wonderful principal of impeccable character. My daughter is a past student of Hampton &mdash; a school which provides the young ladies with wholesome education. Murray has defended the ladies at Hampton, and at the Parent-Teachers&rsquo; Association meetings would occasionally warn the ladies and parents of the negative impact of relationship with older men, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, and other societal ills on their lives. She totally transformed the lives of many inner-city girls who entered Hampton as boarders. She is not a supporter of child abuse.<br /> <br /> There is an assumption by Councillor Kari Douglas, as stated in the Jamaica Observer, on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, that there are individuals who no longer have confidence in her ability to protect our nation&rsquo;s girls and do not consider Hampton School as a suitable destination for their children with her being at the helm. This is far from the truth!<br /> <br /> Many are calling for Murray&rsquo;s resignation; however, &ldquo;Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Murray indicated that she was at the St Elizabeth Parish Court to support her friend, the wife of Rupert Clarke, Yvonne Clarke, who is very ill and asked her to be present. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Many of us would walk away from our best friend when he/she needed us most; Heather Murray did not.<br /> <br /> Murray tried to block the media from taking photographs and she is being heavily condemned for doing this. However, is it legal for accused people to be photographed in the precincts of our courts? This is unlawful; however, no one condemns it and it continues. We must at all times respect the individual constitutional rights.<br /> <br /> If Murray is guilty of poor judgement, what is the media guilty of? Murray tried to block the camera because they were doing an illegal act of taking photographs of the accused. The media should obey the law at all times including the fundamental rights of the citizens of Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Personally, I think this matter has been blown out of proportion. Rupert Clarke is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. <br /> <br /> Maureen J Haughton<br /> <br /> Bushy Park PO, St Catherine<br /> <br /> jenhaughton@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13555398/251383_78159_repro_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 19, 2017 12:00 AM Handling the crisis of a scandal http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Handling-the-crisis-of-a-scandal_86884 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In 1982 the company that manufactured the pain reliever Tylenol (Johnson and Johnson) had a major crisis on its hands. In October of that year in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, seven people dropped dead after taking this over-the-counter medication (which was their number one money maker at the time). It was subsequently discovered that the pills were laced with cyanide.<br /> <br /> Instead of trying to sweep this issue under the carpet, the company fully cooperated with the federal authorities to deal with the problem by recalling their product and joining in the effort to find those responsible for the murders. To this date no one has been charged for the deaths, but because of their openness and honesty, the management of Johnson and Johnson has earned the respect of the business community and the wider society for their forthrightness in dealing with the challenges that faced them. Today their response to this crisis is now cited as a model of how to deal with a similar situation.<br /> <br /> The reason I am recalling this bit of history is to show the contrast between Johnson and Johnson&rsquo;s approach to that of the Moravian Church of Jamaica and Cayman Islands in dealing with their current sex scandal. From all the reports I have read, since the scandal broke the church seems more interested in proclaiming its victimhood and complaining about being persecuted by Satan (as reported in<br /> <br /> The Gleaner) than showing concern for the victims of sexual assault and rape perpetrated by moral authority figures in their church. This is one of the reasons there is a lot of cynicism about the church, especially among the young, and why religion is on the decline in the West.<br /> <br /> If the Moravian Church wants to regain some of their social capital and credibility, it must do better than what it has been doing now and exercise more humility. <br /> <br /> Pete Nicely, PhD<br /> <br /> pnicely@email.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/5434387/ZZ20DCA004_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 19, 2017 12:00 AM Obeah, Minister?! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Obeah--Minister--_86882 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We can all agree that crime is an issue in Jamaica that needs every hand on deck to solve and to rid our country of this noose that is around the neck of Brand Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Since this Jamaica Labour Party Administration took office the Jamaican people are yet to hear from the minister of national security a comprehensive plan as to how his Administration will tackle this issue of crime. This after the prime minister rode in on a promise that Jamaicans would soon be able to sleep with their windows and doors open. Now, we hear the minister of national security saying that aspirants to being the new commissioner of police should come with a crime plan. What&rsquo;s the minister&rsquo;s role?