Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 Robust national effort needed to tackle crime http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Robust-national-effort-needed-to-tackle-crime_75184 The peaceful and tranquil parish of Portland was rocked last weekend by a brutal double murder which had residents and the country on a whole, shivering with fear and disbelief. <br /> <br /> Then we have the continued murder mayhem in Montego Bay, St James, which has the famous sobriquet &lsquo;the friendly city&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> To be at the end of September with approximately 920 reported murders, with approximately 175 of that amount committed in St James alone, demonstrates in high resolution the nature of the beast we are facing in the country, particularly St James.<br /> <br /> Only recently this newspaper was informed of the reactions of three children when they found out their father had been murdered in Montego Bay. &ldquo;My father is dead, who is going to take care of us now? He was the only one working, what are we going to do? Are we [going to be] OK?&rdquo;<br /> <br /> These are the often forgotten victims of crimes, in this case, young victims of crimes, speaking and sharing after their lives have been blown asunder.<br /> <br /> We have often in this space proffered solutions which, at times, have been met with ice cold water and chastisement, with the all too popular claim of us taking a political side.<br /> <br /> The standard &lsquo;cass cass&rsquo; and claims that things are under control; more police and soldiers have been deployed; a senior officer is now in charge; when my party was in power we did this or we did that, must now be shed and placed firmly on the scrapheap of rejection.<br /> <br /> The situation as it stands now is one of chaos and alarm and one which must be pulled from the divide of any one party and any personal agenda.<br /> <br /> The majority of the people of Jamaica are suffering and can take no more, businesses are tormented, and the fear of crime causes consistent emotional damage on the psyche of most well-thinking and law-abiding Jamaicans. Burglar bars are getting thicker, while politicians, on both sides, battle for one-upmanship in the media and in Parliament.<br /> <br /> A consistent and robust national approach is required at this time. The leaders of the country must come out, together, with a bold national statement, attached to a plan, with one objective in mind, and that is to save Jamaica. This statement and plan should say, inter alia: &ldquo;We the leaders of Jamaica (political and otherwise) have put aside our differences to work as one in a resolute attempt to reduce murders and to create a land of peace and prosperity.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> This first step must then be followed by concrete measures, aided by the required resources. In that regard, the State, which is strapped for cash, will need help from the private sector and whoever else can afford to contribute.<br /> <br /> If necessary, we should be prepared to draw on resources from other areas to deal with crime, especially murders. That, we accept, will cause some discomfort, but it is unlikely that the country will achieve any significant gains if crime is not treated as an urgent priority on the national agenda.<br /> <br /> That, though, will require more than just a State and private sector response, it needs support from every Jamaican, especially those among us who opt to remain silent despite having knowledge of criminal activity.<br /> <br /> Our suggestions are certainly are not to be seen as a panacea, but surely they can be a guide to action. The time is nigh.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12962694/203426_w300.jpg Editorial Monday, September 26, 2016 12:00 AM A museum of African-American history at long last http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/A-museum-of-African-American-history-at-long-last_75148 Yesterday, United States President Barack Obama formally opened the National Museum of African History and Culture (NMAHC) in Washington, DC, almost 100 years after the idea was first mooted.<br /> <br /> It is the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institute and, interestingly, came after the museums dedicated to honouring animals &ndash; the National Museum of Natural History in 1964; flight &ndash; the National Air and Space Museum in 1976; Native Americans &ndash; National Museum of the American Indian in 2004; and to art &ndash; too numerous to mention.<br /> <br /> The NMAHC was also preceded by a Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1980 to remind of the events endured by the Jews in Nazi Germany. But the duration and six million Jews killed are far exceeded by the number of slaves who died in the &lsquo;Middle Passage&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> Distinguished historian Professor John Henrick Clarke has calculated that 60 million Africans were involved in the &lsquo;Middle Passage&rsquo; of which 67 per cent or 40 million died. Slavery existed for over 400 years. It was abolished in America more than 30 years after it was abolished in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Jamaicans played a tangible role in the National Museum of African History and Culture. The first financial donor to the fund to build the museum was a Jamaican, attorney-at-law Donette Cooper, sister of fashion king Kingsley Cooper and Professor Carolyn Cooper.<br /> <br /> The opening ceremony was entertained by Angelique Kojo singing Mr Bob Marley&rsquo;s Redemption Song. This was only fitting, given the contribution of Jamaicans, most notably National Hero Marcus Garvey, to Black America. It was Mr Claude McKay&rsquo;s poem, If We Must Die<br /> <br /> that inspired many in the midst of segregation. Both Messrs Garvey and McKay are frequently listed as Americans.<br /> <br /> The museum was established by Act of Congress in 2003, piloted by African-American Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, one of the 13 original &lsquo;Freedom Riders&rsquo;. The museum has collected nearly 37,000 artifacts, of which 3,000 are on display. Nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members of the museum and countless others have contributed artifacts, time and money.<br /> <br /> No praise is too high for Director Lonnie Bunch who headed the 11-year process of establishing the NMAHC. Praise is also due to the Tanzanian-born architect Mr David Adjaye for his magnificent design of the building. It must be divine intervention that the NMAHC was completed in time to be opened by America&rsquo;s first Black president.<br /> <br /> The National Museum of African History and Culture is a grand but belated gesture. However, it is not enough to right the wrongs of hundreds of years of killing, barbaric cruelty and vicious exploitation. African-Americans are still disproportionately disadvantaged in wealth, income and, most importantly, in opportunity.<br /> <br /> One in every 15 African-American men are incarcerated in comparison to one in every 106 white men. All Blacks finally got the vote in the US in 1968, compared with Jamaicans who could in 1944. The most glaring indictment is the number of innocent, unarmed African-American men, women and children killed by mainly white cops without conviction.<br /> <br /> America owes much more to its citizens of African descent than a museum.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13310734/ZZ4BC48070_w300.jpg Editorial Sunday, September 25, 2016 12:00 AM Good sense must prevail in Ja&rsquo;s football future http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Good-sense-must-prevail-in-Ja-s-football-future_75079 The Under-17 Reggae Boyz&rsquo; advance to the CONCACAF level at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) World Cup qualifying tournament in Trinidad and Tobago will have provided considerable relief for the beleaguered Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). <br /> <br /> Welcome relief regardless of the result of last night&rsquo;s semi-final clash with Cuba.<br /> <br /> Jamaica&rsquo;s football has been pushed to the rail following last month&rsquo;s elimination of the senior Reggae Boyz at the semi-final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.<br /> <br /> Given the circumstances, it comes as no surprise that the JFF executive is now seeking to detach itself from its contract with German coach Mr Winfried Schaefer which is scheduled to run until 2018.<br /> <br /> Presumably, good sense will prevail on all sides to allow for an amicable separation.<br /> <br /> Apparently,<br /> <br /> Mr<br /> <br /> Schaefer<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> his<br /> <br /> employers<br /> <br /> no<br /> <br /> longer<br /> <br /> see<br /> <br /> eye<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> eye.<br /> <br /> That<br /> <br /> apart,<br /> <br /> it&rsquo;s<br /> <br /> no<br /> <br /> secret<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> with<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> World<br /> <br /> Cup<br /> <br /> campaign<br /> <br /> now<br /> <br /> at<br /> <br /> an<br /> <br /> end,<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> JFF<br /> <br /> will<br /> <br /> struggle<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> cover<br /> <br /> Mr<br /> <br /> Schaefer&rsquo;s<br /> <br /> salary<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> another<br /> <br /> two<br /> <br /> years.<br /> <br /> As it is, reports suggest that Mr Schaefer, as well as players involved in the recent failed campaign, are owed large sums.<br /> <br /> Just<br /> <br /> as<br /> <br /> has<br /> <br /> happened<br /> <br /> after<br /> <br /> previous<br /> <br /> failed<br /> <br /> campaigns,<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> word<br /> <br /> is<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> football<br /> <br /> chief<br /> <br /> Captain<br /> <br /> Horace<br /> <br /> Burrell<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> his<br /> <br /> executive<br /> <br /> are<br /> <br /> turning<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> local<br /> <br /> coaches<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> lead<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> programme.<br /> <br /> Reports say veteran coach and former national footballer Mr Carl Brown has been approached and is considering the offer.<br /> <br /> Whoever<br /> <br /> takes<br /> <br /> over<br /> <br /> from<br /> <br /> Mr<br /> <br /> Schaefer<br /> <br /> will<br /> <br /> have<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> immediately<br /> <br /> pay<br /> <br /> attention<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> qualification<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> Caribbean<br /> <br /> Football<br /> <br /> Union&rsquo;s<br /> <br /> senior<br /> <br /> men&rsquo;s<br /> <br /> championships.<br /> <br /> But<br /> <br /> it<br /> <br /> seems<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> this<br /> <br /> newspaper<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> head<br /> <br /> coach<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> Jamaica&rsquo;s<br /> <br /> football<br /> <br /> programme<br /> <br /> shouldn&rsquo;t<br /> <br /> only<br /> <br /> be<br /> <br /> in<br /> <br /> charge<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> senior<br /> <br /> national<br /> <br /> team.