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 Michael Manley was ahead of his time http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Michael-Manley-was-ahead-of-his-time_51114 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> Michael Manley is arguably the best prime minister Jamaica has produced. This national treasure was truly an international leader in his own right &mdash; up there with the very best of them. I believe he was way ahead of his time.<br /> <br /> His mantra about changing the &ldquo;World Economic Order&rdquo; was echoed by the former prime minister of Britain, Gordon Brown, not too long ago. And now, in the upcoming United States presidential election, Democratic contender Senator Bernie Sanders, who&rsquo;s getting a lot of traction and is leading Hillary Clinton in some polls, is calling himself a Democratic Socialist. Listening to him is like listening to Michael Manley.<br /> <br /> If Jamaica wasn&rsquo;t so polarised the country would have been better off if it had followed his leadership. It is most unfortunate that anyone who stands up for social justice for poor working class and middle-class people is sometimes viewed negatively in our society.<br /> <br /> I recall his agricultural slogan of &ldquo;grow what you eat, and eat what you grow&rdquo; or his flagship slogan of &ldquo;the word is love&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> He was a visionary and a champion of the working class. Born of privilege, his father was a brilliant lawyer (one of the best in the world) and founder of the People&rsquo;s National Party. His mother was a distinguished and renowned sculptor. The London School of Economics educated man he was, identified with the underprivileged before it became fashionable. From the upscale neighbourhood of Drumblair, he came to downtown Kingston, organised and fought for the workers&rsquo; rights, laying across public thoroughfare, blocking traffic to make his point. On the political scene he faced tear gas on Spanish Town Road during political campaigns. I remember when he lost in a landslide in a general election, all the analysts, including the late Carl Stone, were saying on the radio that his loss was a setback to not only Jamaica, but the Caribbean and the Third World on a whole.<br /> <br /> He was close to Fidel Castro and didn&rsquo;t apologise for that. In the height of the Cold War he made some inflammatory statements which were uncalled for and which angered the United States. For this, it was felt his Government was destabilised at home and abroad. But he was a true democrat, and not a communist; and even if he had harboured any such intentions, the country wouldn&rsquo;t stand for it &mdash; and rightly so. Still, no leader, no matter how great, is flawless. When he won a subsequent general election by a landslide, he turned things around and was back in good grace with the United States.<br /> <br /> Other leaders, including Edward Seaga and P J Patterson, have all made significant contributions to the country, but none better than Michael Manley &mdash; the peaceful warrior.<br /> <br /> Noel Mitchell<br /> <br /> Westchester, New York<br /> <br /> nlmworld@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12624765/183815__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, February 09, 2016 12:00 AM We are where we are because of politics http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-are-where-we-are-because-of-politics_51221 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> My hope that good sense wouldn&rsquo;t wither passed away peacefully as the prime minister and People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) leader stirred up the election train.<br /> <br /> The excitement blocked a public thoroughfare and I was disillusioned by the loud and aggressive politicking by the candidates. But, at least Jamaica knows what it&rsquo;s getting, whichever party comes in: boys playing marbles, &lsquo;throw wud&rsquo; and catfights.<br /> <br /> Nonetheless, if one listened carefully, there was a little truth to set us free. Dr Dayton Campbell must have been touched by Portia&rsquo;s master. He rightly said we are where we are because of politics and (in a self-promoting push) the policies of the People&rsquo;s National Party, while bashing those shying from the political drama.<br /> <br /> I totally agree, in a different sense. We are where we are because of politics. Not rational, inclusive or co-operative politics, but one which is divisive, irrational and polarising.<br /> <br /> We are where we are because we weren&rsquo;t taught the value of problem-solving or self-achievement. That was reserved for rich people, business people, and not descendants of slaves. We only can &lsquo;badmind&rsquo; and be &lsquo;grudgeful&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> We are where we are because of community insularity and poor governance. Where else in the world can one find a democracy reduced to two colours or parties with numerous discontinuities, and it&rsquo;s neither a dictatorship or war-torn place?<br /> <br /> We are where we are because of our so-called representatives&rsquo; behaviour in Parliament. It reflects the society&rsquo;s attitude. Who will really take us seriously?<br /> <br /> We are where we are because the Jamaican media emphasises the Jamaica Labour Party and PNP so much that the other parties and independent candidates don&rsquo;t have a chance. They aren&rsquo;t even introduced to the public as another option. What of the civic duty to be free and fair, and not because the P&rsquo;s have a truckload of money.<br /> <br /> We are where we are because civics and social graces are now &lsquo;off fleek&rsquo; and removed from the classroom. We are where we are because parenting is extinct and children can supposedly govern themselves. No more corrections and slaps to reinforce lessons. We are where we are as we&rsquo;ve always allowed older men to &lsquo;fool&rsquo; and impregnate our girls then foist the burden on taxpayers and the State without giving the girls other options and the men castration.<br /> <br /> We are where we are because of a 300-year-old legacy that we find impossibly comfortable to let go and move on for better. We are where we are because we don&rsquo;t know our own rights and the history of our ancestors. We are where we are because &ldquo;white is always right&rdquo; and &ldquo;black must stay a back&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> We are where we are because we don&rsquo;t follow the laws and think is &lsquo;so the ting set&rsquo; and &lsquo;everything a everything&rsquo;. We are our own worst enemy.<br /> <br /> We are where we are because of the lack of strong local programming and American neo-colonisation by cable; the degradation of a rich culture by the socio-political stupidity of pleasing people. We are where we are because we can&rsquo;t spend within our means, have dug a trillion-dollar debt, and are owned by the International Monetary Fund.<br /> <br /> So, yes Dr Campbell, you are right: we are where we are because of politricks, &lsquo;freeness&rsquo; and nonsense. Oh, for the day when God, not Portia&rsquo;s master, sets us free.<br /> <br /> Colette Campbell<br /> <br /> rastarjamaica@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12639679/184810__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, February 09, 2016 12:00 AM Division cannot take us into the promised land http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Division-cannot-take-us-into-the-promised-land_51201 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A nation divided against itself cannot stand!