<br /> <br /> I was beyond shocked to hear the Minister of National Security Robert &ldquo;Bobby&rdquo; Montague say that the criminals should run because his &ldquo;uncle is a obeah man&rdquo;. Is this what we have come to as a nation? Is this the crime plan that the minister has to offer? This is what brand Jamaica has come to, that we resort to obeah to fix our crime problems?<br /> <br /> We must be viewed as a laughing stock when it comes on to national security.<br /> <br /> I honestly believe that no other person than the prime minister should relieve Minister Montague of his ministerial responsibilities, because clearly he is not even aware that obeah is illegal in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> I know that we need all hands on board, but the obeah man is not the solution, Minister Montague. Please come with concrete plans, Minister, to reassure a worrying nation that you know what you are doing<br /> <br /> Ralston Chamberlain<br /> <br /> Ontario, Canada<br /> <br /> ralston.chamberlain@alum.utoronto.ca<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13413939/239535_66149_repro_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 19, 2017 12:00 AM Fighting crime really not about the money http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Fighting-crime-really-not-about-the-money_86714 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> For many Jamaicans, one of the main reasons this battle against crime has taken so long is we lack resources to effectively win.<br /> <br /> If we had enough wealth then we could afford the required unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to support naval vessels to secure our coastline and prevent guns and drugs that support our gangs. We would be able to afford more fixed wing aircraft to supply the Jamaica Defence Force, more and bigger guns for the police and the army, X-ray equipment to secure the wharf, and more courthouses to reduce our backlog cases.<br /> <br /> Well we have such a scenario existing with one of our neighbours. This country has been described as the wealthiest country in the Caribbean as well as the third-richest country by GDP per capita in the Americas after the United States and Canada. They have a sophisticated economy for a country of its size and a well-established economy. They are an upper-middle-income, oil-exporting country. Therefore, if Jamaica could reopen all the bauxite companies, the sugar factories, resuscitate the banana industry, and expand the hotel industry, would be on our way to being a peaceful, crime-free nation again? Perhaps.<br /> <br /> Trinidad&rsquo;s 2016 Crime and Safety Report states that: &ldquo;The Government faces numerous challenges in its effort to reduce crime, including an overburdened legal system; bureaucratic resistance to change; unemployment in marginal areas; disenfranchised youth; the negative influence of gangs, drugs, weapons, and an economic recession. Crime is the principal threat to visitors and most are crimes of opportunity.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Despite the seizure of 691 firearms in 2015 &mdash; Jamaica seized 689 &mdash; almost 81 per cent of murders in Trinidad were committed by firearms, continuing to highlight the problem of imported and often illegal weapons and firearms smuggling. Drug trafficking and gang-related activities continue to fuel the demand for illegal weapons. Trinidad and Tobago has a population of 1.3 million people, 100 gangs and, in 2015, 420 murders &mdash; almost half of our murders. In fact, the only time they saw a dip in murders was during a state of emergency in 2011 when that crime slipped to 354, after they instituted a curfew in particular areas to deal with specific and emerging threats.<br /> <br /> On the other hand, tiny Barbados has pursued a different path and they have an extensive welfare programme for the poor and elderly. For the elderly, assistance is provided for housing, transportation, home care and free utilities as well as a non-contributory pension, assistance in kind, and food vouchers. The poor are provided with cash assistance, subsidised housing, legal aid, rents to private landlord, and emergency relief for fire victims. Perhaps if we concentrated much of the security budget on social intervention we may not need to be as wealthy as poor Trinidad and Tobago, when it comes to crime.<br /> <br /> Mark Clarke<br /> <br /> Siloah PO, St Elizabeth<br /> <br /> mark_clarke9@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12583483/181156__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Accepting UK prison deal could mean higher taxes http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Accepting-UK-prison-deal-could-mean-higher-taxes_86708 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Generation 2000, the young professional affiliate of the Jamaica Labour Party, commends the Andrew Holness Administration for not accepting the &lsquo;UK prison deal&rsquo; as such a deal would likely mean higher taxes for Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> The agreement that the previous Government was attempting to get into would mean Jamaicans would likely have to pay higher taxes, as the UK was only funding 40 per cent of any such project. That means the Government would have to find an additional $6 billion to finalise the project.<br /> <br /> Those who want the country to take this deal have yet to tell us where this money should come from, and why $6 billion should be spent in this way over all other priorities of the Government at this time.