<br /> <br /> It<br /> <br /> seems<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> us,<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> just<br /> <br /> as<br /> <br /> Mr<br /> <br /> Rene<br /> <br /> Simoes<br /> <br /> was<br /> <br /> technical<br /> <br /> director,<br /> <br /> with<br /> <br /> overall<br /> <br /> responsibility<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> all<br /> <br /> national<br /> <br /> teams<br /> <br /> in<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> successful<br /> <br /> period<br /> <br /> in<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> latter<br /> <br /> 1990s,<br /> <br /> so<br /> <br /> too,<br /> <br /> must<br /> <br /> whoever<br /> <br /> takes<br /> <br /> over<br /> <br /> at<br /> <br /> this<br /> <br /> time.<br /> <br /> That<br /> <br /> strategy,<br /> <br /> if<br /> <br /> implemented<br /> <br /> properly,<br /> <br /> would<br /> <br /> allow<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> easier,<br /> <br /> smoother<br /> <br /> transition<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> players<br /> <br /> from<br /> <br /> one<br /> <br /> level<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> next<br /> <br /> and<br /> <br /> assist<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> much-talked-about<br /> <br /> push<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> development<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> a<br /> <br /> style<br /> <br /> of<br /> <br /> play<br /> <br /> which<br /> <br /> best<br /> <br /> suits<br /> <br /> this<br /> <br /> country.<br /> <br /> Crucially,<br /> <br /> as<br /> <br /> this<br /> <br /> newspaper<br /> <br /> has<br /> <br /> said<br /> <br /> in<br /> <br /> this<br /> <br /> space<br /> <br /> previously,<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> JFF<br /> <br /> must<br /> <br /> abandon<br /> <br /> its<br /> <br /> quick-fix<br /> <br /> approach<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> national<br /> <br /> programme.<br /> <br /> It<br /> <br /> seems<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> us<br /> <br /> that<br /> <br /> rather<br /> <br /> than<br /> <br /> rushing<br /> <br /> for<br /> <br /> an<br /> <br /> expensive,<br /> <br /> high-profile<br /> <br /> overseas<br /> <br /> coach<br /> <br /> whenever<br /> <br /> World<br /> <br /> Cup<br /> <br /> qualifiers<br /> <br /> approach,<br /> <br /> the<br /> <br /> JFF<br /> <br /> should<br /> <br /> focus<br /> <br /> on<br /> <br /> building<br /> <br /> a<br /> <br /> sustainable<br /> <br /> programme<br /> <br /> based<br /> <br /> on<br /> <br /> a<br /> <br /> solid<br /> <br /> foundation.<br /> <br /> That<br /> <br /> national<br /> <br /> programme<br /> <br /> should<br /> <br /> be<br /> <br /> aligned<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> a<br /> <br /> much-needed<br /> <br /> drive<br /> <br /> to<br /> <br /> streamline and improve Jamaica&rsquo;s club football by incorporating a practical, professional franchise system.<br /> <br /> The process will take time. But patience is a virtue, not a sin. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13286758/228565_w300.jpg Editorial Saturday, September 24, 2016 2:00 AM Let&rsquo;s honour Dominic James by setting safety standards http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Let-s-honour-Dominic-James-by-setting-safety-standards-_74982 Despite its ultimate inevitability, it is human nature to grieve when death strikes. That grief is multiplied when the loss comes suddenly, and is even more heart-rending when the departed is young, vibrant, and outwardly healthy. <br /> <br /> In the case of the late Mr Dominic James, St George&rsquo;s College student and captain of that school&rsquo;s Manning Cup team who passed away on Tuesday, the circumstances are such that not just family, friends and the school community, but the entire nation has been caught up in mourning.<br /> <br /> As is now well established, only a few minutes of a football game between St George&rsquo;s College and Excelsior High had passed when Mr James collapsed. He was pronounced dead at hospital. <br /> <br /> Inevitably, there are questions: Could his life have been saved had there been adequate medical services close at hand, such as a fully equipped and staffed ambulance service? Could a defibrillator &mdash; equipment used to attempt resuscitation during cardiac crises &mdash; have made a difference?<br /> <br /> The truth is that we will never have adequate answers.<br /> <br /> It needs to be said that, while tragedies such as last Tuesday&rsquo;s are rare, they do happen. The case most frequently referred to is that of Mr Cavahn McKenzie, a teenaged student of St Jago High who collapsed and died in 2014 following a six kilometre race in Tobago.<br /> <br /> Also in 2014, there was the case of 17-year-old Mr Rushane Ricketts, of Seaview Gardens, who died during a Jamaica College summer football training camp at St Elizabeth Technical High School grounds. Word at the time was that the teenager was resting after a training session when he collapsed. He was pronounced dead at a nearby medical centre.<br /> <br /> As is the case now, back in 2014 there were probing questions. <br /> <br /> Obviously schools; the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), which manages schools sporting competitions; and the Ministry of Education are re-examining existing protocols, including the very crucial medical screening. <br /> <br /> Screening apart, there must be minimum safety standards not only agreed on but maintained. For example, all coaches and team officials should have basic training in first aid. Also, it seems to us, as much as possible, trained medical personnel should be on hand or be on call in case of a medical emergency during competition and training. And in every case, a stretcher with trained stretcher bearers should be present not just for matches &mdash; regardless of the sporting discipline &mdash; but also for training.<br /> <br /> In the case of Mr James there seemed to be no stretcher available, forcing players and others to lift him as best they could.<br /> <br /> This tragedy should be a marker for everyone, that minimum standards must be set and maintained.<br /> <br /> That said, people shouldn&rsquo;t fool themselves into thinking they can cater for every contingency. It&rsquo;s simply not practical to expect an ambulance or sophisticated medical equipment with trained operators at every event and training session.<br /> <br /> However, all schools should do the very best they can &mdash; those with greater capacity sharing with others. And again, at bottom line, there must be minimum safety standards which are strictly maintained. If schools and ISSA can set such standards and ensure adherence they would have honoured the memory of Mr James. <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13182093/219601__w300.jpg Editorial Friday, September 23, 2016 12:00 AM World should heed President Obama&rsquo;s final call to the UN http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/World-should-heed-President-Obama-s-final-call-to-the-UN_74794 United States President Barack Obama is greeted at almost every public event he attends these days - including, unbelievably, the Canadian parliament - by the chant &ldquo;Four more years&rdquo;, which suggests that the world is going to miss the quality of his presidency when it ends in about four months&rsquo; time.<br /> <br /> Mr Obama&rsquo;s powerful final address as US president to the current general assembly of the United Nations in New York on Tuesday is palpable evidence of why he will be missed for his temperament, his wisdom, his oratorical skills and, more importantly, his inclusive world view which, as he stated, makes America a rare superpower.<br /> <br /> Unlike some past presidents, Mr Obama was able to accept where America went wrong even while outlining the good that the US has done as he championed the need for international integration at a time when so many countries are retreating into narrow and exclusive nationalism.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I do not believe progress is possible if our desire to preserve our identities gives way to an impulse to dehumanise or dominate another group. If our religion leads us to persecute those of another faith&hellip; if we discriminate on the basis of race or tribe or ethnicity, then the fragile bonds of civilisation will fray,&rdquo; Mr Obama warned.<br /> <br /> Making the argument for working together, the US president said that integration of the global economy had made life better for billions of men, women and children over the last 25 years. The number of people living in extreme poverty had been cut from nearly 40 per cent of humanity to under 10 per cent.<br /> <br /> He noted that the Internet could deliver the entirety of human knowledge to a young girl in a remote village on a single hand-held device. In medicine and in manufacturing, in education and communications, &ldquo;we&rsquo;re experiencing a transformation of how human beings live on a scale that recalls the revolutions in agriculture and industry. And as a result, a person born today is more likely to be healthy, to live longer, and to have access to opportunity than at any time in human history&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In remote corners of the world, citizens are demanding respect for the dignity of all people, no matter their gender, or race, or religion, or disability, or sexual orientation, and those who deny others dignity are subject to public reproach. An explosion of social media has given ordinary people more ways to express themselves, and has raised people&rsquo;s expectations for those of us in power.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Mr Obama acknowledged that some people had been left behind and that in order to move forward, the existing path to global integration required a course correction, starting with making the global economy work better for all people and not just for those at the top, in a world in which one per cent of humanity controls as much wealth as the other 99 per cent.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I understand that the gaps between rich and poor are not new, but just as the child in a slum today can see the skyscraper nearby, technology now allows any person with a smartphone to see how the most privileged among us live and the contrast between their own lives and others. Expectations rise, then, faster than governments can deliver, and a pervasive sense of injustice undermines people&rsquo;s faith in the system,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s an address the world needs to hear and heed. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13272596/Obama-Commutations_Thom_w300.jpg Editorial Thursday, September 22, 2016 12:00 AM Economic Growth Council report must not gather dust on a shelf http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Economic-Growth-Council-report-must-not-gather-dust-on-a-shelf_74702 Last week, we welcomed the long-awaited report of the Economic Growth Council (ECG) and stressed that, while the ideas offered were not freshly minted, what needed to happen was implementation.<br /> <br /> Jamaica is full of acres of shelves with multitudes of reports and recommendations which are covered up under mounds of dust. The beneficiaries have been paid consultants and committee members. There are billions of dollars in grants that remain unspent over the years because the myriad projects for which they were negotiated have not been implemented or, in some cases, poorly implemented, As this as economic growth continues to elude our country.<br /> <br /> The key to high rates of economic growth on a sustainable basis is the simultaneous application of imagination in the public sector and in the private sector. In the private sector imagination takes the form of entrepreneurship, and in the public sector it is establishment of a business conducive to entrepreneurship.<br /> <br /> Economic growth is not possible, even with the best private sector, if the public sector is not fully aligned in a supportive way.