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 Reggae Boyz World Cup dream attainable, but... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Reggae-Boyz-World-Cup-dream-attainable--but_19240567 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Given Jamaica's shaky start to the CONCACAF semi-final round of World Cup qualifiers, coupled with some off-the-field issues, I nevertheless remain optimistic -- despite some detractors -- that the Reggae Boyz can mount a formidable challenge and ultimately qualify for Russia in 2018.<br /> <br /> To achieve this, however, there has to be a concerted effort by all stakeholders -- players, management and technical staff -- to remain focused and unified. Over the years, there appears to be some disconnect between the performances of the team and the "dream" to which they and all of us aspire. As with any team sport, 'teamwork makes the dream work', and since 1998 this dream of returning to the world stage has remained just that.<br /> <br /> This has to change. Whatever happened to the high levels of passion, courage, enthusiasm, pride, determination, will to win, and never-give-up attitude that has been associated with wearing the black, green and gold jersey in years gone by? Are they not motivated enough to relish the lifetime opportunity of being among the top 32 football nations on Earth, while sharing the stage and matching skills with some of the world's best players? Think about the financial incentives to be derived and the ability to market themselves to prospective agents for top clubs in the major leagues around the world.<br /> <br /> For the remainder of the campaign the modus operandi has to be: Win all home games and avoid defeat away. This is easier said than done.<br /> <br /> There are some concerns which must be highlighted:<br /> <br /> * Any off-the-field issues must be resolved now so that their mental preparation for the task at hand is not negatively affected.<br /> <br /> * The ability of a lot of players to maintain a high level of fitness for 90 minutes is a deficiency which must be addressed urgently, especially when we face Central American opposition.<br /> <br /> * The team needs to score goals. They must be dynamic in attack and alter their style of play in creating goal-scoring opportunities and positioning themselves to convert same. Our forwards and attacking midfielders must have an eye for goal; displaying that awareness, sharpness, speed and strength to hold up the ball for their teammates in support. Both left and right wingers (who must be in tip-top physical condition) are extremely important and must be extensively utilised in making those darting runs down the flanks and provide teasing crosses for teammates to finish. The defence unit must be singing from the same song book. They must be alert, organised and anticipate quick counter-attacks, remain solid when under pressure and ensure there is effective communication -- protecting the goal at all times.<br /> <br /> This is all not an easy undertaking for the coaching staff to get the chemistry right, as they will not have the services of most players for an extended period of time due to club commitments.<br /> <br /> The journey to Russia will, no doubt, be a long one. Nevertheless, every player must demonstrate the dedication and commitment required at this time for the programme and give of his best for the team and country. Their recent achievements in the Caribbean Cup and Gold Cup coupled with an unwavering support for the team suggest that qualification is indeed attainable. 'Russia wi seh!'<br /> <br /> Andre Smith<br /> <br /> ceoandre@aol.com<br /> <br /> Reggae Boyz World Cup dream attainable, but...<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12420606/boyz27_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 27, 2015 12:00 AM JLP was 'sold a dummy' http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/JLP-was--sold-a-dummy-_19240581 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A popular term used in football matches when a wily forward sends the opposing defender the wrong way is "being sold a dummy", and that is exactly what the People's National Party (PNP) has done to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). And, man, they have really bought it!<br /> <br /> I knew from day one that the election would not have been held this year. The PNP has too many windows of opportunity between now and December 2016 to call the election now.<br /> <br /> The first window of opportunity opened to it is the reduction of the "primary surplus target", which will release more funds to be allocated to social programmes.<br /> <br /> The party was successful in getting the JLP to postpone its annual conference for the first time at last, which is not good for the image-building of the party. Word on the ground is that the party and its candidates have used up more than a third of its election cash vault in mobilising and organising the constituencies.<br /> <br /> And, with Christmas in the air, the JLP candidates will have to be very visible in the constituencies giving treats and other electorate contacts further diminishing their cash vault for an election that will not be held before the budget is presented.<br /> <br /> The issue of bitter medicine being articulated by the JLP will be tossed through the window as the PNP, with gains from an improving economy, will present a people's and an election budget within the confines of a relaxing of harsh International Monetary Fund guidelines.<br /> <br /> The JLP, with its propensity to be fractious &mdash; now being held together by a masking tape (pun intended) &mdash; may implode at any time, and that is another window of opportunity available to the PNP.<br /> <br /> It is an open secret that the PNP is targeting the seats of Andrew Holness, Audley Shaw, Everald Warmington, James Robertson, Pearnel Charles, and Rudyard Spencer; postponing the election will give them a better, bigger bag of opportunity to unseat them.<br /> <br /> It must be noted that during the 2011 Christmas, the JLP and its candidates did not make the necessary contacts with the people, and that was one of the reasons the people did not turn out at the polls, as they felt that "money never run".<br /> <br /> With the way in which the PNP has been selectively naming the sites for its meetings, it was not a prelude to any election annoucement, and the JLP should have picked that up.<br /> <br /> Fernandez "Bingy" Smith<br /> <br /> fgeesmith@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> JLP was 'sold a dummy'<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12417823/JLP-SUPPORTERS_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 27, 2015 12:00 AM Not enough ram goat, so no election http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Not-enough-ram-goat--so-no-election_19240587 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Our prime minister told us that she was waiting for the master to tell her when to call the election, or words to that effect.<br /> <br /> I think the truth of the matter is her decision to not call the election this year is a calculated one, and that it has less to do with divine intervention or her standing in the polls.