Columns

Send the fool a little further

Wignall's World

MARK WIGNALL

Sunday, May 29, 2011    

Print this page Email A Friend!


AFTER Harold Camping of the radio network Family Stations Inc -- a man in the autumn of his long existence -- had made the decision that the voice he heard talking to him was that of none other than his God, he and his mindless minions set about to stir up his gullible flock by giving out the 'news' that on May 21st God, and probably His son Jesus Christ would return to claim the planet.

All over again.

By now, of course, he has been forced to rewind then fast-forward on a different tack — that there was a miscalculation and that it will now be October 21st. All of the week when he made his idiotic predictions many people I met on the road were asking me if I believed that 'God a come'.

According to the Christianised version of the Judeo-Christian Bible, Jesus, who it is said gave His life as a ransom sacrifice for mankind, will return and believers will be taken up in a 'rapture' while someone like me, a non-believer, will be cast in a fiery pit, there to burn forever.

Most Christian believers have always shied away from discussing what I see as just another folly and fairytale of their belief — the ransom sacrifice. According to the biblical narratives, Jesus is the son of God and is therefore incapable of only one thing — ending His own existence. So when I ask Christians, where is the ransom sacrifice if Jesus knew that He could return from the grave, they either clam up or try to lead me off in a different religious direction.

When a mortal man who has only one life gives it up willingly to save his family, that is a real sacrifice. If some cosmic concoction can make a claim of having more lives than a cat, surely, giving up one is only a mere inconvenience.

Religious or not, it is patently obvious that most people would like to believe that there is something beyond death. It is quite scary for most to accept the finality of death so they easily attach themselves to anything which will lull their minds into a belief of a return from the grave or a great rapture at which time the living will be taken up into the clouds en route to a heavenly paradise.

"Then Missa Wignall, yu wouldn't like fi live forever or go to heaven?" I am often asked by believers.

My answer has always been, "Of course I would, but only if I could get to choose the age I could be and in a perfect state of health." Come to think of it, even that would get boring after a hundred years or so. Think of it, how would one assimilate the concept of 'tomorrow' in a world where we would all live forever? Were I stuck on 25, in perfect health, with a good woman in my life, with family and friends also living forever, surely after about 50 years of that I would be fit for admittance in a mental institution.

So death has its place, and its saving grace is that we will never be around to experience it. Disease, pain, bodily impairment and even impending death will certainly be experienced, but death comes, and thankfully we are never around to live it, to feel it.

Many people need the belief of an afterlife and 'being right with God' to sustain them mentally. When someone like Camping comes along with another in the long line of end-times predictions and a local journalist like Ian Boyne (a Christian) eagerly allows himself to be used as a vehicle for the spreading of religious hysteria, it adds nothing of substance to our understanding of human reality. What it does, however, is entertain us even if some sincerely believe the nonsense and are deathly scared to be left out — to be 'on the wrong side' of God.

When Boyne can make the claim that in spreading that particular rubbish he was involved in some journalistic pursuit, I can only conclude that journalism has gone to hell. Or, to be fair to Boyne, it is seeking endorsement from that other, better place.

"A false prophet dem," said a deeply religious person to me. Aside, her daughter poked me in the side then whispered , "Yu si my mother. If a did fi har church mek di prediction, she woulda back it up."

We should therefore expect that as October rolls around, Boyne will give more time to the nonsense and, as long as it gains traction among a population of gullible people, the claims of 'journalism' will be again made after more of us have been 'dumbed down', to borrow an American description.

Witchhunt or serious investigations?

IN June of last year the Office of the Contractor General made a surprise 'raid' on the offices of the PCJ. The sudden investigation gave many the impression that shenanigans were taking place with the highly publicised LNG energy plan and the bidding process which awarded Exmar Consortium the go-ahead to roll out its proposed LNG facility by early 2013.

At the time the consortium partners were Exmar NV, a Belgian diversified and independent gas shipping and offshore group specialising in the transport of gas such as LNG and LPG, Promigas, a Colombian outfit that is in the business of LNG transportation and distribution and telecommunications and CLNG, a special-purpose Jamaican company whose business will be to assist the Exmar Consortium in the development of an integrated LNG infrastructure and delivery project in Jamaica.