<br /> <br /> Jamaica&rsquo;s poor economic growth record is not a reflection of a lack of Jamaican entrepreneurship but is the direct result of a failure by successive governments to create and maintain a facilitating and predictable business environment. What constitutes such an environment is not new, but is old, long-established practice.<br /> <br /> If the EGC insists on implementation we have a real chance of growth this time. We are hoping that the report will be seriously debated on a national level and other ideas suggested. Indeed, we are all in this thing together.<br /> <br /> In this regard, we suggest that the country should take a collective look at the recent World Bank report entitled &lsquo;Toward a Blue Economy: A promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean&rsquo; which, we believe, points to the enormous potential of maritime resources in the Caribbean.<br /> <br /> It estimates the economic value of the Caribbean Sea to the countries of the region at US$407 billion per year or 18 per cent of the region&rsquo;s total GDP inclusive of all forms of economic activity notably fishing, transport, trade, tourism, mining and energy.<br /> <br /> The value of the Blue Economy is projected to nearly double by 2050 if properly nurtured to minimise threats to its viability emanating from overuse, pollution and environmental degradation by natural disasters and climate change. For example, 70 per cent of beaches are already eroded and almost 80 per cent of coral is now dead.<br /> <br /> The most pernicious threat is man-made pollution. For example, 85 per cent of wastewater is dumped untreated into the sea. Garbage of every kind is flushed into the Caribbean Sea to the extent that 46,000 pieces of plastic are afloat on every square mile of sea. If there is no abatement, plastics will surpass the weight of fish in the sea by 2030.<br /> <br /> Ironically, the ideas about the Blue Economy are not new, they were explained by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as far back as in 2014 and discussed in that year by the Caricom Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED).<br /> <br /> The key is implementation and this, if it happens, would be new.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13286227/228540__w300.jpg Editorial Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM Good sounds from the PNP, but talk is cheap http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Good-sounds-from-the-PNP--but-talk-is-cheap_74562 It&rsquo;s a healthy sign that the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) intends to act on the recommendations of its appraisal committee that looked at the reasons for the party&rsquo;s narrow loss at the general election in February this year.<br /> <br /> Because the easy thing to do would be to discuss and analyse the recommendations to the point where their non-implementation would have gone unnoticed, as has been the case with so many reports on a range of troubling issues.<br /> <br /> Readers will recall that the appraisal committee recommended the creation of a central campaign management manual, as well as the need for aspiring candidates to be approved by the party&rsquo;s Integrity Commission before facing the electorate.<br /> <br /> The committee also recommended:<br /> <br /> &bull; That the party secretariat be strengthened in the areas of organising, enumeration, communication and recruitment<br /> <br /> &bull; The implementation of a pilot programme to reform the role of party groups<br /> <br /> &bull; The establishment of a group of mentors to provide guidance and support, especially to new members of parliament and candidates<br /> <br /> &bull; The need to develop a time frame within which internal disputes are resolved, and the decisive application of the necessary sanctions; and<br /> <br /> &bull; Strengthening of the political capacity and relationship of the party&rsquo;s arms and affiliates by developing strategic objectives and a political work programme for each.<br /> <br /> The committee, we recall, also said that while the secretariat will be responsible for the implementation of the recommendations, a sub-committee of the PNP&rsquo;s executive committee should be set up to monitor the process after the suggestions are adopted by the party.<br /> <br /> On Sunday, PNP President Portia Simpson Miller told the party faithful and, by extension, the wider Jamaica, that coming out of the 78th annual conference she will begin the implementation of the recommendations.<br /> <br /> We will be watching to see if Mrs Simpson Miller will follow-up on that pledge, or whether she was merely making an announcement which, we have come to acknowledge, is a hobby of politicians.<br /> <br /> In much the same way we will await further word, and indeed action, from the PNP president on her promise to &ldquo;implement a more centralised system for campaign donations&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> For Mrs Simpson Miller is spot on in her declaration that any such system &ldquo;must ensure that funds raised are properly accounted for and used for the purposes for which they were contributed&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> We agree with her that the matter of transparency in campaign financing applies to all political parties, and as such, we urge our legislators to give swift attention to the regulations governing the application of the law.<br /> <br /> As we have stated before, while there is no system that is foolproof, we believe that this law will give the country some ammunition to insulate our democracy from purchase.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9852972/pnp-logo_w300.jpg Editorial Tuesday, September 20, 2016 12:00 AM The true value of defeat http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/The-true-value-of-defeat_74457 If you have lived for any reasonable length of time you know about defeat. It&rsquo;s a draining, disheartening thing. Many have simply given up after defeat.<br /> <br /> But there are those who grow stronger after losing, more sure-footed and hardened for future battles.<br /> <br /> If her words are anything to go by, Ms Lisa Hanna, a former Miss World &mdash; who at 41 remains a woman of uncommon beauty &mdash; is of the latter ilk. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The fire in my belly is just burning brighter because I am not giving up; and anybody that thinks I am giving up you make a sad mistake,&rdquo; Ms Hanna told Comrades at the National Arena after losing the People&rsquo;s National Party&rsquo;s (PNP) vice-presidential race on Saturday. <br /> <br /> If nothing else, PNP delegates at the annual conference would have learnt one very important thing: Ms Hanna has courage. Some would have slipped away to lick their wounds after such a comprehensive loss. Instead, Ms Hanna &mdash; who had campaigned for renewal within her party &mdash; presented herself, and on being asked to speak, stood by her beliefs.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I want to say to all of you that my entry into this race was not because it was important to have a position, but because I felt strongly that the energy that we needed as Comrades needed to come back, especially after February 25 (the parliamentary election loss),&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> She should rest assured that her spunk won her many friends among Comrades on Saturday. They won&rsquo;t forget that when the chips were down, she stood firm.<br /> <br /> It could be argued that Ms Hanna was prepared for the political stage at an early age, even if in those years she won far more than she lost. Certainly she had to be brave to face up to the contests which ended with her taking the Miss World crown when still a teenager.<br /> <br /> She gave more than a hint of her character in interviews with the Jamaica Observer&rsquo;s Mr Desmond Allen last year.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The elimination shows were not for the faint-hearted. You had to have a lot of courage to walk that stage...&rdquo; she said then. And further that, &ldquo;It was then that I understood that Jamaican people like you or they don&rsquo;t like you. And they will tell you whether or not you are fit to be in a situation.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Ms Hanna&rsquo;s Miss World crowning and her coming to adulthood coincided with some of the more momentous happenings in modern human history. She met and adored the late Mr Nelson Mandela, the greatest leader of our time to many people. Others will bestow that title on the extraordinary Mr Fidel Castro, with whom she also had close contact.<br /> <br /> Ms Hanna has pledged that, despite her loss, &ldquo;I will still be on the ground. I will still be cross country, and I will still be doing the work for a strong and progressive People&rsquo;s National Party.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> This newspaper will watch with interest.<br /> <br /> Triumphant PNP President Mrs Portia Simpson Miller told Ms Hanna on Saturday: &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t worry, your time will come.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> We are inclined to believe that, in the not too distant future, those simple words will prove extremely prophetic. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13294534/229322__w300.jpg Editorial Monday, September 19, 2016 12:00 AM The case of Rev Al Miller: O ye of little faith&hellip; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/The-case-of-Rev-Al-Miller--O-ye-of-little-faith-_74382 For being found in the company of Mr Christopher &ldquo;Dudus&rdquo; Coke, the most wanted Jamaican at the time, Rev Merrick &lsquo;Al&rsquo; Miller was on Thursday fined $1 million or 12 months in jail. He paid the fine and is now a free man.<br /> <br /> But the case, while it was being tried and even now in the aftermath, unmasked one of the enduring dilemmas faced by Christian believers, including the revered men and women of the cloth &mdash; that is, how to interpret the mind of God in adverse circumstances.<br /> <br /> Christians inside and outside of the membership of Rev Miller&rsquo;s Faith Tabernacle were asked to pray for the judge&rsquo;s leniency and, especially, that he be not sent to prison for his crime. <br /> <br /> Rev Miller was accused of engaging the police in a high-speed chase; his objective to elude local authorities and hand over Coke to the United States Embassy, from where he could be taken to the US for trial on drug and gunrunning charges &mdash; a sequel to the military-led operation in western Kingston to arrest the former Tivoli Gardens strongman. <br /> <br /> Pastor Miller, in his defence, said he had acted in agreement with the then Police Commissioner Mr Owen Ellington, who did not testify at the trial, for which he has been severely vilified. The question that could be asked is why Mr Ellington was not subpoenaed, or why was there need for a high-speed chase if the reverend gentleman had the agreement of the top cop to hand Coke over to the US Embassy.<br /> <br /> We are among Miller&rsquo;s many admirers for his nation-building exploits and hoped for the best for the pastor. But in the circumstances, we expected that Christians relying on their faith would pray that God&rsquo;s will would prevail and leave it to Him to determine the best outcome. Instead, they instructed God what to do, which was to let off Rev Miller.<br /> <br /> The big point they missed was that the law of the land must apply to Christians as much as it is to people of other faiths and all Jamaicans in general. The judge could not have found Rev Miller guilty of the charges and let him off without any penalty. <br /> <br /> Had the judge done so, it would forever play into the narrative that not all men are equal under the law and that some are more favoured. Jamaicans are already suspicious of authorities and are, many of them, of the view that the elite are given special treatment even in the halls of justice.