<br /> <br /> The monster of division in the spirit of slave master Willie Lynch to divide and rule has plagued our politics since the 70s. It has taken us from the road of success to the abyss of defeat.<br /> <br /> In 2016, may we as a nation choose to climb out of the dark abyss into the light of success and prosperity by choosing to unite and build the great Jamaica we desire.<br /> <br /> Division and its effects have caused the high murder and crime rates.<br /> <br /> Division has caused our inability to conquer the increasing murder and crime rates.<br /> <br /> Division has led to poor management and has made us see near zero per cent growth for too many years.<br /> <br /> Division has held us in bondage to garrisons, poverty and corruption.<br /> <br /> The division list goes on and on.<br /> <br /> Our nation is as divided now as it was 15 years ago when I made a public call for a government of national unity for a period to enable us to better tackle these social and economic giants that have been and remain with us until today. It is only worse now than ever.<br /> <br /> I am constrained to renew the call, and to work for a united approach to governance. Given our dilemma, it can best be addressed in a government of national unity if our leaders are mature enough and committed to the best national interest. I call on our political leaders and us as a people to immediately engage the dialogue for a united approach.<br /> <br /> The nation cannot afford to circle the mountain of defeat, no growth; poverty for the majority; corruption and the like again.<br /> <br /> We must unite to win and the time is now.<br /> <br /> Let us not, as a people, not face another election doing the same as we have done for the last 35 years. It is time for change. It is time to unite or continue to face defeat.<br /> <br /> Division cannot take us into the promised land where there are major giants to be defeated.<br /> <br /> United we stand. Divided we fall. We can unite and we must unite now. Let us come together for Jamaica and for our children&rsquo;s sake. <br /> <br /> Pastor Al Miller<br /> <br /> Fellowship Tabernacle<br /> <br /> fellowshiptab@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Letters to the Editor Tuesday, February 09, 2016 12:00 AM Time to end gun and garrison http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Time-to-end-gun-and-garrison-_51207 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The National Democratic Movement (NDM) regrets the senseless loss of lives as a result of tribal, garrison and gun-style politics.<br /> <br /> The NDM reminds the people that it was just a few months ago that a People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) member of parliament made comments which could have inflamed politically motivated violence in the western end of the island, and more recently the Sunday Observer carried a story with allegations of political motivation surrounding the shooting incident involving Dr Raymoth Notice in St Catherine.<br /> <br /> For far too long the people of Jamaica have put up with the tribal parties which subscribe to garrison politics, with its violent consequences. It is full time that we collectively reject that culture.<br /> <br /> The business community, and Jamaicans in general, must realise by now that supporting and donating funds to the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party will feed indirectly this garrison politics.<br /> <br /> While they &ldquo;fight one another, for the power and the glory, the kingdom (Jamaica) goes to waste&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Peter Townsend<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> National Democratic Movement<br /> <br /> ndmjamaica@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12315639/pnp_logo_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, February 09, 2016 12:00 AM Ja is between the devil and the deep blue sea http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ja-is-between-the-devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea_51205 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Where do we stand as a nation? Are we still standing between the devil and the deep blue sea in terms of this unbeatable crime problem?<br /> <br /> The most popular news item we are hearing these days, the most talked about topic that weighs on us, is Jamaica&rsquo;s crime and violence.<br /> <br /> Our society is extremely battered and beaten and has become helpless against crime. I was listening to a popular radio programme recently, and it was said that some 16, 000 people have been murdered in Jamaica over the last decade. This is very disturbing.<br /> <br /> Our armed forces are engaged in an awesone fight against crime, and still it remains out of hand.<br /> <br /> Will our country remain this way, with so many people losing their lives senselessly, day after day?<br /> <br /> Donald J McKoy<br /> <br /> donaldmckoy2010@hotmail.com <br /> <br /> Letters to the Editor Tuesday, February 09, 2016 12:00 AM End female genital mutilation! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/End-female-genital-mutilation_51078 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Recently, February 6, the international community paused to acknowledge the International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.<br /> <br /> Female genital mutilation is the ritualistic removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. This practice is most prevalent between ages 0-14 years of age. The procedure is typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, with or without anaesthesia.<br /> <br /> While genital female mutilation is not an issue in Jamaica, at least some 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone the horrific experience, with half of them living in Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia. The latest figures, provided by UNICEF, show nearly 70 million more girls than previously thought have been subjected to ritual cutting.<br /> <br /> Female genital mutilation is a creation by males to keep women subjugated and powerless. Men have no rights to tell women what they should do to their bodies. While I understand that female genital mutilation is steeped in cultural norms and practices grounded in patriarchy, there are sometimes serious health issues associated with female genital mutilation. According to the World Health Organization, the risk to girls who have had this procedure is severe and many face long-term health problems such as infections, infertility, complications in childbirth, urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections); scar tissue and keloid.<br /> <br /> Disturbingly, only 18 per cent of female genital mutilation is conducted by health workers. Female genital mutilation has no health benefits and violates the human rights of women and girls. Other countries practising female genital mutilation include Nigeria, Somalia, Senegal, Sudan, Chad, Yemen, Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Djibouti and Mauritania. It is also practised among migrant groups in developed countries. <br /> <br /> There are also social, physiological and physical consequences for girls and women who are often forced to have this procedure. The time to empower our women and girls is now.<br /> <br /> Wayne Campbell<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> @WayneCamo<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/8738000/unicef_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, February 08, 2016 12:00 AM Usain Bolt&rsquo;s future race against time http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Usain-Bolt-s-future-race-against-time_50865 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The 29-year-old double Olympic gold medallist and record holder, Usain St Leo Bolt, is looking forward to break his 200m record set at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin in a time of 19.19 seconds.