Sunday Brew — January 26, 2020

Sunday Brew — January 26, 2020

with HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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China's presence in Jamaica vital


The trade war between the United States and China is well known. Jamaica has done business with both countries for decades; most of those who support this Caribbean island's lead industry – tourism – coming from the US, while a majority of the consumer goods imported are from China.

China's global growth is quite remarkable. Go to any country in the world and there is bound to be some kind of Chinese commercial activity that contributes positively to that nation's economy. In my estimation, the Chinese are the brightest people around too.

So when I saw the statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Jamaica and the wider Caribbean should be careful about accepting “easy money from places like China,” I was forced to sit up straight.

Imperialism over the years has robbed Jamaica of much of its resources, through acts perpetrated by some states that did not give a damn about growing this island paradise.

I do not subscribe to the view that China is bad for Jamaica. On the other hand, had it not been for the investments made by Chinese interests in recent years, the Jamaican economy would have been in shambles now.

Chinese officials, certainly those whom I have dealt with, have been largely respectful of Jamaica's cultural habits and practices, and while they have brought in workers from the Asian country to be a part of major projects, Jamaicans have also been given opportunities to earn, although some of the same locals often break rules laid down and try to do their own thing.

Of all the projects undertaken by the Chinese, I have a concern with only one – the toll charges for category two and category three vehicles along the Ocho Rios to Ferry leg of the North Coast Highway. The charges are way too high and do not make sense. But that's only one thing. Our oriental friends have done well over the years as far as Jamaica's development goes, and must be encouraged to keep up the good work going forward. No attempt should be made at anytime, by anyone, to hound them out of Jamaica.

Did Holness 'diss' Caricom partners?



Prime Minister Andrew Holness while hosting a news conference with United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo last week appeared not to have been overly supportive of the actions of some leaders of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) who did not attend the summit proposed by the United States and held in the Jamaica capital, Kingston last week.

Countries like Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, and St Vincent & the Grenadines were absent from the gathering of leaders and foreign ministers and the words that were traded were not the most encouraging.

Barbados' Prime Minister Mia Mottley hit out at the decision by the US not to engage some countries in the Caricom region. It was the kind of rebuke that you don't see often from world leaders. That woman is tougher than I had originally thought.
But while the Jamaica prime minister has said that there was no motive to divide Caricom, a view also expressed by Pompeo, something still does not seem right.

My guess is that Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda and St Vincent & the Grenadines are not too happy with how Jamaica handled the situation while hosting the third most powerful official in the United States Government.
The Jamaica Prime Minister's utterances that if anyone wanted to attend, meaning any country, all they had to do was signal, was not a wise statement. It is just not as simple as that.
Caricom must always move with one voice and in one accord on matters such as this one. If that cannot be done, then a regional movement serves no real purpose


'Robot' taxi and a policeman's safety


Here we go again. Those unruly objects of mass destruction and destabilisation – taxi drivers – many of them of the 'robot' type. Last Thursday morning, a police constable was hit by a car, said to be an illegal taxi, during a traffic stop in busy New Kingston.

The police information arm later said that the vehicle was a black Toyota Wish, licensed PP 6379. My understanding is that the policeman suffered a broken leg but I could not get confirmation from officialdom.

How long do we have to wait for appropriate action to be taken by some of the people who are now feeling it, physically – the police? Do we not all see how lethal these demons are?

Are we not aware that everywhere in Jamaica we travel, the behaviour of taxi drivers, is constant? – the very same?
I maintain that unless the police start to lock up these hogs, we will get no improvement from them on the road. Merely issuing them with tickets when they put people's lives at risk, will do no good, as some of them pile up the tickets, amounting to hundreds in some instances, like souvenirs.

If we do not have laws to deal effectively with public passenger drivers, in particular taxis, then what would it take from our parliamentarians to enact legislation that will once and for all put that matter to rest? Of course, enforcing laws is where the police come in, and they have not been too good at that at all.

A bike, and overtaking during a St Thomas trip
(Bike)

And speaking of not enforcing the law, a rather strange thing happened last Wednesday while a group of us travelled through the eastern Jamaica parish of St Thomas.

There was a long line of traffic starting from the Princess Margaret Hospital (don't know why it is still so named) on the outskirts of Morant Bay, heading to Retreat and Prospect. The procession was moving slowly indeed. But what was causing the holdup?

Aha, there was a police squad car in front, and like timid creatures who believe that they cannot or should not overtake police vehicles when they are crawling on the road, they all lapped their tails and joined the crawl.

But, who was ahead of the police squad car? It was a motor bike – being driven by a man (although I still maintain, in defiance of the English Language, that people ride and not drive bikes). Lo and behold, the man on the bike was not wearing a helmet – a clear breach of the Road Traffic Act. And it was happening right in front of the police personnel. They did absolutely nothing, not even to drive alongside the biker and warn him for prosecution.

And then what next happened? Well, the driver of our vehicle decided to end the torture of the seeming funeral procession by going around the police vehicle. Immediately after, siren started wailing. We were asked to pull over.

The driver was chastised for overtaking at that point, as according to the policeman, he could have caused an accident.
But what about the biker who could have suffered irreparable injuries if he had got into a collision, travelling without a helmet? Surely, he could have done with a lecture on the laws of the road too.


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