<br /> <br /> As it turned out, the judge applied the maximum penalty prescribed by the law and fined the pastor $1 million or 12 months in jail. We wonder what would have happened if the jail sentence was mandatory.<br /> <br /> We as a country operate under the notion that there is separation of church and State. Christians should not be asking for anyone to get off scot-free if they have committed a crime, no matter their good intention or how beloved they are.<br /> <br /> Moreover, they also missed a glorious opportunity to put their faith to the test. By vilifying Commissioner Ellington, they failed to see that had he testified that he had no such agreement with Pastor Miller, it could have been worse for the minister of religion.<br /> <br /> And by asking for a prescribed outcome, they ruled out the possibility of what could have been had the charismatic pastor gone to jail and the mighty force he could have been among prisoners in need of conversion.<br /> <br /> It is to such that Christ would say today, &ldquo;O ye of little faith.&rdquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11802209/MILLER-3_w300.jpg Editorial Sunday, September 18, 2016 12:00 AM West Indies cricket needs a fresh start http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/West-Indies-cricket-needs-a-fresh-start_74344 It&rsquo;s typical of the mismanagement that has afflicted West Indies cricket over a period of many years that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) would have chosen to sack its coach on the eve of the team&rsquo;s departure for duties in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan.<br /> <br /> If the directors who voted in favour gave any thought to the likely negative impact of Mr Phil Simmons&rsquo; dismissal on West Indies cricket, and the players who must take the field, that thought was soon discarded.<br /> <br /> Grenada&rsquo;s prime minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, insists that this latest move by the WICB is consistent with past actions &ldquo;motivated by spite and vendetta, rather than by what is in the best interest of West Indies cricket&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> All reports suggest that in the 18 months since he was appointed &mdash; including a six-month period in which he was suspended for speaking out on what he considered to be flawed team selection &mdash; Mr Simmons had gained the trust and respect of his players.<br /> <br /> He had success too, such as guiding the West Indies to the World T20 championship title earlier this year, and besting South Africa to reach the final of a triangular One-Day series against winners Australia.<br /> <br /> Much is made of the continuing slide of the West Indies team in Test matches, justifiably so. Yet, amidst the gloom of the recent Test series defeat against India, a clutch of talented 24-year-olds helped West Indies gain a draw at Sabina Park in Kingston. It was enough to signal strong reason for hope.<br /> <br /> Against that backdrop, the decision to &ldquo;separate&rdquo; from Mr Simmons appears to defy logic.<br /> <br /> Like so many in the fraternity, Mr Simmons was frustrated by the workings and structures of West Indies cricket and was inclined to publicly speak his mind. He could be faulted for lack of diplomacy, but rarely for the substance of what he had to say.<br /> <br /> Last month, for example, he spoke of his failed efforts to get regular consultations with regional coaches: &ldquo;I have asked for coaches to meet twice, maybe three times a year and discuss cricket,&rdquo; Mr Simmons said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We need to make sure that whatever we are doing upstairs is going down to everybody. You and I might be two coaches and we coach differently, but the same objective we need to have. If we don&rsquo;t have the same objective then we are spinning (in confusion),&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> Mr Simmons also urged action to get more competition for West Indies &lsquo;A&rsquo; teams and for better practice facilities.<br /> <br /> If we can read between the lines in the vague explanation for Mr Simmons&rsquo; dismissal from WICB Chief Executive Officer Mr Michael Muirhead, we are left to conclude that the former West Indies cricketer was punished for not toeing the line.<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s difficult to escape Prime Minister Mitchell&rsquo;s conclusion that, &ldquo;The board has now become an extremely inflexible and autocratic unit in which power and control dominate&hellip;&rdquo; and &ldquo;...will get rid of anyone who questions or challenges that culture&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> A leadership structure without credibility has no sustainable future. And for some time now, the West Indies cricket authorities have lacked credibility at home and abroad. The situation is only getting worse. It&rsquo;s full time for the West Indies Cricket Board to heed good, solid advice. It should dissolve itself so that West Indies cricket can make a fresh start before it&rsquo;s too late. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13240079/Phil-Simmons-1_w300.jpg Editorial Saturday, September 17, 2016 2:00 AM Jamaica has best chance of growth in decades http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Jamaica-has-best-chance-of-growth-in-decades_74243 On Monday, the Economic Growth Council (EGC) presented a list of eight key recommendations to Cabinet which, we are advised, were greeted with enthusiasm and the strong support of the prime minister. <br /> <br /> The recommendations themselves: maintain macroeconomic stability and pursue debt-reduction strategies; improve citizen security; improve access to finance; pursue bureaucratic reform to improve the business environment; stimulate greater asset utilisation; build human capital; harness the power of the Jamaican Diaspora; and catalyse the implementation of strategic projects were covered in yesterday&rsquo;s Jamaica Observer.<br /> <br /> Sceptics would note that none of these initiatives is new, but this is to miss the point. Jamaica&rsquo;s problems have been known for decades. More importantly, the solutions, in the words of Ambassador Nigel Clarke, have been lying &ldquo;in the filing cabinets of the Government&rdquo;. A process of consultation, approximately 80 meetings so far, is still ongoing. <br /> <br /> Critically, however, a set of priority, high-impact measures has already emerged, as part of what is meant to be a &ldquo;living document&rdquo;, with an emphasis on implementation. If implemented, the already proposed measures have an extremely good chance of raising the growth rate to five per cent per annum by 2020, and on a sustainable basis. <br /> <br /> Indeed, Jamaica desperately needs more than a decade of five per cent growth if it is to have any chance of meeting its 2030 development goals. In addition, such growth needs to occur now to allow us to take advantage of the current bulge in our potential working population, the so-called &ldquo;demographic dividend&rdquo;, and it is also by far the best way to bring down our current debt-to-GDP ratio of over 120 per cent to the 60 per cent regarded by international experts as sustainable in the long term.<br /> <br /> Growth council member and Sandals CEO Adam Stewart has correctly noted that the proposed measures are &ldquo;not exhaustive&rdquo;, nor can they &ldquo;solve all of Jamaica&rsquo;s problems&rdquo;. However, in his keynote presentation yesterday to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation State of the Industry Conference in Barbados, he observed that the EGC&rsquo;s collection of broad platform policies and reforms were intended to &ldquo;shake the trunk of the tree&rdquo;, and &ldquo;had the potential to positively impact thousands of businesses and millions of Jamaicans&rdquo;. He added: &ldquo;Never before has an approach as comprehensive been mounted to advise on the recovery of Jamaica.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> That is the truth. Past attempts at economic transformation have been piecemeal, episodic, and typically overtaken by events. Even Jamaica&rsquo;s recent excellent performance in the IMF programme was largely confined to correcting the fiscal deficit, and passing long overdue, mainly financial legislation. The welcome, and significant improvement in our doing business index reflects more international agencies&rsquo; rating of our legislative changes than actual improvements in the ease of doing business. This is not to diminish the importance of Jamaica correcting its twin fiscal and current account deficits, and achieving the long-delayed balanced budget, as well as the first quarterly current account surplus for many years. It is simply to note that the necessary austerity of the last few years has not been sufficient to produce the much faster growth required.<br /> <br /> The difference now is that the EGC&rsquo;s recommendations, so far, appear to reflect a practical review of the best expert recommendations in areas likely to have the biggest impact on the economy, and for which it should be possible to achieve almost immediate consensus. <br /> <br /> Having been given a summary of the what, now we need to see the who and the when for this plan. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13284120/Michael-Lee-Chin_w300.jpg Editorial Friday, September 16, 2016 2:00 AM Why the FBI could be a game-changer for Jamaica http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Why-the-FBI-could-be-a-game-changer-for-Jamaica_74075 One of the really interesting announcements coming out of last week&rsquo;s Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) forum titled &lsquo;Dialogues between Democracies&rsquo;, was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will be setting up offices in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Our instinct is to be very supportive of this move for what we think are obvious and compelling reasons. And we are not going to be sidetracked by empty talk about national sovereignty.<br /> <br /> Jamaica has expended huge amounts of resources and billions of dollars across various political administrations &mdash; money that could have made our education and health systems far better than they are today &mdash; with little to show for it in terms of reduced crime, murders in particular.<br /> <br /> Some of our best minds have been put in charge of the National Security Ministry, almost to no avail. We speak of people like Messrs K D Knight, Peter Phillips, Trevor MacMillan, Dwight Nelson, and Peter Bunting, among others who brought a certain cerebral capacity to the job.<br /> <br /> The only time in recent memory that we have seen a marked drop in murders &mdash; that were averaging over 1,000 a year &mdash; was after the military-led operation in western Kingston to remove former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher &ldquo;Dudus&rdquo; Coke in 2010. We are now back to square one.<br /> <br /> If we are true to ourselves, we will admit that one of the strongest reasons it has been so difficult to control crime is the enduring nexus between politicians and criminals. In recent years, the criminal enterprise has asserted its independence by growing its connections with drug dealing, gunrunning and extortion.<br /> <br /> Besides the politicians, the smallness of the island and our population size make it possible that large numbers of Jamaicans either know or are shielding criminals, sometimes because they are relatives or neighbours, and those who are not are often just too afraid or untrusting of authorities to tell.