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 Police being treated like the children of Sisyphus http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Police-being-treated-like-the-children-of-Sisyphus_59711 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Once again history has repeated itself in a morbid way and has left us with no apparent lessons to be learnt.<br /> <br /> This is exemplified in the recent fatal shooting of Woman Corporal Judith Williams. Approximately nine months ago, Constable Crystal Thomas was fatally shot in a minibus along Spanish Town Road. Both incidents saw the police women either on their way to work or from work being brutally killed in sections of the Corporate Area well known for high levels of criminal activities. <br /> <br /> In the case of Constable Thomas, save for a faint call from the Police Federation for secured transportation to be provided for officers going on or off duty, in the main there were, as was expected, the usual outpouring of condolences and a strong resolve from certain quarters to bring those responsible for the death of the policewoman to justice. <br /> <br /> The insistence for the Government to provide transportation for officers (both men and women) who had to traverse dangerous areas either on foot or with the aid of the public transportation system was never pursued in any forceful way. Apart from entertaining the usual platitudes attendant upon such tragic circumstances from various quarters, the Police Federation needs to get up off its laurels and demand from the Government that safe and secure transportation be provided for those officers whose situation warrants it. <br /> <br /> Other civil servants are afforded this privilege, not the least of which are some politicians who, in many instances, are hardly in need of it at all. How many deaths of a Constable Thomas and a Corporal Judith Williams will it take for this issue to be addressed adequately? Until then, the rank and file members of our security forces continue to be treated like the children of Sisyphus. When will we learn?<br /> <br /> Peter Champagnie<br /> <br /> Attorney-at-Law<br /> <br /> Peter.champagnie@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12923276/Photograph-of-Corporal-Judith-Williams_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 05, 2016 12:00 AM Juliet Holness a target http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Juliet-Holness-a-target_59833 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> There seems to be a target on Juliet Holness&rsquo;s back. First there was the brouhaha over the Windsor Lodge community centre, then there were the allegations of diva-like behaviour during a visit to Atlanta. One writer roundly abused her for bringing to attention that work was in progress to shore up a fallen section of the Gordon Town Road.<br /> <br /> Juliet, like most of us, came from humble beginnings and some of us hate ourselves so much we don&rsquo;t feel entitled to anything and we are outraged when someone like Juliet rises to prominence.<br /> <br /> Such things should only happen, they believe, to the wealthy and the fair-skinned. To such people I say, learn to love yourselves and it won&rsquo;t hurt you so much. It might even please you, when one of us rises.<br /> <br /> Orville Brown <br /> <br /> 1960 Williamsbridge Road<br /> <br /> Bronx 10461 <br /> <br /> thewriter.brown@gmail.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12937538/201479__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 05, 2016 12:00 AM Unfair question in CAPE http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Unfair-question-in-CAPE_59834 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Donkey seh di worl&rsquo; no level, and while I agree that not everything in life will be fair, I think it&rsquo;s due time that someone really lobbies for the rights of students sitting exams. <br /> <br /> On Monday, May 2, students all over the region sat the structured paper of the CAPE Caribbean Studies examination. While I was there praying for all the students that I have tutored, I would not have guessed that they would be in the examination with all 10 fingers sweating, feeling as if probably we the teachers have left them with a disadvantage in one section of the exam. <br /> <br /> When the three gruesome hours elapsed and I got a chance to see the paper, my poor students rushed to find me, angry because they had got a question that I believe should not have been on the paper in the first place. <br /> <br /> The CAPE Caribbean Studies syllabus is a hefty one for both teachers and students. In just about eight months students are expected to be acquainted with everything that concerns the region from pre-Columbus expeditions to present day. Each module has a vast number of topics to cover, which must be accompanied by in-depth reading and analysis of the concepts. <br /> <br /> I nodded my head when I saw questions that my students could attempt, until I saw this question: &lsquo;Examine the evolution of the labour movement in the region from colonisation to globalisation and describe three impacts on regional economies&rsquo;. <br /> <br /> While students would have known that Sir Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley and perhaps Uriah Butler were instrumental in speaking out on economic conditions, kickstarting trade unions and fighting for a better life for working-class citizens, there was no indication of this topic as a section to be delved into or analysed with such great depth in the syllabus. As a matter of fact, neither the overall nor specific objectives for Module 1 or 2 had this listed as a theme to be explored. <br /> <br /> Additionally, the prescribed and main text for the subject had this bit of information in Module 1 under the heading &lsquo;Political enfranchisement&rsquo;, but it came as a Module 2 question which asked students to first examine the evolution of such, then describe the impact on regional economies. <br /> <br /> The majority of students were stuck with one option, and that was to do the other question, which I think was unfair to them. While &lsquo;labour&rsquo; was listed in Module 2 under globalisation, I am sure the majority of students and teachers alike would not have explored it in that light. <br /> <br /> While it is not my expectation for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to set clear-cut and easy questions, I do believe that that question drained the last of the students&rsquo; patience after putting up with a year of learning so many concepts and writing so many essays, only to feel sacked in a whole section of the exam. <br /> <br /> Thus, it is my plea that more consideration is given as to how these exams are set, especially in cases where the syllabi are extensive. I do believe students worked hard to prepare for their exams. Thus, they don&rsquo;t need to feel as if the same regional institution that was developed to offer them social mobility through education is stifling their upliftment. <br /> <br /> Juvelle Taylor <br /> <br /> Montego Bay, Jamaica <br /> <br /> juvelle.taylor@yahoo.