<br /> <br /> The Government is not ignoring prisons; the minister of national security has encouraged many new programmes to reduce the prison population and improve rehabilitation.<br /> <br /> We are happy that the Jamaica Labour Party Government did not go back on its commitment to not accept the deal. We need more and better schools, not more prisons. While we accept that our current prisons are in poor condition, so are many of the schools. We are not interested in another penal institution, but more educational opportunities for our youth.<br /> <br /> Generation 2000 is of the firm belief that, in an environment of tight fiscal controls, the Government must continue to prioritise the development of the majority of Jamaicans when it is setting policy.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Stephen Edwards<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> Generation 2000<br /> <br /> g2kpresident@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13541826/250440__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Change criminal laws, not commish! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Change-criminal-laws--not-commish-_86709 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Here we go again, once more around the mulberry bush.<br /> <br /> Yet another commissioner of police has quit; yet more irrational calls for yet another national security minister to resign. When are we going to conclude that the problems do not lie with who holds these two positions?<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer columnist Christopher Burns, in his<br /> <br /> The Agenda column in the Sunday Observer of January 14, 2017 notes that &ldquo;desperate times calls for desperate measures&rdquo;, which supports Gleaner columnist Ian Boyne&rsquo;s line.<br /> <br /> Agreed here.<br /> <br /> Prime Minister Andrew Holness is testing the winds for long overdue anti-crime measures, although it&rsquo;s hard to understand how he can simultaneously turn down the British offer to help build a new, modern prison. Where will he house and rehabilitate these additional local criminals his new, as yet unspecified, measures will bring to justice? Not to mention those planeloads of deported criminals Britain will soon send our way in retaliation?<br /> <br /> Both Burns and Boyne emphasise additional police enforcement powers which would curtail some civil rights and liberties temporarily. No problem with that. Except, however, both columnists fail to recognise that merely giving police additional powers to enforce weak, criminal-friendly laws won&rsquo;t work. That&rsquo;s a serious lacuna in their argument.<br /> <br /> Take Belize, where bail has been curtailed for serious offences and draconian gun laws enacted. Crime is confined to a small geographical area and police quickly, make arrests. And just as quickly the criminals are acquitted! Conviction rates for murders and other serious offences are ridiculously low. It&rsquo;s not that the police, prosecutors or judges are incompetent. It&rsquo;s the criminal laws themselves that facilitate criminals walking free. Crime has thus become even worse in Belize in the past five years.<br /> <br /> Unless Burns, Boyne, Holness, and all Jamaicans are prepared to bite the bullet and advocate for changing our outdated criminal-friendly laws all the &ldquo;desperate&rdquo; additional police measures will do is take away civil rights and liberties, invite international criticism, and bring even more crime.<br /> <br /> Errol W A Townshend<br /> <br /> Ontario, Canada<br /> <br /> ewat@rogers.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13565366/252069_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Impressed with police interaction http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Impressed-with-police-interaction_86621 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> ?When bad things happen we jump to complain, but when good things happen, no one sings praises.<br /> <br /> Today I would like to change that by praising the police for their conduct and demeanour in my latest interaction with them. <br /> <br /> Last night, while driving along Constant Spring Road ?in the direction of Mary Brown&rsquo;s Corner (Rich?ie B&rsquo; gas station), I was stopped by two police officers for a routine spot check.<br /> <br /> One officer approached my vehicle, and I was astonished by the way he addressed me. The first thing he said was &ldquo;Good evening, we&rsquo;re doing a routine spot check. May I see your driver&rsquo;s licence and your vehicle documents, please?&rdquo;<br /> <br /> He was very courteous and displayed an impressive level of professionalism and intelligence. The officers checked my documents and, within minutes, I was handed back my papers and was well on my way.<br /> <br /> Other motorists can attest to the same, especially during the recent festive season.<br /> <br /> In the past, some of these officers ?have had little ?or no respect for motorist?s?, displaying only arrogance and unprofessionalism.<br /> <br /> I&rsquo;m pleased to see that this is now changing and officers ?are shaping up and becoming more welcoming and pleasant.<br /> <br /> I have to commend the people responsible for ?whatever interpersonal skills training sessions these officers have been undertaking, because they are working. Kudos to the person(s) who implemented the programme, it was clearly overdue. I hope these workshops become a compulsory part of the force&rsquo;s training policy, if it isn&rsquo;t already so.