<br /> <br /> In the circumstances, serious crime fighting calls for greater intelligence capacity in our security forces, especially in regard to drug dealing and gunrunning with their international connections.<br /> <br /> United States Ambassador to Jamaica Luis G Moreno has assured that the FBI and ATF officers will help to train local personnel.<br /> <br /> The ambassador says the ATF is crucial, as it can trace serial numbers and conduct forensic tests on guns coming through the United States and Central America in the nefarious drugs-for-guns trade.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Having the FBI means that if there is a federal crime committed here which affects both Jamaica and the United States, I don&rsquo;t have to wait for the office in Miami&hellip;to send me agents. Once we have an office here full-time, that guy will go out, train people, and will liaise and exchange information,&rdquo; Mr Moreno said.<br /> <br /> He pointed out that the US has invested and will continue to invest tens of millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours in improving the capabilities of Jamaica&rsquo;s security forces and the judiciary.<br /> <br /> This is help we can do with.<br /> <br /> It is a great pity that we don&rsquo;t have a model akin to the International Monetary Fund programme, which would force us to set our crime fighting house in order in the way we have had to do with our economy.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13287120/filename_w300.jpg Editorial Thursday, September 15, 2016 12:00 AM The pain and anguish of deportation http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/The-pain-and-anguish-of-deportation_73945 &ldquo;Regardless of colour, creed, circumstances or station in life, we wish to assure all Jamaicans that Jamaica will be that &lsquo;abiding city&rsquo; for its sons and daughters wherever they may be or whatever they would have done, because Jamaica is still the land that we love.&rdquo; &ndash; Ministry of National Security<br /> <br /> We would have liked to embrace wholeheartedly this noble sentiment above from the Ministry of National Security in respect of the 42 Jamaicans who were deported from the United Kingdom last week Wednesday. But we cannot do so without reservation.<br /> <br /> Too many Jamaicans are being deported for us to take the idealistic position that whatever they do in the countries from which they are being sent home they are welcome back here with open arms.<br /> <br /> A serious message has to be sent that, while we may not be able to refuse anyone born in Jamaica, we do not take kindly to those who are being forcibly returned because of criminal activities.<br /> <br /> Based on statistics from the security ministry, last Friday we reported that between 2012 and 2016, some 9,425 Jamaicans had been deported from about 17 countries, or an average of 2,336 per year. The United States led the way with 4,153, the UK followed with 1,345 and Canada was third, having sent back 931 Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> The other countries accounting for the remainder of 2,954 deportees were: The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, Mexico, Germany, Cayman, Colombia, Grenada, Panama, St Lucia, Switzerland, St Maarten, Aruba, and Antigua and Barbuda.<br /> <br /> The reasons given for their deportation included overstayi<br /> <br /> ng their visas, illegal entry/re-entry into the deporting countries, drug-related offences, assault and wounding, theft, murder, firearm offences, sexual offences, among other crimes.<br /> <br /> Anecdotal evidence suggests that some of these deportees continue their life of crime after returning to Jamaica, sometimes proving to be too crafty or technologically savvy for our under-equipped and overstretched police.<br /> <br /> These people must not be made to feel that whatever they do Jamaica is here just waiting to cuddle them and love them up.<br /> <br /> Our message to them must be that, when they migrate, they must live as good and productive citizens of their adopted countries, which is no less than we would expect if they had stayed here.<br /> <br /> Naturally, the issue of deportation carries with it much pain and anguish for some Jamaicans and their families who might have lived productive lives in their new country but failed to regularise their residency status even after many years.<br /> <br /> Some of these include people who might have been taken by their migrating parents while they were yet children and had become adults in their new home. The case all too frequently is that they would have lost contact with any remaining relatives in Jamaica and are deported into a frightening uncertainty.<br /> <br /> The message for these people must be that they do all they can to gain legal status, preferably citizenship, in these countries, and to keep in touch with family, friends and communities.<br /> <br /> We support the security ministry&rsquo;s expression of thanks to &ldquo;the families and friends of the returned Jamaicans, as well as non-governmental organisations which have rallied in support of these persons as they seek to reintegrate into the Jamaican society&rdquo;. The more services and support offered to the returned Jamaicans the greater the positive outcomes that may be possible.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13271622/227219__w300.jpg Editorial Wednesday, September 14, 2016 12:00 AM Why remembering 9/11 is important http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Why-remembering-9-11-is-important_73796 Sunday&rsquo;s reflection on the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States served to remind us of how the world has changed because of those heinous acts.<br /> <br /> Most notably, America has made significant changes to its national security structures and has been engaged in two wars overseas that have cost thousands of lives and diverted millions of dollars from projects that could have helped make the world a better place.<br /> <br /> Also, international travel has become somewhat of a chore as countries, in a nervous effort to secure their borders, sometimes goaded on by the US, have implemented security measures that stop short of being overly intrusive.<br /> <br /> But so it is.<br /> <br /> In addition, we have seen an upsurge in strife in the Middle East and the emergence of more bloodthirsty groups using Islam as a cloak to perpetrate some of the most abominable acts ever against humanity.<br /> <br /> We joined the United States on Sunday in reflecting on the horror of 9/11 for more reasons than the fact that Jamaicans were among the 2,977 people killed on that dark day.<br /> <br /> Our obligation to engage in recall is grounded in our belief that to forget that atrocity would be to surrender to an evil that relishes the thought of people living in fear.<br /> <br /> Marking the anniversary of 9/11 also provides well-thinking people across the world with another opportunity to send a strong signal to terrorists and their supporters, many of whom celebrated when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building were attacked, that murder and mayhem will not shake our belief in the ideals of democracy, freedom and tolerance of cultural diversity.<br /> <br /> That point, we note, was made by US President Barack Obama on Sunday in an address at the Pentagon marking the 15th anniversary of the attacks.<br /> <br /> Translating the Latin phrase, E pluribus unum (Out of many, we are one) on the seal of the United States, President Obama reminded Americans, and indeed the wider world, that diversity is not a weakness.<br /> <br /> That message, we hold, is even more important today than it was 15 years ago, as the world has seen a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment and expressions of bigotry and intolerance that, if allowed to take root and grow, will set mankind back many years.<br /> <br /> We greet each day with faith that the forces of evil and the preachers of hate will be defeated by the forces of good, especially in America where the pain and wounds of 9/11 are still raw.<br /> <br /> As we have stated before in this space, no one can deny that America has created enemies through its history of military involvement in a number of countries. However, that does not justify the 9/11 carnage directed not at military targets but at innocent civilians.<br /> <br /> Anyone who is genuinely interested in political and social change will appreciate that the force of ideas holds more long-term value than the force of arms.<br /> <br /> The international community needs to keep that in mind, even as it remains resolute in the face of terrorism and the climate of fear that those with a lust for blood wish to create and maintain.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13282318/Twin-tower_w300.jpg Editorial Tuesday, September 13, 2016 12:00 AM Never a dull moment for the PNP http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Never-a-dull-moment-for-the-PNP_73688 It&rsquo;s easy to forget that there will be a challenge for the presidency of the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) at their upcoming national conference, given the relatively low-keyed attention in the media and elsewhere.<br /> <br /> The truth is that there is little or no expectation that challenger Dr Karl Blythe will come anywhere close to the party president, Mrs Portia Simpson Miller, when delegates&rsquo; votes are tallied.<br /> <br /> In fairness, it seems clear that Dr Blythe is not challenging because of any personal ambition. Rather, it appears that the challenge is meant as an affirmation of the democratic right of every Comrade so to do, and also to underline the message to Mrs Simpson Miller that it is time for her to go.<br /> <br /> Regardless of how the delegate vote turns out, we do not expect that Mrs Simpson Miller has much time left as party leader. The situation is such that this newspaper would be surprised and disappointed if she does not give positive timelines for her exit at national conference.<br /> <br /> All of this when the PNP is facing huge difficulties, not least the allegations from within, of corruption involving campaign funds. Allegations so grave that the contractor general has seen it fit to launch an investigation.<br /> <br /> Local government elections are due and the expectation has been that Mrs Simpson Miller will lead the PNP into those polls. However, so far as we are aware, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has given no indication of a possible date for such elections.<br /> <br /> Indeed, given the ruling Jamaica Labour Party&rsquo;s (JLP) one-seat majority in Parliament, and the PNP&rsquo;s current troubles, there is even the whispered thought that Mr Holness could be tempted into calling a snap parliamentary election.<br /> <br /> Whatever happens, a new PNP president is close at hand. The contest for vice-presidential posts at national conference only adds spice to the brew.<br /> <br /> The immediate front-runners to replace Mrs Simpson Miller are obviously 66-year-old Dr Peter Phillips and Mr Peter Bunting, 56. They have different backgrounds. For one thing, outside of his career as a politician, Mr Bunting has been a spectacularly successful investment banker, while Dr Phillips commands respect as an academician.<br /> <br /> Intriguingly, both were heavily influenced by contact with and the teachings of the late, iconic Mr Michael Manley. That last fact comes across very clearly in their thoughtful analyses of the way forward in rebuilding the PNP as a movement at the vanguard representing the hopes and aspirations of the mass of Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> From this distance, their stated desire to rebuild party grass roots through participatory democracy and people mobilisation would have earned an approving nod from Mr Manley.