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11707206/B-PORT_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 05, 2016 12:00 AM Thanks for the joy, MoBay United http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Thanks-for-the-joy--MoBay-United_59835 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> Football is freedom. Football is passion. One may even dare to say, football is love. <br /> <br /> Anyone who was at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex on Sunday would agree with all the above. The surreal vibes, the insurmountable energy, the unbelievable tension and the nerve-racking intensity within the confines of the arena contributed to an astoundingly epic experience. A highly buoyant, partisan, Montegonian crowd turned out to witness what was to be a truly memorable and historic event. <br /> <br /> After 90 pulsating minutes of footballing &lsquo;combat&rsquo;, Montego Bay&rsquo;s gladiators stood tall. They rose as kings in this game of thrones. They overcame all comers, and all obstacles, to make the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) title their own. My deepest sympathies are extended to Portmore United. They performed valiantly and equally contributed to making the contest a wonderful spectacle. <br /> <br /> The equaliser, which came from the foot of Michael Binns, was worthy of any Cup final. However, MoBay United&rsquo;s second, and the game&rsquo;s final goal, was absolutely priceless. At that single moment, in that specific period of the time continuum, Dino Williams was greater than Dino Baggio, Dino Zoff, Ronaldinho, and every other individual who ever had those four letters assembled in their first name. <br /> <br /> The scenes of euphoria and pandemonium were breathtaking. As a result of their heroics, this 2015-2016 Montego Bay United outfit will forever be etched in the annals of history. Our team. Our scheme. It would be quite inadequate of me to conclude this piece without recognising the effort and tireless commitment of the new premier league champions&rsquo; outspoken chairman, Mr Orville Powell. <br /> <br /> The enigmatic maverick has played an enormous role in revolutionising the fortunes of western Jamaican football. To you, sir, I say thank you. As the curtains of the local football stage come to a close, and the numerous, empty Red Stripe bottles are returned, we can safely say the name &lsquo;Montego Bay United&rsquo; is not one to play with. <br /> <br /> This season is now finished. When fans, critics, and neutrals alike utter the name of the 2015-2016 RSPL champions, they better put some respect on it! Thank you very much, MBU, for the overwhelming joy and the priceless memories created en route to claiming this year&rsquo;s premiership crown. Also, all the best to Granville FC which will be joining the big boys next season. <br /> <br /> Sunil Reid <br /> <br /> sunil.b.reid@hotmail.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12937898/201480__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, May 05, 2016 12:00 AM Michael Lee-Chin the right man at the right time &mdash; &lsquo;Butch&rsquo; Stewart http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Michael-Lee-Chin-the-right-man-at-the-right-time----Butch--Stewart_59809 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I just had the tremendous privilege of hosting what turned out to be an inspirational and productive forum of business leaders who spoke of their vision for our country going forward.<br /> <br /> I know I capture the sentiment of everyone in that roomful of outstanding men and women in saying how proud we are of you, Michael Lee-Chin, on your appointment as growth czar for Jamaica.<br /> <br /> We are especially proud that a Jamaican of your standing and who has achieved such superlative success abroad, has come back home to further produce and create wealth, jobs and services that have eluded us for so long.<br /> <br /> I commend you and your team on your courageous decision to accept such a huge position with the ambitious task of leading the growth thrust and to make a determined impact on the future of all our lives.<br /> <br /> Sir, I tip my hat to you, knowing as you do that there is no greater gift than the ability to give back.<br /> <br /> Wishing you all that&rsquo;s good.<br /> <br /> Hon Gordon &lsquo;Butch&rsquo; Stewart OJ<br /> <br /> Chairman Sandals/ATL Group<br /> <br /> 53 Half-Way-Tree Road, Kingston 5<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12934676/201430__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12934673/201429__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 04, 2016 12:00 AM Unite to defeat these savage criminals http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Unite-to-defeat-these-savage-criminals_59719 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am saddened, disappointed and deeply dismayed at the spiralling wave of senseless murders in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> The barbaric attacks on our people, including police personnel and missionaries who come to Jamaica to help the poor are at unacceptable levels, and it can no longer be business as usual in Jamaica as far as national security and justice are concerned. <br /> <br /> What kind of wild animals do we have living among us that viciously attack children, women, missionaries and other defenceless people? <br /> <br /> It is so thoroughly disheartening to know that US missionaries Harold Nichols and Randy Hentzel, who left their country to selflessly and tireless give of their time, skills and love in service to the poor and vulnerable in Jamaica, could have lost their precious lives so savagely at the hands of parasites posing as human beings. The wanton viciousness and cruelty upon our land are too much for us to bear.<br /> <br /> It is very depressing and frightening to think that these savage criminals are known by people who have failed the human race by not coming forward to report these killers to the police so that justice can be done and for us to have a safer, civilised country. <br /> <br /> We must unite to bring an immediate end to this shocking reign of horror and terror.<br /> <br /> Peter Townsend<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> National Democratic Movement<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12933476/Randy-and-Harold_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 04, 2016 2:00 AM Messrs Lee-Chin and Byles, beware the kiss of death http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Messrs-Lee-Chin-and-Byles--beware-the-kiss-of-death_59709 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The language is obvious. The intent is unmistakeable. The message is clear.<br /> <br /> The Gleaner newspaper believes it knows better than the Government of Jamaica and the people who elected it a mere nine weeks ago. <br /> <br /> Its editorial of May 2, 2016 did not even try to disguise the writer&rsquo;s disappointment that the Jamaican people did not return the People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) to power on February 25. So it proceeds as if it can tell the new Government what it should do and how to run the economy along the same lines as the PNP. <br /> <br /> The editorial purports to embrace Mr Michael Lee-Chin&rsquo;s endorsement of the economic reform programme imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while pretending that Mr Andrew Holness himself had not said long before the election that his Administration in power would continue with the programme.<br /> <br /> The editorial shamelessly put words into Mr Lee-Chin&rsquo;s mouth: &ldquo;Lest Mr Lee-Chin be misunderstood, achieving those quarterly targets under Jamaica&rsquo;s IMF programme &ndash; including the especially tough one of a primary balance of 7.5 per cent of GDP &ndash; was not some experiment in delivering economic hurt on people, with the pain of failure being the stringencies of an external examiner. Indeed, what has been achieved under the IMF is sine qua non for reaching the target that Mr Lee-Chin has set himself.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> It warned the Government that the end of the current IMF programme in a year&rsquo;s time &ldquo;should not be a signal for the abandonment of discipline and letting loose the fiscal spigot&rdquo;. The editorial writer fails to acknowledge that while we achieved relative economic stability under the IMF, we now have to dig deep and creatively to find the means to achieve the growth that has so far defied us.