<br /> <br /> Stephanie Chambers<br /> <br /> stephchambers876@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10656735/Police-hat_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Police building confidence http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Police-building-confidence_86700 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Last Wednesday and Friday I had two pleasant and encouraging experiences involving members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).<br /> <br /> On both occasions, the police were conducting vehicular spot checks. The first experience was in Darliston, Westmoreland, and the second was in the vicinity of Salem, St Ann.<br /> <br /> I was encouraged by the politeness with which the JCF members conducted themselves in both instances. I was greeted with: &ldquo;Good afternoon, Sir,&rdquo; and then told the reason for my being stopped was because they were carrying out vehicle checkpoint inspections, whereby they were checking to ensure that car papers and driver&rsquo;s licence were all in good order.<br /> <br /> I proceeded to present the documents as requested and, upon examining and finding papers to be in good order, the JCF members in both instances thanked me and wished me a good day. I, likewise, thanked them for their professionalism and encouraged them to continue to carry out their duties as such.<br /> <br /> It was even more refreshing as the JCF members in question seemed to be relatively young men in terms of age.<br /> <br /> Although I have never had any bad experience as such with members of the JCF, there have been enough sad stories of the experiences of others to make me guarded.<br /> <br /> However, my two experiences in addition to the two widely reported operations by the police over the weekend, in St Andrew and St James, if nothing else, are evidence of the possibilities of the JCF.<br /> <br /> Hopefully, these experiences are but a turning point in the level of professionalism and competence being displayed by the JCF, which is necessary to ensure the public&rsquo;s confidence in the police can be restored. <br /> <br /> Kevin K O Sangster<br /> <br /> sangstek@msn.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10656735/Police-hat_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM I cried, I cry http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-cried---I-cry_86632 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Today I cried. I cried for those suffering immeasurable pain from oppression, sexual violence, and other forms of abuse in our beloved Jamaica. I cried and hyperventilated and even cursed because I am just sick and tired of the suffering that so many of our people go through every day.<br /> <br /> We must believe that the violence which prevails in this country has an expiry date. We must believe that gender-based violence against women and girls can become a thing of the past. We must, of necessity, believe and know that the power of change is in our hands and hearts and wills.<br /> <br /> Until we break our culture of violence and silence we shall continue down the abyss of wickedness and cruelty. Until we all make human rights the mission of every Jamaican and every government agency, and yes, every church, we shall continue to spew platitudes of the kinds which we have mastered in the arena of church.<br /> <br /> Our society is sick. Our pathology is so marked by selfishness, greed, envy, covetousness, and the pain we inflict on each other from time to time. Oh, that this present darkness be a door to the light of change &mdash; respect, child protection, transformed leaders, a healed nation.<br /> <br /> Rev Fr Sean Major-Campbell<br /> <br /> Seanmajorcampbell@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12459346/ZZ0024F9C2_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Engendering hope for the new year http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Engendering-hope-for-the-new-year_86622 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In recent weeks, some prominence has been afforded Horace Levy&rsquo;s plea for &ldquo;another policy&rdquo; in challenging the crime monster in western Jamaica. Levy has spent the last decade and a half working with the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), and he knows first-hand what can be achieved when unattached inner-city youth are engaged in ways that enable them to feel they belong to a wider cause.<br /> <br /> No one is likely to make a sacrifice or change a given lifestyle for the benefit of the common good until they feel a sense of belonging. Dr Herbert Gayle&rsquo;s scholarly research on the social challenges of inner-city violence bears out the point.<br /> <br /> Gayle wrote in another publication some months ago: &ldquo;Young men use the tools of violence that they know &mdash; guns. Every out-of-school &lsquo;shotta&rsquo; in Montego Bay I have spoken to recently has bought better weapons with lotto scamming money. Had these young men been treated like included social beings by society, they would know what to do with their ill-gotten gains &mdash; just like the educated and socially included have done.