<br /> <br /> I believe the reason there will be no election until next year is that we would not have enough of a supply of ram goats to make the curry meal for the election and Christmas. As I hear it, the predial larceny team is an extremely happy bunch, because if the election is called close to Christmas they would have an increase in theft of this precious farm animal.<br /> <br /> Authnel Reid<br /> <br /> reidaut@icloud.com<br /> <br /> Not enough ram goat, so no election<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12391084/Portia-PNP_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 27, 2015 12:00 AM Don't let them drive off with Customs money http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Don-t-let-them-drive-off-with-Customs-money_19240588 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I write to offer unsolicited advice to the minister of finance, to help save the country some tax revenue.<br /> <br /> A general election is constitutionally due by December 2016 and, based on experience, each candidate from both political parties will be given duty concession on motor vehicles imported for campaigning; totalling 126 candidates.<br /> <br /> I am proposing that in formulating the import policy for these concessionary vehicles the following be considered:<br /> <br /> 1. That the present threshold of US$35,000.00 be maintained.<br /> <br /> 2. The concession should only be valid no later than two weeks prior to the date of the general election, with no extension granted thereafter.<br /> <br /> 3. These vehicles should only be imported through new-car dealerships.<br /> <br /> 4. Only new vehicles should be imported.<br /> <br /> The foregoing are being proposed as experience has shown that values being declared are below the threshold (CIF) value to avoid the full duty and taxes on the excess transaction value of US$35,000.<br /> <br /> Using a new-car dealership to import these vehicles would make for easier verification of the declared value when compared to a used-car dealership, which imports used and new vehicles. There have been instances where only a third of the true value is declared to the Customs agency.<br /> <br /> I'm offering these safeguards to help protect the much-needed revenue; over $100 million will be saved.<br /> <br /> Concerned Jamaican<br /> <br /> Don't let them drive off with Customs money<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12420618/Motor-vehicle-Wharf-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 27, 2015 12:00 AM Where do I go to get my reputation back? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Where-do-I-go-to-get-my-reputation-back_19240752 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I must ask: Where do I go to get my reputation back when it appears that three powerful institutions of the State &mdash; the Attorney General's Department, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Office of the Commissioner of Police &mdash; have, over several years, conspired in behaviour that results in me, a citizen of Jamaica, suffering much psychological pain and severe financial losses?<br /> <br /> Where do I go to get my reputation back when all the institutions of the State that are supposed to address wrongs committed by agents of the State appear to be in collusion to block a fair and just outcome?<br /> <br /> Where do I go to get my reputation back when my children continue to ask me about the "spurious and illegal" advice I gave to a senior minister of government?<br /> <br /> Where do I go to get my reputation back when former and prospective clients politely avoid all discussions of possible employment, and I can no longer earn at the level to which I am accustomed?<br /> <br /> All of this because the Government will not pay me what they owe me. Where do I go to get my reputation back?<br /> <br /> Keith Senior<br /> <br /> Where do I go to get <br /> <br /> my reputation back?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12420678/suit_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 27, 2015 12:00 AM Do the honourable thing! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Do-the-honourable-thing-_19240472 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> With the continued furore about the disastrous state of the public health sector and its terrible politicisation and mismanagement by former Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson and the ministry's broader leadership, it really is an embarrassment that Dr Andrei Cooke, the chairman of the powerful South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) continues to occupy that role. That authority overseas all public hospitals and health centres in the capital Kingston city, St Catherine and St Thomas.<br /> <br /> From the daily cries about the state of these institutions it is obvious that his tenure has not been successful. Tanny Shirley, the previous chairman of SERHA, was able to keep the system afloat despite similar budgetary constraints and the same personnel.<br /> <br /> Was it not Dr Cooke who would be seen at the side of Dr Fenton Ferguson while he was health minister at their many press conferences and assisted him in making the mess?<br /> <br /> Was it not Dr Cooke who vigorously defended the disastrous state of the public health sector?<br /> <br /> Was it not Dr Cooke who was at the helm as the Bustamante Hospital for Children moved from crisis to crisis, with no cardiac centre for babies and children, despite millions of dollars that could be garnered in support from the private sector?<br /> <br /> Dr Cooke needs to do himself a favour and resign. Otherwise, Dr Horace Dalley, out of sheer decency, needs to have him removed.<br /> <br /> Kerry-Ann Foster<br /> <br /> Medical Consultant<br /> <br /> kerryfoster18@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Do the honourable thing!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12077851/Dr-Andrei-Cooke_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 26, 2015 12:00 AM Can we trust our police with the DNA legislation? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Can-we-trust-our-police-with-the-DNA-legislation-_19240517 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is noted that the DNA Evidence Act has recently been passed by the House of Representatives. Since then, I have had the opportunity to read the 74-page document, which I found well put-together and easy to read, without excessive legalese.<br /> <br /> The Act has closely followed the British version of making it possible for an "authorised person" to have a DNA sample taken from anyone suspected of, charged with, reported for, or convicted of a "relevant offence".<br /> <br /> The interpretation section of the Act defines "relevant offence" as one that carries a punishment of imprisonment. One is mindful of the fact that this new bit of legislation is designed not only to assist with the conviction of guilty defendants, but also to assist with solving crimes that would otherwise go unsolved and, even more importantly, to exonerate innocent defendants.