<br /> <br /> The Gleaner does a disservice to the people of Jamaica who said by their votes that the PNP had failed to ease their hurt and was showing no skill or talent that would suggest that growth would come anytime soon. <br /> <br /> The electorate has not forgotten that a solid foundation had been laid for economic growth by the previous JLP Administration between 2007 and 2011 and that the PNP has not built on that growth. Instead, it is an empty coffer which it has again handed over to the new Administration in 2016.<br /> <br /> Mr Lee-Chin&rsquo;s task of promoting growth is unlikely to be achieved by simply doing the same things over and over again and not expecting the same results. The objective of an IMF programme is to get us to the point where we can galvanise our Jamaican genius to achieve growth.<br /> <br /> The Gleaner&rsquo;s implied suggestion that we are not capable of doing that is un-Jamaican.<br /> <br /> The paper&rsquo;s call that &ldquo;no one should put obstacles in his (Lee-Chin&rsquo;s) way, attempt to politicise his efforts, or subject him to the calumnies that were poured on Richard Byles, the chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, for simply declaring the facts of Jamaica&rsquo;s performance under the IMF agreement and making clear that the environment was improving for investment&rdquo;, is, indeed, the kiss of death.<br /> <br /> Devon Whitehall<br /> <br /> Vonhall2003@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12934244/201326__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12934242/201327__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 04, 2016 12:00 AM Ms Fairclough&rsquo;s picture of classism not complete http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ms-Fairclough-s-picture-of-classism-not-complete_59710 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While Ms Fairclough&rsquo;s assessment of class and race in Jamaica may well have some elements of truth, it is not the entire picture. It is clearly incorrect for her to say that classism exists only in Jamaica. <br /> <br /> There is indeed a great deal of self-hate and mental slavery in Jamaica. It seems that the rich, be they black, brown, or white, have vested interests in keeping the poor under-educated and ignorant. The poor collude. <br /> <br /> It is obvious that there are many poor people who work hard for their families and are ambitious for their children. It seems to me, however, that there are many individuals who walk out of jobs at will, do not want to work and scorn certain types of jobs when they have nothing other than their labour to offer employers. Likewise, there are those who are overly spoilt by remittances, a begging culture, and their over-developed sense of entitlement to the hard-earned income or wealth of others. <br /> <br /> In relation to classism outside Jamaica, I, too, was brought up in the UK. Indeed, I lived there for over 40 years and was educated there. Classism and racism pervade that society. How many of us were one of only a handful of blacks in fee-paying schools or in the old elite universities? Has Ms Sashakay Fairclough ever been hunting? Did she have a Coming Out Ball? Was she ever in a box at Aintree, Ascot or Wimbledon. Where did she ride? Where was her horse kept? Where was her rowing boat house? Did her parents have an estate in the country and a house in Central London? <br /> <br /> Of course, there are class differences and elitism in every single country on the planet. Most people do not even get close enough to the upper groups to realise the gulf between them.<br /> <br /> Rather than constantly focusing on the erroneous view that racism and classism are features only of Jamaica, we need to focus on raising the education level of the entire population, providing jobs for young people and so enabling them to see a future where they can do better and achieve more than their parents did.<br /> <br /> Rose King<br /> <br /> St James<br /> <br /> rose11king@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 04, 2016 12:00 AM The difference between signing and ratifying http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-difference-between-signing-and-ratifying_59805 Before a treaty enters into force, becomes legally binding, or comes into effect, it has to be signed then ratified.<br /> <br /> The former signals agreement with the terms and expresses the country&rsquo;s intention to comply. This expression of intent, in itself, is not binding. It needs to be followed with ratification, which refers to individual countries granting approval through their particular political processes and notifying the other parties of their consent to be bound by the provisions of the treaty. <br /> <br /> In Jamaica, for example, parliament would have to pass a Bill.<br /> <br /> The Paris Agreement will enter into force once 55 parties representing at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions ratify the treaty. So far, 16 countries, representing 0.04 per cent of emissions, have ratified.<br /> <br /> Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 04, 2016 12:00 AM Killing to show that killing is wrong makes no sense http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Killing-to-show-that-killing-is-wrong-makes-no-sense_59722 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I do understand the emotions that exude when someone is murdered, because I myself want immediate and resolute justice when this happens. The death penalty might have its place, but the evidence must be extremely convincing. <br /> <br /> I do not trust my country, Jamaica, to be very diligent when it comes to investigations. Think about it; if the police were good at solving murders, why are these murderers who are on the street not in prison as we speak? It is a fact that countries with the death penalty do have the most murders. The death penalty is therefore not a deterrent. Remember, too, how many of these &lsquo;murderers&rsquo; are completely vindicated afterwards because of shoddy or botched investigations... over 150 in Texas alone. Imagine! <br /> <br /> The death penalty is just too arbitrary, because while two crimes might be equally gruesome, only the accused who cannot afford a good lawyer gets the death penalty. Why are there no rich people on death row anywhere?... Go figure! <br /> <br /> Death for the poor and fines for the rich. If the country is going to carry out &lsquo;justice&rsquo; by killing the murderer, then why doesn&rsquo;t the country also carry out &lsquo;justice&rsquo; for all criminals, eg rape the rapists, rob the robbers, beat the beaters, bully the bullies, etc, etc? <br /> <br /> A country that kills people who kill people to show society that killing people is wrong, does not make any sense. School teacher: &ldquo;What does your daddy do for a job?&rdquo; <br /> <br /> School child: &ldquo;My daddy is a killer &ndash; he kills people who kill people!&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Errol Gager <br /> <br /> Toronto Canada <br /> <br /> egager25@gmail.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12576733/WOMAN-KILLED-DOWNTOWN_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Wednesday, May 04, 2016 2:00 AM Have a referendum on crime, PM Holness http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Have-a-referendum-on-crime--PM-Holness-------_59631 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Jamaicans ought to vociferously reject the voices of bleeding hearts like PNP Senator Mark Golding who object to the new Government&rsquo;s reconsideration of reactivating the death penalty.<br /> <br /> Indeed, new Prime Minister Andrew Holness needs to go further. He has, in the past, shown his fancy for a referendum, even on inappropriate subjects such as the Caribbean Court of Justice versus the Privy Council, an issue that impacts very few Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> Crime, especially murder, impacts everyone and everything in Jamaica. No debate there. Unless it is brought under control, all these economic growth initiatives will splutter. Jamaica cannot await very long-term social intervention programmes and job growth, useful as they are, to kick in. <br /> <br /> Holness should show real leadership here. He should instruct his national security minister and attorney general to prepare, within six months, a tough, radical anti-crime bill, including reactivating the death penalty (especially but not exclusively, for murders of law enforcement personnel such as police, corrections officers, judges, prosecutors) and put it to the people in a single-issue referendum.