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> If you think this is chilling, recall Gayle&rsquo;s own conclusion, &ldquo;You may not know,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;but the other side of the lotto scam crisis is the educated and socially included&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Jamaica should lose no time in putting our money where our mouth is by fully resourcing the PMI&rsquo;s operations on a wider national scale, with a strategic plan in place for building additional leadership and organisational capacity to make the PMI self-sustaining and fulfil its mission. It&rsquo;s an initiative that requires a coalition of support from the private sector, Government, Church and civic groups. Such an initiative may not result in an immediate reduction in violence, but it will bring Jamaicans from every layer of the society to collaborate on the single most urgent problem facing our nation at this time.<br /> <br /> The cost for putting in place social interventions, such as equipping social workers to address the challenges within &ldquo;at-risk&rdquo; environments is far outweighed by the cost borne by a nation unable to achieve sustainable development as a result of crime and violence.<br /> <br /> As demonstrated in other areas of national life, in which the varied interests and voices in our country have worked together for the national good, an alliance of this nature would offer us some hope in the new year.<br /> <br /> Rt Rev Robert Thompson<br /> <br /> Bishop of Kingston <br /> <br /> revthompson@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/5483941/Herb-Gayle_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM What&rsquo;s the real motive of the Holness-Netanyahu meeting? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/What-s-the-real-motive-of-the-Holness-Netanyahu-meeting-_86465 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When I first read the article in the Jamaica Observer about a meeting between Prime Minister Andrew Holness and and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu I didn&rsquo;t know what to make of it. And now that Holness has invited Netanyahu to visit Jamaica I&rsquo;m even more puzzled about Holness&rsquo;s intentions.<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s hard to intuit how politicians work.<br /> <br /> Just think about it. Netanyahu has consistently trashed outgoing US President Barack Obama. He has maintained a hard-line approach towards the Palestinians. He had hostile reactions towards the recent United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 2016. This resolution, unanimously passed by the Security Council 14-0, with the US abstaining, concerns Israeli settlements in &ldquo;Palestinian territories occupied since 1967&rdquo;. The resolution states that Israel&rsquo;s settlement activity constitutes a &ldquo;flagrant violation&rdquo; of international law and has &ldquo;no legal validity&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Based, at least, on some of those issues, one would have thought that Holness, presumably a man who understands the late Nelson Mandela&rsquo;s struggle against apartheid, would say, &ldquo;Sure, I love all peace-loving Israelis, and they deserve a safe and secure border in which to live their lives. But, at the same time, the Palestinians also have the right to a secure homeland and to be free from Israeli occupation. However, on both scores, I don&rsquo;t see Netanyahu creating the conditions for with either side can live in peace and safety; but that he is the obstacle to the two-state solution.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> However, as we&rsquo;re not mind readers, and can&rsquo;t figure out Holness&rsquo;s real motives, we can only assume that in cosying up to Netanyahu he will find good favour with incoming US President Donald Trump. By his embrace of Netanyahu, Holness may well ingratiate himself with Trump, and hopefully get more US resources flowing into Jamaica.<br /> <br /> On the other hand, Netanyahu hopes to gain and maintain Jamaican and Caricom support for his hard-line policies in the region. So Holness&rsquo;s seeming calculation (one may say of pragmatism, but which I see as expediency) &mdash; unlike that of the typical Jamaican market vendor who protests about selling his or her goods at a discounted price, and says, &ldquo;Before mi sell it fi dat price, mi radda dash it weh!&rdquo; &mdash; is more strategic.<br /> <br /> For, despite Netanyahu&rsquo;s intransigence and bellicose attitudes in regional and international affairs, Holness befriends Netanyahu, who is Trump&rsquo;s friend. So by his meeting with Netanyahu, which I believe is less about lending Israeli expertise to Jamaica, it seems more about Holness playing in the big boys&rsquo; league, and seeking to curry favour with Trump.<br /> <br /> So politics and economics may well trump moral and human rights principles. Some may call this pragmatism, but I call this opportunism; maybe even Machiavellianism.<br /> <br /> George S Garwood, PhD<br /> <br /> Eastbourne, UK<br /> <br /> merleneg@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13567926/252304_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM Take away the 16, and give them 18 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Take-away-the-16--and-give-them-18_86456 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s been a long time now since we have been asking the powers that be to change the age of consent from 16 to 18, and up to now nothing has been done.<br /> <br /> Changing the age of consent from 16 to 18 should be as simple as pressing the button of an elevator, and stepping in and out when the doors open. So, why do we make it look so difficult?<br /> <br /> Furthermore, giving young people the go-ahead to engage in sex early can jeopardise their studies and schooling; therefore, granting them the green light to mate can create unwanted pregnancy, putting unnecessary burdens on their young heads.