<br /> <br /> So the motives behind the act are noble, and in an even not-too-perfect system the rights of the ordinary citizen stand a chance of being preserved, his privacy not violated with far-reaching consequences and of course punishment that would deter those who might seek to abuse. And that is exactly what worries me about this new piece of legislation. Our system is too far removed from any resemblance to near perfection. Our system is broken.<br /> <br /> How can we trust our police with this piece of legislation? Has the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) not been found on several occasions engaging in all manner of nefarious deeds? We can all recount the many instances of reports of police planting evidence, and despite the punishment associated with such an offence, the offence continues to be committed.<br /> <br /> Should we not try to fix the system or weed out this culture of the corrupting of evidence that is so critical if the integrity of DNA evidence is to be preserved? May I also inquire why it was found necessary to provide for an "officer" of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) of the rank of sergeant and above to be an authorising officer? The interpretation section of the Defence Act provides no category of officer known as a sergeant.<br /> <br /> That aside, if the JDF operates primarily in aid to the civil power (JCF), why is it deemed necessary to have any member of that force as an authorising officer? Must all members of the JDF who are suspected of, charged with, reported for, or convicted of offences created as a result of the Defence Act now be subjected to having DNA samples taken? We could, over a period of time, have the majority of our military men on the DNA register. Is that a desirable situation? Once again, it is important that our legislators understand that there are inherent dangers in granting a tool to fight crime to a police force perceived to be corrupt, and that the inappropriate or wrongful use of this tool could in time creep into other areas in ways that impinge on personal liberties.<br /> <br /> Colonel Allan Douglas<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> alldouglas@aol.com<br /> <br /> Can we trust our police with the DNA legislation?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12418029/Police-hat_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 26, 2015 12:00 AM Stop this MP-Caretaker foolishness http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Stop-this-MP-Caretaker-foolishness-_19240530 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Recently, I have been noticing a new self-aggrandising political term called "MP caretaker or caretaker MP."<br /> <br /> As far as I am concerned, the joining of the names of the two positions is utter rubbish and it trivialises the Jamaican Parliament.<br /> <br /> The term "MP" is reserved absolutely for an elected member of the parliament and a "caretaker" is a non-elected official who is a representative of his or her political party that lost in the previous election, or is newly placed in a constituency or division. In both scenarios the individual is hopeful of winning in the next election.<br /> <br /> To my certain knowledge, you are either a member of parliament or you aren't. Therefore, the continued use of this term is an insult to the very idea of the place to which they aspire to reach.<br /> <br /> Even the notion of a caretaker itself is a fallacy, as in all honesty they are in no real position to take care of anything. This is because they have no real power to effect change in the constituency not being the elected representatives. Let us show respect for the system of democracy as it stands and discourage the use of this ridiculous term of self-importance.<br /> <br /> If it is that an individual is vying to become the Member of Parliament for a constituency then that person should be referred to as what they are, a candidate, nothing more, and nothing less and stop this MP caretaker foolishness, as most of these individuals cannot take care of themselves much less a constituency.<br /> <br /> Alexis Ferguson<br /> <br /> lexifergie66@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Stop this MP-Caretaker foolishness <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11321670/JLPNP-CROWD_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 26, 2015 12:00 AM The cost of singing http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-cost-of-singing_19240467 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The current Television Jamaica programme All Together Sing is just another flimflam to use students to generate revenue for the major sponsors. It has very little to with talent and developing the young voices of students.<br /> <br /> I watch with disgust as students walk around with containers soliciting money to vote. They also mount major fund-raisers weekly to get funds to submit votes to get an opportunity to win $1,000,000. I was surprised to hear from one of the choirs that made it to the top five that they spent over $70,000 voting for one week just to stay in the competition; and they fell way below the choir that had the most votes.<br /> <br /> But who exactly is generating the funds to buy these phone cards to vote? It is the students who have to put on concerts, go into the town centres with varying size containers.<br /> <br /> I am saddened that school administrators and the Ministry of Education have allowed this to continue. For a school to be in the top three, it may well have to spend upwards of $250,000 in voting, not considering their travelling, costumes, and other expenses. Wouldn't it be better if these choirs found a way to use those funds to develop themselves?<br /> <br /> Fabian Thomas<br /> <br /> Fabesthomas1st@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> The cost of singing<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12418219/choir_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 26, 2015 12:00 AM Clear and discernible political expediency http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Clear-and-discernible-political-expediency_19240372 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will have us believe that her decision to postpone the general election was borne out of concern for the over 37,000 newly enumerated people. Really?<br /> <br /> Her decision comes more as a result of political expediency, rather than any principled stance or commitment to ensure that those 37,000 new electors were not disenfranchised. Why didn't we hear any reference to this before Sunday?<br /> <br /> There is a clear and discernible pattern of political expediency in the People's National Party's (PNP) approach to governance. Too often the PNP opts to go the route of political expediency rather than good governance, or that which is considered the principled thing to do. The prime minister has a tendency of protecting her party and acting in her party's interests rather than in the interests of the whole country. Instead of relieving former health minister of his ministerial portfolio, she reassigned him to another ministry. While others would have prioritised acting in the nation's interest and seek to ensure the health and well-being of general public, our prime minister acted to protect the interest of the PNP.