<br /> <br /> Let the lawyers, the human rights industry and the &ldquo;international partners&rdquo; Golding genuflects to while murderers laugh at the law, dare oppose such a bill. Let the PNP sign its own death warrant by campaigning against it. Then let the people speak and the Government act, even if constitutional amendments are required.<br /> <br /> Errol WA Townshend<br /> <br /> Scarborough, Ontario<br /> <br /> Canada M1X 2B2 <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12931060/201210__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12931062/201211__w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 03, 2016 12:00 AM Where is our original flag? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Where-is-our-original-flag-_59641 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A few weeks ago, the of us, long retired senior citizens, watched as Britain paid homage to Queen Elizabeth. <br /> <br /> We remembered the days when we sang the<br /> <br /> Rule Britannia songs and frantically waved the Union Jack as we lined the sun-drenched sidewalks of the city to welcome white officials bedecked in starched royal demeanour. Nothing seemed to have changed there, for thousands of loyal citizens lined the century-old walkways, waved the red, white and blue flags of stability, prayed to the God of the angry waves of change to save their gracious queen.<br /> <br /> The &lsquo;Union Jack&rsquo; of England, the &lsquo;Stars & Stripes&rsquo; of the United States of America, the &lsquo;Rising Sun&rsquo; of Japan are three of the many flags that have not changed colour nor dimensions but remained symbolic of a stability laid down by &lsquo;forefathers&rsquo;. <br /> <br /> Excuse me, please. Where is our Black, Green, and Gold flag designed by our forefathers? Who changed the flag that was hoisted at the National Stadium Independence night? We groan to see the many designs and colours in what is Jamaica&rsquo;s flag. Victorious athletes can wrap themselves in dark grey/aquamarine/sea-green, bottle-green, grass-green/ yellow, canary-yellow, buttercup-yellow flags as they lap world tracks. <br /> <br /> Schoolchildren wave flags in various designs and colours. That&rsquo;s not good enough for our nation. Don&rsquo;t let &lsquo;any and anybody&rsquo; come here and redesign and change up our flag. We want to see the original flag, made in Jamaica, with its fixed design in the exact colours. Black, Green, Gold and the other symbols of stability will fall into place and our children and grandchildren will learn and respect the meaning of simple words like stability, heritage and forefathers. <br /> <br /> Please give us back our original flag.<br /> <br /> Veronica Blake Carnegie<br /> <br /> veronica_carnegie cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11276617/JamaicaFlag_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 03, 2016 12:00 AM Mr Higgins is right, but... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Mr-Higgins-is-right--but---_59625 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Your columnist Garfield Higgins is right: the auxiliary fee policy is not about promoting freeness mentality, it is about affordability and the economic reality. <br /> <br /> He painted a picture of our education system that is selective and has omitted some game-changers. I like this quote from him: &ldquo;Recall that the first great game-changer in Jamaican education arguably took place in 1957 when the then PNP took a serious interest in the education of the masses.&rdquo; Thank you for acknowledging this, Professor Higgins. <br /> <br /> However, there are many more game-changers that came from the PNP that you have omitted or glossed over. The PNP were the ones who built technical high schools to increase school seats and to meet the needs for professionals with various technical skills. <br /> <br /> The Labourite Government of the 1960s continued this trend and built schools to support our educational goals. Most of the schools that were built were called junior secondary schools and they went up to ninth grade. This furthered the entrenchment of a multi-tiered education system in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Another big game-changer by the PNP was a series of educational reforms under the Michael Manley regime in the 1970s. Junior secondary schools became new secondary schools and went up to grade 11 with vocational training opportunities for the two additional years.<br /> <br /> In addition, a shift system was introduced into these schools, so the practice of giving half- scholarships to the traditional high schools was abolished. However, the most important reform was the introduction of free secondary and tertiary education. We were given free books, free lunches and free uniforms. Some in the JLP argued that these features gave rise to a &ldquo;freeness mentality&rdquo;. These educational reforms were supposed to reduce the levels of inequality that existed in the secondary education system but they did not go far enough. <br /> <br /> Under the PJ Patterson Administration, these new secondary schools were upgraded to high schools. Free education is an ideal objective but we have to ask ourselves: Is this viable under this IMF regime with harsh austerity measures? <br /> <br /> I don&rsquo;t understand the Poland part of the article in relation to paying or not paying fees. That is sort of disjointed. The glib mention of South Korea fails to give the information that the education system there is not free. Finland has a great model that is totally free and egalitarian. Unlike us, their Government constructed a school system that does not stream, track or in any way is selective of students during their basic common education. It is simplistic to just mention them in the conversation about auxiliary fees because they are successful.<br /> <br /> Glenis Lorman<br /> <br /> Lraggaray@aol.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12470906/173551_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 03, 2016 12:00 AM The Windsor Lodge Community Centre issue http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-Windsor-Lodge-Community-Centre-issue_59637 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> I am a resident of the Windsor Lodge community in Bull Bay. The community centre was opened and used around May 2014 by a university for only one week and was closed for one year until I formed a youth group in June 2015 &ndash; the Produce Marketing Organisation (PMO). <br /> <br /> In 2015, we did a summer programme for the month of July and continued to have our community meetings until the centre was closed again in October 2015.<br /> <br /> We have since been faced with challenges accessing the centre.<br /> <br /> On March 1, 2016 I texted Mr Damion Crawford requesting to use the centre and he told me to contact Mrs Juliet Holness as she is the new Member of Parliament and is now responsible for the management of the centre. <br /> <br /> I didn&rsquo;t make contact immediately but we went to the centre and started using it for RADA meetings until April when representatives from the HEART Trust came to look at the centre for the National Youth Service (NYS) summer programme, and the caretaker refused them entry because he said they were Labourites and proceeded to chase the representatives off the property. <br /> <br /> Our Benevolent Society and our RADA group are currently not allowed to use the centre because the caretaker told us not to come back. They have locked us out and denied our RADA officer access to the centre. <br /> <br /> I have complained to the councillor, Pat Morgan; Mrs Imani Duncan-Pryce, a candidate in the 2016 General Election; Councillor Oliver Clue; Mr Damion Crawford, past MP; and finally to Mrs Juliet Holness, the newly elected MP, at her office located on Gordon Road.