<br /> <br /> But the question is, can he? Is age a factor? Or will he run that perfect race.<br /> <br /> In order for him to break the world record again he has to run a perfect race from leaving the blocks to crossing the finish line.<br /> <br /> Age is definitely a factor. To meet his goal Usain Bolt has to train harder than ever before and stay healthy and be more focused than ever before.<br /> <br /> In comparison, we have witnessed athletes over 30 years old running personal bests, like Kim Collins with a time of 9.97 seconds in Lausanne at the Diamond League in 2014 and Justin Gatlin 9.74 seconds at the Diamond League 2015 in Doha, Qatar. By this we know he can do it.<br /> <br /> The reality is, however, Bolt has had injuries in the past season. Will he stay fit enough to break his own world record or will it be that time is against him.<br /> <br /> Rusheed Edwards<br /> <br /> edwardsrusheed@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12595917/182125_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, February 08, 2016 12:00 AM Ancestral bones mustn&rsquo;t be treated like sticks and stones http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ancestral-bones-mustn-t-be-treated-like-sticks-and-stones_51051 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Over the past few days we have been trying really hard to negotiate an entry into a conversation with Mona Heritage Committee at the University of the West Indies and the Archaeological Society of Jamaica pertaining to the reinterment of the bones of our African ancestors on the campus of the university.<br /> <br /> These bones were disinterred in 2012. To begin with, these bones should not have been removed from their resting place. If for any reason this action had to be taken then appropriate rituals and protocols needed to have been followed.<br /> <br /> We were recently invited to a reinterment of the bones. This means that between when they were found and now they were &lsquo;somewhere&rsquo;. The questions arising are, for example, where were they kept and under what conditions?<br /> <br /> They are now to be reinterred and we have found ourselves being stonewalled in our efforts to find any information at all as to rites/rituals/protocols that may have happened at the time they were disturbed and during their sojourn on the UWI Campus. We don&rsquo;t know. Now, at the time of their return to the earth, we do trust that it is to the earth they are being returned; what rites will be accorded?<br /> <br /> The secrecy surrounding this situation is not pleasing to the spirits of these ancestors. And, yes, I do speak for them. The exclusion, sidelining and gratuitous disrespect of those of us who have sought involvement in this activity is simply unreasonable and intolerable. Let us remember that these are the bones of foreparents of, not some, but all of us. No one person or group should have a monopoly position to dictate the &lsquo;hows and whys&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> Our ancestors want us to work together, not to harbour the spirit of divisiveness, but to positively pull on the energy of collaboration as they have taught us. This is part of an even more meaningful respect that we could show to them. What is happening now is disrespectful and falls short of the honour we are all seeking to bestow upon them.<br /> <br /> Where do we go from here? May the love of God and the guidance of our ancestors continue to be with us all.<br /> <br /> Afua Fofie<br /> <br /> afuafofie@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> ? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/7457388/uwi_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, February 08, 2016 12:00 AM The PNP does not have legs to stand on! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-PNP-does-not-have-legs-to-stand-on_51122 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A political party seeking to solicit the support and vote of the electorate must have legs to stand on. Among the hallmarks of a good and respectable political administration are credibility, sincerity and a track record of performance and living up to the commitments given.<br /> <br /> If the People&rsquo;s National Party&rsquo;s (PNP) track record is anything to go by, their appeals for our support by way of votes ring hollow. Without apology or remorse, the PNP has virtually broken all the promises they made.<br /> <br /> I am not entirely surprised, however, as I knew all along that what they spoke about in the lead-up to the December 2011 General Election were empty election promises. As a matter of fact, I would have been more surprised if they had actually fulfilled their promises, because I know they are little more than an electorally savvy, disingenuous and deceptive lot.<br /> <br /> Among some of their unfulfilled promises were to remove GCT from electricity, more jobs, to be accountable and transparent, to reject extravagant expenditure in government, to construct a hospital for children in Montego Bay, to be vigilant in eliminating corruption, to consult the people of Jamaica and be answerable to them, and to curb the high crime rate. In addition, what should have been an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal in two weeks ended up being an 18-month effort.<br /> <br /> The people of Jamaica have been exploited by this PNP Government, which continues to boast about passing the IMF tests while failing the people&rsquo;s test. Yes, they have passed the IMF tests, but why aren&rsquo;t the people of Jamaica better off than they were four years ago? If they haven&rsquo;t fulfilled the promises from 2011, how can they fulfil these current promises?<br /> <br /> Kimberly Rowe<br /> <br /> kimberlyrowe3@gmail.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9852972/pnp-logo_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, February 08, 2016 12:00 AM Questions for Andrew Holness http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Questions-for-Andrew-Holness_51031 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> The Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness has laid out his 10-point plan for &ldquo;prosperity&rdquo;, and I have a few questions for him:<br /> <br /> 1. How is it that at the end of the Jamaica Labour Party&rsquo;s term in office, in 2011, you promised &ldquo;bitter medicine&rdquo; and now during the People&rsquo;s National Party&rsquo;s (PNP) term in office, only four years later, you are promising &ldquo;prosperity&rdquo;?<br /> <br /> 2. One of your prosperity goals is the increasing of the income tax threshold from $592,800 to $1.5 million &mdash; over 100 per cent. Tell me, Sir, what are your strategies for accounting for the shortfall in revenue from tax this move will obviously cause?<br /> <br /> 3. You made no mention of the General Consumption Tax (GCT) in your presentation. Is it your intention to account for the shortfall in taxes by increasing GCT and applying it once again to salt, ground provisions and sanitary products?<br /> <br /> 4. What consultation did you have before proposing your 60-year mortgage plan? The average Jamaican would not be eligible to benefit from a mortgage before attaining 25 years, some when they are way older. How practical is it for people to still be paying a mortgage 25 years after they retire, when they are just about 90 years old (assuming they live that long) and living off a pension? Or will you also be proposing a change in the age of retirement to 90?<br /> <br /> 5. What is the timeline for the digitising of government records and business processes? What kind of resources would be needed for this to be done?