Ja's Opposition party barking up the wrong tree

BY Yyvad Billings

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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I have embraced crying mothers who have lost their children because our politicians put their personal agendas before the national good. I have no patience for injustice, no tolerance for government incompetence, no sympathy for leaders who fail their citizens. — Donald Trump

Jamaica's parliamentary Opposition People's National Party (PNP) seems to be in a mad rush to wrest back power from the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party Government; consequently, it is firing scatter shots on any and every thing that the Government does that it perceives as a misstep or an action that may lead to a positive result.

The fact is, over the past several years, Jamaica has seen its murder rate rise from 3.9 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1962, one of the lowest in the world, to 58 per 100,000 people, the highest murder rate in the world in 2005.

And, more recently, a US Overseas Security Advisory Council 2018 report noted, “There were 1,616 murders (the highest figure in six years, and an increase of 20 per cent from 2016), 469 shootings, 411 aggravated assaults, 442 rapes, 242 robberies, and 167 break-ins recorded in 2017. With a population of approximately 2.9 million people, Jamaica continues to have a high homicide rate (60 per 100,000), which places it among the top-five highest (per capita) national homicide rates in the world.”

The foregoing report is a damning indictment on the leaders of the country who have asked the people to give them power, and they will protect them from violence – one of the first and basic duties of any government.

Unfortunately, today, Jamaicans live under a tremendous amount of fear because of the high levels of crime and violence, especially in areas such as Kingston, Montego Bay, and Spanish Town.

In fact, in the past, former PNP leader and Prime Minister P J Patterson is said to have described the crime situation in the island as “a national challenge of unprecedented proportions”.

The current Government had declared the states of emergency in St James, St Catherine, and Kingston — some of the worst crime-plagued areas in the country — and from all indications the measures seemed to have been working in reducing the levels of crimes.

Based on that fact, the Government went to the parliamentary Opposition for an extension of the states of emergency in the foregoing crime hotspot areas. The Opposition would have none of it and, unfortunately, the resolution was voted down, as the Government was unable to get the required two-thirds majority.

What possessed the PNP to vote against the resolution? Some say the detention of innocent individuals.

Indeed, one cannot overlook or ignore the detention of innocent individuals getting caught up in a police dragnet. However, the fact is Jamaicans are faced with an abnormal crime situation which calls for drastic actions, and to block the move by the Government to continue with the states of emergency is foolhardy on the part of the Opposition.

With most of the people happy to have the army and the police force in their communities, their pending withdrawal may now give rise to another uptick in crime and violence, and the Opposition PNP may have to give an answer to the people.

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