<br /> <br /> Mrs Holness responded and advised that she would visit the community to have a meeting at the centre. Many of us went and the caretaker refused us access. When Mrs Holness got close to the grill we all realised that neither the door nor grill was properly locked. After the meeting where she discussed the community not having access to the centre and the water challenges faced by the community and temporary solutions to alleviate those challenges, she closed the centre with a different lock, saying that she is securing the centre since it wasn&rsquo;t properly closed. <br /> <br /> Mrs Holness even made mention that the community centre doesn&rsquo;t belong to the JLP nor the PNP, it belongs to the residents of the Windsor Lodge community.<br /> <br /> The centre has since been double padlocked by the PNP representatives though we have elected a member of the community to keep the keys for the new locks so the members of the community can have access to the facility. <br /> <br /> This issue is not affecting the members of the PNP or the JLP, it is affecting the students and the community.<br /> <br /> Stacy Campbell,<br /> <br /> Resident of Windsor Lodge<br /> <br /> Member of the Produce Marketing Organisation <br /> <br /> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 03, 2016 12:00 AM What nightmare, Mr Caine? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/What-nightmare--Mr-Caine-_59623 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I would like to make several comments about Tony Caine&rsquo;s very comprehensive, interesting and provocative article headlined &lsquo;Clearly, the JLP did the math&rsquo; that appeared in<br /> <br /> The Agenda on Sunday. <br /> <br /> The author claims &ldquo;The election night turned out to be a nightmare for the pollsters...&rdquo; Well, I certainly can&rsquo;t speak for all pollsters, but before we get into my sleeping habits I would like to remind readers of the following.<br /> <br /> My last national poll for<br /> <br /> The Gleaner was conducted on February 4 through 7, just as the campaign was formally beginning and as the JLP was announcing its 10 Point Plan (which included its $1.5 million tax proposal). Our survey indicated that the PNP held a &ldquo;soft&rdquo; four-point lead over the JLP and a &ldquo;hard&rdquo; lead of two points about three weeks before the election.<br /> <br /> Most neutral observers believe the JLP ran a superior campaign to the PNP, and therefore it&rsquo;s not surprising that the eventual overall vote closed to a virtual dead heat between the two parties.<br /> <br /> However, after conducting the national poll, we also conducted constituency surveys for<br /> <br /> The Gleaner in three &ldquo;marginal&rdquo; constituencies that the PNP had won back from the JLP in 2011: St Mary Western (on February 13 & 14), St Elizabeth South Western (on February 19 & 20), and St Andrew East Rural (on February 20).<br /> <br /> The results of each of these were published in<br /> <br /> The Gleaner a couple of days after they were completed (before election day).<br /> <br /> In each of these surveys, our polling indicated the JLP was ahead and was very likely to win. This would seem to suggest that the writing was beginning to appear on the wall and the JLP was picking up momentum as election day approached. Whether the media and the rest of the talking class saw this or not is a different story.<br /> <br /> Consequently, I didn&rsquo;t have any nightmares on the night of the election. I believe our last national survey was accurate at the time it was conducted, and that our three constituency surveys accurately showed that the JLP was gaining momentum in the final stretch of the campaign.<br /> <br /> Bill Johnson<br /> <br /> billjohnsonpollster@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Letters to the Editor Tuesday, May 03, 2016 12:00 AM After removing the Queen... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/After-removing-the-Queen---_59527 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Government has indicated that included on the legislative agenda for this parliamentary year is the plan to remove Her Majesty the Queen as the Head of State for Jamaica. This is commendable. However, there is nothing said about accepting the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the country&rsquo;s final court of appeal. This is difficult to understand.<br /> <br /> Section 68 of our Constitution states that the executive authority of Jamaica is vested in Her Majesty. That is the section that the Government will seek to repeal, and, as this is a deeply entrenched clause, a referendum will be required. Section 110 states that an appeal shall lie from the Court of Appeal to Her Majesty in Council. That is the section which provides for appeals to what we refer to as the Privy Council. <br /> <br /> The Privy Council&rsquo;s authority comes from the Queen. The Queen may or may not accept its advice, and that is why the decisions of the Privy Council always end with the words &ldquo;this is the advice we humbly tender to Her Majesty regarding disposal of this appeal&rdquo;. The convention is that Her Majesty always accepts the advice.<br /> <br /> The repeal of Section 68 then means that once the Queen no longer has any constitutional authority over Jamaica it necessarily follows that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council no longer has any jurisdiction in Jamaica, as that body merely advises Her Majesty. Appeals from Jamaica were not to the Privy Council, as is commonly thought, but to Her Majesty in Council. Thus, no Her Majesty, no Council. It follows then that to repeal Section 68, without more, is to leave the country without a final court of appeal. During debate on the CCJ as our final court of appeal, then JLP Senator Arthur Williams expressed the view that both questions should be put to the electors in a referendum at the same time. Is that the Government&rsquo;s position? If it is, why then is the CCJ not a companion measure? What is the Government&rsquo;s position on replacing the Privy Council? These are questions that should be answered in the interest of clarity and good governance.<br /> <br /> Lloyd McFarlane. <br /> <br /> lloydmcfarlane1@outlook.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12928800/201055__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, May 02, 2016 12:00 AM Death penalty questions for the minister http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Death-penalty-questions-for-the-minister_59517 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> As the minister of national security has recently indicated that his ministry will be taking steps to determine whether there can be a resumption of hangings, it is worth asking what, as a punishment, that would achieve? <br /> <br /> Is it to be a deterrent to murders, and if so, where is the evidence that it will do so? Isn&rsquo;t being locked away in one of our prisons worse than death? And isn&rsquo;t that of itself a greater deterrent? <br /> <br /> It is, of course, very troubling that some of the strongest proponents of resumption of hanging are people who themselves have suffered at the hands of our inadequate criminal justice system. Are we as Jamaicans confident and satisfied with our justice system as to its ability to protect innocent people from being punished via the death penalty? If we are not, should we not firstly fix the system before even giving thought to the resumption of hangings? <br /> <br /> Which racial and socio-economic group, relatively speaking, is more likely to suffer the death penalty? And can we truly have faith and confidence in a justice system that has failed us in the past with such instances as the Green Bay murders, the Michael Gayle murder and the many security forces&rsquo; murders in Tivoli? <br /> <br /> People kill out of despair and lack of hope. They also kill when they no longer have faith and confidence in the State&rsquo;s ability to provide them with justice &ndash; especially in relation to their security forces.