More compelling reason to take crime out of political arena

Thursday, December 13, 2018

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While we in this space were hopeful, we were at the same time fretful that the tenuous agreement between the Government and the Opposition about declaring the limited State of public emergency in three parishes would not last.

It was not because we thought that the state of emergency would be ineffective in the fight against crime, or that the country did not have the will to see it through, our scepticism was based on our view that nothing is important enough to be held above partisan politics in this country.

Tuesday night's vote in parliament against the extension of the states of public emergency (SOEs) in St James, St Catherine North and sections of the Corporate Area has reinforced our view that the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) are incapable of taking tribal politics out of crime.

It is our view that the state of emergency was working, as evidenced in the 21 per cent reduction in murders and the increased peace of mind among the general populace, following the seemingly unstoppable bloodbath, national panic and hopelessness that preceded the SOE.

At the same time, we completely understand the grave danger in using a SOE to replace sensible, professional, intelligence-based crime-fighting which should be the norm. This is where the JLP and the PNP working together could make the difference.

An SOE should, in effect, be used to provide breathing space in which a long-term crime-fighting strategy and programme is designed, calling on the input of the various stakeholders, to be put in place once the SOE has run its course.

Had the two parties been in agreement that crime should be taken out of the political arena and sought to treat it as a national emergency around which the country should be united, there would have been no voting along party lines on Tuesday.

The Government and Opposition would, instead, have met to iron out their differences and work towards a compromise which would be in the best interest of the country. But that would be too good to be true. The tribal yearnings in the blood and the bankruptcy of ideas are too deeply embedded for that.

Notice the shoot-from-the-lip approach by the parties and their minions, scurrying to score political points and pretending that ridding the country of its venomous murderers is their concern when all they can see is the next election.

For that, among other reasons, we support the call by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), for an urgent meeting with the leadership of both the Government and Opposition to seek a more viable way forward.

The rest of the country must wake up and shake some sense into our politicians. Something as important as crime cannot be left to helpless, impotent politicians alone.

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