<br /> <br /> Like all Jamaicans, this newspaper looks forward to interesting and exciting times ahead for the PNP.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13263310/226463__w300.jpg Editorial Monday, September 12, 2016 12:00 AM Is looking to the US, the Chinese to help us the new norm? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Is-looking-to-the-US--the-Chinese-to-help-us-the-new-norm-_73597 Last Wednesday evening the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) launched its latest report entitled &lsquo;The Future of US-Jamaica Bilateral Relations&rsquo;, which represents a timely evaluation of relations between Jamaica and the world&rsquo;s most powerful superpower. <br /> <br /> The report focuses attention on five broad issues: enhancing security; emboldening democratic governance; increasing trade and investment; enabling health and prosperity and endorsing full and equal citizenship. The overall objective of the policy recommendations is to strengthen the vitally important relationship with the United States. The report is predicated on the fact that the US has helped Jamaica considerably in the past and has the capacity to assist in the future. <br /> <br /> There is clear acknowledgement that Jamaica has done much in recent years to help itself and to earn the respect and the support of the US.<br /> <br /> Dr Damien King and his team at CaPRI have continued to provide valuable service to Jamaica by the timely, pertinent and politically independent injections of policy-oriented research into the discourse on current issues of public policy. <br /> <br /> The launch featured a mature- sounding Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the US ambassador to Jamaica Luis Moreno, who was gracious in receiving praise for his contribution. This was all laudable.<br /> <br /> However, what we found disappointing was that the comments and questions from the audience had a common refrain of &ldquo;we need help&rdquo;. Some wanted the Government to help them get a job or finance the start-up of small enterprises. Absent was the famous notion of Jamaican self-reliance, which was especially surprising because the people who usually attend these types of events are not the needy or poor. Many even have university-level education. <br /> <br /> No one started their intervention with statements of what they are doing to help themselves without immediately thereafter asking for help. More embarrassing was the number of persons who, without shame, stated that Jamaica needed the help of the US or asked what more the US could do for Jamaica. No pride, no shame and no ideas of how Jamaicans can help themselves.<br /> <br /> This state of mind is the real cause of our low economic growth and is the barrier to internally directed, sustainable economic development. If this was the thinking of a cross-section of the educated class who should be providing leadership, what future is there for Jamaica? <br /> <br /> Where is the audacity of Mr Marcus Garvey, the vision of Messrs Michael Manley and Edward Seaga, and the spirit of Mr Usain Bolt? We suggest that these are the qualities that make us Jamaican and inform the approach of the majority of Jamaicans. It is the educated elite who seems to be failing Jamaica. <br /> <br /> Looking to the Americans and the Chinese to do what we must do for ourselves now appears to be the new norm. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10751484/US-Flag_w300.jpg Editorial Sunday, September 11, 2016 12:00 AM Schoolboy football and the hard realities http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Schoolboy-football-and-the-hard-realities_73541 Time and again, this newspaper has found reason to stress the importance of getting Jamaican sport to the stage where it is truly professional.<br /> <br /> In today&rsquo;s world, it is increasingly true that the value of amateurism in sport is restricted to recreation and healthy lifestyle. For excellence in sport, a professional setup is required.<br /> <br /> We believe, for example, that the giant strides on the world stage by Jamaican athletes over the last 10 to 15 years have much to do with the formation of professional track clubs.<br /> <br /> On the other hand, we contend that the desperate state of West Indies cricket &mdash; notwithstanding men and women&rsquo;s World T20 titles this year &mdash; as well as the recent disappointing exit of Jamaica&rsquo;s Reggae Boyz at the semi-final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers are linked to the failure so far to shake amateurism.<br /> <br /> In football, Jamaica&rsquo;s top clubs are at best semi-pro. It means that, at the club level, development and nurturing programmes for the very young are severely underfunded and very basic. Academy programmes at that level lack substance.<br /> <br /> So it is then, that as it has been for in excess of 100 years, Jamaica&rsquo;s football is heavily dependent on necessarily amateur schoolboy competitions to nurture and bring forth talent. From a purely football development perspective, the situation is far from ideal, not least because the season has to be over and done with in three months &mdash;by early December. But that&rsquo;s the reality. Jamaica&rsquo;s football must make the best of what it has.<br /> <br /> Even as they dream of a time when well-funded and organised football academies will be the order of the day, clubs and national age-group coaches must keep a keen eye on the schoolboy season which starts today with close to 130 teams participating in the urban Manning Cup and all-rural daCosta Cup.<br /> <br /> Thankfully, Under-19 schoolboy football &ndash; which like other schools&rsquo; sport is run by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) &mdash; is immensely popular and relatively well funded. We are told that the sponsorship deal with telecoms giant<br /> <br /> Flow<br /> <br /> is worth $150 million over five years.<br /> <br /> As the season opens, the hope and expectation must be that coaches and school leaders will recognise their responsibility not just to try to win, but to teach best practices to their young charges. We are aware that schoolboy football coaches are now mostly, if not all, certified. It&rsquo;s crucial that coaches&rsquo; knowledge and methods are reflected in technical, tactical and attitudinal approach on the field for the greater good of the individual player, his team, and ultimately for Jamaica&rsquo;s football.<br /> <br /> Again, as we keep saying in this space, it is extremely important that organisers ensure decent surfaces allowing not just for a reasonable standard of play, but which will, as much as possible, minimise injuries.<br /> <br /> Also, it must not be forgotten that though we speak of its place in the development of the national game, schoolboy football is essentially a school activity. Even as all concerned aim for the utmost efficiency, they must be aware that good behaviour, sportsmanship and decorum should not be compromised for any reason.<br /> <br /> We wish all stakeholders the very best.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13276597/227533__w300.jpg Editorial Saturday, September 10, 2016 12:00 AM A toast to Red Stripe http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/A-toast-to-Red-Stripe_73407 The management and staff at Red Stripe deserve high commendation for resuming exports of the award-winning Jamaican lager to markets in North America on Wednesday.<br /> <br /> That the company regards this move as central to its mission of re-establishing Jamaica as the global hub for Red Stripe beer speaks to a deep commitment to this island and its economic well-being.<br /> <br /> That commitment has already been demonstrated in the company&rsquo;s investment of $6 billion in upgrades to its plant on Spanish Town Road, Kingston, and the employment of more staff in the run-up to Wednesday&rsquo;s shipment.<br /> <br /> Red Stripe has informed us that the plant upgrades included a modernisation of the brewery, installation of a combined heat and power plant, commissioning of a new 12 pack machine, and complete overhaul of the packaging line.<br /> <br /> The company also told us that since November last year it has moved from a two-team to a three-team operation running the plant five days weekly and, at the end of the current recruitment exercise, it will have in place a four-team operation with the plant running 24 hours.<br /> <br /> That is good news for Jamaica, especially given the fact that the country is yearning for investments and the creation of more jobs.<br /> <br /> Fresh on the heels of Wednesday&rsquo;s development comes news, reported in today&rsquo;s edition of the Caribbean Business Report, that Red Stripe is now in talks with distributors in New Zealand, Costa Rica, Italy, Germany, Guyana, France, Russia, and Mexico in an effort to double export volumes over the next three years.<br /> <br /> According to the report, Managing Director Mr Ricardo Nuncio believes that Red Stripe can secure these markets by 2017 and get new infrastructure &mdash; for which it plans to invest another $1.7 billion on a packaging line &mdash; in place over another 12-month period.<br /> <br /> A successful end to these talks, we are told, will increase to 19 the number of markets where Red Stripe is distributed, including Australia, Dubai, and Brazil which were added this year.<br /> <br /> These are not statistics to sneeze at as they will definitely improve Jamaica&rsquo;s export performance, which in 2015 amounted to an estimated US$1.192 billion, compared to US$1.482 billion in 2014.<br /> <br /> Quite frankly, this Red Stripe investment is a signal to the international community that the company has confidence in Jamaica. It also provides a foundation for economic growth that the Government should not ignore. As such, the Administration needs to ensure that it does all it can to encourage further investments &ndash; both local and foreign. That includes tax incentives that will turn over more money to the treasury from jobs, consumption and the additional spin-off spending that new businesses generate.<br /> <br /> Here&rsquo;s hoping that Red Stripe will have further success in its ventures.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273921/227174__w300.jpg Editorial Friday, September 09, 2016 12:00 AM Mr Trump has summoned America to its worst self http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Mr-Trump-has-summoned-America-to-its-worst-self_73302 Everything that we have loved and admired about the United States of America seems to be under assault under Mr Donald Trump&rsquo;s scorched-earth approach to this most caustic of presidential election campaigns.<br /> <br /> The latest of these is the high sense of national pride which has been a key element of the character of the American nation. This appeared to mean nothing to the Trump campaign based on several comments made after the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, insulted US President Barack Obama by calling him the &ldquo;son of a whore&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> A White House spokesman said talks scheduled between the two leaders at the ASEAN Summit in Laos had been scrapped after Mr Duterte&rsquo;s crude remarks, which came in response to a reporter&rsquo;s question about what would be his response if Mr Obama criticised his anti-drug policies.<br /> <br /> More than 2,000 alleged drug dealers had been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took power in June, sparking severe criticisms from human rights organisations and the United Nations.<br /> <br /> After being shown the folly of his ways, President Duterte said he regretted that his comments came across as a personal attack on the US president.