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 Raising the bar for MPs http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Raising-the-bar-for-MPs_19232048 Dear Editor:<br /> <br /> There is often the lament that Jamaican politics has more to do with combative exchanges and one-upmanship than anything substantial or uplifting. Indeed, our political culture is of such that meaningful ventilation of the issues takes a back seat to political clientelism and expediency.<br /> <br /> It is not surprising, therefore, that many a voter have come to associate or align themselves with one political party or the other, not so much on the basis of performance, policies, or positioning on key national issues, but rather on the basis of sentiments or direct benefit. This kind of politics has not served us well. In fact, it has held us back and has trapped many in the politics of poverty.<br /> <br /> Political support derived from direct benefits or clientelism does very little to challenge the status quo, and stands little chance of getting our political representatives to recognise that mediocrity, poor performance, and misplaced priorities are unacceptable. One can easily see a politician thinking to himself, "Why should I go the extra mile to coordinate a homework programme, start a skills training academy, address the chronic water shortage, or fix the deplorable roads in my constituency if they are going to vote for me no matter what?"<br /> <br /> It is against this backdrop that I look on with great admiration at the programme of public engagement being undertaken by the Jamaica Labour Party dubbed Prosperity Live. At its fourth staging in Mandeville, the Opposition leader vowed to make the upcoming general election campaign one that is based on the issues. That is quite commendable.<br /> <br /> The JLP has, by all indications, been raising the bar in political messaging and public education by bringing key national issues to the fore and placing key policy proposals on the table, with banners detailing the policies in each portfolio on display at every meeting. At a minimum, this refreshing approach to the politics does justice to the electorate as it puts them in a position to critically analyse proposals and make a voting decision on that basis.<br /> <br /> Marlon Morgan<br /> <br /> Deputy spokesman on agriculture<br /> <br /> Aide to Opposition Leader Andrew Holness<br /> <br /> marlonandremorgan@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Raising the bar for MPs<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12248506/Andrew-Holness_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 05, 2015 1:00 AM Is there a threat to the soldiers? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Is-there-a-threat-to-the-soldiers-_19231536 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Tivoli Enquiry recently heard evidence from two soldiers of the Jamaica Defence Force who said they witnessed police personnel killing unarmed civilians in Tivoli Gardens during the 2010 operation there. I commend the courage and obvious loyalty of those two soldiers. However, I found it strange that they had to give their evidence from an undisclosed location, and that their identities had to be concealed.<br /> <br /> Is it, thereby, assumed that there is or was a threat to the safety and security of those two soldiers. Is it also fair to assume that such a potential threat to the soldiers could only have been posed by those members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) against whom the evidence might have implicated?<br /> <br /> If that is so, where does that leave the ordinary citizen who may have cause from time to time to have to give evidence against the police? This certainly is not healthy for our system of justice that the very people who are charged with serving and protecting us, pose a threat to our security in the course of discharging a duty as a citizen in reporting or giving evidence which may implicate our police.<br /> <br /> Could we be told by the JCF what action has been taken to determine the identity of those policemen since the incident took place in 2010. It is hoped that they too are not in some undisclosed location and identities concealed.<br /> <br /> Colonel Allan Douglas<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> alldouglas@aol.com<br /> <br /> Is there a threat to the soldiers?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12252335/Witness_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 05, 2015 1:00 AM If you want to give us a gift... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/If-you-want-to-give-us-a-gift---_19232049 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This an open letter to UK Prime Minister David William Donald Cameron:<br /> <br /> As a resident Jamaican, please allow me to thank you, wholeheartedly, for your generous gift to help fund a prison to house deportees from the United Kingdom. I cannot imagine how costly the political capital will be for you and the Conservative political party you lead for offering Jamaica such a costly gift. I honestly wish there was something I could do, perhaps offering you a better idea to consider, to help alleviate that inevitable political damage.<br /> <br /> Here's a suggestion. While you are in such a generous mood, I am requesting that in lieu of the gift of a prison, you return to Jamaica all the financial and human resources (at agreed monetary value) your forebears separated from Jamaica, plus interest, with the required adjustments to arrive at the present value.<br /> <br /> I am not making the usual platitudinous requests for apologies and reparations from you or the UK. After all, our forebears, who paid with their blood, sweat, tears, and their lives, are not alive to get any closure from such apologies.<br /> <br /> Please accept my sincere thanks, in advance, for returning to Jamaica all the financial and human resources. Just imagine your unique place in history after you have done the right thing. You, and by extension the UK, would have set a stellar example for all the other countries which participated in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. PM Cameron, your legacy would be unmatchable.<br /> <br /> Trevor H Francis<br /> <br /> trevor@fiacg.com<br /> <br /> If you want to give us a gift...<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12238668/Cameron-signs_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 05, 2015 2:00 AM Let them keep it! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-them-keep-it-_19232051 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Let Prime Minister David Cameron keep his Trojan horse.<br /> <br /> Cameron's failure to apologise for his foreparents' accumulation of wealth from the flesh of black people is not anything new. His failure to apologise shows the true character of the British people.<br /> <br /> To add insult to injury he came bold and brazen to exact trade rights and benefits for this ailing economy. Added to this, he brought the evil gift of a prison, a coded institution to put black men, as more black men in jail means less resistance.<br /> <br /> Lacking deep analytical knowledge and a sense of sociology, cultural studies and international politics, our leadership has had the wool pulled over its eyes. Where else in the Commonwealth can Cameron travel to suggest this ill-conceived deal; certainly not India or Pakistan. Why not try Rwanda or Tanzania?