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 Fighting crime really not about the money http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Fighting-crime-really-not-about-the-money_86714 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> For many Jamaicans, one of the main reasons this battle against crime has taken so long is we lack resources to effectively win.<br /> <br /> If we had enough wealth then we could afford the required unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to support naval vessels to secure our coastline and prevent guns and drugs that support our gangs. We would be able to afford more fixed wing aircraft to supply the Jamaica Defence Force, more and bigger guns for the police and the army, X-ray equipment to secure the wharf, and more courthouses to reduce our backlog cases.<br /> <br /> Well we have such a scenario existing with one of our neighbours. This country has been described as the wealthiest country in the Caribbean as well as the third-richest country by GDP per capita in the Americas after the United States and Canada. They have a sophisticated economy for a country of its size and a well-established economy. They are an upper-middle-income, oil-exporting country. Therefore, if Jamaica could reopen all the bauxite companies, the sugar factories, resuscitate the banana industry, and expand the hotel industry, would be on our way to being a peaceful, crime-free nation again? Perhaps.<br /> <br /> Trinidad&rsquo;s 2016 Crime and Safety Report states that: &ldquo;The Government faces numerous challenges in its effort to reduce crime, including an overburdened legal system; bureaucratic resistance to change; unemployment in marginal areas; disenfranchised youth; the negative influence of gangs, drugs, weapons, and an economic recession. Crime is the principal threat to visitors and most are crimes of opportunity.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Despite the seizure of 691 firearms in 2015 &mdash; Jamaica seized 689 &mdash; almost 81 per cent of murders in Trinidad were committed by firearms, continuing to highlight the problem of imported and often illegal weapons and firearms smuggling. Drug trafficking and gang-related activities continue to fuel the demand for illegal weapons. Trinidad and Tobago has a population of 1.3 million people, 100 gangs and, in 2015, 420 murders &mdash; almost half of our murders. In fact, the only time they saw a dip in murders was during a state of emergency in 2011 when that crime slipped to 354, after they instituted a curfew in particular areas to deal with specific and emerging threats.<br /> <br /> On the other hand, tiny Barbados has pursued a different path and they have an extensive welfare programme for the poor and elderly. For the elderly, assistance is provided for housing, transportation, home care and free utilities as well as a non-contributory pension, assistance in kind, and food vouchers. The poor are provided with cash assistance, subsidised housing, legal aid, rents to private landlord, and emergency relief for fire victims. Perhaps if we concentrated much of the security budget on social intervention we may not need to be as wealthy as poor Trinidad and Tobago, when it comes to crime.<br /> <br /> Mark Clarke<br /> <br /> Siloah PO, St Elizabeth<br /> <br /> mark_clarke9@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12583483/181156__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Accepting UK prison deal could mean higher taxes http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Accepting-UK-prison-deal-could-mean-higher-taxes_86708 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Generation 2000, the young professional affiliate of the Jamaica Labour Party, commends the Andrew Holness Administration for not accepting the &lsquo;UK prison deal&rsquo; as such a deal would likely mean higher taxes for Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> The agreement that the previous Government was attempting to get into would mean Jamaicans would likely have to pay higher taxes, as the UK was only funding 40 per cent of any such project. That means the Government would have to find an additional $6 billion to finalise the project.<br /> <br /> Those who want the country to take this deal have yet to tell us where this money should come from, and why $6 billion should be spent in this way over all other priorities of the Government at this time.<br /> <br /> The Government is not ignoring prisons; the minister of national security has encouraged many new programmes to reduce the prison population and improve rehabilitation.<br /> <br /> We are happy that the Jamaica Labour Party Government did not go back on its commitment to not accept the deal. We need more and better schools, not more prisons. While we accept that our current prisons are in poor condition, so are many of the schools. We are not interested in another penal institution, but more educational opportunities for our youth.<br /> <br /> Generation 2000 is of the firm belief that, in an environment of tight fiscal controls, the Government must continue to prioritise the development of the majority of Jamaicans when it is setting policy.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Stephen Edwards<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> Generation 2000<br /> <br /> g2kpresident@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13541826/250440__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Change criminal laws, not commish! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Change-criminal-laws--not-commish-_86709 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Here we go again, once more around the mulberry bush.<br /> <br /> Yet another commissioner of police has quit; yet more irrational calls for yet another national security minister to resign. When are we going to conclude that the problems do not lie with who holds these two positions?<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer columnist Christopher Burns, in his<br /> <br /> The Agenda column in the Sunday Observer of January 14, 2017 notes that &ldquo;desperate times calls for desperate measures&rdquo;, which supports Gleaner columnist Ian Boyne&rsquo;s line.<br /> <br /> Agreed here.<br /> <br /> Prime Minister Andrew Holness is testing the winds for long overdue anti-crime measures, although it&rsquo;s hard to understand how he can simultaneously turn down the British offer to help build a new, modern prison. Where will he house and rehabilitate these additional local criminals his new, as yet unspecified, measures will bring to justice? Not to mention those planeloads of deported criminals Britain will soon send our way in retaliation?