<br /> <br /> 6. What role does our relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) play in your plans? Will you be continuing the relationship? And if you will, will you commit to meeting the conditionalities and continue passing the tests? And if not, what is the alternative to the IMF and their conditionalities and tests?<br /> <br /> 7. What impact would the relationship with the IMF, or lack thereof, have on your plans?<br /> <br /> 8.What is the overall timeline for all your goals on an individual level?<br /> <br /> In my opinion, your quantum leap from bitter medicine to prosperity after four years of the PNP&rsquo;s management of the economy is a sign of your endorsement of the PNP&rsquo;s policies. <br /> <br /> We need to hear SMART goals &mdash; ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. So far, your 10-point plan has failed the SMART test. We don&rsquo;t need to be told what you think we want to hear. And we certainly don&rsquo;t need to have ridiculous promises implemented that only serve to put a strain on the economy and result in poor service delivery (such as the free health care policy) just to prove that the promise made was kept.<br /> <br /> We need leaders to stop taking us for fools, to stop hoodwinking and bamboozling us, and right now, from where I sit, you and your team are not convincing me that you aren&rsquo;t doing just that. <br /> <br /> C D D Dennis<br /> <br /> cdddennis@outlook.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12433653/Andrew-Holness-speaks_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, February 08, 2016 12:00 AM Rubbish, Robert Montague! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Rubbish--Robert-Montague-_50855 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Oh, dear Lord, into what fresh hell of madness has Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Chairman Robert Montague plunged us? This man, who I hitherto regarded as sound, came close to shocking the life out of me by demanding from a political platform on Sunday that the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) Government confirm or deny that some of the &ldquo;bad gas&rdquo; was being purchased by people in this country from ISIS, which is the quite dreadful terrorist organisation that all sane people abhor.<br /> <br /> Then, to pile asinine comment one upon another, he went on to suggest that because of &ldquo;bad gas&rdquo; planes &mdash; that do not use gas &mdash; would likely be soon dropping out of the sky because the &ldquo;gas&rdquo; being supplied to our airports was bad.<br /> <br /> Will someone not rid us of such piffle. Although it is election time that does not mean that one is free to regurgitate or download any resolutely nonsensical rubbish to assail the ears of all Jamaica &mdash; whether from the JLP chairperson or anyone else.<br /> <br /> It is election time, not the stupid season. Chairperson Montague well knows that our gas money is not going toward supporting terrorists of the Islamic State, no more than our gas money is going to heat Siberia or to buy ice from the Atlantic Ocean. And he knows, or should know, as a sensible person, that jets fly on a fuel based on either an unleaded kerosene (Jet A-1), or a naphtha-kerosene blend (Jet B), and definitely not on the gas that goes into cars. So I am left with the overwhelming impression that the reason Senator Montague blurted out that level of absolute hogwash was to score political points. He simply said anything to please the tribalists at the political meeting. <br /> <br /> Exactly what does he think of all Jamaican people? That they swallow any rubbish they are told? I doubt even the most hard-core Labourite truly believes that Jamaican gas is being bought from the world&rsquo;s most hated terrorist group. Or, for that matter, that the fuel which is pumped into jet planes that are refuelled in Jamaica is in any way tainted.<br /> <br /> We can laugh at his silliness, but he was talking a dangerous brand of nonsense. Hopefully no one believes this rubbish.<br /> <br /> Philip Mascoll, OD<br /> <br /> pmascoll1948@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12623204/Robert-Montague_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, February 05, 2016 12:00 AM Unfortunate comments from G2K; seek knowledge http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Unfortunate-comments-from-G2K--seek-knowledge-------_50849 Dirk Harrison The following is an open statement to Matthew Samuda, president, Generation 2000 (G2K):<br /> <br /> The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) notes the article which appeared in the Jamaica Observer on November 23, 2015, entitled &lsquo;$152-m fencing project at National Heroes&rsquo; Park a wicked act &mdash; G2K&rsquo; and the letter to the editor on February 1, 2016 &lsquo;Questions remain unanswered&rsquo; and the comments which have been attributed to you in regard to same.<br /> <br /> To date, I am not in receipt of a formal complaint from you, but I exercised my discretion and initiative to review the process in keeping with my functions and powers under the Contractor General Act.<br /> <br /> Please be advised accordingly that pursuant to Sections 4 and 15 of the Contractor General Act, I decided to review the OCG&rsquo;s monitoring file and activities in relation to the project.<br /> <br /> As a mere courtesy, might I invite you to read Section 20(1) of the Contractor General Act which states the following:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;20. (1) After conducting an investigation under this Act, a contractor general shall, in writing, inform the principal officer of the public body concerned and the minister having responsibility therefor of the result of that investigation and make such recommendations as he considers necessary in respect of the matter which was investigated.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Most interestingly, I note your comments as reported in the<br /> <br /> Observer of February 1, 2016, that:<br /> <br /> &ldquo;G2K further reminds the&hellip;OCG that none of the specific questions posed has been answered, and none of the documents requested for public scrutiny has been published.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> We consider the aforementioned comments unfortunate, considering that you, upon your own admission, have not been privy to the OCG&rsquo;s findings.<br /> <br /> Notwithstanding the posture which you have adopted, I invite you to obtain a copy of the OCG&rsquo;s review of this matter through the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and/or from the minister responsible therefor, pursuant to the Access to Information Act.<br /> <br /> I trust that this letter will address the issues which you have raised in as far as the OCG&rsquo;s jurisdiction is concerned.<br /> <br /> Dirk Harrison<br /> <br /> Contractor general<br /> <br /> dharrison@ocg.gov.jm <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12301044/Matthew-Samuda_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, February 05, 2016 12:00 AM Ready, set, vote! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ready--set--vote-_50606 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> One of my grandchildren was on radio recently telling the host why he will not vote. I cringed as I heard him repeat the old mule tune that he is not inspired by any of the two parties. He thinks politicians are a bunch of jokers and thieves, both parties are involved in corruption and, more than all, he and his friends are not interested in the noisy, horn-blowing, screaming-in-the-microphone election exercise.<br /> <br /> On public radio he told the host about ballot box stuffing and how acquaintances of his had been paid to vote.