What one man can do


What one man can do


Sunday, October 11, 2020

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The two persons who have had the greatest effect on planet earth in written history would be Jesus Christ and Adolph Hitler — the former with a message of love and tolerance and the latter with a message of hate and intolerance.

Although no one in history can compare with the impact of these two men, whether positively or negatively, there have been others who had an incredible impact. I am going to highlight a few, and guess what, they are all local.

Prior to the creation of the National Housing Trust (NHT), buying a house was possible, but not likely if you were poor or even part of a low-income group. This changed with the creation of the NHT, which has impacted thousands and will impact thousands more to come. This was largely the brainchild of Michael Manley.

Now, every time I speak anything positive about Manley, I get a slew of abuse from many readers. I understand that emotions are strong regarding that era, and I totally agree that the country went to hell in a hand basket under his governance. However, you have to acknowledge both the positives and the negatives of any leader. Nobody ever does all things bad. Even Hitler can say he built the Autobahn, so please work with me on the positives.

The electoral system that determined the selection of the winner of a general election in the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s can only be described as a blasted disgrace. It was more fitting of a circus performance than a general election to select a government.

As a young man, I actually watched a friend of mine vote 17 times in the general election in 1989. This crab parade continued until major reforms were introduced at the Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC), with the employment of Danville Walker in 1997. After decades of successive people being unable to bring about change, it took one man with a vision determined enough to fix a rotting system. The electoral system now is devoid of bogus votes and box stuffing and stands as proof that anything can be fixed.

I began attending court about 1990. I was not yet serving in the force, but was involved in the movement and protection of witnesses. I recall it as one endless sentence of attending court with a view that a trial will occur one day. This actually was one of the few things that did not improve in the criminal courts up to a few years ago. The appointment of Bryan Sykes as chief justice in 2018 heralded the introduction of changes that cemented court dates. It has resulted in the repair of a system that was irreparable!

Now, if you get a trial date and your defence lawyer tries some gymnastics, then you are defending yourself, because that trial is going to happen. On the counter, if a policeman plans to come to court with no witnesses, or absent himself, that case is going through the door. One must wonder what variable differed, why it took 30 years to fix the problem and why this man was able to fix it.

I have been around police officers since I was four years old. Why? I was my father's 'handbag', and he was a cop. The biggest dispute in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) was always promotion. How it was determined has been a mystery that bounced between nepotism, hard work, Obeah and heavenly blessings. I am not exaggerating, I actually heard a police officer say that God alone determines his promotion.

Now, with Major General Antony Anderson being appointed police commissioner that drama has been put to rest. You get promoted when you pass the exam, end of story.

I heard a lot of pushback when it was first announced and I personally wondered why. To me it seemed reasonable. Now, I would like to see a prescribed textbook for every rank and maybe even a more transparent marking system, but, to be frank, the dispute has ended. The system is working. Of course, you will hear that some who cannot pass are being left behind, but, one thing you are not hearing is that anyone is promoting their friend.

So, what did Manley, Walker, Sykes and Anderson have that made them able to bring about such quantum change?

I think it just takes the identification of a solution and a desire to follow through on it, no matter who is going to be upset.

Now, let us look at our crime problem. Although some, like Owen Ellington and others, have managed to dent it, it still remains the unsolvable monster. What do we need? Who do we need?

Well, with respect to what we need, I think we need to have an established target that we aim to achieve. We need to accept that we will not please everybody. We need to be determined to stay on the chosen path. We also need a plan, any plan, to acquire the resources.

Who do we need?

This cannot be solved by one person. We need a unified body, comprising the prime minister; the minister of national security; the leader of the Opposition; the police commissioner, the corrections commissioner and the INDECOM commissioner, all working together with the aim of ending these 40 years of oppression that our society has been subject to. Oh yes, and we are also going to need a lot of guns.

What we do not need on that committee is self-interest, selfishness, or personal ambitions. We are a great country. I do not think it is beyond us to find a few good men!

Feedback: drjasonamckay@gmail.com

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