<br /> <br /> When the nation lost thousands of producted man-hours due the massive Riverton fire that went on for two weeks in March of this year, Simpson Miller acted in defense of former executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, Jennifer Edwards, that she wasn't there when the fire was started. How trite and contemptuous of the prime minister to have made such a suggestion?<br /> <br /> Why didn't the prime minister express her commitment of facilitating the newly enumerated prior to the obvious determination she made that going to the polls at this time would be too risky?<br /> <br /> Kimberly Rowe<br /> <br /> kimberlyrowe3@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Clear and discernible political expediency<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12409844/DSC_3037_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, November 26, 2015 12:00 AM Peg it! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Peg-it-_19240183 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This is an open letter to Finance Minister Peter Phillips:<br /> <br /> With all due respect Minister, the Jamaican people do not need another bureaucracy to stabilise the Jamaican dollar. Just peg the dollar to the US dollar, like Cayman and The Bahamas. The Jamaican economy is not fundamentally different from these economies and they are doing great.<br /> <br /> It is quite clear from the combined effects of a devalued dollar and low oil prices our exports should be booming. But this is not the case, therefore it is no longer feasible for the Government of Jamaica to leverage the competitive edge of the Jamaican economy on cheap wages and constant devaluation. The net impact of such policies over the years are high crime rate, very high levels of poverty, and an increasing foreign debt-to-GDP ratio.<br /> <br /> It would seem to me that the Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have concluded that constant devaluation was affecting our ability to maintain an acceptable debt-to-GDP ratio; perhaps the most structural impediment in our fiscal and monetary policies to growth and development. The only focus for the Government is to reduce the cost of energy and forget about reducing the debt it is the classic chicken or egg scenario.<br /> <br /> "The Jamaican dollar which started the year at $114.66 to the US dollar has so far lost nearly two per cent, with inflation at roughly zero, the currency has gained a bit in competitiveness this year as well as since October last year with negative inflation between then and December." (IC INSIDER.COM)<br /> <br /> It only stands to reason that in a speculative market there is no future parity or hopes of having a strong Jamaican dollar, as Jamaican investors find it is far more lucrative to invest in foreign currency trading than to invest some US$10.3 billion annual (total value of currency trading per year) in the productive capacity of the nation in terms of energy, manufacturing and infrastructure investments.<br /> <br /> The volume of currency trading is greater than the average annual take-home income of the Jamaican workers by 68 per cent, as the currency investment dealers are earning an average of five timed the average hard currency inflows annually from remittance, which should have been reinvested in the development of our economic base but rather invested in a sector of the economy with little or no productive value, as a whole, since only a few wealthy Jamaicans can participate in currency trading.<br /> <br /> Without a change in this economic trajectory, we will never be able to pay off our IMF loans or repay the Chinese, as constant devaluation invariably increases the cost and size of our national debt.<br /> <br /> Unless there is radical reform to our financial markets, like pegging the Jamaican Dollar to the US dollar, the economy will be like a sinking cargo ship loaded with tons of debt, and the Jamaican people will become chattel slaves for another 300 years or more.<br /> <br /> Silbert Barrett<br /> <br /> net_sbarrett@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Peg it!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12413958/ed-cart-THURSDAY-19-NOV_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 25, 2015 12:00 AM I dream of a new Jamaica http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-dream-of-a-new-Jamaica_19239411 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Recently, I overheard a conversation of a diehard People National Party adherent who vehemently stated that he will not vote at all because his party is not playing its role; and he absolutely will not vote for the Jamaica Labour Party.<br /> <br /> Don Anderson was quoted in the Observer article on November 5, 2015: "In the 2011 General Election 48 per cent of persons eligible for voting did not vote." That is approximately half the electorate. In addition, he stated that the average uncommitted voters over the last five elections is about 43 per cent to 46 per cent.<br /> <br /> This led me to dream.<br /> <br /> I dream of a new Jamaica where the people use their political will to determine how we are governed. What if that 43 - 46 per cent, instead of remaining passive, refused both political parties and insisted that election should not be called until another party or a coalition is formed to give the nation a another option for governance.<br /> <br /> I dream that these people of political will nominate eligible individuals from the private sector, the church and the universities, who themselves will pledge to serve by implementing practical solutions to the crime, corruption and injustice in Jamaica. I also dream that the collective 'we' will fund this initiative.<br /> <br /> I dream that these leaders will be righteous people. For when the righteous rule, the people rejoice; and it is righteousness that exalts a nation.<br /> <br /> I dream that this new political party, alliance or coalition will prevent the wrath of God on the nation by refusing all bids or attempt by overseas influence to advance the LGBT agenda in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> I dream that Jamaicans will be willing to work hard and long for the next five to 10 years with this new Administration for the benefit of everyone; not expecting any handout especially if it has certain human rights ties attached.<br /> <br /> I am now wide awake now. But the question is: Will the uncommitted voters believe also that they can make that significant difference? Will Jamaicans, on a whole, wake up and lead the change?<br /> <br /> Why should a small percentage of Jamaicans alone decide who will form the next government when everyone will suffer the consequences?<br /> <br /> Since dreams still come true, I hope this dream will too.<br /> <br /> Ouida Williams<br /> <br /> deanouida@gmail.com<br /> <br /> I dream of a new Jamaica<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 25, 2015 12:00 AM No glory in poverty http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/No-glory-in-poverty_19240290 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The recent political ranting and raving by officials of the the People's National Party (PNP) about the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness's house leaves much to be desired.