<br /> <br /> My children and their 12 children were trained to be loyal to their country, to participate in community activities, and to take the national pledge seriously.<br /> <br /> I called &lsquo;Mr Public Speaker&rsquo;, after he called the radio station to give his views, and the other four grandchildren who plan not to vote. I asked them if the example of the national heroes was to sit back and criticise everything that came their way, or take action. I asked them what if Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint sat down and whined about the poor state of athletics in their country, would they have powered us to world fame. I didn&rsquo;t give them a chance to open their mouths, but flung names like George Headley and Michael Holding, who didn&rsquo;t even think about cheques when they made the cricket world fear their team.<br /> <br /> I agree that crime is worse than it was in my day, and the dollar has gone to the dogs, but my grandchildren have far better educational and social opportunities than I and my siblings had, and I told them so and appealed to their loyalty to country. I told them to take down the big posters of Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce they had on their walls and give them back to me. Those world-class gold medallists never sat back and complained like &lsquo;spoiled fish&rsquo; about people not being inspiring enough but, like true winners, they went out there and brought glory to Jamaica.<br /> <br /> I was vexed with them. They were taught loyalty to country and I expect them to exercise the right to vote even though things are tough. Two of them glared at me and muttered something about common human rights, but I stood my old ground. I told them &mdash; like motivating track stars &mdash; &ldquo;On your mark, get set, go!&rdquo; They were glad to see the back of me and hurried away, but I didn&rsquo;t care. It is their duty to vote. This is their country.<br /> <br /> Nearly all the undecided young people associate themselves with the top athletes, and my other grandchildren and I are making posters which read: &ldquo;On your mark, get set, go...and vote.<br /> <br /> Mills Blake<br /> <br /> veronica_carnegie@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12624722/178101_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, February 05, 2016 12:00 AM I am a Jamaican first! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-am-a-Jamaican-first-_50856 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am a Jamaican before I am any &ldquo;P&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> Much of my success, and what I am today was built on the shoulders of those who came before me and paved the way. I am tired of hearing our political leaders describe their triumphs and success by disregarding and pouring scorn on those who occupied the space before them.<br /> <br /> I will vote for any &ldquo;P&rdquo; who acknowledges the good that was done by others. I will campaign for any &ldquo;P&rdquo; who shows in public the camaraderie they share behind the scenes. I will commit myself fully to any &ldquo;P&rdquo; who will put Jamaica, land we love, before party considerations.<br /> <br /> None of them are doing it now. Who wants the job, step up to the plate and do right by us. Get rid of the election/party rhetoric and do right by us. <br /> <br /> Christopher Givans<br /> <br /> christopher.givans@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12628517/178101__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, February 05, 2016 12:00 AM Young voters, get on board! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Young-voters--get-on-board-_50854 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> As the country&rsquo;s general election fast approaches, both of Jamaica&rsquo;s major political parties are engaged in the customary dissemination of their programmes and policies from party platforms.<br /> <br /> However, the major issue for both parties is the inability to sway the uncommitted youthful segment of the electorate. To my mind, young voters need to be aware of the context of the election and make their choice based on informed analysis of the comparative facts.<br /> <br /> My ultimate aim is to prevent a repeat of the colossal economic, international, domestic and public policy failures that were irrefutably a landmark of the the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government of 2007-2011.<br /> <br /> The JLP won the 2007 General Election on the back of promising to turn around the country&rsquo;s economy within 100 days, and that they would grow the economy by seven per cent in their first year. Their main tag line was jobs, jobs and more jobs. Also, the JLP were the ones who persuaded the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail out Jamaica. However, even after the intervention of the IMF, the JLP exhibited an inability to commit to fiscal discipline.<br /> <br /> After a four-year tenure, the JLP was voted out because of the mismanagement of the country, especially the economy, which ultimately saw over 120,000 Jamaicans losing their livelihood. The JLP was able to balloon the level of poverty from 9.9 per cent to 19.9 per cent, and they grew the country&rsquo;s debt by over 68 per cent. <br /> <br /> In contrast the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) Government of 2012-2016 has been showered with admiration and praise by both local and domestic partners, investors and rating agencies. The PNP has not only managed to successfully manoeuvre the country through a very rigid IMF agreement with an excellent record of fiscal maturity, but they have also implemented and strengthened social programmes that have protected the poor and most vulnerable.<br /> <br /> The World Bank has projected that if Jamaica remains on the current path the country will grow on average by 2.5 per cent for the next three years. This will establish Jamaica ahead of the curve in the region. <br /> <br /> I am imploring young Jamaicans to vote for the party of progress. This is the party that has been at the forefront of every progressive development in Jamaica&rsquo;s history. From expanding access to education, improving investments in health and social programmes, equal pay for women, increased access to affordable housing, among countless others. Jamaica is on a good track, we all should get on board and keep the momentum going and never look back. <br /> <br /> Steve Collins<br /> <br /> steveyc312@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12227370/St-ann-selection_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, February 05, 2016 12:00 AM Roads to development http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Roads-to-development_50818 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The road to development for a country, is the development of its roads.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> This is a statement that I have heard for quite some time now and, until recently, I just assumed it referred to only large highways or the main roads in parishes.<br /> <br /> It wasn&rsquo;t until I heard of the recent rehabilitation of 22 farm roads that it has truly dawned on me that the phrase is true of all of our roads; from A-roads to the unclassified.<br /> <br /> It is quite pleasing that successive People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) administrations have made it a mission to improve the nation&rsquo;s roads.<br /> <br /> A few people may not understand the importance of the fixing of the farm roads. If you are one of those people, hush. I am sure that the rest of you can appreciate the magnitude of this. Even better news is that the improvement of these 22 roads is only the beginning.