<br /> <br /> So, don&rsquo;t delay any longer. For God&rsquo;s sake, take away the 16, and give them 18.<br /> <br /> Donald J McKoy<br /> <br /> donaldmckoy2010@hotmail.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10561609/gavel_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM Was the UK prison deal so bad? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Was-the-UK-prison-deal-so-bad-_86618 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When this United Kingdom prison deal was announced there was so much discussion that the entire contents of the deal were clouded in a web of misinformation and everyone was up in arms because of the messenger and not the message.<br /> <br /> The Government must be minded that Jamaica&rsquo;s prison infrastructure is outdated and in ruins. A number of prison blocks have been shut down due to structural issues and these prisons are from the time of the Spanish and colonial English.<br /> <br /> The prisons are currently overcrowded, understaffed, and without the relevant security to ensure that those who are to stay in will stay in. The prisons are not only dilapidated but are in breach of most international standards of what a modern institution should be and, in most cases, any form of rehabilitation will not succeed.<br /> <br /> At this point I have to commend the many staff members who continue to provide service beyond their capacity in very stressful conditions. Hence, the current Administration needs to tell the country why the deal was rejected by them.<br /> <br /> I am fully aware that they played upon public sentiment while in Opposition and it can be difficult to reverse. That being said, National Security Minister Robert Montague did meet to discuss the deal and, unless I am missing it, the results were never brought to Parliament or to the country.<br /> <br /> In a politically charged environment, I feel that a greater level of transparency should have been done. Using the prime minister&rsquo;s swearing-in message as a platform for transparency, both Minister Montague as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith need to tell the country why this deal was rejected. Was the deal still on the table given that the messenger was removed? How are we going to bring the prison system up to international standards? And, finally, what elements of the deal were so reprehensible that it would have affected Jamaica&rsquo;s sovereignty?<br /> <br /> Mario A Woode<br /> <br /> solutions696@aol.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11043711/UK-flag_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM Let&rsquo;s map our way to growth http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-s-map-our-way-to-growth_86617 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I welcome the news put out by Jamaica Information Service about the recently concluded mapping of resources in the parish of Clarendon. It is such information on which the national planning exercise should be based.<br /> <br /> The subsequent call for mapping of best uses, based on the map of resources, can be supplemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency as the planning body in Jamaica, or a reconstituted government town planner, to define potential for development, keeping in mind the demographic of the parish.<br /> <br /> I hope this will be a sustained action, including from the citizens and relevant agencies, to undertake planning and development as integral to the plan for economic growth, and that the resource mapping will be done for the entire country.<br /> <br /> Hugh M Dunbar<br /> <br /> hmdenergy@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10782364/nepa-logo_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM Let&rsquo;s not waste the $5.5b http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-s-not-waste-the--5-5b_86436 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is a mistake to spend all this money on Jamaica&rsquo;s national security and crime fight without proper social intervention accompanying it.<br /> <br /> It is useless to take out the dons who are feeding numerous families and then not provide the means by which those same families can survive.<br /> <br /> Equip the police, yes; catch the criminals, yes; stop the guns, yes; but the Government must provide proper social services, counselling for parents and children (especially in inner-city communities), training and entrepreneurial activities and/or jobs for the young people and unemployed adults in the various communities. People must have a source of funds that can compete with the proceeds of crime.<br /> <br /> A lot needs to be invested in creating a healthy social environment for our children &mdash; enough is certainly not being done here.<br /> <br /> Additionally, corruption must then be addressed from the top down. Or else this $5.5 billion will be a complete waste.<br /> <br /> Derville Lowe<br /> <br /> Kingston 19<br /> <br /> drvlllowe@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13565215/252195__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM Murray&rsquo;s apology was heartfelt http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Murray-s-apology-was-heartfelt_86435 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I don&rsquo;t believe that Heather Murray should resign or be forced out. There is no need to go overboard with this issue now that there is a public apology which seems genuine and sincere. It was, indeed, an apology that was heartfelt.