<br /> <br /> Colonel Allan Douglas <br /> <br /> alldouglas@aol.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12928797/201049__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, May 02, 2016 12:00 AM Only God can save us http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Only-God-can-save-us_59520 Dear Editor, <br /> <br /> I just want to say a few things about the runaway crime situation that has now marred our beautiful island. Truth be told, this is not just a Jamaican thing. In fact, it boggles my mind to see that the so aptly called black-on-black violence is a featured characteristic of populations globally that are majority black. <br /> <br /> When I read about the latest one out there in St James where a father is alleged to have killed his offspring and then discarded her body, I was left to go into the farthest reaches of my imagination to see if I could fathom how a papa could look in the face of his kid &ndash; who probably held his hands while singing a little ditty and swinging around his feet and calling him daddy &ndash; could find such evil in his heart. <br /> <br /> But he was not the first and certainly won&rsquo;t be the one to turn the lights off on such a horrendous crime. Frankly, I don&rsquo;t think &lsquo;black lives matter&rsquo; at all, truth be told. Here in Canada, each time you see the faces of my fellow black men on the cover of any newspaper, nine times out of 10 it is for some crime he has committed. Places like Halifax, among other towns, are also reeling from the actions of these miscreants who continue to wreak havoc on their own, causing the communities to live in fear, and giving the police reasons to visit regularly. <br /> <br /> The paradox is that there are some of us who can be so great when we put our minds to it. <br /> <br /> I believe that if I were in charge of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago I, too, would not want these Jamaicans to come to my country, as the benefits of the good ones are not worth the problems of the bad ones... and they are many. <br /> <br /> I am beginning to feel that the future of our group is in jeopardy from among its ranks, and no amount of marching, singing, protesting, begging, bullying, praying, camping out, reparation, and repatriation, etc, can save us. We have been the most &lsquo;jeed up&rsquo; and motivated group on planet Earth. We have among our annals great forebears about whom we speak daily. Many of these men and women sacrificed themselves for us as they believed in their hearts that we could, if we were given the opportunity.<br /> <br /> Fast-forward to now, and lots of opportunities later to govern ourselves, build our own communities and institutions, and develop ourselves autonomously, and we have failed miserably. I am concluding that black lives don&rsquo;t matter and only God can save us.<br /> <br /> Darolyn Henry-Cross <br /> <br /> hdaro36@yahoo.com <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12398763/filename_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, May 02, 2016 12:00 AM Older generation has failed Jamaica http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Older-generation-has-failed-Jamaica_59528 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> My parents were born in the late 50s early 60s and grew up during Jamaica&rsquo;s &lsquo;golden age&rsquo;, when the economy was humming, albeit with inequality levels that would make one&rsquo;s eyes water. They were shaped by the politics of the 70s and 80s and got their chance in 1989. <br /> <br /> Needless to say, the story ended badly as that generation allowed, for whatever reasons, an unimaginative People&rsquo;s National Party (PNP) steer the ship for nigh on two decades. <br /> <br /> That generation which lived through some exciting times politically, with achievements not limited to one party (see HEART and NHT), instead of acting boldly and with vision, fell into a stupor from which they haven&rsquo;t recovered.<br /> <br /> A generation raised on issues-based politics fell back on partisan lines; a generation led by giants such as Michael Manley and Edward Seaga has offered up nothing that can match them, in spite of more opportunities. A generation that received so much now offers so little, politically.<br /> <br /> This is not to say that they haven&rsquo;t been successful in other areas. Who in the 1950s could have dreamt of black bank tellers, let alone a large black middle class?<br /> <br /> Socially, we have come a long way and our parents deserve credit for that, but politically, they have failed us. The fact is that they gave us 18 years of stasis by voting consistently for the PNP and not shaking up the hierarchy of the Jamaica Labour Party sooner.<br /> <br /> The question now is, will my generation that came of age in 2007 follow our parents&rsquo; lead? Will we allow for shoddy leadership and will we allow for partisan issues to separate us, or will we unite? That is a question that fast needs answering, because Jamaica can&rsquo;t afford another bad generation politically.<br /> <br /> Alexander Scott<br /> <br /> alexanderwj.scott@gmail.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10238214/ja_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, May 02, 2016 12:00 AM Voters&rsquo; list and &lsquo;vote paper&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Voters--list-and--vote-paper-_59529 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The five of us, very senior citizens, plead for the immediate fixing of the voters&rsquo; list. On the list used for the February 25 General Election, we saw the names of dead relatives and friends and those of long-migrated family members who had become citizens of other countries. <br /> <br /> Recently, two of us went to collect our new voter ID cards and the courteous assistant handed us two more cards; same last names and same address. I gave mine back and told her my husband had died in 2007, but my friend kept hers as a souvenir and said nothing about her husband&rsquo;s passing from 2002. We cannot wait for the new, correct voters&rsquo; list. We must find the money to employ the scores of university graduates who can&rsquo;t find work and the dozens of secondary school leavers who have to work.<br /> <br /> Train them properly and put them in one-colour uniform (khaki, navy blue or grey), with the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) emblem on the pocket and caps of the same colour. Don&rsquo;t let them loose in the motley array of the last set of enumerators who complained that some residents chased them away. Then again, the EOJ must look at the old enumeration questionnaire. What kinds of questions are you asking? Is it relevant to enumeration?<br /> <br /> Also, the &lsquo;vote paper&rsquo; is too complicated and colourful and full of lines and curves and designs. It looks like the masterpiece of a once-great artist. Can we have a simple vote form in black and white with four columns: Name of Candidate, Initial of Party (PIP), Symbol of Party (the only colour on the &lsquo;vote paper&rsquo;) and in the last column, a little box in which the simple mark or tick can be made? <br /> <br /> We ask for a simple, non-crowded vote form when we go to vote next time. I wish they would call us, retired teachers, to design as well an uncomplicated, result-bearing, fact-yielding enumeration questionnaire and a voting form that requires no explanation nor interpretation.