<br /> <br /> With these improvements farmers will be able transport their goods to market and more capital will be available for reinvestment in their farm and families, leading to more production.<br /> <br /> This road programme is under the Rural Development Taskforce, which aims to improve the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans who reside in the rural areas of this country.<br /> <br /> I firmly believe that this, if no other policy of the PNP Government, will be felt by Jamaicans all over the island, as when the rural areas develop it will push the pace of development of the entire nation.<br /> <br /> Hakkeem Harper<br /> <br /> hakkeemharper21@outlook.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12315639/pnp_logo_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Friday, February 05, 2016 12:00 AM Ghosts of 1980 glad for short election campaign http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ghosts-of-1980-glad-for-short-election-campaign_50542 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Prime Minister the Portia Simpson Miller knows more than anyone else in the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) the negative effects of a long election campaign. The year 1980 was a prime example. Under former prime minister, the late Michael Norman Manley, the 1980 election campaign was far too long. Several allegations were made about foreign intervention in our political affairs by our neighbours to the North, but the campaign was too long.<br /> <br /> Simpson Miller may well have had to bury the most dead of all the candidates in that election. Men dressed in military fatigues and blue denim would enter various parts of the constituency and open gunfire killing young men. I know what I am speaking about as a private informal transport contractor contracted to a funeral home to provide hearse service. We would be called to pick up a body; however, we would return to base with four, as the police would escort us to other sections of the constituency to pick up others.<br /> <br /> I vividly recall in 1980 after the completion of a funeral service for supposed People&rsquo;s National Party supporters at St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, on Molynes Road, the cortege made its way to the No Five Cemetery in Spanish Town (Tawes Pen) &mdash; located in a Jamaica Labour Party stronghold. When the cortege arrived at the cemetery a mob was there waiting, and after someone shouted, &ldquo;Dem nah bury yah&rdquo;, they proceeded to demolish the vaults as the police stood by helpless. The bodies had to be taken back to Kingston, where they were later interred in the May Pen Cemetery.<br /> <br /> I agree with the short election campaign. The clause which makes it possible was not in existence in the 1980s.<br /> <br /> However, I trust that by the time of the next general election after this one &mdash; constitutionally due in 2021 &mdash; the constitution will be amended to set: 1) A fixed election date 2) Term limits 3) Separation of powers<br /> <br /> I pray to God that no lives will be lost in this election campaign and that the Government and Opposition will have the necessary amendments made to the constitution.<br /> <br /> Joseph M Cornwall Sr, JP<br /> <br /> Managing director/CEO<br /> <br /> tranquillityfh@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12614899/Portia30_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, February 04, 2016 12:00 AM High hopes for Crawford and Pryce http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/High-hopes-for-Crawford-and-Pryce_50695 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Quite regrettably, as we prepare to say goodbye, at least for now, to two of the sharpest members of parliament (MP) in the House of Representatives for the past four years, Damion Crawford and Raymond Pryce, I wish to extend commendations to them both on the great work they have done and the great influence they have had.<br /> <br /> These are two analytical minds, tapped with unmatched potential, and it is a bit disheartening to see their political prowess being put on pause with this general election. However it does not have to be so.<br /> <br /> I hope the People&rsquo;s National Party finds a constructive way to utilise these two great young minds in the interim, and Pryce and Crawford may rest assured that youth is in both their favours.<br /> <br /> No man is able to inspire revolutions of change without the possession of some profound influence; this is exactly what I saw these two men doing in recent times.<br /> <br /> They both shared philosophies that differed from those of their constituents, especially those influential in the various divisions and communities that make up the entirety of both their constituencies. Could this have been the motive behind both their unseating? That&rsquo;s arguable.<br /> <br /> Raymond Pryce is a highly intelligent lawmaker who can point to the impact he has had being part of the Legislature. The intervention he made in the move to decriminalise, and ultimately legalise, marijuana usage in small quantities and the cultivation of the &ldquo;weed&rdquo; will definitely go down in the annals of Jamaican history. This motion was seemingly motivated by the tragic death of one Mario Deane, a young man who was arrested for possession of a marijuana &ldquo;spliff&rdquo; and was subsequently beaten to death while in police custody.<br /> <br /> I supported fully Crawford&rsquo;s push to provide educational opportunities for his constituents. I have a vivid recollection of a statement he made about his major function as MP. He stated that it was to &ldquo;ensure that there is no hindrance to an individual taking his talent and his motivation and making the best of himself&rdquo;. Now that was profound, and it has rested with me to date. There are some people that might argue that he tried to change the age-old culture of handouts and &ldquo;expectation&rdquo; in politics too quickly. However, it was Marcus Garvey who said, &ldquo;Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men.&rdquo; I believe you must be the change you wish to see in the world.<br /> <br /> The fact that neither of these young politicians could find nirvana in their constituencies is indeed sad, but if it is the will of the people they go, so be it; after all, this is a democracy, and you cannot fight the system without the expectation that it will fight back.<br /> <br /> The experiences of these two outgoing members of parliament offers lessons to bright young people out there that might want to serve their country through a political medium. I personally have learnt a great deal from them: You can be whatever you want to be, regardless of the circumstances; barriers can be broken down, whether it be age or anything else. Let no hindrance take precedence over your dreams. Be an example of the change you wish to see. <br /> <br /> And finally, no man has ever become great without facing strong opposition.<br /> <br /> Thalia McDonald<br /> <br /> thalia.mcdonald@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12624787/177728__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12624840/183851__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, February 04, 2016 12:00 AM Young must organise themselves to be taken seriously http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Young-must-organise-themselves-to-be-taken-seriously_50701 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A general election will be held soon and many commentators are bemoaning the apathetic nature of the younger generation. The argument is that young people are not interested in politics because both parties do not seem to cater to their needs. However, the reality is that political parties will take young people seriously when they begin to organise themselves and lobby for meaningful change.