<br /> <br /> The PNP is busy patting itself on the back for passing 10 consecutive International Monetary Fund (IMF) tests, and achieving macro-economic stability is all well and good. The future prospects for Jamaica are looking up. The aim is now to go for growth. What are the results from this economic growth that we crave to attain but has eluded us over the last 25 years? Wealth and prosperity.<br /> <br /> When this is present, prosperous people tend to go for the best. They go for the best cars, houses, clothes, food, etc. Countries like the UK, USA, and Canada add hundreds of new millionaires every year to their rich list -- see Forbes Magazine. It is rich countries that fund the IMF, World Bank, etc. So if the aim of the PNP is to achieve significant economic growth, which will then achieve prosperity for the people, then why chastise someone who has achieved this already?<br /> <br /> There is no glory in poverty. It is because of poverty that 19 babies died in a broken-down health system crying out for resources. It is because of poverty that we have one of the highest murder rates in the world. Let us embrace a psychology of wealth creation. Let us love and respect the wealthy and prosperous in our society, as they are the ones who create the opportunities. Let us, as a people, emancipate ourselves from mental slavery as only we can free our minds.<br /> <br /> Phillip Harrison<br /> <br /> Old Harbour, St Catherine<br /> <br /> phbravo2@gmail.com<br /> <br /> No glory in poverty<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 25, 2015 3:00 AM The crime and abortion link http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-crime-and-abortion-link_19240200 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Crime is Jamaica's national challenge. What can we learn from other countries that successfully faced this challenge?<br /> <br /> Data indicate that crime in the United States of America started to decline in 1992. The Impact of Legalised Abortion on Crime, published in Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2001, authored by Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago and John Donohue of Yale University, points to the fact that males aged 18 to 24 are most likely to commit crimes. Jamaica has the same challenge, as our youth are more likely than their seniors to commit crimes.<br /> <br /> Donohue and Levitt's study indicates that the states that had abortion legalised experienced reductions in crime; absence of unwanted children. Studies in Canada and Australia, too, claim to have established a correlation between legalised abortion and overall crime reduction.<br /> <br /> Many of the women seeking illegal abortions in Jamaica are young, poor, unemployed, and live in economically and socially deprived communities. Many times, too, they are high school students. When a girl, barely in her teens, brings an unwanted child into this world, will she be able to provide the care, love, nurturing and guidance a child needs? Observation suggests that usually such children are neglected. Such neglected children end up as criminals; who is to blame? This is indeed an uncomfortable question with no easy answer.<br /> <br /> Tashfeen Ahmad<br /> <br /> mrtashfeen@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> The crime and abortion link<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 25, 2015 3:00 AM Victor Edwards -- A tribute http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Victor-Edwards-----A-tribute_19240317 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I would like to add my tribute at the passing of a great headmaster and educator, Victor Edwards, formerly of Cornwall College and St Jago High School.<br /> <br /> I had the chance to work with him as a member of staff at St Jago High School 1975-81 and found him committed to discipline, character and the pursuit of academic excellence.<br /> <br /> When he was appointed headmaster we had a function to honour him and I wrote a song for the occasion, part of which is set out below, and it gives a glimpse of an old school headmaster:<br /> <br /> "I see standards going down and the schoolroom has become a place where idlers waste their time and young thugs practise their crime. I'll be strict, I'll be strong, I will bend them to my will. Let them say I'm wicked then, but I will make them into men. If my colleagues stand with me we will end this mockery. Teach them pride and scholarship, discipline and sportsmanship. Parents, teachers children know that I'll except friend nor foe. And by these standards here set down I am twice as firmly bound."<br /> <br /> Orville Brown<br /> <br /> Bronx, NY<br /> <br /> storyline6000@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Victor Edwards <br /> <br /> -- A tribute<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, November 25, 2015 3:00 AM Senator Johnson Smith's plan still needs work http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Senator-Johnson-Smith-s-plan-still-needs-work_19240178 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Having been in the public education system for over 25 years I listened to the Jamaica Labour Party's proposal for the removal of educational fees with interest, and waited to see what plan would be rolled out.<br /> <br /> It has been reported that, at a Jamaica Observer luncheon, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith outlined the party's policy and identified as the sources of funding, the Education Tax, an increase in the subvention paid per student to schools, and a cut in the number of contracted consultants employed to the Ministry of Education.<br /> <br /> While the cutting of salaries to consultants is worthwhile pursuing, this amount is a drop in the bucket, $225 million per year (her numbers not mine), when compared with the estimated additional monies required totalling $1.8 billion (quoted by her).<br /> <br /> The other two sources quoted are monies already in the consolidated fund meeting needs, so the question of where the additional funding will come from is still unanswered. I agree that education for the most vulnerable must be supported by State funding, my question, given the existing economic climate, is why should those who can contribute to their children's education not do so? Especially since secondary education is already highly subsidised.<br /> <br /> Surely even with the identification of additional funding this would allow for the allocation of additional monies to those who absolutely need it, and also allow for funding for those schools which need additional support because of the inability to collect auxiliary fees. Why do we want to promote the notion that you do not have a responsibility to contribute to developing your child, once you can?<br /> <br /> From my considerable experience, $19,000 per student is not enough to keep a school operating at the standard that the 'schools of choice' operate at now.<br /> <br /> In response to her position that there would be no opposition to fund-raising, I point out the following: Schools do engage in fund-raising, despite the collection of auxiliary fees, and this is quite time consuming, even with the support of alumni associations and the Parent-Teachers' Associations. If administrators are to engage in even more fund-raising to compensate for the shortfall occasioned by the removal of auxiliary fees, their main task, which is quality control of the curriculum and delivery of same, will be compromised.