<br /> <br /> Some people are ignorantly blaming China for all manner of things, but history has shown the Chinese have never enslaved us.<br /> <br /> Britain has nothing to offer us. They cannot produce machinery or medicine or inputs at competitive prices. UK goods have been and remain expensive. We have alternatives these days from Japan, China, and even India. We do not need them to mark our high school exam papers as we have a competent Caribbean Examinations Council equivalent to the best of Britain, neither do we need to travel to London or the Midlands to study medicine and engineering. The world is open with regard to academia and competition. which means our scholars can choose and refuse where they go, once they have their money. Our students can matriculate for higher institutions in Canada, USA, Australia, Brazil, Germany, and even Russia.<br /> <br /> Today we have a closer relationship with the US than Britain. Since the 1970s, net migration to the USA is at least 20 times that of net migration to England.<br /> <br /> Sadly, we continue to bow to a queen whose family has benefited from the suffering and atrocities meted to our forefathers. We must not forget the floggings, hangings, deprivation of property, and the stories of rape, torture, and indignity vividly documented in the history books.<br /> <br /> We must understand that Britain will never repay us for slavery. Britain's DNA has strains of buccaneerism, privateering, unfair rule over wealth from South America, taking copper, diamonds and gold from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. Like a leopard, it will never change its spots.<br /> <br /> Our leaders have let us down, but the spirit of the Jamaican people, the daughters and sons of slaves, will forever prevail. A race of proud people captured and taken to the West have survived and will survive. Let Cameron take his Trojan horse elsewhere, but not to a country where our majority are the proud descendants of black African slaves.<br /> <br /> Maurice Christie<br /> <br /> Aboukir, St Ann<br /> <br /> christiemaurice@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Let them keep it!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12242235/Cameron-Portia-hug_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 05, 2015 2:00 AM Where is our dignity? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Where-is-our-dignity-_19232039 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I want to think that all our heroes are upset with us. No heroism is left in the entire country. No one to step to the fore and advocate for the nation, no leadership.<br /> <br /> The prime minister of Britain visited us with a platter of money and our Government wined and dined him. Money come! But with it comes repatriated prisoners; just the right set of people to build our already crime-burdened society.<br /> <br /> Where is our pride and dignity? Did it go through the window, due to poverty and despair?<br /> <br /> We were colonised by the British, we presently have a governor general, we are part of the British Commonwealth, yet in this era a Jamaican woman who has a child in Great Britain will have to search for a birthplace for her child, as that child will not automatically become a citizen of UK. I would rather say "God bless America".<br /> <br /> Neville Grant<br /> <br /> nevillejamrock@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Where is our dignity?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12235219/Cameron-arrives-3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, October 05, 2015 2:00 AM $330 for a 3-y-o on a JUTC bus! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/-330-for-a-3-y-o-on-a-JUTC-bus-_19230179 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Yesterday I took a Jamaica Urban Transit Company premium bus, which runs from Kingston to Old Harbour. Upon entering the bus with my three-year-old daughter in my hands, sleeping, I was asked her age. I told the driver her age. The woman then said to me, "You will have to pay for her." I said, "Okay, how much?"<br /> <br /> I, along with other passengers travelling with children, had to pay $330 as an adult, and an additonal $330 for my child. Now, if that is not evil, I don't know what is.<br /> <br /> A single mother like myself, who is trying to make a stable home for her child, must leave my child at home then, because the two of us together on the bus for one week will cost $6,600, and for the month $26,400.00; that's almost the amount of my mortgage.<br /> <br /> This is ridiculous. We just cannot afford to live here, no matter how hard we work.<br /> <br /> kimmy_frass@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> $330 for a 3-y-o on a JUTC bus!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12098604/Jutc-buses_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Saturday, October 03, 2015 2:00 AM Health ministry doesn't seem to be taking disease outbreak seriously http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Health-ministry-doesn-t-seem-to-be-taking-disease-outbreak-seriously_19231637 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am a Jamaican formerly employed to the public health system in Thailand. I see news reports over the last few days highlighting an outbreak of the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD). I must express my absolute shock and dismay with the way in which the disease outbreak is being handled. I am particularly concerned at what appears to be an attempt by the Jamaican health ministry to water down the significance of the disease.<br /> <br /> This is especially so when the health authorities should be well aware of the fact that the disease has led to countless deaths of children throughout the globe. Just a few years ago in Cambodia, health officials identified Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), which causes hand, foot and mouth disease, while investigating the deaths of at least 52 children there. Other cases exist throughout south-east Asia.<br /> <br /> In the space of a few days, the numbers of schools in Jamaica affected have moved from 9 to over 53. That's more than quintupling the first set of schools affected. In any sane society, the health ministry would have moved to quickly shut down all schools within a specified geographical area. This is essential to rapidly slowing down the spread of the disease and as such isolate it.<br /> <br /> Five years ago one of the biggest HFMD outbreaks in Thailand history saw the Government quickly shutting down dozens of kindergartens and primary schools for several days. This arrested the rate of disease spread and allowed the Government to disinfect all schools.<br /> <br /> Dr Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica's minister of health, must be the worst in the world. He ignored appeals from even his political opponent in his constituency Delano Seiveright, the then spokesman for health Dr Ken Baugh, and the wider public by initially downplaying the chikungunya epidemic. Later when he sought to play catch up it was too late; countless Jamaicans were riddled with pain and we don't know how many died. That he was allowed to stay on as minister and allowed yet another outbreak to go on with such casual ease is frightening and boggles the mind.