<br /> <br /> Groups like the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and the Jamaica Manufacturers&rsquo; Association are listened to because they have clear positions on issues ranging from trade to tax reform. Therefore, it ought not to have been surprising when, in 2014, Dr Phillips made changes to the General Consumption Tax Act (Amendments ) at the behest of corporate Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Youth leaders will not be taken seriously if they vaguely claim that &lsquo;youth issues&rsquo; are important. With the exception of financing for tertiary education, youth leaders have been silent on a range of issues affecting the economy. For example, we don&rsquo;t know how young people feel about the economic reform programme or Jamaica&rsquo;s standing in Caricom.<br /> <br /> The reality is that there is no such thing as a &lsquo;youth issue&rsquo;; there are only structural issues that disproportionately affect young people. An economy in need of reform will have a more negative effect on young people, because less jobs are being created and entrepreneurs are less inclined to hire younger people with little experience. So youth unemployment is really a symptom of a maladjusted economy.<br /> <br /> Youth leaders must begin to inspire Jamaicans by lobbying for solutions to national problems instead of reiterating the problem. For example, university students could be doing more to improve the production of knowledge in Jamaica and creating employment opportunities if given the right resources. The need for grants to improve the quality of infrastructure and research at local universities is a policy that should be lobbied for by youth organisations. They should reject the argument that there are no funds for such a programme.<br /> <br /> We need to get our priorities right as a country. Why should money be wasted on unsustainanable programmes like the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme at the expense of science and technology? Young people must wake up and organise themselves if they want to be taken seriously, because they alone can secure a better Jamaica for future generations.<br /> <br /> Lipton Matthews <br /> <br /> lo_matthews@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12417810/Peter-Phillips--new_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, February 04, 2016 12:00 AM Adventist pastor&rsquo;s wrong was not his attendance at rally http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Adventist-pastor-s-wrong-was-not-his-attendance-at-rally_50574 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Since people still have this issue of Northern Caribbean University church pastor, Dr Michael Harvey, misconstrued, for whatever reasons, let me try and make it a bit clearer.<br /> <br /> The Jamaican Constitution speaks to the right to association. The Adventist Church believes in democracy and, unlike the Jehovah&rsquo;s Witnesses, does not tell its members not to be a part of the democratic process. This makes it clear that Harvey was indeed right in supporting the party of his choice, as well as execising his freedom to associate with whomever or whichever community he chooses.<br /> <br /> However, the Seventh-day Adventist Church doesn&rsquo;t believe in the active campaigning or endorsing of a specific party or candidate, as one of its beliefs is that &lsquo;&rsquo;Church and State must not mix&rsquo;&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> A statement he made was that &lsquo;&rsquo;the best way forward for the country is in Portia Simpson Miller and her lieutenants&rsquo;&rsquo;. Where was God in all of that?<br /> <br /> For a man of the gospel he should have used the event to rally the Comrades to look to God and not to man.<br /> <br /> In concluding, no one is saying that politicians do not come to the Adventist Church and that he is wrong to have gone to the rally. It was his delivery that was wrong. He cannot speak for the Adventist Church without the doctrinal references of the church.<br /> <br /> Omar McPherson<br /> <br /> ommcpherson@gmail.com http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12618099/183416__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, February 04, 2016 12:00 AM Caricom failing Haiti http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Caricom-failing-Haiti_50365 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This January marked five years since the tragic earthquake that hit Haiti. This year also marks one for the transition of power through a general election. Unfortunately, the rubble is still there and elections have been postponed.<br /> <br /> Where has Caricom been, and why are they so quiet on the Haiti issue? For years Jamaica and the wider Caricom nations have led the fight for Haiti, but as a recent editorial stated, we seem to have grown weary of Haiti and what seems to be their constant troubles.<br /> <br /> But sitting back and washing hands will do nothing. On the contrary, we will actually feel it even more. Haiti is awash with guns and many criminal enterprises still operate out of Haiti.<br /> <br /> As Jamaica knows only too well, Haitian gangsters are more than willing to exchange their guns for our ganja, and now meat. This is one by-product of letting Haiti slip into lawlessness.<br /> <br /> It is clear that the UN is too far removed to do anything, while America bungles things up as per usual when it comes to Haiti.<br /> <br /> Caricom nations, with our shared culture and history, should be taking the lead. We have everything to gain from a stable, prosperous Haiti, and we will pay dearly if they fail. With that kind of vested interest we can&rsquo;t afford to take a back seat, we must take action to secure Haiti.<br /> <br /> This may mean boots on the ground to take over from the UN. This may mean high-level summits to hash out a future palpable to all sides. But we need to act fast; things could easily slip into something far worse than what we are currently seeing.<br /> <br /> In short, if Caricom is to have any shred of relevance in the 21st century, if they truly believe in regionalism and unity, the Caribbean nations will act. Claiming fatigue or a lack of funds is a cop-out of the highest proportion, we will be watching to see if they practise what they preach, or if they will let Haiti rot.<br /> <br /> Alexander Scott<br /> <br /> alexanderwj.scott@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9137972/caricom_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, February 03, 2016 12:00 AM Lee-Chin&rsquo;s call makes good cents! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Lee-Chin---s-call-makes-good-cents_50575 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Very rarely do we find individuals showing deep regard for their neighbours, especially in pursuit of their own personal agenda. Their goals may take them away from their own environment into another sphere of interest and engagement. Many are much too busy looking about their own personal goals to the extent where they forget about those around them.<br /> <br /> Therefore, it is indeed refreshing that National Commercial Bank Chairman Michael Lee-Chin has appealed to investors to put their sights on Jamaica to show the world the level of confidence that they have in their country. Of course, he could have taken the decisions like his counterparts elsewhere to disregard the existence of others around them. But this is not to be.<br /> <br /> Lee-Chin has made the right move in the face of a general election. Many Jamaicans are tired of major conflicts in the height of a general election. It is a new style of engagement which is welcoming. He has appealed to investors to do the right thing and show how much they care about The Rock.