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, the detailed apology issued recently was not the first statement Murray gave on the matter. This could&rsquo;ve helped to defuse the controversy surrounding her involvement and presence at the court hearing for the husband of her friend, the pastor accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.<br /> <br /> I believe most people would&rsquo;ve understood the lapse in judgement and error she made. Sometimes it takes public outcry to step back and see the light and accept our faults which are also human.<br /> <br /> Politicians and leaders could learn a lot from all this. Instead of inaction and being defensive, it is also admirable to admit wrong and do the right thing by giving an apology.<br /> <br /> There are many lessons here, and very often these types of controversies can be laid to rest sooner, when we do the right thing. I&rsquo;m sure the time taken by Murray to go on leave and step away from all the controversy will also help her to put things into context and return renewed and move vigilant. She seems like a nice person, an ardent professional who takes her role as school principal seriously. She has taken a lot of heat already and deserves some support now.<br /> <br /> It is time to remind ourselves of the seriousness of sexual predators around us and the dangers to our children. We must be more vigilant and supportive to the victims and families and encourage all to speak out and alert authorities when there are any signs of misconduct or abuse.<br /> <br /> P Chin<br /> <br /> chin_p@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13559682/Heather-Murray_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM Rebel Salute is reggae salute http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Rebel-Salute-is-reggae-salute_86439 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I wish to use this medium to publicly commend reggae artiste and promoter Tony Rebel for his continued production of Rebel Salute, which has fast become a preferred staple on Jamaica&rsquo;s entertainment calendar.<br /> <br /> At a time when it is becoming more and more crucial to promote Brand Jamaica through music and sport, this particular event undoubtedly showcases the best of what the country has to offer in reggae and dancehall.<br /> <br /> What is most significant and commendable is that the promoter has ensured over the years that this is a clean event bereft of the usual slackness and antisocial behaviour that have sullied these particular genres. In this context, Rebel Salute deserves all the support it needs to take it to even higher heights.<br /> <br /> As an aside, it is refreshing to see that there will be a &ldquo;Herb Curb&rdquo; which will positively extol the uses of ganja (cannabis sativa) in an environment where patrons will be able to light up their spliffs without being harassed or arrested by the long arm of the law.<br /> <br /> Music can indeed help to soothe the hearts of the savage beasts among us when used constructively. Rebel Salute is indeed a reggae salute!<br /> <br /> Lloyd B Smith, JP<br /> <br /> lbsmith4@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12535448/178128_78827_repro_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM Who is the pastor&rsquo;s pastor? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Who-is-the-pastor-s-pastor-_86113 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Many of the great and powerful male preachers, such as Eddie Long and Jimmy Swaggart, who have fallen from grace, were taken down by some kind of sexual sin, leaving congregants confused, humiliated and frustrated with church. This is quite understandable in light of the reverence and godlike praise given to church leaders and their positions.<br /> <br /> But one has to be reminded that, at the end of the day, religious ministers are human beings.<br /> <br /> Church leaders must come to the consciousness that &ldquo;&hellip;For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required&rdquo; (Luke 12:48) and they have a duty not only to preach a scintillating message on Saturday or Sunday morning but keep themselves pure.<br /> <br /> All of us need support regardless of status, colour or creed, and the church leader is no exception. Who does he/she call upon for emotional support? Who is the pastor&rsquo;s pastor? Who is the bishop&rsquo;s bishop? <br /> <br /> &ldquo;&hellip;He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone&hellip;&rdquo; John 8:7<br /> <br /> It is amazing how we tend to hone in on people&rsquo;s faults and magnify them but shy away from the mess that is our own lives. We often point the finger saying &ldquo;shame on her&rdquo;, but no one alive today is perfect.<br /> <br /> Therefore, compassion and forgiveness should be among the fundamental teachings.<br /> <br /> P Ormsby<br /> <br /> pal_orm@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12568714/180369_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM An apology not enough http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/An-apology-not-enough_86422 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> What was going on inside the head space of that teacher who went to the courthouse for the case involving the pastor of a reputable Christian denomination who was reportedly caught in a compromising position with a minor?<br /> <br /> That teacher is responsible for the moulding of so many young persons&rsquo; minds, character and reputation. She doesn&rsquo;t need anybody to have to tell her that she needs to resign. An apology is not enough.<br /> <br /> And it is full time that the churches stop sweeping things under the carpet and making the church look oh, so perfect and clean, which it is not. The church is made of imperfect people.<br /> <br /> Claudette Harris<br /> <br /> claudetteharris52@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13564319/Heather-Murray_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM Full time now for real action http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Full-time-now-for-real-action_86417 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> As a citizen of Jamaica, one who resides in a foreign country, I keep abreast of the socio-economic and political affairs and pretty much everything that goes on in my own country.<br /> <br /> I have a strong gut feeling that neither Robert &ldquo;Bobby&rdquo; Montague, minister of national security, nor Andrew Holness, prime minister, understands the seriousness, the commitment, the dedication, and the drive to actually curb crime; or maybe solving crime is not their top priority at the moment. Granted, they know crime is problematic.<br /> <br /> I would believe by now that, approximately one year after Andrew Holness has been sworn in as prime minister, both he and the minster of national security would have actually implemented something definite and effective to truly get the job of fighting crime advanced. It is full time now for them to get to work.<br /> <br /> Please, Sirs, if the job is too heavy to carry, seek professional help, whether internal or external to the country.<br /> <br /> As Jamaicans, it should never be about which party one is affiliated with. We are citizens first. We have to fight for what we stand for as a nation &mdash; justice and truth. Consequently, we need to defend what is right and oppose what is bad.<br /> <br /> Let&rsquo;s call a spade a spade. Crime in Jamaica has been on the up way too long now. It is full time now for the people that we have elected or voted for to get down to some real, serious work on how to intelligently, yet aggressively, manipulate crime. Enough of the cheap talk and empty promises; those will not solve the problem or get the job done. We need to see action! Crime in Jamaica is sickening, it is frightening, and it is alarming. It should concern all of us.<br /> <br /> My heart bleeds for my beautiful Jamaica, land of my birth, each time that I read or hear that someone is gunned down maliciously, irrespective of age or gender or regardless of the circumstance.<br /> <br /> We are all Jamaicans, therefore, we should come together in unity and strength to fight for the upliftment and the betterment of our beautiful, beloved country. Let&rsquo;s do the right thing.<br /> <br /> Karen C Peart<br /> <br /> karpeart@yahoo.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13544685/DSC_5284_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM We&rsquo;re in the dark too long JPS! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-re-in-the-dark-too-long-JPS-_86302 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I would have much preferred that the Jamaica Public Service&rsquo;s (JPS) responses, or lack thereof, hadn&rsquo;t made this letter necessary; but, alas.<br /> <br /> My community, Mountain Spring, in the Jack&rsquo;s Hill area, suffers from frequent, very long power outages to an extent that I suspect is unique in Jamaica. I have written to JPS President Kelly Tomblin several times about this matter over the last few years, but there has been no improvement.<br /> <br /> Earlier this week, on January 8 to 9, 2017, we had a power cut that JPS could blame on the wind. In Mountain Spring the outage lasted for 19 hours. You would think the cause was obvious and several communities suffered outages, so we should just move on. We would be happy to, except that this was the third time in three months that we were having power outages of 19 hours or longer.<br /> <br /> The October and November outages took place in fine weather, with neither wind nor rain in sight. Indeed, the epic November outage was followed within a few hours by another lasting 10 hours. JPS has offered no explanation for those very long outages, nor the myriad others with which we are plagued.<br /> <br /> I&rsquo;m sure JPS keeps records of the location, frequency, and duration of power outages, and must therefore know that there is a real problem in this area. Insult is added to injury when one tries to call the line they dedicate to emergencies. It is almost impossible to get anything other than recordings on that line. After the November outrage I visited their office to speak to Tomblin. I was prepared to spend all day there, if necessary, but Courtney Whyte took an interest in the matter and gave me his personal phone number. That is now my phone line to JPS as the problem with their emergency line persists.<br /> <br /> It is clear to us in Mountain Spring that our lot is not typical, as our outages are neither short nor infrequent. It gives one a sense of insecurity, conveying the impression of a lackadaisical response to power outages by the provider. Since JPS tells us nothing, we are left to wonder why we have so many power cuts and why it takes so long for the company to respond.<br /> <br /> Let&rsquo;s hope the new year brings a new approach to service provision from them.<br /> <br /> Michael Nicholson<br /> <br /> Kingston 6<br /> <br /> kovsky54@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13276357/227535_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13565312/185844_78811_repro_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 12, 2017 12:00 AM