<br /> <br /> Veronica Carnegie<br /> <br /> veronica_carnegie@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12739530/EOJ_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, May 02, 2016 12:00 AM How come nobody &lsquo;knew&rsquo;? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/How-come-nobody--knew-_59311 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Sweeping inconvenient truths under the carpet has become such a national pastime it could almost be explained as a defence mechanism for maintaining national sanity.<br /> <br /> Finance Minister Audley Shaw is now trying to find funds to deliver on the JLP&rsquo;s $1.5-million tax relief election promise. But before he reveals the much-awaited policy, let&rsquo;s not sweep yet another inconvenient question under the rug: how come the voters were never told that the funds to underpin such a major electoral issue were not available?<br /> <br /> Some cynical, diehard Comrades will no doubt allege that the JLP knew all along that the funds were not available and deliberately tricked the voters. Not likely. That would have been a most improbable, ridiculous fib for the simple reason that if the JLP knew the funds were not available they would also know that the PNP, particularly then Finance Minister Peter Phillips, would know that fact as well. The JLP&rsquo;s entire campaign could have been blown out of the water within minutes.<br /> <br /> So why didn&rsquo;t he explain that to voters? He said the JLP&rsquo;s plan couldn&rsquo;t work the way it was proposed; the PNP called it a &ldquo;three-card trick&rdquo;; he harked back to a previous broken promise to nurses. Had he simply said the funds were not available and provided proof, what would have been the impact of that information on the election?<br /> <br /> And what of the various economists, financial experts and media personnel who cover Gordon House and have access to Hansard? How come they never told the voters that the funds were not available?<br /> <br /> Perhaps, not since 1962 and the famous &lsquo;Russian ships&rsquo; episode, has one single issue had such a dramatic effect on a Jamaican election. Yet the electorate only discovered the unpalatable facts until after they voted? The more things change...<br /> <br /> Errol WA Townshend<br /> <br /> 16 Turtledove Grove<br /> <br /> Scarborough, Ontario<br /> <br /> Canada M1X 2B2 <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12914860/200230__w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, April 29, 2016 12:00 AM Boycotting Trinidad not the answer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Boycotting-Trinidad-not-the-answer_59316 As a Trinidad-born Jamaican, the latest blow-up between Jamaican travellers and Trinidadian immigration officers has caused a lot of pain in my heart. <br /> <br /> My family ties run equally deep in both countries and I love each nation equally, so when they go to &lsquo;war&rsquo;, it is always difficult to deal with. I totally disagree with the treatment meted out to Jamaican travellers since I believe that no one has a right to treat their fellow-human beings in any way less than they would treat their own family members. <br /> <br /> This behaviour by the T&T immigration officials and the failure of Caribbean Airlines to provide proper accommodations for their passengers who have been turned back by immigration should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. However, what causes more pain in my heart is the reality that many Jamaicans, among whom I work and live, are indeed looking to grab the first opportunity to live somewhere else other than Jamaica. <br /> <br /> In fact, some people believe that there are more Jamaicans abroad than those who are actually living on the island. International immigration authorities are aware of the high number of Jamaicans who are trying to migrate so at most international gateways, once we Jamaicans arrive, in most instances, there will likely be issues. <br /> <br /> I know this because I travel with a Jamaican passport as well. To me, the real issue here, which requires our attention and energy, is this reality. Many Jamaicans no longer want to live here because of increasing crime, violence, lack of economic opportunities and the high cost of quality education. In my field, I am required to do a massive amount of work with young people and it is very difficult to find a youth who is motivated by a Jamaican dream. <br /> <br /> Almost all of the young people with whom I interact have a real desire to migrate and live somewhere else. A 2016 survey commissioned by Respect Jamaica and the local office of UNICEF shows that 81 per cent of Jamaica&rsquo;s youth between 14 and 40 years of age would leave the country immediately if they could. Education and job opportunities are the chief reasons cited by the young people for wanting to leave. <br /> <br /> If 81 per cent of our young people no longer want to live in Jamaica, then we have a bigger problem than the behaviour of a few possibly racist Trinidadian immigration officials to sort out. In the same way that my home must be the most welcoming home that my children have access to, we have to find a way to make Jamaica the most desired and welcoming place of abode for all Jamaicans. <br /> <br /> Until this is done, then the vast majority of our people will always be trying to find a way to make a living in other people&rsquo;s countries. Jamaica should be, at the least, a reasonable option for any Jamaican to live his or her dream. As far as an overwhelming number of Jamaicans are concerned, this is currently not the case. <br /> <br /> When I was a boy, I reared chickens. One thing I learnt very quickly was that once you feed your own chickens regularly and properly, they will never leave the yard. In fact, other people&rsquo;s chickens often took up abode in my yard among my chickens. Too many of Jamaica&rsquo;s chickens are flying away and trying to jump other people&rsquo;s fences because of the lack of care back home. <br /> <br /> The estimate of 20,000 Jamaicans living illegally in Trinidad is an embarrassment. <br /> <br /> Other nations are now closing their borders to us. This means that once the options for Jamaican migration are shut down, then the next issue will be massive and severe social unrest. <br /> <br /> I would like to challenge the Jamaica Manufacturers&rsquo; Association, who are driving the call to boycott Trinidadian goods, what is your motivation for such a proposal? Is it really a deep love and concern for ordinary Jamaican people, or is the issue really the pressure from the competition provided by your very ambitious Trinidadian counterparts? So far, not one of you have raised your voice in protest over the recent treatment meted out to cricketer Franklin Rose by the New Zealand immigration authorities. Should you not be consistent? <br /> <br /> I am proposing that we focus our energies on the real problem. Let&rsquo;s fix Jamaica. Allow righteous and mature leadership the space to lead and we can overcome many of the challenges that we face as a nation. Launching economic war on our Caribbean neighbours is not the way to go and can only be described as petty and bad-minded leadership and will not contribute to fixing Jamaica. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10549936/trinidad-flag_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, April 29, 2016 12:00 AM Gov&rsquo;t must be brave and tackle crime http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Gov-t-must-be-brave-and-tackle-crime_59149 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> There is an air of fear haunting the Jamaican society for some time now.<br /> <br /> However, since last year, with the instances of more than one person being murdered in one incident, fear is becoming more and more widespread.