<br /> <br /> Both Burns and Boyne emphasise additional police enforcement powers which would curtail some civil rights and liberties temporarily. No problem with that. Except, however, both columnists fail to recognise that merely giving police additional powers to enforce weak, criminal-friendly laws won&rsquo;t work. That&rsquo;s a serious lacuna in their argument.<br /> <br /> Take Belize, where bail has been curtailed for serious offences and draconian gun laws enacted. Crime is confined to a small geographical area and police quickly, make arrests. And just as quickly the criminals are acquitted! Conviction rates for murders and other serious offences are ridiculously low. It&rsquo;s not that the police, prosecutors or judges are incompetent. It&rsquo;s the criminal laws themselves that facilitate criminals walking free. Crime has thus become even worse in Belize in the past five years.<br /> <br /> Unless Burns, Boyne, Holness, and all Jamaicans are prepared to bite the bullet and advocate for changing our outdated criminal-friendly laws all the &ldquo;desperate&rdquo; additional police measures will do is take away civil rights and liberties, invite international criticism, and bring even more crime.<br /> <br /> Errol W A Townshend<br /> <br /> Ontario, Canada<br /> <br /> ewat@rogers.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13565366/252069_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Impressed with police interaction http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Impressed-with-police-interaction_86621 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> ?When bad things happen we jump to complain, but when good things happen, no one sings praises.<br /> <br /> Today I would like to change that by praising the police for their conduct and demeanour in my latest interaction with them. <br /> <br /> Last night, while driving along Constant Spring Road ?in the direction of Mary Brown&rsquo;s Corner (Rich?ie B&rsquo; gas station), I was stopped by two police officers for a routine spot check.<br /> <br /> One officer approached my vehicle, and I was astonished by the way he addressed me. The first thing he said was &ldquo;Good evening, we&rsquo;re doing a routine spot check. May I see your driver&rsquo;s licence and your vehicle documents, please?&rdquo;<br /> <br /> He was very courteous and displayed an impressive level of professionalism and intelligence. The officers checked my documents and, within minutes, I was handed back my papers and was well on my way.<br /> <br /> Other motorists can attest to the same, especially during the recent festive season.<br /> <br /> In the past, some of these officers ?have had little ?or no respect for motorist?s?, displaying only arrogance and unprofessionalism.<br /> <br /> I&rsquo;m pleased to see that this is now changing and officers ?are shaping up and becoming more welcoming and pleasant.<br /> <br /> I have to commend the people responsible for ?whatever interpersonal skills training sessions these officers have been undertaking, because they are working. Kudos to the person(s) who implemented the programme, it was clearly overdue. I hope these workshops become a compulsory part of the force&rsquo;s training policy, if it isn&rsquo;t already so.<br /> <br /> Stephanie Chambers<br /> <br /> stephchambers876@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10656735/Police-hat_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Police building confidence http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Police-building-confidence_86700 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Last Wednesday and Friday I had two pleasant and encouraging experiences involving members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).<br /> <br /> On both occasions, the police were conducting vehicular spot checks. The first experience was in Darliston, Westmoreland, and the second was in the vicinity of Salem, St Ann.<br /> <br /> I was encouraged by the politeness with which the JCF members conducted themselves in both instances. I was greeted with: &ldquo;Good afternoon, Sir,&rdquo; and then told the reason for my being stopped was because they were carrying out vehicle checkpoint inspections, whereby they were checking to ensure that car papers and driver&rsquo;s licence were all in good order.<br /> <br /> I proceeded to present the documents as requested and, upon examining and finding papers to be in good order, the JCF members in both instances thanked me and wished me a good day. I, likewise, thanked them for their professionalism and encouraged them to continue to carry out their duties as such.<br /> <br /> It was even more refreshing as the JCF members in question seemed to be relatively young men in terms of age.<br /> <br /> Although I have never had any bad experience as such with members of the JCF, there have been enough sad stories of the experiences of others to make me guarded.<br /> <br /> However, my two experiences in addition to the two widely reported operations by the police over the weekend, in St Andrew and St James, if nothing else, are evidence of the possibilities of the JCF.<br /> <br /> Hopefully, these experiences are but a turning point in the level of professionalism and competence being displayed by the JCF, which is necessary to ensure the public&rsquo;s confidence in the police can be restored. <br /> <br /> Kevin K O Sangster<br /> <br /> sangstek@msn.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10656735/Police-hat_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM I cried, I cry http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-cried---I-cry_86632 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Today I cried. I cried for those suffering immeasurable pain from oppression, sexual violence, and other forms of abuse in our beloved Jamaica. I cried and hyperventilated and even cursed because I am just sick and tired of the suffering that so many of our people go through every day.<br /> <br /> We must believe that the violence which prevails in this country has an expiry date. We must believe that gender-based violence against women and girls can become a thing of the past. We must, of necessity, believe and know that the power of change is in our hands and hearts and wills.<br /> <br /> Until we break our culture of violence and silence we shall continue down the abyss of wickedness and cruelty. Until we all make human rights the mission of every Jamaican and every government agency, and yes, every church, we shall continue to spew platitudes of the kinds which we have mastered in the arena of church.