Crime-fighting: It's so hard to be strong when we've suffered for so long…


Crime-fighting: It's so hard to be strong when we've suffered for so long…

Thursday, January 02, 2020

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Both Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, in their new year's messages to the nation, have signalled they lack the will to jointly summon Jamaicans to unite in a common assault on violent crimes, especially murders.

To be fair, Mr Holness spent the greater part of his lengthy message addressing crime and security, detailing what his Administration had done and plans to do going forward, including allocation of $5.28 billion to improve the police force's ability to detect, record, respond to, and prevent crimes in the society.

Dr Phillips, a former security minister and one of Jamaica's brightest minds, merely rehashed what we all know: “The spread of violent crimes and antisocial behaviour continues to drive fear in Jamaicans from all walks of life. For many, the lack of a plan to effectively fight crime has added to their anxiety.”

But neither leader made even fleeting reference to the multi-stakeholder talks aimed at bringing the political parties, civil society, the security forces, and the business sector together to fashion a comprehensive crime plan around which Jamaica can unite.

The question is, were the talks just for political show; and are Jamaicans, in effect, on their own where crime-fighting is concerned?

Then again, the answer might lie in something else which the two political leaders might also have signalled in their new year's messages — the imminence of a general election which could come this year.

Dr Phillips came straight out with it: “From all appearances, 2020 may be an election year when we will all be called on to take important decisions regarding the future of our country. We must take our responsibilities seriously and prepare ourselves to do our duty on behalf of our country and chart the course for a better future.”

Prime Minister Holness was more subtle, using his unusually long message to list the “many great things [that] happened in 2019, which gives me great hope for 2020…”.

In what could easily be a template of an election manifesto it covered security, finance, health, tourism, transport, infrastructure, water, housing, science and technology, labour and social security, local government, environment, education, sport, culture, gender and entertainment, and youth engagement.

No other of Mr Holness's prime ministerial new year's messages has been this long or detailed about the Administration's accomplishments or future plans, including proposed expenditure that normally awaits the reading of the annual budget in April.

Indeed, if a general election is contemplated this year, any hope of a massive mobilisation of the people against crime is nothing more than pie in the sky, and we truly are on our own at a time when political violence is most likely.

There is no way, in an election year, that our political leaders can find the stomach or the cojones to work together on anything, murders included, short of a national disaster which brings our country to its knees.

And even then…

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