It was my belief then that the anonymous information package that was passed on to the OCG and sections of the media came from within the PCJ, and one source told me that "We are not ruling out that it came from within the PCJ board appointed by the JLP Government."

At that time I had asked the question, why would this be so when the procurement process in 2009 had been monitored by the OCG and that entity was afforded every opportunity to operate with sufficient oversight of the process, down to bid opening?

In Jamaica we are the greatest in talking about business development but once we look on the horizon and see the really big and transformative projects in the making, the talk becomes the essence of the plans and thereafter, petty jealousies and what we in Jamaica know as 'bad mind' take over. The end result is usually implosion, the killing of dreams which could be realised and the acceptance that we in Jamaica will never get the really big projects out of the file folders and into the land.

The contractor general has completed his investigations. To that end he has compiled a report of over 600 pages. Are Mr Christie and his excellent staff serious? Six hundred pages? Who will read it?

The OCG has a most important job to do in the contract oversight process in Jamaica where corruption in many instances has been the usual mode of operation. In the present instance the OCG has made many claims, many accusations and his office has suggested that the respective agencies should begin to investigate those involved. One would have hoped that in a hefty report such as this, he would have stopped just short of handing out prison sentences.

Exmar, a Belgian company operating for about 100 years, must now be laughing at us, a little 'turd worl' country with back-bush thinking. At the same time, in a global marketplace where the currency of choice is the Internet, the company has been maligned in its home base and there are concerns that the idiotic way that we approach business in Jamaica may affect its stock prices.

One well-known newsman in Jamaica said on his radio programme, "Some people try a ting, an dem get ketch!" A top-notch journalist who has probably cherry-picked a few bullet points from the 609-page report said that. Some journalism.

As one who followed up this LNG plan from the outset, it was always my belief that some of the critics of the plan seemed to have made it their secondary mission to target CLNG, the local partner. Made up of eight highly successful Jamaicans and one foreign partner, somehow they were seen as too successful, and in our neck of the woods that is something to be frowned upon.

It ought to be known that it is nothing less than a requirement that whenever large companies (like Exmar Marine NV and Promigas) engage in large projects in countries like Jamaica, local participation or partners is a must.

Somehow, one sector of the society saw too many black faces in the mix and thought, oh, they must be thieves. That is what black people do. The irony was, those making that judgement were also black faces.

The rationale behind local partnership, small though it may be in relation to the overall proposed investment, is that local partners must prove that they are not averse to risking their own funds, that they have more than just a 'chat' in the project before the main foreign players enter. That is just plain horse sense.

At the time in last year, the investment was a purely private one and represented the largest investment in this area in the last 30 years. In typical Jamaican fashion, we began tearing it down instead of lauding it. With energy costing an average of US$0.30/kwh and based on an expected trending down to maybe US$0.22/kwh, the delay in launching the LNG plan (that is, if it comes in 2015) will cost this country about US$1 billion!

None of the critics were prepared to point out to me exactly what was wrong with the project. One lady told me that it was not the project itself that was flawed, it was the people involved. Did they have prison records? Were they void of sound track records in business? The answer no, but they were not the 'right' people.

It seems to me that the OCG has not recognised that fine line between the office being the great scrutineer and any tendency to be lord high executioner. One hopes that he fully appreciates that there is also a fine line between his famed investigatory skills and the potential of his reports to be double blanks to nowhere.

One hopes that while the OCG is doing his job, he also recognises that it is business development laid out on the ground that builds a country like Jamaica and not necessarily 600-plus-page reports that very few will attempt to read.

In all of it, there was not a single dollar of investment being made by the Government, yet his report has vilified some of those involved. Does the OCG care about Jamaica as a destination for investment or does his office see this country as a place where we hang out a sign and warn investors, 'Beware, unfriendly nation!'

The OCG has been seen by many as Jamaica's most efficient government entity. And, in most instances it has deserved that accolade. The staff of the OCG is more than that of the DPP.