<br /> <br /> Our society is sick. Our pathology is so marked by selfishness, greed, envy, covetousness, and the pain we inflict on each other from time to time. Oh, that this present darkness be a door to the light of change &mdash; respect, child protection, transformed leaders, a healed nation.<br /> <br /> Rev Fr Sean Major-Campbell<br /> <br /> Seanmajorcampbell@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12459346/ZZ0024F9C2_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:00 AM Engendering hope for the new year http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Engendering-hope-for-the-new-year_86622 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In recent weeks, some prominence has been afforded Horace Levy&rsquo;s plea for &ldquo;another policy&rdquo; in challenging the crime monster in western Jamaica. Levy has spent the last decade and a half working with the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), and he knows first-hand what can be achieved when unattached inner-city youth are engaged in ways that enable them to feel they belong to a wider cause.<br /> <br /> No one is likely to make a sacrifice or change a given lifestyle for the benefit of the common good until they feel a sense of belonging. Dr Herbert Gayle&rsquo;s scholarly research on the social challenges of inner-city violence bears out the point.<br /> <br /> Gayle wrote in another publication some months ago: &ldquo;Young men use the tools of violence that they know &mdash; guns. Every out-of-school &lsquo;shotta&rsquo; in Montego Bay I have spoken to recently has bought better weapons with lotto scamming money. Had these young men been treated like included social beings by society, they would know what to do with their ill-gotten gains &mdash; just like the educated and socially included have done.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> If you think this is chilling, recall Gayle&rsquo;s own conclusion, &ldquo;You may not know,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;but the other side of the lotto scam crisis is the educated and socially included&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Jamaica should lose no time in putting our money where our mouth is by fully resourcing the PMI&rsquo;s operations on a wider national scale, with a strategic plan in place for building additional leadership and organisational capacity to make the PMI self-sustaining and fulfil its mission. It&rsquo;s an initiative that requires a coalition of support from the private sector, Government, Church and civic groups. Such an initiative may not result in an immediate reduction in violence, but it will bring Jamaicans from every layer of the society to collaborate on the single most urgent problem facing our nation at this time.<br /> <br /> The cost for putting in place social interventions, such as equipping social workers to address the challenges within &ldquo;at-risk&rdquo; environments is far outweighed by the cost borne by a nation unable to achieve sustainable development as a result of crime and violence.<br /> <br /> As demonstrated in other areas of national life, in which the varied interests and voices in our country have worked together for the national good, an alliance of this nature would offer us some hope in the new year.<br /> <br /> Rt Rev Robert Thompson<br /> <br /> Bishop of Kingston <br /> <br /> revthompson@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/5483941/Herb-Gayle_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM What&rsquo;s the real motive of the Holness-Netanyahu meeting? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/What-s-the-real-motive-of-the-Holness-Netanyahu-meeting-_86465 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When I first read the article in the Jamaica Observer about a meeting between Prime Minister Andrew Holness and and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu I didn&rsquo;t know what to make of it. And now that Holness has invited Netanyahu to visit Jamaica I&rsquo;m even more puzzled about Holness&rsquo;s intentions.<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s hard to intuit how politicians work.<br /> <br /> Just think about it. Netanyahu has consistently trashed outgoing US President Barack Obama. He has maintained a hard-line approach towards the Palestinians. He had hostile reactions towards the recent United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 2016. This resolution, unanimously passed by the Security Council 14-0, with the US abstaining, concerns Israeli settlements in &ldquo;Palestinian territories occupied since 1967&rdquo;. The resolution states that Israel&rsquo;s settlement activity constitutes a &ldquo;flagrant violation&rdquo; of international law and has &ldquo;no legal validity&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Based, at least, on some of those issues, one would have thought that Holness, presumably a man who understands the late Nelson Mandela&rsquo;s struggle against apartheid, would say, &ldquo;Sure, I love all peace-loving Israelis, and they deserve a safe and secure border in which to live their lives. But, at the same time, the Palestinians also have the right to a secure homeland and to be free from Israeli occupation. However, on both scores, I don&rsquo;t see Netanyahu creating the conditions for with either side can live in peace and safety; but that he is the obstacle to the two-state solution.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> However, as we&rsquo;re not mind readers, and can&rsquo;t figure out Holness&rsquo;s real motives, we can only assume that in cosying up to Netanyahu he will find good favour with incoming US President Donald Trump. By his embrace of Netanyahu, Holness may well ingratiate himself with Trump, and hopefully get more US resources flowing into Jamaica.<br /> <br /> On the other hand, Netanyahu hopes to gain and maintain Jamaican and Caricom support for his hard-line policies in the region. So Holness&rsquo;s seeming calculation (one may say of pragmatism, but which I see as expediency) &mdash; unlike that of the typical Jamaican market vendor who protests about selling his or her goods at a discounted price, and says, &ldquo;Before mi sell it fi dat price, mi radda dash it weh!&rdquo; &mdash; is more strategic.<br /> <br /> For, despite Netanyahu&rsquo;s intransigence and bellicose attitudes in regional and international affairs, Holness befriends Netanyahu, who is Trump&rsquo;s friend. So by his meeting with Netanyahu, which I believe is less about lending Israeli expertise to Jamaica, it seems more about Holness playing in the big boys&rsquo; league, and seeking to curry favour with Trump.<br /> <br /> So politics and economics may well trump moral and human rights principles. Some may call this pragmatism, but I call this opportunism; maybe even Machiavellianism.<br /> <br /> George S Garwood, PhD<br /> <br /> Eastbourne, UK<br /> <br /> merleneg@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13567926/252304_79570_repro_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM Take away the 16, and give them 18 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Take-away-the-16--and-give-them-18_86456 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s been a long time now since we have been asking the powers that be to change the age of consent from 16 to 18, and up to now nothing has been done.<br /> <br /> Changing the age of consent from 16 to 18 should be as simple as pressing the button of an elevator, and stepping in and out when the doors open. So, why do we make it look so difficult?<br /> <br /> Furthermore, giving young people the go-ahead to engage in sex early can jeopardise their studies and schooling; therefore, granting them the green light to mate can create unwanted pregnancy, putting unnecessary burdens on their young heads.<br /> <br /> So, don&rsquo;t delay any longer. For God&rsquo;s sake, take away the 16, and give them 18.<br /> <br /> Donald J McKoy<br /> <br /> donaldmckoy2010@hotmail.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10561609/gavel_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM Was the UK prison deal so bad? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Was-the-UK-prison-deal-so-bad-_86618 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When this United Kingdom prison deal was announced there was so much discussion that the entire contents of the deal were clouded in a web of misinformation and everyone was up in arms because of the messenger and not the message.<br /> <br /> The Government must be minded that Jamaica&rsquo;s prison infrastructure is outdated and in ruins. A number of prison blocks have been shut down due to structural issues and these prisons are from the time of the Spanish and colonial English.<br /> <br /> The prisons are currently overcrowded, understaffed, and without the relevant security to ensure that those who are to stay in will stay in. The prisons are not only dilapidated but are in breach of most international standards of what a modern institution should be and, in most cases, any form of rehabilitation will not succeed.<br /> <br /> At this point I have to commend the many staff members who continue to provide service beyond their capacity in very stressful conditions. Hence, the current Administration needs to tell the country why the deal was rejected by them.<br /> <br /> I am fully aware that they played upon public sentiment while in Opposition and it can be difficult to reverse. That being said, National Security Minister Robert Montague did meet to discuss the deal and, unless I am missing it, the results were never brought to Parliament or to the country.<br /> <br /> In a politically charged environment, I feel that a greater level of transparency should have been done. Using the prime minister&rsquo;s swearing-in message as a platform for transparency, both Minister Montague as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith need to tell the country why this deal was rejected. Was the deal still on the table given that the messenger was removed? How are we going to bring the prison system up to international standards? And, finally, what elements of the deal were so reprehensible that it would have affected Jamaica&rsquo;s sovereignty?<br /> <br /> Mario A Woode<br /> <br /> solutions696@aol.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11043711/UK-flag_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM Let&rsquo;s map our way to growth http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-s-map-our-way-to-growth_86617 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I welcome the news put out by Jamaica Information Service about the recently concluded mapping of resources in the parish of Clarendon. It is such information on which the national planning exercise should be based.<br /> <br /> The subsequent call for mapping of best uses, based on the map of resources, can be supplemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency as the planning body in Jamaica, or a reconstituted government town planner, to define potential for development, keeping in mind the demographic of the parish.<br /> <br /> I hope this will be a sustained action, including from the citizens and relevant agencies, to undertake planning and development as integral to the plan for economic growth, and that the resource mapping will be done for the entire country.<br /> <br /> Hugh M Dunbar<br /> <br /> hmdenergy@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10782364/nepa-logo_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, January 16, 2017 12:00 AM Let&rsquo;s not waste the $5.5b http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-s-not-waste-the--5-5b_86436 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is a mistake to spend all this money on Jamaica&rsquo;s national security and crime fight without proper social intervention accompanying it.<br /> <br /> It is useless to take out the dons who are feeding numerous families and then not provide the means by which those same families can survive.<br /> <br /> Equip the police, yes; catch the criminals, yes; stop the guns, yes; but the Government must provide proper social services, counselling for parents and children (especially in inner-city communities), training and entrepreneurial activities and/or jobs for the young people and unemployed adults in the various communities. People must have a source of funds that can compete with the proceeds of crime.<br /> <br /> A lot needs to be invested in creating a healthy social environment for our children &mdash; enough is certainly not being done here.<br /> <br /> Additionally, corruption must then be addressed from the top down. Or else this $5.5 billion will be a complete waste.<br /> <br /> Derville Lowe<br /> <br /> Kingston 19<br /> <br /> drvlllowe@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13565215/252195.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM Murray&rsquo;s apology was heartfelt http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Murray-s-apology-was-heartfelt_86435 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I don&rsquo;t believe that Heather Murray should resign or be forced out. There is no need to go overboard with this issue now that there is a public apology which seems genuine and sincere. It was, indeed, an apology that was heartfelt.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, the detailed apology issued recently was not the first statement Murray gave on the matter. This could&rsquo;ve helped to defuse the controversy surrounding her involvement and presence at the court hearing for the husband of her friend, the pastor accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.