<br /> <br /> Jennifer Chin-Hue<br /> <br /> Asoke, Bangkok, Thailand<br /> <br /> jchinhue@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Health ministry doesn't seem to be taking disease outbreak seriously<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12242249/hand-foot_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 02, 2015 12:00 AM We're taking on more crosses to bear http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-re-taking-on-more-crosses-to-bear_19231687 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is very disheartening that at a time when many Jamaicans are complaining about the austere measures under which we must live, that our own Government would invite a head of state to tell us they are planning to build a 25-million (pound) prison and repatriate the prisoners to serve their time in Jamaica. What madness is that? Things like these further show just how out of touch the Government is with the realities of Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> The UK is seeking to save millions of their taxpayers' monies by sending these prisoners back to Jamaica, so what about our taxpayers' dollars? Many of these prisoners have spent most other their lives in the UK and have done more for the UK economic system than for Jamaica's. Why then should my money be spent to take care of them for crimes they committed outside of this country? It's a slap in the face that at this time when the International Monetary Fund deal is making our lives a living hell, the dollar cannot seem to be stabilised, which in turn drives up the cost of everyday goods, crime is out of control, health care is at the brink of collapse, social welfare and infrastructure is struggling, etc, that the Government would even accommodate such a grand announcement of an initiative that will, in the long run, cost us billions of dollars. This short-sighted acceptance that tries to posit the fact that jobs will be created in construction and security is laughable. Like the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme, these jobs don't last for five years or longer, therefore a 6-12 month construction contract cannot be viewed in the grand scheme of things as a meaningful job when the remuneration for the regular workers may not be enough to feed their families. And, like with the Chinese projects, I am sure the specialised workers will come from the UK.<br /> <br /> I hear the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness calling for an investment in education from Prime Minister Cameron. That's all well and good; however, I would prefer investments in manufacturing and tourism, or a fund set up that is easily accessible to Jamaicans with business plans who cannot readily access capital investment. Jamaicans are investing in their education, however they become very discouraged when they are not able to get a job after spending millions on tertiary education. We all know the spiel "only education can take one out of poverty", but being educated with no available job is even worst -- the brain drain that this country will face in the next couple of years will probably cripple the entire country.<br /> <br /> Jamaicans should vehemently reject this one-sided deal as our own Government seem to not have the backbone to say no to anything regardless of its impact, negatively or positively. Our minister of security has the guts to support this deal, however, he is yet to put forward a sensible, workable crime plan that can stem crime/murders and which will in turn encourage international investment and cost our disgraceful health system some needed funds. It's full time our Government have some respect for us and our real needs.<br /> <br /> Javid Brown<br /> <br /> Ocho Rios, St Ann<br /> <br /> javidbrown@gmail.com<br /> <br /> We're taking on more crosses to bear <br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 02, 2015 12:00 AM Prison &lsquo;exchange&rsquo; just like DR &lsquo;kick out&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Prison--exchange--just-like-DR--kick-out-_19231550 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This British gift is a slap in the face of Jamaican pride and self-imagery. Britain is, in fact, saying, "This is all unnu good fah! Hold a big prison and jus' kool."<br /> <br /> The jails in Jamaica were built in the 'bad ole colonial days' and yes, they need upgrading. But didn't the Government announce, some weeks ago, the building of a new prison? I'm sure it did. So was this a done deal from then?<br /> <br /> It smacks of the worst piece of blatant "licky-licky" that I have ever seen from this Administration.<br /> <br /> What does the UK see us as? A Devil's Island-type prison camp?<br /> <br /> What Britain is doing to Jamaica and Jamaicans is exactly the same as the Dominican Republic plans to do with "Haitians" born there. It's the same sending people "home" to somewhere that is totally alien to them! There was much hue and cry about the Dominican Republic's actions, and yet, strangely, the world press is silent about this real Jamaican crisis.<br /> <br /> What about a more positive bit of aid for Jamaica?<br /> <br /> I only hope that, to add insult to injury, this prison money is not redirected and used to fund an election victory.<br /> <br /> Anthony Goffe<br /> <br /> Mandeville PO<br /> <br /> tony@peeniwalli.com<br /> <br /> Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 02, 2015 12:00 AM Suddenly not a citizen? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Suddenly-not-a-citizen-_19231647 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> On his recent visit to Jamaica, British Prime Minister David Cameron dared to tell Jamaicans to forget about slavery for, after all, Britain led the way to its abolition -- after they had extracted enough of the Caribbean's wealth coupled with our forefathers' labour to add to their nation's coffers.<br /> <br /> Let it be clearly understood that I believe we [Jamaicans] should move on with our lives, not allowing the shadow of slavery to negatively affect our brilliant future, but it is not the UK prime minister's role to tell us so to do.<br /> <br /> It seemed evident that Britain does not want to pay reparation for slavery and, from where I sit, there are more questions than answers regarding reparation. What would the money be used for? Will they find consensus to determine that, or will it still leave some people dissatisfied? Will it really assuage the black race of its often overlooked status? Will it remove the sadness one feels when blacks today are still exposed to racism?<br /> <br /> The British prime minister's gift to Jamaica of a state-of-the-art prison, not for Jamaican citizens, but, for British 'rejects' -- for want of a better word -- is unacceptable and is nothing short of a double standard.<br /> <br /> How so? When a nation issues a visa to a person of another nationality, and if the person violates the law of the land, then the host country, in my opinion, can deport him/her back to his country of origin. However, when a nation offers a person citizenship and makes use of his/her gifts and abilities to the benefit of the nation, and the naturalised citizen, afterward, contravenes the laws then the problem remains the responsibility of that country where the person has citizenship. They should now expose him/her to the full gamut of the law within the said country. It can't be that having committed an offence the offender is suddenly not treated as a citizen of that nation, but as a Jamaican.<br /> <br /> How will Britain determine who will serve their sentences in Jamaica? Does Jamaica have any input in the matter? Did our Government ascertain whose fiscal responsibility it will be to maintain the incarcerated? Where will they live after they have served their sentence? Will England accept them again as worthy citizens of their pure country?<br /> <br /> Lord help us! Why are we so eager to accept anything and everything from abroad? Is it too late to say no?<br /> <br /> Ouida Williams<br /> <br /> deanouida@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Suddenly not a citizen?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12238664/DSC_2294_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 02, 2015 12:00 AM Ensure economic benefit from prison project http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ensure-economic-benefit-from-prison-project_19231638 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Ever since the announcement by David Cameron, UK prime minister, of a grant to build a prison to house Jamaican prisoners who will shortly be deported, I have heard varying opinions and views about the proposed development. People are questioning whether or not we are really independent; others are saying that this is not a priority as there are more important things that the money could be used for at this time.<br /> <br /> Let me state that while I, personally, could list more than a thousand other things that I would recommend that we use the money to do, this money is not a loan but a grant that will be given with condition that it be used to build a prison. The UK Government has taken a decision to save themselves billions of pounds by sending Jamaican prisoners home, and to accomplish this they are investing in the construction of a facility to house them.<br /> <br /> Given that this is the case, I propose that we accept this grant and take the advantages that come with it. Let us not focus on what else the money can do, but ensure that a large majority of the proceeds of this project remain in Jamaica. We must ensure that as many Jamaicans as possible be employed to the project. We must not allow them to only employ foreigners but ensure that our tradesmen are employed to build it so that the money spent on this project can be filtered into the Jamaican economy. We must also ensure that the materials used are bought from suppliers in Jamaica so that as many Jamaicans as possible can benefit from it.<br /> <br /> It is my view that this is a done deal, so let us ensure that we benefit economically from this project in every possible way and make the best of what we are given.<br /> <br /> Gary Rowe<br /> <br /> magnett0072004@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Ensure economic benefit from prison project<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Friday, October 02, 2015 12:00 AM Cameron is doing his job http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Cameron-is-doing-his-job_19231484 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A &pound;25-m prison gift? Why do I feel that we're being set up here? I can't help thinking: Trojan Horse.<br /> <br /> We're not even worth the dignity of a civil conversation about redressing the ills of the past. No, we're only worth being used as a prison location. And, much like slavery could only have thrived as it did in the past with the co-operation of Africans who turned on each other as they helped the slave traders.<br /> <br /> We, today, are suffering from lackey, self-serving leadership that seems more flabbergasted by this seemingly unexpected call from the fields to being nothing but a house slave.<br /> <br /> Now is when there'll be justification to emulate the current trend in the US to declare war on political correctness. Now is when I'd love some of the brawn of esteemed counsel K D Knight to tell this man to "pack your bag and go".<br /> <br /> But, truth be told, I have no problem with the British prime minister; he's doing his job and taking care of his business. I only wish our politicians would do theirs. I only wish our politicians would accept that we are Jamaica, Brand Jamaica! We have great value as a nation. Our people are bright and talented. We are not a charity case -- except in so far as we don't wish to take responsibility for our destiny and produce what we consume, and consume what we produce. Nobody will do business with us without deriving great benefit. We have what to take to the table. Quit being lackeys! It's anybody's privilege to be associated with us.<br /> <br /> I'm not na&iuml;ve; there's evil in the world. You can't refuse this offer without serious consequences, chiefly economic. But we must weigh what will be the greater consequence: coping with the social miscreants their society has created.<br /> <br /> The journey to a desired place could be quicker with help from a more prosperous society, but, please, not at the expense of our national dignity. Yes, this is the devil's world and he rules, but this world is a part of a universe, where Jehovah God reigns. Good will triumph over evil.<br /> <br /> Charles Evans<br /> <br /> charles.evans@ncu.edu.jm<br /> <br /> Cameron is doing his job<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12238668/Cameron-signs_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 01, 2015 12:00 AM Watch it, Usain! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Watch-it--Usain--_19231473 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Could you take a look at today's TMZ or Daily Mail Online websites and view the video of Usain in a strip club slapping the backside of a stripper and sticking dollar bills in her thong. Last week there was an article in the Daily Mail Online of him accidentally running up a &pound;10,000 drink tab at a London nightclub. Someone close to Usain needs to remind him of how he should be conducting himself.<br /> <br /> When a company sponsors athletes, they want them to portray a clean image; he is falling short of this. He also needs to be very careful; he is putting himself at risk of having his drinks spiked with banned substances in these environments or getting accused of sexual assaults of women.<br /> <br /> Many athletes have had their careers tainted by being in the wrong place, and hanging with the wrong people without consideration of how it will impact on their career. If his drink were to be spiked all he has achieved will be destroyed.<br /> <br /> Concerned fan<br /> <br /> hummingbird08@hotmail.co.uk<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12143919/Usain-bolt-line_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 01, 2015 12:00 AM Gov't selling out and foreigners buying in http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Gov-t-selling-out-and-foreigners-buying-in_19228659 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Anything and everything that can be sold by the Government, it would seem, is up for sale. It would prove challenging to refute such claims. A fire sale of the country's assets is clearly on and foreigners are "buying in" in no uncertain terms.<br /> <br /> Our bauxite industry has Russians as its principal while the Chinese and Japanese have more than a toehold in our sugar and coffee industries, respectively. The Spanish, not to be outdone, have snapped up some hotels, and the French are "eating a food" courtesy of the toll roads. Don't discount little Trinidad, by the way; they have impacted our construction sector by virtue of acquiring the cement company. I won't even bother to mention Air Jamaica or the Jamaica Public Service Company.<br /> <br /> Now with all the "bright" and experienced (pronounced 'old') people in Government, plus the plethora of consultants floating around like millstones about the necks of the taxpayers, one would have thought innovative, workable ideas would be a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, that is not the case. To my simple thinking, the ideal to strive for would be to maintain ownership of our assets, acquire more, and ensure they turn a profit, while providing badly needed employment for Jamaicans. In other words a win-win-win situation for team Jamaica.<br /> <br /> When these assets are sold to foreign interests they get them to operate profitably, so why is it so difficult for our Government to do likewise? Just compare the then National Lottery in the hands of the State to the greater success that lottery has become in private hands.<br /> <br /> I see now where moves are afoot to dispose of two of the country's mineral baths, Milk River in Clarendon and Bath in St Thomas, as well as the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. What I find quite disturbing about all this is that there seem to be no dissenting voices. There is this great hoopla about foreign direct investment but, conveniently, no one bothers to mention the greater outflows at the end of the day when the people convert the funds to their country's currency and send it home. Granted, National Housing Trust is far from perfect, but at the very least its performance is an example of what is possible.<br /> <br /> What is currently taking place here in Jamaica would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic. It reminds me of Africans selling fellow Africans to slave traders back in the day. Oh, if only some enterprising individual could organise for a Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart) or George Orwell (Animal Farm) type to come here for six months and pen a novel on the goings on. Surely a best-seller!<br /> <br /> Robert Mitchell<br /> <br /> Christiana PO, Manchester<br /> <br /> mitcib@yahoo.ca<br /> <br /> Gov't selling out and foreigners buying in<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 01, 2015 2:00 AM Not the OUR http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Not-the-OUR_19231348 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We write with reference to the letter to the editor published in the Observer on Monday, September 21, 2015, 'Cable company attacks while nation sleeps' .<br /> <br /> The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) is cognisant of, and sympathises with all customer complaints, however, we seek through this medium to clarify that regulating the electronic media, broadcast radio and television, as well as, in this case, subscriber television, is the sole remit of the Broadcasting Commission.<br /> <br /> Permit me also to reiterate that the OUR has for the last 18 years worked strenuously to meet the following objectives:<br /> <br /> * Ensure that consumers of utility services enjoy an acceptable quality of service at reasonable cost.<br /> <br /> * Establish and maintain transparent, consistent and objective rules for the regulation of utility service providers.<br /> <br /> * Promote the long-term, efficient provision of utility services for national development consistent with government policy.<br /> <br /> * Provide an avenue of appeal for consumers in their relationship with the utility service providers.<br /> <br /> * Work with other related agencies in the promotion of a sustainable environment.<br /> <br /> * Act independently and impartially.<br /> <br /> We anticipate that the Broadcasting Commission is making the relevant effort to bring a speedy resolution this customer's complaint. At the same time, we continue to be diligent in our efforts to contribute to national development by creating an environment for the efficient delivery of utility services for all Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> Yvonne Grinam Nicholson<br /> <br /> Director, Consumer & Public Affairs<br /> <br /> Office of Utilities Regulation<br /> <br /> ynicholson@our.org.jm<br /> <br /> Not the OUR<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 01, 2015 12:00 AM We need the will to fix water woes sooner than later http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-need-the-will-to-fix-water-woes-sooner-than-later_19231466 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We need water!<br /> <br /> Two weeks ago as I traversed the leg of our new highway system which runs north to Moneague, it hit me that this was truly an engineering marvel. I stopped to admire the view from one of the highest points and then I began to wonder: If Jamaica were able to access the funds and expertise to build this and the rest of Highway 2000 in such a relatively short period, why can't we launch a similar initiative to bring the abundant waters on the north side of the island to the south side which suffers from an almost continuous drought?<br /> <br /> I will probably sound simplistic to many of your readers, but has anyone in Government made a really serious effort to 'fly this kite' with multilateral agencies?<br /> <br /> If the United States and Britain are really serious about their expressions of the value of their relationship with Jamaica, why wouldn't they be willing to at least use their influence to get us the financial resources at concessionary rates to fix this vital but vexing issue which has existed from time immemorial?<br /> <br /> And what of our most recent best friends, the Chinese? It is obvious they have the money and the engineering skills to take on such a project, maybe even in their own self-interest of trying to expand their already massive footprint in Jamaica. Has anybody asked? And I believe if the Chinese could be persuaded, the project would be completed in record time.<br /> <br /> We now have some great roads which save us a lot of time and hassle, but has anyone ever tried to quantify the possible hundreds of thousands of productive and leisure hours lost because of this untenable situation?<br /> <br /> The phrase -- water is life -- though hackneyed, should always resonate with those who have the responsibility for ensuring its provision. This has gone on for much too long.<br /> <br /> Minister Pickersgill?<br /> <br /> Stephen Harrison<br /> <br /> stepharrison28@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 01, 2015 1:00 AM Shout-out to the dinosaurs! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Shout-out-to-the-dinosaurs-_19231465 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We hear repeatedly that it's high time we get rid of the dinosaurs in Parliament. But if the vacuous responses of the youth wings of both the People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party to the agreement between Jamaica and Britain to build a new, modern prison is any guide, we may need to keep the dinosaurs around a bit longer.<br /> <br /> Firstly, it is nonsense for these youngsters to keep repeating the old story about countries keeping non-national criminals because they grew up in that country and 'learned their crime there'. No country is obliged to keep non-national criminals. Britain will deport them to Jamaica at the end of their sentences and they will be dumped on Jamaican society with the potential to exacerbate an already intractable crime problem. Far better to let them serve the rest of their sentence in Jamaica, where rehabilitation and reintegration into Jamaican society, with enhanced parole/probation services as part of the agreement, is more probable.<br /> <br /> Secondly, in any event, Jamaica needs a new maximum security prison to replace the two ancient, dilapidated, overcrowded edifices which are glorified crime factories.<br /> <br /> The only criticism of this win-win deal is that it took some 10 years to see the light of day. Big shout-out to the dinosaurs who finally delivered!<br /> <br /> Errol W A Townshend<br /> <br /> Ontario, Canada<br /> <br /> ewat@rogers.com<br /> <br /> Shout-out to the dinosaurs!<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, October 01, 2015 2:00 AM Without slavery, there would never be a Jamaica http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Without-slavery--there-would-never-be-a-Jamaica_19231296 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Now that the British prime minister has decided to visit Jamaica, the reparations movement sees an opportunity to 'milk' him into, one, apologising for slavery; and, two, writing a cheque.<br /> <br /> While nothing is wrong with an apology -- instead of 'badness', I wish the average Jamaican would understand the nobleness and strength of such an act -- but when it comes to money, Prime Minister Cameron should say, "We have already paid you."<br /> <br /> I wish he would remind those money-seekers that his country has already paid Jamaica with financial grants to build roads, schools, etc. He should add: "We have already paid you in the form of very, very low loan interest loans in order for you to import key raw material to maintain your economy."<br /> <br /> Prime Minister David Cameron can say: "We repaid you with an economic vibrant, crime-free country; however, after Independence, the people you elected destroyed it. We continue to repay annually with budgetary supports and by allowing many poor, illiterate Jamaicans to migrate to majority-white countries." How many Jamaicans are fighting to go to Africa?<br /> <br /> Our experiences over the century have made us who we are. While some of the encounters caused great suffering and humiliation, it is part of our DNA. It is the reason we speak the way we do. We might not want to embrace it, but without slavery, indentured labour, and colonialism, there would never be a Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Michael Brown<br /> <br /> Washington, DC<br /> <br /> miguelbro@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Without slavery, there would never be a Jamaica<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12232553/Cameron_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 30, 2015 12:00 AM Why exclude the press? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Why-exclude-the-press-_19231291 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This is an open letter to the British High Commissioner, David Fitton:<br /> <br /> The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) writes to express our extreme disappointment at the failure to include any opportunity for the press to ask questions of British Prime Minister David Cameron during his visit to Jamaica.<br /> <br /> We regard Prime Minister Cameron's visit as one of great importance, involving as it does the visit of the head of government of a country whose ties with Jamaica are so long-standing, and are of such historical and contemporary significance.<br /> <br /> We are well aware that it is the norm for such visits to include a joint press briefing with the host and visiting heads of government and indeed have observed Prime Minister Cameron's participation in several such briefings.<br /> <br /> It is against that background that we are registering the greatest possible disappointment and surprise on being informed by the Office of the Prime Minister that the British Prime Minister requested that there be no questions from the press.<br /> <br /> We are confident that Prime Minister Cameron understands the healthy state of democracy in Jamaica and that an indispensable aspect of democracy is allowing the press access to political leaders. Indeed, he has given reporters in several other countries opportunities to engage in just this way.<br /> <br /> We have already written to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to point out our extreme dissatisfaction with this state of affairs and we are now respectfully requesting that your office brings this to the urgent attention of the office of the British Prime Minister, and facilitate a variation in his itinerary to include a press briefing.<br /> <br /> We await your response.<br /> <br /> Dionne Jackson Miller<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> Press Association of Jamaica<br /> <br /> pressassociationjamaica@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Why exclude the press?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12234833/David-Cameron_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 30, 2015 12:00 AM Make constituency offices neutral http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Make-constituency-offices-neutral_19230635 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While issues of governance, democracy, and the less than perfect political system are at the forefront in this season possibly heading to elections, it is an ideal time to express concern about the need for neutral Government of Jamaica constituency offices that are unlike the political party constituency offices that now exist with political colours and logos displayed.<br /> <br /> These offices were established to ensure that the political parties have grass-roots operations and local political machinery that, on their own, are also important to the governance process. The line is drawn when these poltical operations become hurdles to effective and transparent governance.<br /> <br /> The member of parliament represents all his/her constituents, not just his/her party members, and these offices exude partisanship in appearance.<br /> <br /> Unlike the mayor's office, usually located in the parish council, with assured government scrutiny of accounts and operations, the MP's constituency office is often left out of the loop of scrutiny and audit. Also, unlike the mayor's office located in the parish capital, constituency offices now are often situated in political strongholds.<br /> <br /> With these facts, plus the strong political facade of the buildings, it is not hard to imagine that the offices are seen as exclusive to those who are independent or on the opposing side. With the constituency office a crucial contact point between citizens and political reps, no constituent should be fearful when entering a public office to interact with the State.<br /> <br /> Political parties are expected to become registered public institutions, and all public institutions and offices, including those that house political representatives, must be without political prejudice.<br /> <br /> Mario Boothe<br /> <br /> m.raphael.b@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Make constituency offices neutral<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 30, 2015 12:00 AM All politics is not local; think big picture http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/All-politics-is-not-local--think-big-picture_19231292 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> There has been a lot of discussion in the media and across Jamaica since the prime minister started to proclaim that she is "ready". I now see every night on local news the herds of green and orange doing their thing with their delegates and supporters. As the party faithful strut their stuff it seems national issues disappear. So we are no longer speaking about fiscal discipline, youth unemployment, lowering crime, growing the economy or debt repayment. It is all "trumpet" this, and ring "bell" that.<br /> <br /> Much of the commentary is about the departure of Raymond Pryce from representative politics. While Michael Peart, Gregory Mair and DK Duncan have all announced their departure, there is a national outcry, especially among the youth, for the news on Pryce. This is actually confusing. The People's National Party (PNP) had in Raymond Pryce one of its best ambassadors. His work on decriminalising ganja, to clear the records of mostly young men who were wayward in their youth to give them a second chance in life, assisted my older brother to re-enter the possibilities lane.<br /> <br /> Some say it's poetic justice, though, that he is leaving after stirring up our collective attention on civil society organisations. Or maybe he knows something that we don't, which is why he insisted on shining the light on them. Then it's the way he spoke to my peers and me through newspaper lines and comments on television and social media, telling us that there was a different way and a new approach to politics. Certainly, like Chris Tufton and Lisa Hanna, Pryce has national appeal beyond the PNP. Yet as a "delegate" from Santa Cruz said: "We want an MP where we can knock pon him gate when we hungry." That may be what is needed for a few in Santa Cruz. The PNP, however, should want more than that from its representatives in Parliament. To govern a country in difficult times needs more than just welfare mentality among party circles. So I am confused as to how the PNP expects to get broad support in an upcoming election from a scrutinising public when we see how they genuflect to the basest requests.<br /> <br /> I am further confused as when I see interviews with the proposed replacement for Pryce we literally "laugh out loud". No disrespect intended, but really! I guess the question is whether or not politics requires a national outlook and a focus on the capacity of representatives to capture the imagination of the national psyche or whether all politics is local.<br /> <br /> But who are we anyway? Just the future workers of Jamaica who are becoming increasingly diminished by the politics of yesteryear.<br /> <br /> Latoya Chin<br /> <br /> Hope Pastures<br /> <br /> lattychin95@gmail.com<br /> <br /> All politics is not local; think big picture<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12003333/raymond_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 30, 2015 12:00 AM If only we were overflowing with gays http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/If-only-we-were-overflowing-with-gays_19231295 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I found the march of some of our churches over the weekend very interesting, as I am yet to understand why it is that our churches are so immersed in the business of the private sexual escapades of consenting adults. While watching the news, I could not help but wish that this country was bursting at the seams with gays. Why?<br /> <br /> If our corrupt police officers who continue to bring the rest of the force into such disrepute by abusing the law and their unfortunate victims were mostly gay, I have no doubt that our churches would have had very frequent marches against police corruption. Sadly for us, most of them are straight.<br /> <br /> Imagine if most of our non-performing and corrupt politicians were gay. All of the political tribal wars, corruption, non-performance and bickering would have been dealt a very serious blow by our churches. We would be sick and tired of our churches always marching against them. Why did we have to be cursed with so many straight politicians?<br /> <br /> If these sexual predators who are picking on our young children, thus preventing them from growing up (or causing them to grow up too quickly) were gays, we wouldn't have had such a problem with them now. Our churches would probably have reached the point of mounting fiery roadblocks all the time, protesting against them. Why did most of these sexual predators have to be straight?<br /> <br /> Then we have this growing problem of human trafficking. Children are most at risk. However, sadly for them, most of the traffickers are resolute in their heterosexuality. Not very many gay ones, and certainly not enough of them to draw the attention of our churches. It's so unfair, not having a majority of gay human traffickers that our churches could deal with!<br /> <br /> You know, it is hard to figure out the logic that governs our churches these days. The church has enormous influence that it is wasting on such trivial issues as who sleeps with whom. I won't bother wasting time trying to understand why. I only wish I was living in a country that was overflowing with gays, then the church would be responding to serious issues and not trivial ones.<br /> <br /> Michael A Dingwall<br /> <br /> michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> If only we were overflowing with gays<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 30, 2015 12:00 AM Signs do not necessarily predict the end of the world http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Signs-do-not-necessarily-predict-the-end-of-the-world_19231124 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The concept of "the end of the world" has littered the thoughts of many individuals and social media in recent times. The biblical annals, in many instances, speak about signs and wonders which would be seen in the heavens. Consequently, many advent believers have used the recent visit of the pope to address the UN or even the blood moon eclipse over the weekend to state that the end is here. However, is this statement factual? Can we actually use signs to speak definitively about the end of the world?<br /> <br /> It is not strange that many people are in a state of panic as they see these signs. Too often individuals have been led astray based on what they expect to happen, but did not see happening. A misconception can be hard to break and often leads one to faulty biblical interpretation. In this light, there are testimonials and stories of individuals and groups who predicted something, but were bitterly disappointed.<br /> <br /> For years these questions surfaced time and again, but they were constantly swept under the rug. Questions like these have always been left unaddressed. In the words of author H Wayne Pipkin, "Apocalyptic concerns have been part and parcel of the Christian way since the earliest times. The impulse to read the signs of the times as an indication to the dawn of the new age surfaces regularly in the Church's history."<br /> <br /> But just what is the purpose of signs and wonders? Let me remind that Jesus warned against looking for signs and wonders. Matthew 16: 4 records his strong rebuke. Could we also be in opposition to the mission of God by looking for signs and wonders?<br /> <br /> I wish to posit a few things; firstly, signs and wonders demonstrate the reality that there is a creator who controls time and space. Secondly, as is seen from the accounts of Joel, Ezekiel and Revelation, God always stands up for his people during their difficult moments. He always delivers his people from their immediate situation and gives them a new direction in life. This is the principal message of these apocalyptic books; they are not meant to be misused or misapplied to any particular country or individual.<br /> <br /> Sadly, based on the way in which many people are cultured they will find it hard to accept or see things from another perspective. God does not want us to be involved in sign reading or predicting; that is not our goal or our purpose. This can only lead one to a dark side of apocalyptic or end-time signs. Now is not the time to be involved in sign reading. Now is the time to be busy staying ready for the second return of Jesus.<br /> <br /> Nicordo Wilson<br /> <br /> nicordo@stu.ncu.edu.jm<br /> <br /> Signs do not necessarily predict the end of the world<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12231433/blood-moon_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, September 29, 2015 12:00 AM Political campaigning is a waste of time! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Political-campaigning-is-a-waste-of-time-_19231148 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Do we really need to have political campaigns that seem to go on forever all over the island during election time?<br /> <br /> First, let's look at the cost. This entails transporting large crowds to these events, and big sound systems to boot, in order to draw in and build the frenzied crowd vibes. We cannot overlook the lavish grafts, either a la curry-goat feast, beer, and the "nanny". These are all expected by the people nowadays, and nothing less is accepted in order to secure votes.<br /> <br /> Security is paramount for these occasions, and is certainly not cheap either. You can all recall that there have been quite a few incidents at these meetings over the years. In these most violent times, do we need to do anything to boost the murder statistics, almost sure to rise during the campaign period?<br /> <br /> Jamaicans, as we know, largely support and vote along party line for better or worse, not issues, and no political meetings, hand-wringing, or bribe will change their vote. It is like religion in a family. Yes, they'll take the handouts with false promises to vote for you, but a thousand meetings will never change their votes.<br /> <br /> Lastly, why is the campaign period so long? It is known that the amount of money spent and the political killings and intimidation are directly proportional to the length of the campaign. Do the politicians think that Jamaicans are in doubt as to where their votes will go, thus needing more time to win them over? Or do politicians think they can convince them of issues which nobody ever listens to? Politicians certainly do not know their own people very well! These people might as well be registered voters, because their allegiance to a party hardly ever changes. No modern country conducts political campaigns in this backward manner anymore. Rather, the candidates strategically place posters, do paid advertisements on the radio or TV, or do house-to-house meet and greets. Sometimes they might call a town hall meeting to meet with their constituents. Time to change, Jamaica! Green and orange clothes are too expensive for the occasion... not to mention the inevitable and ever present pot covers, bells and whistles!<br /> <br /> Errol Gager<br /> <br /> Toronto, Canada<br /> <br /> legager25@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Political campaigning is a waste of time!<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, September 29, 2015 12:00 AM If we're going to talk about voter apathy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/If-we-re-going-to-talk-about-voter-apathy_19231123 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Dorothy Pine-McLarty, chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), was seen on television on Thursday, September 24, 2015 bemoaning the unacceptably high level of voter apathy currently stalking Jamaica. She has rightly said that the situation is deeply troubling and poses a real threat to our established democracy. I hope that the people of Jamaica have no intention of allowing the country to lapse into dictatorship before we begin to value our democratic tradition.<br /> <br /> Pine-McLarty unfortunately never posited a view about how we arrived where we are, or gave some enlightenment as to the danger signals which, as a country, we need to heed in order to reverse the trend. Simply encouraging people to vote, despite their lack of conviction, or worst, against their will, is in itself not very democratic, and particularly in the Jamaican context where the electorate hardly see themselves as stakeholders in the process.<br /> <br /> I wish to assure her that I would be minded to start a new political party to widen the political landscape and shore up democracy by means of expanding choice.<br /> <br /> The very ECJ which Pine-McLarty chairs could now perhaps take a deeper look at the staggering and prohibitive costs to register a new political party, as well as the type of ground rules which can help to prevent the established parties from choking any new aspiring party which will expose them to unwelcome competition.<br /> <br /> I am not sure what is the remit of the ECJ in this regard and what will or will not taint it, but having broken her silence on the issue, Pine-McLarty needs to commit to a lot more in creating a better sphere of understanding of what is a seminal issue, or back off.<br /> <br /> As Jamaica contemplates and debate the issue of political party financing, for example, one needs to have authoritative discourse on such sensitive matters which will help to determine whether a Ras Astor Black Jamaica Alliance Movement can be helped, or will never see the light of Parliament.<br /> <br /> These are issues which will ostensibly help in discouraging voter apathy and improve democracy in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Derrick D Simon<br /> <br /> Kingston 8<br /> <br /> derrickdsimon@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> If we're going to talk about voter apathy<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, September 29, 2015 12:00 AM