<br /> <br /> It may be very difficult for many to consider, given the nature of the country in which we all reside. There are those who are primarily interested in what they can do to enrich themselves, their families and friends. However, Lee-Chin is demonstrating what difference we can bring to the table once we recognise our goals and moreso those of others among us. <br /> <br /> His call for a change in how we approach businesses to achieve success should be answered. Gladly, he sees it fit to share his knowledge and experience of strategies equalling 99 per cent, and one per cent execution. Private sector leaders need to follow his lead and jump to action to create solutions and not dwell on complaints about the market, politicians and low growth. We should all, like him, step up to the plate and open the corridors for others to thrive and survive.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Romario Williams<br /> <br /> romwills21@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12620975/182916__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, February 03, 2016 12:00 AM We must protect our beaches! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-must-protect-our-beaches_49295 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> There have been several media reports concerning the removal of vast quantities of sand from certain sections of the Negril beach area and it being transported to the Ocho Rios area by people connected to a hotel investment group involved in the hotel construction business on the north coast. Instructively, the Negril Chamber of Commerce has publicly raised the issue concerning this activity and has vociferously called on the government agencies with legal authority to stop this action.<br /> <br /> The removal of sand from the Negril shoreline will undoubtedly have a massive negative impact and effect on the Negril beach landscape and must be stopped immediately. Clearly, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has not been adequately policing the beach areas in Negril for, all too frequently, we are hearing reports of sand mining and removal taking place in Negril, with no sound of legal action taken. This is unacceptable!<br /> <br /> The Government and its associated enforcement agencies have a major responsibility to prevent this from taking place and to prosecute those responsible for flouting the law in this respect.<br /> <br /> It is not the first time that the Negril Chamber of Commerce has publicly complained about sand mining within the Negril beach area, and it is prime time that NEPA proceeds to stop this appalling activity in Negril and other sections of the island.<br /> <br /> We cannot allow sand mining to destroy and damage our precious, unique, historic and famous beaches. The mining minister must step in now and take the action warranted.<br /> <br /> Last year I took two United States scientists &mdash; friends of mine &mdash; to a Negril beach and they remarked how natural and enjoyable this strip of beach was. They spoke of the utmost need to prevent widespread pollution of our beaches, especially the Negril strip. They indicated that Jamaica has among the best quality beaches in the world. Let us not destroy this resource.<br /> <br /> By the way, why was the Puerto Seco beach privatised? <br /> <br /> Robert Dalley<br /> <br /> St James<br /> <br /> robertdalley1@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10322679/beach-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, February 03, 2016 12:00 AM Mama InAction! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Mama-InAction_50585 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In a grand spectacle put on by the ruling People&rsquo;s National Party on Sunday, party President Portia Simpson Miller claimed to be &ldquo;Mama in action&rdquo; (MIA). This was in a clear attempt to discredit the moniker &lsquo;missing in action&rsquo; ascribed to her.<br /> <br /> Surprisingly, as the political season heightens, she is now seeking to be visible and actually made herself available for an exclusive interview. Her eleventh-hour engagement with media will be about the politicking rather than addressing key national issues. She is also seeking to dispel what she claims are attacks she has faced over the years.<br /> <br /> It is quite clear that Simpson Miller is horrible at governing, but great at politicking. This cannot be what Jamaica&rsquo;s development is all about. Jamaica cannot continue on this path. A leader must be available for national issues at all times.<br /> <br /> Portia Simpson Miller turned a blind eye to national issues over the past four years. Juts look at unemployment, especially among the young people; misuse of National Housing Trust funds in relation to the Outameni bailout; the poor handling of the CHIKV outbreak and the 19 dead babies; Phillip Paulwell energy saga, among others.<br /> <br /> Are political issues more important than national issues? How can a prime minister not be vocal on national issues? Why is Portia Simpson Miller only available in the political season?<br /> <br /> Marshall Gordon<br /> <br /> marshallgordon10@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12383806/Portia-simpson-miller_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, February 03, 2016 12:00 AM Killing in the name of ZIKV http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Killing-in-the-name-of-ZIKV_50588 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The recent outbreak of the Zika virus is a valid reason for concern on several fronts. Our responses to the virus and its possible outcomes must be based on consideration for all the possible victims, and not exhibit extremism based on fear.<br /> <br /> It may seem easy to issue edicts that women should avoid pregnancy, but the physical, mental, social and spiritual welfare of women who are already pregnant, and their unborn children, must also be considered.<br /> <br /> While the temporal association may be suggestive, the World Health Organization admits that there is no definite proof that ZIKV is the cause of the increased incidence of microcephaly. Despite that, activists are jumping through hoops to push abortion for infected pregnant women. A call for caution is necessary. Even if a causative link were established, ZIKV would be neither the first nor the only cause of microcephaly. So in our era of non-discrimination, are little human beings are to be killed because they may have mental or physical disabilities? What message does this send to the many disabled people now leading productive lives in our communities? This kind of mindset has already led to killing little humans with Downs Syndrome in so-called developed nations. Once it becomes acceptable to kill them in the womb, we will soon bow to the inescapable logic that we can also kill them outside the womb.<br /> <br /> Human arrogance is the basis of this &ldquo;tyranny of the perfect&rdquo;. What about young children who get meningitis or other brain diseases and suffer similar effects? How can killing be the solution to a medical problem? And what about those elderly people whose brains have shrunken from other conditions? The culture of death has created an ever-expanding list of those considered unfit to live. Jamaica must continue to address these genuine challenges without disregarding the inherent dignity of all human beings. <br /> <br /> Dr Doreen Brady- West<br /> <br /> drbradywest@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12620863/ZZ3D795FA2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, February 03, 2016 12:00 AM