<br /> <br /> I believe most people would&rsquo;ve understood the lapse in judgement and error she made. Sometimes it takes public outcry to step back and see the light and accept our faults which are also human.<br /> <br /> Politicians and leaders could learn a lot from all this. Instead of inaction and being defensive, it is also admirable to admit wrong and do the right thing by giving an apology.<br /> <br /> There are many lessons here, and very often these types of controversies can be laid to rest sooner, when we do the right thing. I&rsquo;m sure the time taken by Murray to go on leave and step away from all the controversy will also help her to put things into context and return renewed and move vigilant. She seems like a nice person, an ardent professional who takes her role as school principal seriously. She has taken a lot of heat already and deserves some support now.<br /> <br /> It is time to remind ourselves of the seriousness of sexual predators around us and the dangers to our children. We must be more vigilant and supportive to the victims and families and encourage all to speak out and alert authorities when there are any signs of misconduct or abuse.<br /> <br /> P Chin<br /> <br /> chin_p@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13559682/Heather-Murray_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM Rebel Salute is reggae salute http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Rebel-Salute-is-reggae-salute_86439 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I wish to use this medium to publicly commend reggae artiste and promoter Tony Rebel for his continued production of Rebel Salute, which has fast become a preferred staple on Jamaica&rsquo;s entertainment calendar.<br /> <br /> At a time when it is becoming more and more crucial to promote Brand Jamaica through music and sport, this particular event undoubtedly showcases the best of what the country has to offer in reggae and dancehall.<br /> <br /> What is most significant and commendable is that the promoter has ensured over the years that this is a clean event bereft of the usual slackness and antisocial behaviour that have sullied these particular genres. In this context, Rebel Salute deserves all the support it needs to take it to even higher heights.<br /> <br /> As an aside, it is refreshing to see that there will be a &ldquo;Herb Curb&rdquo; which will positively extol the uses of ganja (cannabis sativa) in an environment where patrons will be able to light up their spliffs without being harassed or arrested by the long arm of the law.<br /> <br /> Music can indeed help to soothe the hearts of the savage beasts among us when used constructively. Rebel Salute is indeed a reggae salute!<br /> <br /> Lloyd B Smith, JP<br /> <br /> lbsmith4@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12535448/178128_78827_repro_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM Who is the pastor&rsquo;s pastor? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Who-is-the-pastor-s-pastor-_86113 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Many of the great and powerful male preachers, such as Eddie Long and Jimmy Swaggart, who have fallen from grace, were taken down by some kind of sexual sin, leaving congregants confused, humiliated and frustrated with church. This is quite understandable in light of the reverence and godlike praise given to church leaders and their positions.<br /> <br /> But one has to be reminded that, at the end of the day, religious ministers are human beings.<br /> <br /> Church leaders must come to the consciousness that &ldquo;&hellip;For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required&rdquo; (Luke 12:48) and they have a duty not only to preach a scintillating message on Saturday or Sunday morning but keep themselves pure.<br /> <br /> All of us need support regardless of status, colour or creed, and the church leader is no exception. Who does he/she call upon for emotional support? Who is the pastor&rsquo;s pastor? Who is the bishop&rsquo;s bishop? <br /> <br /> &ldquo;&hellip;He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone&hellip;&rdquo; John 8:7<br /> <br /> It is amazing how we tend to hone in on people&rsquo;s faults and magnify them but shy away from the mess that is our own lives. We often point the finger saying &ldquo;shame on her&rdquo;, but no one alive today is perfect.<br /> <br /> Therefore, compassion and forgiveness should be among the fundamental teachings.<br /> <br /> P Ormsby<br /> <br /> pal_orm@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12568714/180369_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM An apology not enough http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/An-apology-not-enough_86422 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> What was going on inside the head space of that teacher who went to the courthouse for the case involving the pastor of a reputable Christian denomination who was reportedly caught in a compromising position with a minor?<br /> <br /> That teacher is responsible for the moulding of so many young persons&rsquo; minds, character and reputation. She doesn&rsquo;t need anybody to have to tell her that she needs to resign. An apology is not enough.<br /> <br /> And it is full time that the churches stop sweeping things under the carpet and making the church look oh, so perfect and clean, which it is not. The church is made of imperfect people.<br /> <br /> Claudette Harris<br /> <br /> claudetteharris52@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13564319/Heather-Murray_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM Full time now for real action http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Full-time-now-for-real-action_86417 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> As a citizen of Jamaica, one who resides in a foreign country, I keep abreast of the socio-economic and political affairs and pretty much everything that goes on in my own country.<br /> <br /> I have a strong gut feeling that neither Robert &ldquo;Bobby&rdquo; Montague, minister of national security, nor Andrew Holness, prime minister, understands the seriousness, the commitment, the dedication, and the drive to actually curb crime; or maybe solving crime is not their top priority at the moment. Granted, they know crime is problematic.<br /> <br /> I would believe by now that, approximately one year after Andrew Holness has been sworn in as prime minister, both he and the minster of national security would have actually implemented something definite and effective to truly get the job of fighting crime advanced. It is full time now for them to get to work.