<br /> <br /> But what is worse is that, instead of indignation and outrage, the insult of President Obama was immediately seen as an opportunity by the Trump campaign to attack Mr Obama, saying he was weak and suggesting that the Filipino&rsquo;s comments were deserved because the US president had criticised the anti-drug campaign.<br /> <br /> Republican vice-presidential candidate Mr Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, described the president&rsquo;s presence in Laos as &ldquo;amateur hour on the world stage&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> It is conventional wisdom that a nation&rsquo;s elected leader represents the entire country, especially when travelling abroad. It is one thing to criticise them at home, but to embrace an insult of them overseas is unbecoming to say the least. Unless, of course, there is something to the view that the first African-American president is being treated worse than all previous presidents, a view that we have always felt was below the dignity of Republicans.<br /> <br /> Mr Trump is known for his &ldquo;Birther&rdquo; campaign alleging that Mr Obama was not born in the US, but in Kenya from which his father came, as part of a bid to disqualify him as president. He has yet to apologise after the original birth certificate proved him wrong.<br /> <br /> No election campaign is to be mistaken for a stroll in the park, but the Trump campaign has made it clear that nothing is off-limits, including all that is morally and ethically good and right and the pillars of decency which transformed America from the Wild West to the greatest nation on Earth.<br /> <br /> Attacking what it calls &ldquo;political correctness&rdquo;, Trump and his surrogates have found it okay to jeer the disabled, insult women about their looks, call Mexicans rapists and criminals, and indulge in bigotry. Its formal and informal campaign staff includes out and out racists and the former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, for whom the network has agreed to settle claims of sexual harassment alleged by 20 women.<br /> <br /> America, as the bastion of democracy, must be able to have elections and come out of them relatively unscathed. Winning the White House must not be at all costs. Mr Trump has truly summoned America to its worst self. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13173706/trump_w300.jpg Editorial Thursday, September 08, 2016 12:00 AM West Kingston&rsquo;s Desmond McKenzie not as helpless as he thinks http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/West-Kingston-s-Desmond-McKenzie-not-as-helpless-as-he-thinks_73195 In the face of another episode of violence sweeping sections of his Kingston Western constituency, Member of Parliament (MP) Mr Desmond McKenzie voiced his frustration and apparent helplessness by declaring that, &ldquo;No Member of Parliament can stop this.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;&hellip;It doesn&rsquo;t make sense that they call on the MP and ask me what I am doing. They have the power in their hands because they continue to shield their brothers, sisters, boyfriends, and their sons,&rdquo; Mr McKenzie told residents after the latest killings in the violence-torn area.<br /> <br /> His frustration and disappointment apart, Mr McKenzie&rsquo;s point is worthy of being discussed, if for no other reason than the suggestion that MPs are helpless to do anything about violence in their constituencies.<br /> <br /> There is no doubt that residents of the warring community have an important part to play in bringing their influence and action to bear on this recurring problem which has led to murders, mayhem and untold grief on residents of west Kingston.<br /> <br /> After the removal of former strongman, Christopher &lsquo;Dudus&rsquo; Coke, in 2010, western Kingston had enjoyed a period of relative peace. But it now appears that the vacuum left by Coke is being filled by new actors. Whatever is the cause of the violence, Mr McKenzie is right that residents have to give up the perpetrators.<br /> <br /> Residents must cast off the shackles of the &ldquo;informa fi dead&rdquo; culture and bring pressure and influence to at least those close to them who are behind the reign of terror. The security forces, for their part, must not relent in their quest to win the confidence of the residents, which is critical to effective law enforcement. The public and the police need each other.<br /> <br /> We do not agree with Mr McKenzie that the MP can do nothing. His predecessor and mentor, Mr Edward Seaga, once submitted a list of 13 persons of interest in western Kingston to then Police Commissioner Trevor MacMillan.<br /> <br /> But as the violence flares again &mdash; this time in not just West Kingston but sections of Central Kingston and the new frontier of St James and some adjoining parishes &mdash; we call on the security forces, in whose remit anti-crime strategies fall squarely, to devise a short-term plan of action while the multi-faceted anti-crime strategies across the spectrum are being pursued.<br /> <br /> We are aware of the arguments about social, cultural and economic factors fuelling the mayhem, but also equally aware that the necessary solutions are long-term fixes. Short-terms solutions must be implemented if we are to reduce the loss of lives and maiming of our fellow Jamaicans, including innocent bystanders.<br /> <br /> We would also urge other ministers to follow the example of Tourism Minister Mr Edmund Bartlett, who has pledged a portion of his budget, a billion dollars over four years, in the fight to control the persistent crime onslaught.<br /> <br /> More funds will be needed, but we have to prioritise bringing an end to violent crime which threatens the stability of the entire society.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13265024/226540__w300.jpg Editorial Wednesday, September 07, 2016 12:00 AM Time for a solid football foundation http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Time-for-a-solid-football-foundation_73081 That Jamaica&rsquo;s Reggae Boyz have again failed to qualify for a FIFA World Cup finals tournament is a bitter pill to swallow.<br /> <br /> Even worse than Friday night&rsquo;s 0-2 away defeat to Panama &mdash; which ensured the black, green and gold will be absent from the 2018 World Cup in Russia &mdash; is that efforts to upgrade Jamaica&rsquo;s football have not advanced in any fundamental way since the glorious Road to France campaign of the 1990s.<br /> <br /> Back then, the technical director of the national football programme Mr Rene Simoes, of Brazil, famously said the Reggae Boyz had defied logic. By qualifying for France, the national team had erected a roof without preparing a foundation for the building, Mr Simoes said.<br /> <br /> His reference was to the inadequacy of organisational football structures locally, the absence of a professional league, and the very poor state of infrastructure, particularly playing surfaces.<br /> <br /> Sadly, 18 years since Jamaica&rsquo;s World Cup campaign in France, not nearly enough has changed. Indeed, the foundation for the sustainable growth of Jamaica&rsquo;s football is yet to be built. Jamaica&rsquo;s club structure remains unwieldy and neck deep in amateurism, with only a handful of clubs able to lay any claim to being even semi-pro.<br /> <br /> And playing surfaces, which are so crucial for effective, attractive and marketable football, have improved only marginally.<br /> <br /> Hence the comments from Jamaica&rsquo;s current coach Mr Winfried Schaefer published yesterday that, &ldquo;If you want good local players then you need good surfaces, not just in the football association, but it has to be the same in the clubs.&rdquo; He went to say that to find &ldquo;good local players&rdquo; there must be &ldquo;good (playing) surfaces&rdquo;; not only at the national level, inclusive of a high-standard training centre, but also at the club level. Mr Schaefer also reiterated that there must be planned and seamless development of age-group football up to senior level, and that there is need for the national team to play more practice games on home soil, along with the need for more sponsorship.<br /> <br /> We would add a long-standing recommendation by banker Mr Peter Moses for football to be so structured that big business can take charge of local clubs by putting in money and equity, which we believe will bring the local game closer to true professionalism.<br /> <br /> Mr Schaefer, who has a contract until 2018, has made it clear that he wants to stay to build Jamaica&rsquo;s football. That ambition is in doubt, since football boss Captain Horace Burrell, and presumably the wider Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), have seemingly lost confidence in him.<br /> <br /> However, whether Mr Schaefer stays or goes, Jamaica&rsquo;s football administrators must change tack. The short-term, stop-and-start campaign from one World Cup to the next, from one expensive international coach to the next, isn&rsquo;t working. The JFF can&rsquo;t keep doing the same thing over and over again.<br /> <br /> The time has come for painstaking, long-term planning with specific minimum targets in mind, while taking into account all aspects of Jamaica&rsquo;s football and with the involvement of all stakeholders, including the football fraternity, business partners and Government.<br /> <br /> To that end, there should be keen attention to the suggestions made by Mr Schaefer. Jamaica&rsquo;s football leaders should be nurturing that long-term vision as the Reggae Boyz face Haiti in their pride-only fixture at the National Stadium tonight. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13158762/217187__w300.jpg Editorial Tuesday, September 06, 2016 12:00 AM Hoping for an exceptional start to the school year http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Hoping-for-an-exceptional-start-to-the-school-year_72978 We take Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid at his word that all is in place for today&rsquo;s start of the new school year.<br /> <br /> By mid-morning, though, the country should be able to tell whether Minister Reid and his technocrats are correct, or whether they were being overly optimistic.<br /> <br /> Truth be told, over the years successive governments have been improving on getting schools ready for each new academic year.<br /> <br /> Last month, Mr Reid was reported as saying that his team started preparations for the 2016/17 school year from as early as June.<br /> <br /> According to Mr Reid, furniture &mdash; a source of discontent each year &mdash; was being delivered to schools in need, and &ldquo;a lot of infrastructure and maintenance work has occurred&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> He also told the country that textbooks were being distributed and said that, while the Education Ministry does not anticipate any major problems, &ldquo;if issues arise they will be promptly addressed&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> While we hope that all will go well, we are not na&iuml;ve, and as such we expect that there will be some problems. The key, though, will be how well prepared are the ministry and school administrators to deal with those problems, notwithstanding the minister&rsquo;s assurances.<br /> <br /> The issue of security in our schools, we believe, is one of the more important. Minister Reid has said that 1,000 safety and security officers have been trained in the areas of human trafficking, roles and responsibilities of school resource officers, gangs in school, and the duty of care pursuant to the Child Care and Protection Act. To them will fall the task of ensuring the safety of children during school hours.<br /> <br /> We are encouraged by the announcement that an additional 12 schools will be removed from the shift system this year, impacting 14,395 students. We have long maintained that the country should get to the point where all schools will be considered equal, or near equal, in the eyes of parents, teachers and students.