<br /> <br /> Schools which collect low percentages of auxiliary fees usually have challenges with fund-raising for one reason: many of the stakeholders do not have a lot of disposable income. Who buys the barbecue tickets? Who goes to the concerts? The students and their families, of course.<br /> <br /> Maybe she would not be surprised at the less-than-supportive position of the stakeholders had she bothered to have real dialogue with those on the ground in education, and so engage in research which would have permitted her more than a superficial grasp of how education functions.<br /> <br /> The question of how best to organise education in Jamaica is complex and impacted by several factors. The proposed plan will only bring another set of issues to be resolved, while promoting mediocrity across the board. If education is to be transformed, rather than to be used as a political football, the key question to be addressed is how to bring all schools to the standard of those which have become 'schools of choice' while supporting the vulnerable so that all can access what will be a quality secondary education. Think on those things, Senator.<br /> <br /> Patricia Castriota<br /> <br /> Kingston 20<br /> <br /> tricia.castriota@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Senator Johnson Smith's plan still needs work<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12410182/Kamina-Johnson-Smith-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 24, 2015 3:00 AM 'Not in the interest of national security?' Says who? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Not-in-the-interest-of-national-security---Says-who_19239410 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Over the past few weeks the strength of Jamaica's democracy has undergone some testing. This tends to happen more at election time when the pressure is on our elected representatives, political parties, and those seeking to represent the people in a new Parliament.<br /> <br /> Fundamental to democracy is good governance. The ability to govern effectively in a democracy depends on the people's trust and confidence in those who govern them. To inspire that trust and confidence there has to be transparency, accountability, and truth exhibited, especially by political leaders, whether they form the Government or Opposition. It is obvious there was and still is ignorance regarding the issues of accountability and transparency, which have now been fitted with opaque lenses.<br /> <br /> The escalation in Jamaica's murder rate is a great concern to us all. Accordingly, it was timely that the commissioner of police, who heads up the primary government agency tasked with arresting crime, be called before a parliamentary committee to answer questions, be subjected to criticism, and share his plans with us.<br /> <br /> However, when Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams appeared we got a rather clumsy presentation from him, and the remainder of the committee's deliberations with him were done in camera because there might be information that would not be in the interests of national security. The commissioner of police is under no legal or moral obligation to share with us information so sensitive it could compromise our national security. It is, therefore, strange and most unacceptable that the media was effectively barred from a significant portion of the proceedings. One is conscious of the fact that there is always a balance that has to be struck between full and truthful disclosure to the public and disclosure of information that ought to be withheld that could compromise current or future security operations or activities. However, I believe the reasons for withholding information have to be compelling, and the balance tipped in favour of public disclosure. We are having too much of "cannot hear that evidence", "cannot disclose", "cannot disclose identity" because it is not in the interests of national security. Who is it that is determining what is and what is not in the interest of national security? We should be careful of the overplaying and abuse of this measure as is it is setting some very dangerous precedents that threaten truth and with it transparency.<br /> <br /> We are a relatively young democracy; let us not undermine the future of democracy by smearing the glasses of transparency and truth with too-smart-for-ourselves acts and not overplay such measures. Good governance depends on trust of the people, and trust is quickly lost where there is no transparency and truth.<br /> <br /> Colonel Allan Douglas<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> alldouglas@aol.com<br /> <br /> 'Not in the interest of national security?' Says who?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12373878/ACP-Carl-Williams_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 24, 2015 3:00 AM This is not the 70s; leave Holness's house alone http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/This-is-not-the-70s--leave-Holness-s-house-alone_19240169 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> One day, in 1976, I stopped at the traffic lights on East Street. Almost immediately, a spanking new Mercedes Benz pulled up beside my Datsun. I was in the process of admiring it when I discovered that the driver was a former classmate of mine. We stopped for liquid refreshments.<br /> <br /> For the next 20 minutes, he explained, in anguish, how he ended up buying the Benz, but added that he would have been far more comfortable driving a 'little old Viva'. I wondered to myself, why would anyone who could afford it prefer a 'little old Viva'?<br /> <br /> But that was the line of 'reasoning' the times required -- if you were 'conscious'. The new elite were suggesting that those Jamaicans who, by dint of hard work and creativity, had become successful were really shady characters; "rapacious capitalists" they were called. Profit was a dirty word. The word 'sufferer' was the new badge of honour, and one needed to be a little unkempt with a 'tam' to be seen as fully 'conscious'.<br /> <br /> By the end of that decade, analysts claimed that our economy had lost 25 per cent of its value. Owners of near-empty supermarkets were 'marrying' tampons with bubble gum. And well coiffed, upper St Andrew housewives were scratching and kicking each other to get the few remaining bags of rice on shelves.<br /> <br /> These were the memories that came flooding back to me when I heard Finance Minister Peter Phillips -- a disciple of the 70s -- ranting and making worrying innuendos about the size of the house Opposition Leader Andrew Holness and his wife are building, while delivering a campaign speech.<br /> <br /> Interestingly, only last Friday, a group of very well-known Jamaicans kindly invited me to join them for lunch.<br /> <br /> It would seem to me that the kind of emotions that part of his speech was likely to evoke were envy -- 'red eye'.<br /> <br /> Since the prime minister is waiting from a sign from God to call the election, it would do the party well to note what the Bible says about these emotions. Like Proverbs 14: 30: "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot."<br /> <br /> The subject of Holness came up, and the only aspect on which there was consensus was the skill and quality of Mrs Holness's work as a real estate developer. Everyone was impressed with her professionalism.<br /> <br /> I would love to own Holness's house. Or one like it. And I would love to own a Mercedes like my late classmate's. The message that needs to be sent to the society is that nothing is wrong with owning the very best if it can be acquired honestly.<br /> <br /> I would like to take this opportunity to ask, no, beg Minister Phillips, and the other legatees of that 70s era, not to go down that road again.<br /> <br /> Glenn Tucker<br /> <br /> Stony Hill<br /> <br /> glenntucker2011@gmail.com<br /> <br /> This is not the 70s; leave Holness's house alone<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11906611/Andrew---Juliet-Holness-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 24, 2015 3:00 AM Wow! I can vote! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Wow--I-can-vote_19240165 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller gave St Bess her best. It was my first-ever political meeting. I witnessed a downpour of orange-clad People's National Party supporters in Black River that had me in awe, but I pretended well and just observed.<br /> <br /> After five weeks of campaigning Jamaicans will not be going to the polls this year, and so the anticipated general election will be called some time next year. Happily so, in my case, as I get to vote having just been enumerated. And for those individuals who feared that calling an election at this time of year would place a looming cloud over the Christmas season, their concerns were acknowledged and are no more.<br /> <br /> The prime minister is not disqualifying the young from exercising their right to vote. She is confident enough to know whenever it is called, her party will regain power.<br /> <br /> Our prime minister listens to the concerns of the people.<br /> <br /> Steve Collins<br /> <br /> steveyc312@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Wow! I can vote!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12302403/Inked-finger_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, November 24, 2015 3:00 AM Flow Super Cup final...Way up! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Flow-Super-Cup-final---Way-up-_19240020 If last year's edition of the Super Cup final 'tun up', then this year it 'tun way up'. The highly anticipated mega-clash between St George's College and Jamaica College lived up to its expectation. It was much bigger and better than last year.<br /> <br /> What a difference a day makes, as the frustrated fans who turned out for the World Cup Qualifier between Jamaica and Panama on Friday night were treated to a dismal, uninspiring and lacklustre performance by the Reggae Boyz. The final whistle couldn't have come any sooner to put them out of their misery. Fast-forward 24 hours later and the schoolboy football spectacle was on show. Excitement, youthful exuberance, skills, tactical manuoeuvres were on display throughout 90 minutes of end-to-end action.<br /> <br /> In the end, St George 's College came away champions, scoring four unanswered high-calibre goals in front of a capacity crowd for a schoolboy match (close to 30,000). The atmosphere was electrifying; colourful fireworks and all.<br /> <br /> Commendations must be given to Flow and all the individuals/entities who worked hard behind the scenes to ensure the super final was a success. Moreover, the company has been and continues to play an instrumental role in unearthing and developing aspiring young football talents in Jamaica. This thrust to reinvigorate football was made evident with the introduction of the Street Futsal in communities throughout the island -- another tremendous blockbuster success. Also, it seems to have resonated throughout the schools with the advent of the Super Cup -- schoolboy football's version of the champions league. I urge Flow to continue the excellent work and to leave no stone unturned in crafting innovative strategies to develop the beautiful game in Jamaica for generations to come.<br /> <br /> Andre Smith<br /> <br /> ceoandre@aol.com<br /> <br /> Flow Super Cup final...Way up!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12407603/Flow-final_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 23, 2015 3:00 AM We are why we're poor http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-are-why-we-re-poor_19239993 I am somewhat amazed by the Sunday Observer editorial of November 22 edition which asks the question: If Jamaicans are so special, why are Jamaicans at home so poor?<br /> <br /> I say amazed because I have written about the main and always underlying reason for almost everything that's wrong with our country:<br /> <br /> "... yet it seems to me that to this point, I have not heard anyone put forward the simple but true answer that has caused and continues to cause our dilemma, which is very simply (and always has been) the next election.<br /> <br /> "What have the PNP and the JLP been consumed with since 1962? Winning the next election. And the day after each election, the party that wins, begins to try and make sure it wins again. And the loser begins to work to be successful the next time...<br /> <br /> "In the meantime, our country limps from crisis to crisis and deeper into the economic abyss."<br /> <br /> Where in all of the foregoing would there be any appetite or time to create any kind of policy environment? Still wondering why we are so poor?<br /> <br /> Stephen Harrison<br /> <br /> St Mary<br /> <br /> stepharrison28@gmail.com<br /> <br /> We are why we're poor<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12406713/money-4_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 23, 2015 3:00 AM Hold elections more often! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Hold-elections-more-often-_19239991 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Why is it we only manage to get things done in election time? I saw a ground-breaking for a transitional home for female wards moving out of Government care. This is a great move for the State to assist these wards as they grow into adulthood and learn to be independent.<br /> <br /> The National Heroes' Park is in the process of being enhanced. It is truly becoming a gem, often visited by world leaders. More roads and streets are being paved.<br /> <br /> There are new tourism projects and hotels in the pipelines, we hear, set to bring lots of jobs and, hopefully more foreign currency. Add to that word of the International Monetary Fund relaxing surplus targets. We hear that the Government is borrowing much less locally these days, which will free up more funds available for private sector borrowing, for investment, and production which should stimulate the economy.<br /> <br /> MPs are more active and visible in their constituencies and in the news. Even the Opposition has awakened from its slumber.<br /> <br /> This is all fantastic news, but why can't we see more of this all the time, instead of when it is likely for an election? The timing of these projects and announcements could not be merely coincidental.