<br /> <br /> Please, Sirs, if the job is too heavy to carry, seek professional help, whether internal or external to the country.<br /> <br /> As Jamaicans, it should never be about which party one is affiliated with. We are citizens first. We have to fight for what we stand for as a nation &mdash; justice and truth. Consequently, we need to defend what is right and oppose what is bad.<br /> <br /> Let&rsquo;s call a spade a spade. Crime in Jamaica has been on the up way too long now. It is full time now for the people that we have elected or voted for to get down to some real, serious work on how to intelligently, yet aggressively, manipulate crime. Enough of the cheap talk and empty promises; those will not solve the problem or get the job done. We need to see action! Crime in Jamaica is sickening, it is frightening, and it is alarming. It should concern all of us.<br /> <br /> My heart bleeds for my beautiful Jamaica, land of my birth, each time that I read or hear that someone is gunned down maliciously, irrespective of age or gender or regardless of the circumstance.<br /> <br /> We are all Jamaicans, therefore, we should come together in unity and strength to fight for the upliftment and the betterment of our beautiful, beloved country. Let&rsquo;s do the right thing.<br /> <br /> Karen C Peart<br /> <br /> karpeart@yahoo.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13544685/DSC_5284_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, January 13, 2017 12:00 AM We&rsquo;re in the dark too long JPS! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-re-in-the-dark-too-long-JPS-_86302 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I would have much preferred that the Jamaica Public Service&rsquo;s (JPS) responses, or lack thereof, hadn&rsquo;t made this letter necessary; but, alas.<br /> <br /> My community, Mountain Spring, in the Jack&rsquo;s Hill area, suffers from frequent, very long power outages to an extent that I suspect is unique in Jamaica. I have written to JPS President Kelly Tomblin several times about this matter over the last few years, but there has been no improvement.<br /> <br /> Earlier this week, on January 8 to 9, 2017, we had a power cut that JPS could blame on the wind. In Mountain Spring the outage lasted for 19 hours. You would think the cause was obvious and several communities suffered outages, so we should just move on. We would be happy to, except that this was the third time in three months that we were having power outages of 19 hours or longer.<br /> <br /> The October and November outages took place in fine weather, with neither wind nor rain in sight. Indeed, the epic November outage was followed within a few hours by another lasting 10 hours. JPS has offered no explanation for those very long outages, nor the myriad others with which we are plagued.<br /> <br /> I&rsquo;m sure JPS keeps records of the location, frequency, and duration of power outages, and must therefore know that there is a real problem in this area. Insult is added to injury when one tries to call the line they dedicate to emergencies. It is almost impossible to get anything other than recordings on that line. After the November outrage I visited their office to speak to Tomblin. I was prepared to spend all day there, if necessary, but Courtney Whyte took an interest in the matter and gave me his personal phone number. That is now my phone line to JPS as the problem with their emergency line persists.<br /> <br /> It is clear to us in Mountain Spring that our lot is not typical, as our outages are neither short nor infrequent. It gives one a sense of insecurity, conveying the impression of a lackadaisical response to power outages by the provider. Since JPS tells us nothing, we are left to wonder why we have so many power cuts and why it takes so long for the company to respond.<br /> <br /> Let&rsquo;s hope the new year brings a new approach to service provision from them.<br /> <br /> Michael Nicholson<br /> <br /> Kingston 6<br /> <br /> kovsky54@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13276357/227535_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 12, 2017 12:00 AM Public opinion not a court http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Public-opinion-not-a-court_86313 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> So, Principal Heather Murray was at the Clarke hearing, not for the accused, but for his dear wife, her friend. Noble, though seemingly ill-advised.<br /> <br /> Apparently, she sought to show her support for her friend, by seemingly showing support for the accused &mdash; as observed by the public.<br /> <br /> As a public figure, she might have done better to give &ldquo;behind the scenes&rdquo; support, and if she does go public, she makes a statement (as she subsequently did) that would surgically control the flow of public perception. If she was, indeed, there for her friend, attend to the friend. Mind you, all this is easy to see in retrospect.<br /> <br /> But that said, isn&rsquo;t it still the case that one should be presumed innocent until proven guilty? And isn&rsquo;t it the case that it is the exclusive prerogative of the courts to determine one&rsquo;s guilt or innocence ultimately?<br /> <br /> Now here&rsquo;s a teaser: What would be so terribly wrong with &ldquo;supporting&rdquo; an innocent individual? It&rsquo;s hard to ignore the haste of the court of public opinion, with its apparent slogan, &ldquo;Justice delayed is justice denied.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> What we need to do is identify what is actually wrong with the justice system and seek to fix that; not abort the entire system. One glaring elephant in the room is shabby investigative skills of the police. Another is the clear susceptibility of the system to corrupt influences.<br /> <br /> I believe the press and this public court need to be cautious about pre-empting the work of the true court.<br /> <br /> Sure, I&rsquo;m as incensed as anyone with any shred of decency that our young girls are preyed upon as they are. This and other such atrocities must be met with the greatest force necessary to protect all our children &mdash; all vulnerable people!<br /> <br /> But for the sake of justice, let&rsquo;s do it properly.<br /> <br /> Charles Evans<br /> <br /> charles.evans@ncu.edu.jm<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13551120/Heather-Murray_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 12, 2017 12:00 AM Kari Douglas talks loudly now, but... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Kari-Douglas-talks-loudly-now--but---_86287 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Councillor for the Trafalgar Division, the People&rsquo;s National Party&rsquo;s Kari Douglas&rsquo;s open and vehement objection to the principal of Hampton School, Heather Murray&rsquo;s actions of attending court, and what she believes to be an ill-advised move for Murray to be involved with the process through her role as a justice of the peace in relation to the Moravian pastor&rsquo;s case, is commendable yet questionable.<br /> <br /> It is commendable for the fact that, as a politician, she has a duty to speak out against and rebuke what she believes to be wrongdoing in our society and that which can affect Jamaicans as a whole. However, the persistence and virulence in how she chastised the Hampton principal is the first of its kind, at least to my knowledge of her speaking out about wrongdoing in authority and those who are leaders in our society.<br /> <br /> I cannot help but wonder if her comments on this issue call into question whether this sort of open rebuke for alleged wrongdoings is partial to only those who don&rsquo;t hold political office. Where was her outcry at the initial silence of then Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on the Outameni scandal? Where was Douglas&rsquo;s outcry and disgust at the chikungunya epidemic which plagued our island in 2015, while her fellow Comrade Fenton Ferguson was at the helm of the health ministry? Why was she deafeningly silent when Ferguson was not completely relieved of his Cabinet duties, but simply transferred to head another ministry? Where was Douglas&rsquo; outcry at the handling, or lack thereof, of the fire which engulfed the Riverton dump by her own political colleague Jennifer Edwards, and the then prime minister&rsquo;s perceived attempt to shield Edwards from accountability?<br /> <br /> The fact of the matter is that all these issues tug at the strings of the fabric of our society. How we deal with the issue of health; accountability by those in authority and to whom leadership is vested; and respect for children and women by all people are all critical issues which have a daily impact on our society and in our individual lives. How we, as the public, respond to the handling and addressing of these issues is starkly different from those in authority. This is because politicians, by their very appointment, are given a far-reaching platform by which they communicate with citizens. Their voices, even on social media, carry more weight, attention and are more resounding than the regular public.<br /> <br /> Douglas has done the right thing by speaking out and clearly stating her position on the issue, but she has also clearly shown, by doing so, that the same standards of accountability and chastisement for perceived wrongdoing are not applicable when it comes to her fellow colleagues.<br /> <br /> Wendy Beswick<br /> <br /> wendybeswick@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13480239/245172_71718_repro_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 12, 2017 12:00 AM Murray overstepped! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Murray-overstepped-_86310 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> As the saga unfolds of principal of Hampton School, Heather Murray&rsquo;s involvement in the matter of the accused minister Rupert Clarke, I think the culture of silence that we have embraced has been broken.<br /> <br /> No longer is there hushed whispering on wrongdoing.<br /> <br /> Also there must be no law that protects an accused from being photographed. Name them and shame them! Even if it&rsquo;s my family member.<br /> <br /> As I reflect on Murray&rsquo;s presentation at a professional development conference in January 2016, how didactic in nature her presentation was as she urged us to love ourselves and take care of your image as well as mental wellness, I wonder. She also encouraged us to reflect on our journey and prepare a way to move forward in our lives as mothers, educators and upright citizens. What was she thinking when she impeded the reporter, and where was the display of moral conscience that she extols?<br /> <br /> I am always saddened when matters of this ignominious nature shadow a career that much emphasis had been placed on character building and qualification. Teachers, and especially pastors, are expected to lead lives of unparalleled regularity. Predators can&rsquo;t hide behind these professions that warrant trust. No child belongs to a lesser god and is undeserving of care and protection.<br /> <br /> It is imperative to extricate oneself from matters that involve the police and close relatives which can jeopardise your livelihood and taint your image. We should seek to find out how the victim is managing, instead.<br /> <br /> Nothing Murray says now justifies her stance. You must be willing to die for a noble cause not an ignoble one. She must not remain in her employ. Any professional who has been imbued with values of self-respect and common sense will be willing to walk the talk.<br /> <br /> Boundaries are critical, she has overstepped this one.<br /> <br /> Denise James<br /> <br /> queenbungani@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13564319/Heather-Murray_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 12, 2017 12:00 AM Finally, let&rsquo;s get those criminals! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Finally--let-s-get-those-criminals-_86308 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is refreshing to hear that the Government has allotted an additional $5.5 billion towards the crime fight for this coming year. This is a massive investment and clearly indicates the Government&rsquo;s commitment to curbing the monster of crime and violence in our society.<br /> <br /> Based on reports, the amount will be spread widely and used to fulfil many pressing needs like securing our borders, improving forensics, and increasing compensation for the police.<br /> <br /> For the past few weeks, there have been several damning reports and a steady spate of murders across the island. I have to admit that I, too, am quite concerned, but this is not something we are just now experiencing. The crime rate has been climbing for the past 10 years.<br /> <br /> I have heard much clamouring for the resignation of the current Minister of National Security Robert &ldquo;Bobby&rdquo; Montague, which I must admit came as a surprise to me, because no one called for the resignation of the former minister, who in my opinion, failed miserably at managing the security portfolio.<br /> <br /> It is my hope that these funds will be properly utilised and we will begin to see the benefits of it with a lowering crime rate in coming months.