<br /> <br /> That brings us to the role of parents, and adults in general, in all of this. Everyone, we hold, has a responsibility to take care of his or her children, as well as, within reason, all children.<br /> <br /> All well-thinking Jamaicans need to do more than just shake their heads in dismay on realising that the child next door is not going to school.<br /> <br /> Lest people forget, the Education Code requires that no child must be kept at home without good cause, and no school should exclude a student, except for causes provided in the code.<br /> <br /> For no one can successfully challenge the argument that education is the most important development tool that opens the path from poverty and despair towards a future of hope, promise and, indeed, a better standard of living.<br /> <br /> Today, we all should spare a thought for the very young ones who are entering a strange new world for the very first time. They will need as much support as possible. That will require patience, which, in today&rsquo;s fast-paced, materialistic world, is a rare commodity. However, it will make that big transition that much easier for them.<br /> <br /> Finally, we must appeal to all communities to protect their schools, because when they are robbed of resources and infrastructure, it is our children who suffer and eventually our community and our nation. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13264994/226610_w300.jpg Editorial Monday, September 05, 2016 12:00 AM PNP campaign funds: In search of the facts http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/PNP-campaign-funds--In-search-of-the-facts_72932 In order to generate more light than heat in the current brouhaha over campaign-financing allegations in the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP), it is necessary to look at the bald facts.<br /> <br /> Fact number one: How the PNP chooses to handle its finances is a matter for the PNP. This is so even if there are questions about the morality of how it conducts its finances.<br /> <br /> Fact number two: It becomes an issue for the police and the courts if, in the conduct of its financing, the PNP as an organisation &mdash; or a member or members &mdash; contravenes any law of the land.<br /> <br /> Fact number three: The public is justified in being concerned if the conduct of the PNP or its members in handling party fund-raising is such that it suggests that they are not sufficiently honest to be entrusted with public office.<br /> <br /> Fact number four: There are no public laws governing how political parties raise and spend funds. It is now time to enact long-pending legislation to regulate campaign financing and political party financing.<br /> <br /> Fact number five: It is necessary to recognise that even campaign financing legislation will not regulate the fact that some financial donations are to the political party as a whole and go into a central pool, while some donations are given to support individual politicians or particular constituencies.<br /> <br /> Fact number six: No factual evidence has been adduced by Mr Norman Horne, the treasurer, or by General Secretary Paul Burke. What has been said is a collection of unsubstantiated generalisations constituting broad allegations about unnamed people, hence the need for an independent investigation.<br /> <br /> Fact number seven: Mr Burke has not produced any facts to support his thinly disguised allegations about Dr Omar Davies, who might justifiably feel entitled to seek legal redress and damages.<br /> <br /> Fact number eight: PNP President Portia Simpson Miller has failed to take charge and act decisively to resolve the issue, which could be the death knell of her political career. Her request to the party&rsquo;s Integrity Commission to investigate the issue makes little sense since we all know that there will be temptation to hide embarrassing findings.<br /> <br /> Fact number nine: Mrs Simpson Miller&rsquo;s claim that she did not know about the funding scandal is incredible, but more worrying is that it appears she has not sought to know, which would be wilful ignorance.<br /> <br /> Fact number ten: The allegation that there might be an agent fee needs to be investigated by the proper authorities, especially in light of the unresolved Trafigura affair.<br /> <br /> The conclusion to be drawn from all of this is that the PNP is in a crisis, out of which it might not emerge unscathed. The Portia Simpson Miller/Paul Burke/Robert Pickersgill leadership cabal is in the terminal phase of an existential predicament.<br /> <br /> It is not merely a new leader that is needed, and needed urgently, but a new leadership group. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9852972/pnp-logo_w300.jpg Editorial Sunday, September 04, 2016 12:00 AM A vision of 400m, 800m glory http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/A-vision-of-400m--800m-glory_72887 When Jamaica first made its name as a power in track athletics at the 1948 Olympics in London, glory came in the 400m and 800m, not the short sprint, as is the case today.<br /> <br /> Mr Arthur Wint in the 400m (gold) and 800m (silver) and Mr Herb McKenley in the 400m (silver) were the heroes in London.<br /> <br /> Four years later in Helsinki, Mr Wint took silver in the 800m. Mr George Rhoden won gold in the 400m and Mr McKenley, silver. All three, along with Mr Les Laing, famously captured the 4x400m relay gold. In Helsinki also, Jamaica famously got its first taste of an Olympic 100m medal when Mr McKenley won silver.<br /> <br /> In 1960 in Rome, Mr George Kerr won bronze in the 800m. Incredibly, no Jamaican has won an Olympics or World Champions medal in the 800m since then.<br /> <br /> There has been more success in the 400m. Mr Bertland Cameron&rsquo;s gold medal run at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki takes pride of place. There have been others, including Miss Shericka Jackson who took an individual bronze in Rio de Janeiro last month; and we dare not forget outstanding performances by our 400m relay runners over many years.<br /> <br /> Also, 400m hurdlers, including Ms Deon Hemmings Hemmings, Ms Melaine Walker, Messrs Winthrop Graham and Danny McFarlane, have excelled.<br /> <br /> But yet, there is the undeniable feeling that given the start back in &rsquo;48, Jamaica has fallen well short in the 400m especially.<br /> <br /> This newspaper suspects that many Jamaicans who would do best in the 400m, and even the 800m, gravitate to the shortest sprints largely because the work is perceived as easier than the &ldquo;pure pain&rdquo; of longer distances.<br /> <br /> What&rsquo;s clear is that the old methods which resulted in times of 44 and 45 seconds over the quarter can&rsquo;t guarantee medals at today&rsquo;s biggest games.<br /> <br /> Back in the 1990s the great American Mr Michael Johnson &ndash; building on stunning feats by others such Messrs Lee Evans and Butch Reynolds &ndash; showed by dint of consistently extraordinary performances that the 400m should be considered a pure sprint. In Rio, the young South African Mr Wade van Niekerk took that concept to a whole new level in arguably the most spectacular performance of those Olympic Games.<br /> <br /> For those watching the 400m final, the initial impression was of a young man who had badly miscalculated. Placed in lane eight, Mr van Niekerk took off like a man in the 200m. He must fade in the final straight, we thought. As it turned out, Mr van Niekerk held his form and speed to clock an unbelievable 43.08 seconds, blowing Mr Michael Johnson&rsquo;s long-standing 400m World Record of 43.18 to smithereens.<br /> <br /> Such was his dominance, Mr van Niekerk crossed the line 0.73 of a second ahead of silver medallist Mr Kirani James.<br /> <br /> That done, coaches are now saying their approach to the quarter mile will change to building the sort of stamina that will ensure their athletes are better able to maintain top-end speed.<br /> <br /> Twinned to that, we believe, must be greater effort to get some of those aspiring, in vain, to be champions over 100m and 200m to take a look at longer distances.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13243175/224359_w300.jpg Editorial Saturday, September 03, 2016 2:00 AM A matter of credibility: The PNP cannot police itself http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/A-matter-of-credibility--The-PNP-cannot-police-itself_72756 An investigation into the allegations relating to the use of election campaign funds by People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) candidates in the last general election is the right thing for the party to have requested.<br /> <br /> However, the party&rsquo;s Integrity Commission is not the entity to conduct this probe. For even as we have no questions about the integrity of the members of that committee &mdash; Bishop Wellesley Blair, Ms Daisy Coke, Ambassador Burchell Whiteman, Messrs Cedric McCulloch, and Fred Hamaty &mdash; the fact that the committee is a creation of the PNP will not protect it from accusations of bias by the wider public.<br /> <br /> Indeed, the committee will be seen in the same light as the former Bureau of Special Investigations &mdash; the unit in the Jamaica Constabulary Force that had the responsibility to investigate police shootings and complaints of brutality against cops.<br /> <br /> Quite frankly, this campaign funding matter needs to be investigated by an independent body because, if the statements attributed to Mr Paul Burke this week are true, then Jamaica has a serious problem that is larger than any one political party.<br /> <br /> Mr Burke, the PNP general secretary, was reported to have told a recent meeting of the party&rsquo;s National Executive Council (NEC) that it is an established practice for large Chinese firms to pay an &lsquo;agent&rsquo;s fee&rsquo;, ranging from one per cent to 1.5 per cent of the total cost of projects.<br /> <br /> Mr Burke, we are told, also said that it was customary that the &lsquo;agent&rsquo; would be named by the minister with portfolio responsibility for the relevant sector.<br /> <br /> According to Dr Omar Davies, the former minister of transport and works who shared this information with the public, Mr Burke&rsquo;s comments resulted in people leaving the NEC meeting with the impression that he, Dr Davies, was the minister who had recommended the agent to the Chinese firm undertaking a large project in the country.<br /> <br /> Dr Davies has denied being approached by any Chinese firm in relation to an agent&rsquo;s fee, or having recommended anyone as agents.<br /> <br /> He also said he had no knowledge of any such fees which should have been turned over to the PNP treasury, neither did he collect any financial contribution for his campaign or for the national campaign. As such, he demanded that Mr Burke make public all the facts on the issue at his disposal and accused the general secretary of making reckless and unsubstantiated statements.<br /> <br /> To date, Mr Burke has not denied making the allegations. That is why it is most important that this matter is made the subject of an independent probe.<br /> <br /> Add to that the fact that the country would not have learnt of these allegations had it not been for the leaking of the party treasurer&rsquo;s report to the NEC meeting in July in which he complained that candidates collected money for the election campaign but failed to remit it to the party.<br /> <br /> Against that background, the PNP cannot be trusted to investigate itself, because the temptation to suppress any damaging findings of an internal probe will be too great. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13258687/226149__w300.jpg Editorial Friday, September 02, 2016 2:00 AM