<br /> <br /> A Government in power is expected to do all it can to be re-elected, but at the same time, they should never assume the electorate is naive. Maybe the answer is more elections.<br /> <br /> P Chin<br /> <br /> chin_p@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Hold elections more often!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11321670/JLPNP-CROWD_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 23, 2015 3:00 AM Senator Williams' empty protest http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Senator-Williams--empty-protest_19239992 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I write in response to the Sunday Observer commentary by Balford Henry, headlined 'The Arthur Williams, Malahoo Forte issue', published November 22, 2015.<br /> <br /> Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte's position on the final court matter had been known long before she had signed the undated letter of resignation. For her, then, the accusation that she sold her conscience when she agreed to sign the letter is preposterous.<br /> <br /> If I were a party or government official and my leader asked me to sign an undated letter of resignation, without explanation, I would assume that this was a precaution to remind me not to violate shared fundamental values, or act in any other way harmful to party interests, and that it will be used as a last resort in case I go berserk.<br /> <br /> Also, according to one veteran politician, being required to sign undated letters of resignation dates as far back as the 1970s.<br /> <br /> Senator Malahoo Forte owes nobody an explanation. Perhaps Senator Arthur Williams cares to explain as to why it took him so long to realise that he felt directly attacked by Senator Malahoo Forte's statement made four weeks earlier.<br /> <br /> FB<br /> <br /> Senator Williams' empty protest<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11526528/arthur-williams_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 23, 2015 3:00 AM Do not allow Syrian refugees entry to Jamaica http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Do-not-allow-Syrian-refugees-entry-to-Jamaica_19239623 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While the jihadists wreak havoc and misery in Africa and Europe, especially ISIS and Boko Haram, a refugee crisis has developed in the world. We, in Jamaica, should not think that the repercussions or effects cannot be felt in Jamaica. We can never let our security down by believing that, because we are geographically disconnected from the Middle East, or we are a part of the West, we are immune.<br /> <br /> It is in this regard that I propose that our beloved island culture be maintained by our political directorate. We must not and should not open our doors to Syrian refugees. In all of this crisis, countries of the same ethnic identity have failed to take in these refugees, so why should a small open economy and crime-ridden country as ours? Saudi Arabia with all its oil revenues, Kuwait, Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Bahrain, with all their oil and natural gas wealth, have not taken one handful of Syrian refugees. Neither have South Asian Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. Central Asian countries, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, are doing very little to help their Muslim brothers. One has to be fair in saying 'yes', there may be Christian Syrians, but again, the probability of that is so low.<br /> <br /> We have a sizeable minority Arab/Muslim community in Jamaica, and we have no idea what interactions could be created in Jamaica if Muslims fanatics and jihadists are able to come here with their influence.<br /> <br /> Black people are always empathetic for others, but this time the risk is too much. History has proven that we open up our doors to others with negative consequences. Let us not fall into this trap and create more problems for our people.<br /> <br /> And I personally implore to the powers that be not to make the foolish move to allow entry to people we have very little or no information on, and whose culture remains distant to ours.<br /> <br /> Maurice Christie<br /> <br /> Aboukir, St. Ann<br /> <br /> christiemaurice@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Do not allow Syrian refugees entry to Jamaica <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12403537/Syrian-children_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, November 23, 2015 2:00 AM Is it OK to kill for God? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Is-it-OK-to-kill-for-God-_19239520 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In today's enlightened world mankind is still faced with the question of violence and killing for the preservation of what many consider to be the will of God. There are some things that are not debatable, like the fact that the complex, precise, exceedingly scientific, advanced technology that allows for the existence of the universe is not by accident, but by planning of God.<br /> <br /> If, therefore, there is a great God who created the universe, what is his take on those who kill in his name? I am not worthy to speak on behalf of God, but I suppose if he were to say anything to us it would be along these lines: "If you believe that I am God, and there is no other, and if you believe that I am so great that you are willing to die for me, why is it so hard for you to believe that if I wished to kill anyone, for anything, I would not just do it?"<br /> <br /> People who believe in God or Allah believe that God is the greatest, the one. Perhaps one needs to pause a while and ponder on that. He is the beginning and the end, the everything. He needs nothing. For the many who truly believe in an all-powerful God it must be clear that God doesn't need anyone to bomb a plane or kill anyone for him. He can give and take life if he so wishes. In such light, it can be considered an insult to suggest that such a powerful being requires simple men to kill for him.<br /> <br /> The God of the Bible (John 1: 1), Jesus Christ, taught that love is the ingredient that will bring order to the world. That love, according to Christ, is love for God and love for mankind (Matthew 22: 36-40).<br /> <br /> The people of the West, through their laws and structures of government, have had as the foundation of their laws the spirit of what is contained in God's commandments. It is such structures that have led to civility, order, and the levels of prosperity that many from the East are rushing towards.<br /> <br /> Again, I cannot speak on behalf of God, but I can suggest that God's greatest gift to mankind is the free will to do as he pleases. One hopes that we utilise this gift to love each other and make this world a better place. That is the greatest tribute one can pay to our father, the father of the universe.<br /> <br /> Steve Alvarez<br /> <br /> bilcoa@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Is it OK to kill for God?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12398763/filename_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, November 20, 2015 2:00 AM