<br /> <br /> I also encourage the police to do their best to prioritise the spend so the most vital areas are addressed first.<br /> <br /> Sasha-Gaye Chambers<br /> <br /> Spring Farm Road<br /> <br /> St James<br /> <br /> csashagaye@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13565215/252195.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, January 12, 2017 12:00 AM Crime does not equate to prosperity http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Crime-does-not-equate-to-prosperity_86221 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is high time for well-thinking Jamaicans to call for the resignation of Minister of National Security Robert &ldquo;Bobby&rdquo; Montague, and serious consideration ought to be given to asking Andrew Holness to remove himself as prime minister of Jamaica also.<br /> <br /> Andrew Holness falsely claimed that under his Government, he had a plan that would ensure the safety of all Jamaicans. To date that plan has yet to show itself.<br /> <br /> Not only did Holness mislead the people of Jamaica, he also placed as head of national security someone who did not necessarily want the job, and clearly does not know how to handle it as he has not had many successes since taking office.<br /> <br /> It has been 11 months since Holness took office and he has yet to offer a strategic plan which would give Jamaicans assurance that he has their interest at heart.<br /> <br /> Over the weekend four more Jamaicans were brutally murdered, and neither the prime minister nor his minister of national security has seen it fit to address the nation.<br /> <br /> It is the height of ignorance and illiteracy for Jamaicans to be spouting prosperity when fellow Jamaicans are being murdered daily by men with guns who have no fear of the police.<br /> <br /> It is also high time for Holness to get up and be bold enough to ask for help, call in the army, do something!<br /> <br /> We cannot have a prime minister who continues to profile on social media and elsewhere and talking about prosperity when he cannot even address the serious issue of crime facing Jamaicans at this time.<br /> <br /> And, please, do not tell me that &lsquo;Andrew alone cannot fix it&rsquo;, when he was pontificating that if Jamaicans wanted to wake up alive they should vote for him and his Government. Nobody had the testicular fortitude then to tell him not to politicise crime.<br /> <br /> This entire Government is nothing but a big, fat joke.<br /> <br /> Michelle Bradshaw<br /> <br /> phillipsmichelle57@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13541826/250440__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Wednesday, January 11, 2017 12:00 AM Abolish new women&rsquo;s judges association http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Abolish-new-women-s-judges-association_86226 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I respectfully submit that the organisation of female judges just formed, though well intentioned, is not only fraught with a political complexion, but is an affront to the letter and spirit of independence of the judiciary, and so it should be abolished immediately.<br /> <br /> I am also submitting that judges should cease and desist from referring to other judges as their sisters and brothers. Not only is such conduct nepotistic, but it is also inconsistent with the independence of the judiciary.<br /> <br /> Finally, for the time being, courses for judges should have as their bottom line slavish respect for the rule of law and the constitution, with special reference to equality before the law. It is time that judges realise that they are no longer servants of kings and queens or the State, and I say no more except to add that there should be an intelligence test before any is appointed, as a sharp, not just a subtle distinction exists between intelligence and education as our Gordon &ldquo;Butch&rdquo; Stewart, Michael Lee-Chin, and other successful people on this planet demonstrate. Intelligence, otherwise called common sense, even gives birth not only to wealth but to education.<br /> <br /> Owen S Crosbie<br /> <br /> Mandeville, Manchester<br /> <br /> oss@cwjamaica.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12560166/Gavel_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Wednesday, January 11, 2017 12:00 AM The Church reaches out with loving care to all http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-Church-reaches-out-with-loving-care-to-all_86218 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Jamaica Council of Churches and the wider Christian community regret the recent news of the allegations of abuse of one of our nation&rsquo;s children by a minister of the Church.<br /> <br /> While we await the outcome of the legal process, we do not support or condone the abuse of our children or the misconduct of our leaders. We are seized by the gravity of the impact and implications on the Church, families and wider society on account of the case at hand. <br /> <br /> Undoubtedly, the outrage has served as a reminder to the Church of the high standard to which the church and its leaders are held by the society, and the burden of responsibility in ensuring that we live up to those expectations. The public response has been accentuated on account of the rate of child abuse in our country and the very early sexual initiation of many of our youth. This is a major concern for the Church as well.<br /> <br /> The grace and mercy of God, and the imperatives of the Gospel, demand that we reach out with loving care to all, irrespective. In light of this, and within the context of the present crisis, we prayerfully remember the teen, her family and friends; the accused and his family and friends, and the Church community &mdash; those who have benefited from the pastoral leadership of the accused, his denomination and the wider church community. <br /> <br /> As the Church, we remain committed to holding our members, and especially our leaders, to the highest level of morality, professionalism and Christian witness as embodied in our various denominational codes of conduct. Guided by such codes, we appeal to our leaders to be responsible in the use of the power and influence that has come with the pastoral call and office, even as we support them in leading lives of integrity. We further commit to continuing our partnerships with the State and other agencies in ridding our society of the scourge of child abuse.<br /> <br /> Rev Gary Harriott<br /> <br /> General Secretary<br /> <br /> Jamaica Council of Churches<br /> <br /> garionne.harriott@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12943658/Gary-Hariott_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Wednesday, January 11, 2017 12:00 AM