<br /> <br /> There was a time when deep rural communities were never exposed to these multiple murders and other vicious crimes. This is not the case any longer, as we now have a situation in which people are being viciously murdered in deep rural Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Murders are being committed with the use of guns, cutting instruments and arson. Those committing acts of murder by arson are cold, calculated and vicious people who will trap or lock individuals in buildings then set the building on fire.<br /> <br /> The perpetrators of these vicious acts of crime are mainly young men under the age of 30, who are demanding from society the right to live a life of luxury without having to work.<br /> <br /> In fact, it can be said that Jamaica is now under the spell of &lsquo;The Big Fraid&rsquo;. Many citizens who witness acts of crime, and are able to assist the police with the apprehension of the individuals who committed the crime, refuse to give information to the police because they fear that somehow the criminal whom they report will be informed and will come back for them.<br /> <br /> There is no doubt that the greatest concern of the majority of us is crime. That being the case, the Government should place priority on giving the constabulary and defence forces all the resources they need, including human and material, to go after the people who are committing these crimes, as well as the connected individuals who are arranging and facilitating the importation of guns and ammunition.<br /> <br /> We need a Government that is brave enough, tough enough and determined enough to take on the criminal underworld and the crime bosses at every level. Smash their enterprise, thereby freeing the citizens of this country from fear.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Linton P Gordon<br /> <br /> Ocho Rios,<br /> <br /> St Ann<br /> <br /> lpgordon@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10619615/Crime-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, April 29, 2016 12:00 AM Stemming the flow of illegal guns is most important http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Stemming-the-flow-of-illegal-guns-is-most-important_59235 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I almost fell off my chair in disbelief last week when I read a news item which said that the Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams was thinking (?) of commissioning a study to see if there is a nexus between dancehall music and violence. To what end? If I am not mistaken he was speaking in general about the rampant murders in our society. What a colossal waste of time that would be.<br /> <br /> Dr Williams does not seem to understand that the most pressing need is to stem the flow of illegal guns coming into this country and to get the ones that are already here.<br /> <br /> Has he really looked at the pervasiveness of firearms of all types in this country, and how easy it seems for anybody to get one, even if they rent it?<br /> <br /> Every day there is at least one gun murder &mdash; whether it&rsquo;s reprisals, drug-related; someone perceives they have been dissed; somebody &ldquo;bad-drives&rdquo; somebody else; somebody looks at another cross-eyed &ndash; and the list could go on and on. But the most frightening aspect of the whole affair is that it seems everybody has a gun or can get one. <br /> <br /> When do the police really start making a determined, unrelenting and sustained effort to get the guns? Gun amnesties don&rsquo;t work for hardened criminals.<br /> <br /> Dr Williams may argue that the police force does not have the manpower to sustain such an effort. So I want to ask the minister of national security: What are the hundreds of soldiers in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) doing each day? Training? Good, but for what? Let them do some real work to earn their keep.<br /> <br /> I just read where $200-million has been approved to build accommodations for the JDF and I have no problem with the soldiers being more comfortable. But what do the taxpayers get in return?<br /> <br /> I am suggesting that we declare a time-bound state of emergency &ndash; if we must &ndash; but decent citizens cannot continue to live in the state in which we now find ourselves. Some might want to challenge me on this, but as far as I am concerned our country is bordering on anarchy.<br /> <br /> I have no faith that Dr Williams as commissioner will make any difference to the rampant murder rate, because I don&rsquo;t see him and his men taking the guns out of the hands of criminals. And please don&rsquo;t tell me about the current &ldquo;get the guns&rdquo; campaign. That is only slightly more effective than Dr Williams&rsquo; oft-repeated platitudes after another of the too-frequent multiple murders.<br /> <br /> Stephen Harrison<br /> <br /> St Mary<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/8523946/gun-find_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, April 29, 2016 12:00 AM Declare war on unsafe road conditions http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Declare-war-on-unsafe-road-conditions_59157 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Years ago in safety training workshops we were taught that there were two main causes of accidents. One was unsafe conditions and the other was the unsafe act. Some unsafe conditions we can improve, while there are others we can do little about.<br /> <br /> The unsafe act is a question of how we behave when we meet the unsafe conditions, and Jamaicans in general are not particularly good at dealing with unsafe conditions. This is amply demonstrated by the way some drivers behave on the roads, causing us to wonder if they have kamikaze intentions.<br /> <br /> Our roads fit the category of the unsafe condition (as some were originally cattle tracks), and that is why Minister Everald Warmington needs to declare war against these conditions immediately. This is going to be a long war and he needs to throw everything he has into this effort or he will lose the war.<br /> <br /> The minister should realise that many potholes are caused by shoddy workmanship in road construction. He needs to have this practice stopped and employ competent engineers to construct or repair roads and insist on quality control and warranties.<br /> <br /> The absence of lane markings on roads is one of the first indicators of an undeveloped country. Marked lanes are of great assistance, especially to older drivers.<br /> <br /> Signage is woefully inadequate, both in terms of driving advice, or finding a location. We talk about community tourism, forgetting that signage plays a vital role.<br /> <br /> Too many precipices are unmarked or are without barriers and many lives are lost because of this.<br /> <br /> At least one sand trap should be constructed below the All Seasons restaurant on Spur Tree Hill to assist in stopping runaway vehicles. In addition, revisit the unfinished south coast road from Alligator Pond to Milk River. This would not only provide an alternative route for large trucks, but would open that beautiful area for development. At the same time, do not forget the Kingston to St Thomas road, and plan another from Coleyville to the north coast.<br /> <br /> Roads dug up by utility companies must be addressed urgently, and suitable punishment must be meted out to the offenders.<br /> <br /> Programme some red traffic lights to flash at late hours, allowing motorists to drive through cautiously instead of being forced into long stops, creating opportunities for criminals to pounce on them.<br /> <br /> Finally, the new Road Traffic Act is spending far too long in gestation and should have been born a long time ago.<br /> <br /> The road ahead may be long, but the journey begins with the first step.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Trevor Samuels<br /> <br /> tasamuels@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12915024/199735_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, April 28, 2016 12:00 AM