One assumes that the contractor general would like to be appointed as Jamaica's special prosecutor on matters of corruption in government. You are not yet there, Mr Christie.

Which party do I support now?

THERE is no doubt that the JLP administration is at its most shaky, but even with that, Golding and his team must be silently laughing that not much of the fallout is being transferred to the PNP in a positive light.

Many of the people I meet on the streets have told me that they could never vote JLP again. They are hurting economically and are really not interested in any fancy argument to explain away their economic pain.

One woman who e-mailed me echoed some of the sentiments of those at street level. "As usual, I read your column today. All I will say is thanks to the American Government for the decrease in the murder rate in Jamaica. I voted for Bruce Golding in the last election, but never again. I agree with Mr Knight's description of him. I recall how Golding spoke about Isaiah Parnell at the Commission of Enquiry. Patrick Atkinson gave him an opportunity to withdraw some of the harsh things he said but he refused to do so.

"I would not be surprised if his visa is revoked as well. The dilemma I face is that I cannot vote for the JLP again and when I turn to the PNP I see a leader — Portia — who cannot manage. If Portia would just step down and surrender leadership to Peter Phillips, PNP would have sure victory at the next election.

"Who do I vote for when the next election is called? Betty Ann Blaine -- holder of a green card? Help! help! help!"

Another wrote, "It should be very clear to you that the JLP is in self-destruct mode and somehow wants to accelerate at that level. The PNP has nothing new to offer, but as someone that has followed Jamaica's politics you will remember one minister said Jamaica is PNP country. Also in 1980 it was said that it was the PNP people who voted against Manley that caused him to lose.

"I see Greg Christie has called for all corrupt politicians and elected officials to be exposed and I would hope the JLP would agree as I think they have less to lose than the PNP in this area. Difference is, the PNP did it on paper (money) while the JLP seems to be doing in with dons and contracts.

"Bruce and the JLP had the perfect opportunity to change Jamaica when they won, but like some people who win the lottery, they have squandered their political capital and can't find anything to replace it."

A Jamaican working in Florida who always returns home to vote in elections and who said that his profession allowed him certain privileged information wrote, "I talked with a few close friends in US law enforcement and your point about the US "washing their hands' of the present JLP administration is very close to what they told me -- and they could tell me little for security reasons. They did state that a message was being sent regarding Dudus, but more importantly the devious and nasty way the JLP handled the extradition request. Also, although very delicately stated to me, my friends indicated that too many JLP ministers of government have been observed 'going in the wrong directions'. Read between the lines.

"Finally I was told that Mr Peter Phillips was considered far more trustworthy and helpful to the USA, as a minister of national security than the present one. The impression I got is that the US has lost much confidence in Mr Nelson, although they did trust Commissioner Ellington and the JDF chief of staff. My friends are an FBI agent and two DEA agents, one of whom has been on temporary assignment to Jamaica, in the past. To my surprise, the agents also mentioned the "professor" and stated his ties to the PNP were not "positive". I remained quiet, though I was desperate to open my mouth.

"The irony of the move by the US is not lost on me. In the 1970s the US Government used the JLP to destabilise the PNP as the USA did not like the direction Mr Manley was going in. Now, some 31 years later, the US Government is sending a message, which could be destabilising to the JLP, the political party it once thought was best for US interests. Politics, a tangled web?"

The efforts of the Opposition PNP to make itself more attractive to the electorate is half-hearted. It probably believes it is already home and free. The party which occupied Government for 18 1/2 years and did not advance the cause of this nation to the extent that many other countries in the region did, has found that in opposition for four years it now has all the answers.

I suspect that Jamaicans are not that daft to fall for that line.

If Golding should depart at just about the time that Simpson Miller arrives at a similar decision, we could be in for more interesting times. But will they ever make that move? Politicians tend to dig in at just about the time that they deserve to be dug out.

observemark@gmail.com

ADVERTISEMENT

POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

 

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper – email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

If you found $10 million in the street would you return it to the owner?
Yes
No


View Results »


ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT