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 Cameron should go even if Scotland stays http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Cameron-should-go-even-if-Scotland-stays_17528625 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The BBC is reporting that the British Prime Minister David Cameron has gone to Scotland to plead with them to stay in the union. While Cameron is trying all his best to let the rest of the world think that he is sincere in his desire to preserve Great Britain, many of us have doubts about his sincerity.<br /> <br /> Atop the list of questions many have of him about going to Scotland is: Why now?<br /> <br /> The campaign for Scottish independence has been going on now for some time. Yet, it seems clear that the only reason he has decided to go to Scotland to beg them to stay is because recent polls indicate that Scotland may very well leave the union.<br /> <br /> It would seem that Cameron has been giving too much authority to the polls, which, up to recently, had been indicating that the Scots don't want to leave. As such, it would seem, he took it for granted that there was no need to take any interest in the possibility that Scotland would want to leave. In other words, he was taking the Scots for granted.<br /> <br /> I think that a lot of Scots are not too happy with the notion that their prime minister thinks little of them -- only taking an interest when the end of the Kingdom is in his face.<br /> <br /> Cameron now faces the real possibility that, after more that three centuries, he will be the last prime minister of a truly united United Kingdom. The thought of him being the prime minister who presided over the disintegration of Great Britain has finally pushed him to go to Scotland. It may prove to be too late.<br /> <br /> If Scotland goes, there is a real possibility that Northern Ireland may also want to leave. Several members of Cameron's own party have made it clear that if Scotland goes, they will revolt.<br /> <br /> I don't think Cameron is a good prime minister for Britain. If Scotland goes, it would become clear that Cameron should be removed. However, even if Scotland decides to stay, he should do the honourable thing and step down.<br /> <br /> Michael A Dingwall<br /> <br /> michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Cameron should go even if Scotland stays<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11055402/uk_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 18, 2014 2:00 AM Four missing years? Really, PM?! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Four-missing-years--Really--PM--_17559250 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, in revving up the People's National Party's (PNP) propaganda machine in preparation for the upcoming elections, has been referring to the last Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) term in office from 2007 to 2011 as the "four missing years". It is her claim, quite disingenuously advanced, that the JLP wrecked the country's economy during their term, and is the reason behind Jamaica being so economically depressed today, forcing her PNP Government to embark on a painful path of repair.<br /> <br /> This claim has been forwarded despite Mrs Simpson Miller admitting overseas that, had the PNP formed the Government during that period, it could not have done much, if anything, differently given the challenges of the global recession that confronted the JLP for pretty much all its time in office.<br /> <br /> The JLP assumed the reins of government after Jamaica suffered almost two decades of continuous anaemic economic performance, despite the world economy registering more of an economic boom during that period.<br /> <br /> Rather than merely improving on what the PNP did economically, the JLP Government had to spend time correcting or cleaning up the mess of an economy it inherited. Moreover, as mentioned, the JLP Government was confronted with the challenges of the global economic recession, which resulted in serious economic ruination to many countries, including the mighty United States.<br /> <br /> Impressively, Jamaica was able to largely withstand the economic crisis, without suffering any meltdown as happened in the United States, across Europe, and even closer to home in Trinidad with the collapse of CLICO.<br /> <br /> The economy was being rehabilitated under the JLP of 2007 to 2011, with the macroeconomic fundamentals all trending in a positive direction. Inflation was trending down; interest rates were reduced to single digits, being the lowest in over 30 years; the dollar was stabilised; and we started to register economic growth towards the end of the JLP's term.<br /> <br /> Things were by no means perfect, as legacy issues, such as high unemployment and underemployment, among other issues remained troublesome. However, by no means should that term be accurately deemed the "four missing years" that are responsible for our current challenges.<br /> <br /> If 2007 to 2011 were the "four missing years", what would Prime Minister Simpson Miller term the turbulent period of the 1970s, of which she was a part, when the PNP Government then inherited a booming economy only to, in eight short years, completely reverse such economic gains and bring the country almost to bankruptcy?<br /> <br /> How would Prime Minister Simpson Miller refer to the period of 1989 to 2007, which saw the collapse of the financial sector, that completely wiped out a huge chunk of the country's new entrepreneurial class, drove up unemployment, and which saw the economy being kept alive largely by investments in government debt instruments?<br /> <br /> Would those events, as happened during those two reigns of the PNP, not be more responsible for our current challenges than the last term under the JLP? Would the PNP not be more responsible for where our country is today, especially since the JLP historically has passed on a healthier economy to the PNP than the PNP has ever passed on to the JLP?<br /> <br /> Kevin KO Sangster<br /> <br /> sangstek@msn.com<br /> <br /> Four missing years? Really, PM?!<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 18, 2014 2:00 AM Caring for the mentally ill improves public safety http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Caring-for-the-mentally-ill-improves-public-safety_17559256 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Jamaicans here at home and across the globe has earned a mark of respect for our resilience, creativity, and genetic abilities to vocalise our disagreement with any system that dehumanises our brothers and sisters. It is on this socio-cultural pillar that I seek to advance the view that the greatest failure in our country is not the escalation on our national debt, but to see a Jamaicans or any human being in our country rummaging through our garbage as we have not implemented the necessary systems to address their circumstance.<br /> <br /> Since Independence our society has been galvanised around the collective conscientiousness that we are, "Out of Many, One People". This iconic axiom, in my opinion, demonstrates an integrated society poised in defence of the advancement of the whole human race; through work, education, training, and more so, good citizenship.<br /> <br /> I stand corrected, but fervently uphold the belief that there remains an unparallel relationship in the words we recite in our Jamaican National Pledge and Anthem, and how we politically or otherwise treat those from the lower socio-economic stratum of society. If we really want to examine the dichotomy between what we recite and our actions, look at the disregard meted out to the mentally challenged men and women on our streets who cannot contribute to the production of goods and services, or play a part in the political process.<br /> <br /> About a month ago it was reported in the news that a mentally challenged man disarmed a police officer. A few days later we were again apprised of Mario Deane's detriment as a result of being housed in a detention centre among alleged mentally challenged detainees. I can't seem to forget the Jeffery Perry massacre on his relatives in Killancholly, St Mary a few years ago. The list could go on.<br /> <br /> We can all conclude, we cannot all be doctors, lawyers, politicians, members of parliament, or opposition, but as a nation and a people working together to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business, this utopic aspiration will not be achieved if we fail to care for the mentally challenge. When we care for the mentally ill, we are improving public safety and security for all.<br /> <br /> Ian A Henry<br /> <br /> Scott's Hall<br /> <br /> ianhenrya@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Caring for the mentally ill improves public safety<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 18, 2014 2:00 AM Take ministers from outside the pool of MPs http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Take-ministers-from-outside-the-pool-of-MPs-_17548641 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I completely agree with the opinion of columnist Lance Neita in his Sunday Observer piece on September 14, 2014 on how to select ministers of government in order to get the best persons for the job.<br /> <br /> I also see that a reduction needs to happen in the number of ministries, and this list should be defined and protected by the Jamaica Constitution.<br /> <br /> I often thought that these ideas were purely my own idealism, but it is good to know that there is at least one other that shares that opinion.<br /> <br /> Having written this opinion, it would be great to get the discussion started for a time line and process to enable this change to make ministers of government be chosen from the best in their fields and not political persons, who often are not educated in the field or who are insufficiently educated in either management or any particular discipline.<br /> <br /> Hugh Dunbar<br /> <br /> hmdenergy@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Take ministers from outside the pool of MPs <br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 18, 2014 2:00 AM I want to come home, PM; handle the chik-V http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-want-to-come-home--PM--handle-the-chik-V_17558049 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Much like Jamaica, I find myself this morning in a kind of quandary. Why? I have an upcoming trip planned for the island as I wish to see my mother, daughter, as well as some old friends. In addition, I have some business there that I need to attend to.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, swirling down there in Jamaica is the mushrooming chikungunya virus crisis. This mosquito-borne illness, although not a new virus, is still not clearly defined, and it is clear that the Jamaican health authorities have not yet developed the history nor have in their possession sufficient resources to combat its spread.<br /> <br /> According to world public health experts, this virus will require, at the very least, a nine-month period before it approaches a 40 per cent infection level necessary for population resistance and to reach a point where containment can begin to be claimed.<br /> <br /> Jamaica has been strafed for years by economic malaise, and in recent years has had to re-establish borrowing relationships with the IMF. One feature of this courtship has been the jettisoning of certain social programmes. Public health programmes and general hospital funding initiatives have been known to fall in this category. Another symptom is that parts of Jamaica have been swimming in garbage over recent months as there obviously isn't enough money to pay for garbage collection. To make matters worse, the drought that had ravaged the island has not been sufficiently broken.<br /> <br /> I quite like Health Minister Fenton Ferguson. A very nice man he is, but at the moment he is a politician and a member of a Government now caught between a rock and a hard place. Government cannot declare that the virus is approaching epidemic levels. Doing this sends a bad signal to your tourist markets and will result in travel advisories against the island and the drying up of tourist dollars. Neither can they ask for international help to fight the spread of the virus because this, too, sends the same message.<br /> <br /> It is time, however, that Portia Simpson Miller, as prime minister and head of the Government, comes clean. It is time to take a leadership position in dealing with this issue -- much like the personal dilemma that I have to face regarding my trip home and the risk of exposure! It is time for the Jamaican Government to announce a national plan to contain this virus and to provide constant public education on its management. Now is not the time to shy away.<br /> <br /> In the meantime, I too have a decision to make.<br /> <br /> Richard Hugh Blackford<br /> <br /> Coral Springs, Florida<br /> <br /> richardhblackford@gmail.com<br /> <br /> I want to come home, PM; handle the chik-V<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 17, 2014 2:00 AM Wishful solar thinking http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Wishful-solar-thinking_17537821 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> After reading an article in the Jamaca Observer on Wenesday, September 10, 2014 about the University of Technology's solar system success, it got me thinking. Living in the tropics solar energy is a viable option for Jamaica as sunshine is the most reliable source of energy, not much rain or wind. The Government could look at the option of investing in its country instead of constantly borrowing to cover overheads and pay debts.<br /> <br /> There is a lot of land owned by the taxpayers that the Government is overseeing; lands unsuitable for agriculture or housing could be used to set up solar panels. Jamaica Public Service (JPS) and the Government could purchase the solar panels from the manufacturers for the long-term benefit of the country. If the Government could spend $57 million on Independence celebrations, $60 million on new vehicles, this should be a drop in the bucket as spending for our future is more important than the past.<br /> <br /> JPS employs several engineers who would be capable of installing these during their regular workweek. However, if more hands are needed additional manpower could be used. This extension to JPS would immensely lower energy costs. This could create jobs, spending less on fuel purchase, lowering customer electricity bills, more cash to spend, increase in GCT, increase in revenue and improve infrastructure. But, then again, this is just another thought.<br /> <br /> V Guyher<br /> <br /> vguyher@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Wishful solar thinking<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11052182/Solar_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 17, 2014 2:00 AM When IMF&rsquo;s gone we are sure to depart... http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/When-IMF-s-gone-we-are-sure-to-depart---_17558046 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Reformist politicians seem to be quite popular everywhere these days &mdash; except Jamaica<br /> <br /> Although some may praise this Administration for adopting bold measures, the reality is that our reform programme is quite tepid. Fiscal austerity is necessary for debt-laden economies like Jamaica, but beyond this policy parliamentarians on both sides have little interest in reinventing the State.<br /> <br /> For example, we do not get the impression that the finance minister is passionate about his job, he seems to be merely pleasing the International Monetary Fund (IMF), therefore it is apt to say that when the present reform programme ends, Jamaica will revert to its old statist ways.<br /> <br /> It is such a disgrace that even our young parliamentarians embrace the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), with some wanting its budget to be increased to $50 million. However, these young politicians, like Raymond Pryce, have tricked the public into thinking that they are enlightened; claiming to be spending money on education. Even if they are being truthful, the CDF is still wrong in principle. Members of parliament are expected to debate on the issues that are affecting their constituents in parliament, although some parliamentarians are doing positive things with their funding from CDF, its doesn't change the fact that this facility is only fostering a dependency syndrome.<br /> <br /> Politicians who brag about building sports clubs and providing students with scholarships should be ashamed of themselves, because they are only shielding the State from its original function, which is to preserve individual liberties. By embracing the CDF our parliamentarians are making charity a legitimate function of governance.<br /> <br /> If a politician wants to use his private funds to sponsor a student financially, that is quite commendable, but to use State funds for this purpose is an aberration of its duties.<br /> <br /> We don't seem to be learning from the Nordic states like Denmark and Sweden that have reversed many of their statist policies. For example, Sweden has eliminated taxes on wealth and inheritance, and public spending as a percentage was reduced from 67 per cent in 1993 to 49 per cent in 2013. Denmark has reduced unemployment benefits. Both countries are also improving on the economic freedom index.<br /> <br /> Based on the pronouncements of some politicians, it is quite clear that IMF reform programme is only for this period, and when it ends we will return to our statist past.<br /> <br /> Lipton Matthews<br /> <br /> lo_matthews@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> When IMF's gone we are sure to depart...<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 17, 2014 2:00 AM Remember the two sides make one Gov't http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Remember-the-two-sides-make-one-Gov-t_17528610 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> With only a year left in our current Government's term, it seems members of both parties have been scrambling to highlight their relevance to Jamaican voters and leave an impression that they have been "working". But, let's face it, as is oft the case, voters will follow party tribalism, jump on the campaign trail and sell their vote for a plate of curry goat and a drink. This is not intended to be an attack on how Jamaicans choose to exercise their franchise, instead, I would like to point out to our political parties, both their members and leaders, that together they form the government of the country.<br /> <br /> Our members of parliament come from both the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party, and I would like to remind them that their job is not merely an office job to pay their bills and afford them a life of luxury. As a member of parliament, you are elected to represent the people of your constituency, raise their issues, and represent their concerns in Gordon House to help make policy decisions that are in their best interest. It seems our politicians will always forget that being called to represent is an honour, and the trust and confidence of Jamaicans should be rewarded by a Government who looks out for the interests of its own supporters.<br /> <br /> The structure of our Government requires that representatives work hand in hand. The role of the Opposition is not simply to oppose every suggestion put forward by the ruling party. The Opposition, be it the JLP or PNP at any given time, is always eager to bash decisions taken and create conflict. It would be nice to see both parties taking into consideration the merits of suggestions by the other party and the two working hand in hand to implement ideas which aid the growth and development of our country. Besides buying votes and bribing the electorate, may I suggest that the next best way to garner political support is to show Jamaican people that you can put aside your own self-interests and put our country first.<br /> <br /> Ashley Walker<br /> <br /> ashleywalker98@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Remember the two sides make one Gov't<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 17, 2014 2:00 AM Public health cannot be fodder for political gain http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Public-health-cannot-be-fodder-for-political-gain_17557984 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Is there any issue that is safe from politics? It appears not in Jamaica.<br /> <br /> I believe the discourse about chikungunya has been very irresponsible from the standpoint of the political football that it has become. Many Jamaicans are being misled just so that people can take cheap political shots even to the point of pretending to be ignorant of the issues so that they can spread misinformation.<br /> <br /> We have to allow the health authorities to lead the process. If there is an issue, the responsible thing to do, as a politician, is to meet with the authorities and sort it out there.<br /> <br /> I find that approach disrespectful to the people because it assumes that we do not know any better and it takes advantage of those who don't. I urge politicians to choose carefully the issues that they make a part of their campaign tools. An approach that will potentially harm people's health should not be one of them. Do not create political noise around the issues.<br /> <br /> In this time, where chikungunya is spreading in Jamaica, teach your constituents about personal responsibility and their role to reduce the spread and secure their own health.<br /> <br /> Cavelle Gordon<br /> <br /> Westmoreland<br /> <br /> cagice1@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Public health cannot be fodder for political gain<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, September 17, 2014 2:00 AM Making sense of the Pistorius verdict http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Making-sense-of-the-Pistorius-verdict_17548645 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Oscar Pistorius murder trial commanded much interest around the world as Pistorius "The blade runner" is a celebrated athlete and Olympian, despite his disability.<br /> <br /> Many were actually stunned at the verdict -- not guilty of murder, but guilty of 'culpable homicide' the equivalent of manslaughter.<br /> <br /> Murder, as we know it, implies intent. The judge, assisted by two legal experts in lieu of a jury, explained that the prosecution did not present a strong enough case to prove premeditation. This may well be true. The judge, however, seemed too sympathetic with the accused, describing him as "a poor witness", which suggests he could've defended himself much better. Yes, he was a poor witness, but this was because he often contradicted himself.<br /> <br /> It appears that Pistorius will perhaps get a light sentence, a slap on the wrist, maybe some community service, despite the maximum sentence being 15 years. The International Paralympic Committee has already indicated that Pistorius can compete again, after serving the sentence. This is why so many are shocked, outraged even. Some have even asked, what if Pistorius was a black man, would the outcome be any different? It will be very interesting to hear the sentencing when it is handed down next month.<br /> <br /> P Chin<br /> <br /> chin_p@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Making sense of the Pistorius verdict<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11049304/Pistorius_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, September 16, 2014 1:00 AM Minister Ferguson's about-turn http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Minister-Ferguson-s-about-turn_17548643 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I read in the Sunday Observer a column written by the Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson himself, obviously defending his botched leadership of the current chikungunya epidemic across Jamaica's parishes.<br /> <br /> The minister would have been best advised to come clean to the Jamaican people, accept responsibility for botching this chikungunya crisis, and ask for the help of media, community associations, churches, and schools in mitigating its rapid spread.<br /> <br /> Most interesting of all, the minister said: "Let me point out that international surveillance best practice dictates that we do not test every case. If we already have established spread in a community, there is no need to test all community members."<br /> <br /> Really, Mr Minister? If this is true, and I assume it is, this is news to us. Up to last week you and your technocrats were engaged in a futile exercise claiming that there is no chikungunya outbreak and that mischief-makers are exacerbating its true impact. They went to quote, up to days ago, 24 confirmed cases, while half of Jamaica knows at least one person affected by chikungunya as diagnosed by their doctors, most of whom haven't and still aren't testing. This is big about-turn.<br /> <br /> The minister's ego is hurt, he has to, as people say, "save face". The chikungunya spread is still unabated, and the ministry looks more concerned about what people already know than truly working to limit this crisis.<br /> <br /> Caroline McKenzie<br /> <br /> St Jago Heights<br /> <br /> St Catherine<br /> <br /> ctmmckenzie@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Minister Ferguson's about-turn<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11049313/Fenton-Ferguson3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, September 16, 2014 1:00 AM Kudos to JIS http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Kudos-to-JIS_17537736 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Not often do we see commendations being given to the Jamaica Information Services (JIS) and so I would like to use your media to express thanks and to commend the JIS for the brilliant footage and social media coverage to celebrate the life of one of Jamaica's most loved politicians, Roger Clarke.<br /> <br /> I am particularly impressed with the video clips titled Laughter with Roger, which captured the many jokes that the former MP and minister of agriculture and fisheries would poke at others and even at himself. One cannot help but say, "here is a man that brought a smile to the face of those whom he interacted with".<br /> <br /> As a Jamaican living overseas, I am constantly trying to keep up with the happenings in Jamaica, and as such I have to log on to the Jamaica Observer and JIS website for some valued information, and I cannot tell you how impressed I am at the way they have given coverage to the work and life of Roger Clarke. I want to say to them job well done, and continue to do the fine job they are both doing.<br /> <br /> Ralston Chamberlain<br /> <br /> Toronto, Ontario<br /> <br /> ralston.chamberlain@alum.utoronto.ca<br /> <br /> Kudos to JIS<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11043738/Roger-Clarke-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, September 16, 2014 1:00 AM Let's discuss the cancer of praedial larceny, Commish http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-s-discuss-the-cancer-of-praedial-larceny--Commish_17548825 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> This is an open letter to new Commissioner of Police Carl Williams:<br /> <br /> On behalf of the board of management of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and our 220,000 farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural sector, I would like to offer you my most sincere congratulations upon your appointment of your new responsibilities as Jamaica's 28th commissioner of police and pledge our support and prays for your success.<br /> <br /> We have heard many glowing reports of your work thus far and are confident that that we can rely on your commitment to carry on the process of necessary reform within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and to make considerable progress in the fight against crime and in particular against farm thieves.<br /> <br /> Over the years, the police and its leadership have consistently worked with the Jamaica Agricultural Society and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in trying to tackle the cancer of praedial larceny which is costing the sector over $6b annually. We look forward to a continued, close and good cooperation in the eradication of the practice that has grown to the stage of organised crime against the farmers.<br /> <br /> We know of your commitment to this cause and write to seek a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss the matter. We will be in touch with your office to agree on a convenient time.<br /> <br /> Wishing you success in your new duties, please accept once again best wishes from the farmers across the length and breadth of Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Senator Norman W Grant, JP<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> Jamaica Agricultural Society<br /> <br /> jaspresident2012@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Let's discuss the cancer of praedial larceny, Commish<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11046934/Carl-Williams-4_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 15, 2014 2:00 AM Let's engage young people on this the UN International Day of Democracy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-s-engage-young-people-on-this-the-UN-International-Day-of-Democracy_17538499 This 2014 day of democracy brings to the fore a great question facing the youth of the world and especially in countries in the Middle East and North Africa. How can widespread and apparently uncompromising socio-economic despondency be addressed in a sustainable manner?<br /> <br /> The answer lies is an applied action, through participatory democracy that engages individuals and communities in dialog and consensus-building, with the goal of identifying their development challenges and opportunities and creating a plan for shared action to achieve priority projects.<br /> <br /> In Morocco, the situation of its youth (who are four out five of the unemployed aged 15 to 34) is a good reflection of other nations of the region. One can easily acquire a heavy heart when hearing of their common challenges: the majority living at home throughout their 20s, often delaying marriage because they cannot afford their accommodation; young, educated women passing days and years at the family home without acquiring the skills to find a job and without adequate jobs being available; rural girls' education regularly cut short after primary school as families are without means to send them to middle and high schools and may, in any case, place a higher value on boys' education.<br /> <br /> Perhaps the highest source of frustration is that Moroccan youth live in a society replete with opportunities for social action and economic growth of which they may be unaware, having faced such difficulties in their early life that they commonly believe no such opportunities could exist.<br /> <br /> Engaging youthful energy wisely is surely one of the most pressing objectives currently faced. This day of democracy brings to mind a solution that has proven itself over decades, particularly by way of development experiences undertaken since WWII -- participatory democratic planning.<br /> <br /> The process involves applying open dialog procedures for groups to evaluate both their past project development experiences and their current priority needs. In this way they gain greater self-reliance and empowerment to create the change that they seek in their lives, take control of their own analysis and investigation, and thus become responsible for project implementation through the entire cycle, from design to management and evaluation.<br /> <br /> This development approach has now become synonymous with sustainability because project evaluations have identified that local participation is at least as critical as finance in order to achieve project continuity and overall success.<br /> <br /> When youth are equipped with the skills and know-how to help forge their communities and society as a reflection of their common will, through democratic means, real optimism supplants frustration, as jobs, as well as improvements in education and health, are generated. This important day therefore points to an actual tool that needs to be given the opportunity to be utilised in people's lives. Programmees should be implemented that are dedicated not to predetermined projects but to those initiatives that youth identify for themselves and where technical expertise is not sector-specific but comprises vital 'soft' skills with a multiplicity of applications such as negotiation, listening, building partnerships, and attaining inclusivity.<br /> <br /> This highlighting by the UN of the principle of democracy is to be commended and appreciated. Today's youth face deeply entrenched problems. At the same time, it is they who are ultimately humanity's only hope. Enabling them to experience and achieve sustainable development through participatory democracy is indeed the light they quietly -- and not so quietly -- seek.<br /> <br /> Yossef Ben-Meir, PhD, is president of the High Atlas Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to sustainable development in Morocco. Comments: yossef@highatlasfoundation.org<br /> <br /> Let's engage young people on this the UN International Day of Democracy<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/4118167/European-Parliament_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 15, 2014 2:00 AM I won't cool it, Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-won-t-cool-it--Observer_17548642 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Jamaica Observer editorial dated September 12, 2014, titled 'Mr Seiveright should cool it' grants me the opportunity to restate and clarify for you my position on chikungunya.<br /> <br /> For one, let me categorically state that I have never diagnosed anyone with having chikungunya, this is frankly as untrue as it is absurd. On the contrary, I saw for myself in St Thomas many persons affected by what their doctors confirmed as chikungunya.<br /> <br /> At first I was doubtful as the ministry reported then 21 confirmed cases, I too had gobbled up official government data. After all, the ministry then provided little if any information on suspected and/or widespread chikungunya reports from doctors, and the biggest fact of all that most of the affected were not tested, thereby keeping official case numbers artificially low.<br /> <br /> On another note, St Thomas Eastern is the very epitome of underrepresentation, underdevelopment and sheer neglect. Poverty is high and many have confined themselves into the burgeoning ranks of the voiceless and as such suffer quietly. This had to change.<br /> <br /> I brought to public attention the suffering of the citizens and was amazed at how quickly more people were willing to come forward, now unofficially confirming what many of the voiceless knew, that several parishes are in the midst of a chikungunya epidemic.<br /> <br /> Too much of the ministry's response to date is shrouded in arrogant denial, ridiculously apportioning some of the blame to doctors and clumsy management. We are just finding out about an Emergency Operations Centre, and to date there is still no substantive fogging and public-education programme in place. The ministry's PR frankly is way out of sync with the reality on the ground.<br /> <br /> I won't "cool it", as a representative of Jamaica's young generation, I refuse to sit by and turn a blind eye to suffering people.<br /> <br /> Delano Seiveright<br /> <br /> Caretaker, JLP<br /> <br /> St Thomas Eastern<br /> <br /> delanoseiveright@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> I won't cool it, Observer<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11025546/Fenton-Ferguson8_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 15, 2014 2:00 AM How much longer before we address the real issues http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/How-much-longer-before-we-address-the-real-issues_17548836 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Our country has a long way to go, but by faith I am very sure we will get there. The question, however, is when?<br /> <br /> I am a Jamaican by birth. Though only 17 years old I will never give up on my country. This is my home, this is my soil, this is my land. But we have some issues that are hindering our growth as a nation and until these are dealt with, every step we take forward we'll also take two steps backward. And even when we can boast about what we've accomplished in the last 52 years, our accomplishments are marred by our incompetence.<br /> <br /> The issues affecting us directly are linked to politics. We have a voice, yet still at times we are silenced and are forced to speak and say what our MPs wish us to. Where is our freedom to select who we want to represent us? The ironic thing about it is hearing on a daily basis how they are combating crime when their action helped to put guns in the wrong hands.<br /> <br /> Not all Jamaicans are lucky, like I am, to have an MP that they can go to at any time to seek advice or assistance. Being an MP and Cabinet minister at the same time is not and will not prove to be good, because something will be neglected. You can't serve two masters. If I can't see you or talk to you or don't know you at all, how are you my MP? These are the things we need to address as quickly as possible.<br /> <br /> Shaquille Ramsay<br /> <br /> May Pen<br /> <br /> shaquilleramsay@gmail.com<br /> <br /> How much longer before we address the real issues<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 15, 2014 2:00 AM The Ark will be an inspiration http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-Ark-will-be-an-inspiration_17536501 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Jamaica Observer opinion piece of Friday, September 5, 2014 by Franklin Johnston, entitled 'The Ark of Return may be a monumental error', questioned the relevance, rationale and location of the proposed permanent memorial monument in honour of the victims of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.<br /> <br /> The ministry regrets that, despite the Observer's comprehensive reportage on the initiative just after Emancipation Day 2014, the columnist has chosen to issue an unfortunate and dismissive broadside against this undertaking.<br /> <br /> These are the facts.<br /> <br /> The UN initiative to erect the monument was Jamaican-inspired and Caricom and African Union-endorsed. It was subsequently adopted unanimously by the membership of the United Nations. Countries from both the developed and developing world have contributed to the trust fund for the memorial.<br /> <br /> At its core, the memorial is intended to expose the roots of modern-day racial prejudice, acknowledge the lingering consequences of the enslavement of and trade in Africans, and pay tribute to the resilience and courage of the estimated 17 million men, women and children who were sold as slaves in the trans-Atlantic slave trading system over 400 years.<br /> <br /> It is intended to be global in scope and outreach and seeks to inspire the international community to examine the present while looking to the future. This is reflected in the underlying theme: 'Acknowledging the tragedy, considering the legacy, lest we forget'.<br /> <br /> In keeping with this theme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has launched an international programme of outreach aimed at nurturing in the minds of youth mutual respect and due regard for each other's culture, religion, race and ethnicity, as well as recognition of the inherent human dignity and inalienable human rights of all citizens across the globe.<br /> <br /> As highlighted by Ambassador Raymond Wolfe, former permanent representative of Jamaica to the UN, in his interview with the Observer in August 2014, the monument will be mounted at UN headquarters at a place of prominence, easily accessible to delegates, UN staff and visitors.<br /> <br /> The ministry is confident that the erection of the monument will be of lasting positive value to present and future generations. As indicated by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, when she unveiled the winning model in New York last September: "The design will undoubtedly serve to inspire the many persons who view the memorial and remind us to never allow such crimes against humanity ever again."<br /> <br /> Ambassador Paul Robotham<br /> <br /> Permanent Secretary<br /> <br /> Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade<br /> <br /> The Ark will be an inspiration<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11036695/ark_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, September 12, 2014 2:00 AM Growth strategy needed to dig us out of the rut http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Growth-strategy-needed-to-dig-us-out-of-the-rut_17528624 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The director of the Planning Institute of Jamaica informs us that a stimulus is not under consideration as there is no deficiency in demand and it is not affordable.<br /> <br /> The more realistic Economic Programme Oversight Committe deputy chair remarked that the primary surplus that exists due to the expenditure cutbacks has to be used for debt repayment; consequently none is left for a needed stimulus.<br /> <br /> Implicit in his statement is the acknowledgement that there is a need for a stimulus, eschewing argument that the unemployment, inflation, currency depreciation, and income and layoff situation need a relief. It thereby rejects his esteemed colleague's statement that there is no deficiency in demand presumable because people are consuming multiple imported goods in our open economy.<br /> <br /> This has contributed to the fact that the number of people sleeping downtown in front of the accountant general and courts offices with a few mongrel dogs beside them is growing; many others have joined the ranks of bus loader men; there is an increase in the number of beggars and too many imported fake items are passed off as consumer products.<br /> <br /> There is definitely the need for a growth strategy and for stimulus to be unloaded on the system. This cannot come from quantitative easing or from fiscal reserves as there is none of the latter. The strategy needs a stimulus fund. The fund must be financed from existing resources and not by taxation though -- a good amount of income redistribution is necessary. Austerity, though needed, cannot get us out of the rut.<br /> <br /> A clear recognition of the issues must be done; unemployment and poverty have increased while income and consumer capacity have decreased. The Government must mobilise and sources funding from the various international funds, as well as he Jamaica Social Investment Fund, National Housing Trust, CHASE Fund, EU poverty reduction fund, Tourism Enhancement Fund, etc. These resources in combination with the large private banking idle resources are needed to finance innovative and carefully planned investment in the area of import substitution and exports, especially in the fields of agriculture and food processing.<br /> <br /> The approach must be to focus on sound projects, especially in manufacturing, giving priority to the sector, in spite of what the university lecturer says.<br /> <br /> While funding is necessary success can only come if investment funds are provided for technologically competitive, economically sound and innovative projects, generating quality jobs.<br /> <br /> Martin Afflick<br /> <br /> martinafflick@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Growth strategy needed to dig us out of the rut<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10800193/Richard-Byles-inside_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, September 12, 2014 2:00 AM Of helmets and the law http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Of-helmets-and-the-law_17535438 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am almost sure that there is a law on the books which requires motorcyclists to wear protective helmets and a penalty for non-compliance. For, if there were such a law, ostensibly at its core would be a desire to promote safety. And, should there be such a law, one could say with certainty that it is more honoured in the breach and in observance.<br /> <br /> One cannot help but admire most of the bearers who ride motorcycles around the Corporate Area and major rural townships. In addition to their manner of riding, which at times is perilously scintillating, their back-packs and their various forms of headgear bring a smile to the face, if not laughter. Especially the headgear which vary in style from the World War II German vintage helmets to the ultra-modern flush with simple or wildly creative designs.<br /> <br /> One wonders, however, if all or most of these helmets meet any acceptable standard for safety.<br /> <br /> While the police officers in the motorcycle division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force almost always have their regulation helmets affixed, too often they have their comrade pillion riders wearing only their soft peaked regulation caps which provides no protection. If the wearing of safety helmets is required by the law, surely all police officers should abide by the law in the strictest sense. And, there should be an increased enforcement effort on all motorcyclists, notwithstanding the possible howls of protest which might erupt for reasons of the expense.<br /> <br /> Perhaps, upon being issued a licence to drive a motorcycle, there should be some provision at that stage for the licensee to demonstrate proof of ownership of a helmet which meets the safety standard approved by the authorities. Then, maybe the incidence of fatalities and serious head injuries sustained by motorcyclists in Jamaica could be reduced.<br /> <br /> Christopher Pryce<br /> <br /> christopherjmpryce@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Of helmets and the law<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/5036735/Roving3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, September 12, 2014 2:00 AM Companies must co-operate to make the dream work http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Companies-must-co-operate-to-make-the-dream-work_17528856 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Beneath the veneer of public spats and what looks like bitter rivalry many companies co-operate with each other. For decades in the sugar industry, when one factory is in serious trouble we borrow and lend critical machinery in order to ensure that the other doesn't fold or manufacturing is delayed. There is constant help as the goal is to manufacture as much sugar or rum as is possible.<br /> <br /> The same thing takes place along the industrial strip on Spanish Town Road between Three Miles and Six Miles. Years ago we needed a critical piece of equipment to manufacture cooking oil and we were able to obtain it from Desnoes and Geddes, next door. While it is true that we weren't competing within the same market, this type of co-operation is common. Don't let the telecommunications industry fool you, they have to sometimes co-operate too.<br /> <br /> Hotels, even though they sometimes go after the same market share, they too co-operate, which makes it seem so strange that a death took place on Negril's world-famous white sand beach.<br /> <br /> On many occasions I have seen hotels and service clubs donating brand-new pickups to the police, hospitals and needy institutions. It made sense; no one could tell when a visitor or worker at one of these properties would collapse and need emergency treatment. Instead of waiting on the Government, the private sector equipped the hospital. Hotels are often given large tax breaks but they also pay high taxes and provide crucial employment. They remain one of the pillars on which our frail economy stands.<br /> <br /> It might seem unfair to ask hoteliers in Negril to pool resources and ensure that they have at least one ambulance parked on one of the properties to share among themselves. But it cannot be that difficult.<br /> <br /> If they continue to await government assistance they may be waiting in vain. When we invite foreigners to come and vacation in Jamaica we owe it to them to at least provide minimal service for their health and safety.<br /> <br /> The Government is strapped for resources and we are sometimes angry at the way they spend our tax dollars, but let us do what we know needs to be done &mdash; co-operate.<br /> <br /> Mark Clarke<br /> <br /> Siloah, St Elizabeth<br /> <br /> mark_clarke9@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Companies must co-operate to make the dream work<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9859788/ambulance_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, September 12, 2014 2:00 AM Roger was a man for all seasons http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Roger-was-a-man-for-all-seasons_17528636 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> We give thanks for the life of the late Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke, who was a man for all seasons and a great supporter of the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association.<br /> <br /> We pay tribute to Minister Clarke, who was one of the first policymakers to recognise the association as a voice of the local egg farmers.<br /> <br /> He was also instrumental in the association establishing the island's -- and, indeed, the region's -- first liquid pasteurised egg-processing plant in Montego Bay in 2007, which has provided value-added to our egg farmers. In fact, with the setting up of this plant, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, under the leadership of Minister Clarke, was able to put a halt to the importation of liquid egg, which had caused severe hardships for local shell egg producers up to that time.<br /> <br /> We also wish to pay tribute to Minister Clarke, who guided us in the process of capitalising the liquid pasteurised egg plant through a loan disbursed by the Agricultural Support Services Project of his ministry; a loan which was repaid in full in March 2013.<br /> <br /> Last year, Minister Clarke included eggs as one of the main ingredients of the island's School Feeding Programme, replacing butter fat. Under this arrangement, local farmers have an initial projection to supply 2,000 dozen eggs per month to the programme, with the strong potential for further increase.<br /> <br /> As Minister Clarke is laid to rest this Saturday, we wish to honour his memory as a staunch advocate of the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association and his support of the vision of the association for continued growth and development. We also wish to express our appreciation of the fact that he facilitated our meeting requests through his open-door policy and gave us the benefit of his expertise, primarily as a farmer.<br /> <br /> We shall miss his energy, warm personality, and patience and pray that God will give his wife, Sonia, and children the strength they need during this time of grief.<br /> <br /> Roy Baker<br /> <br /> President<br /> <br /> Jamaica Egg Farmers Association<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Roger was a man for all seasons<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11030747/Clarke_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:00 AM AIDS funding shift long time coming http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/AIDS-funding-shift-long-time-coming_17513532 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> On September 8, 2014, I read a letter to the editor from activist Maurice Tomlinson entitled, 'Who will fund the anti-HIV response?' Among other things, Tomlinson stated: "The Lawyers Christian Fellowship (LCF) must be joking if they expect Caribbean governments to continue financing CHART, after LCF had effectively doomed CHART [Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Programme] by insisting that someone who does not share the organisation's values be retained as its head. The Government must take action and put a stop to these selfish fundamentalists who are threatening our entire society."<br /> <br /> We wish to respond.<br /> <br /> News broke last week of the US Health Department's Policy Shift in AIDS and HIV funding, which has resulted in the discontinuation of funds for CHART and other health training partnerships. This development was anticipated from late last year when the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief asked countries around the world to submit their Country Operation Plans to the office of the Global AIDS Coordinator for review. Consequent on this review, funding has been cut for programmes around the world, including programmes managed by the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance in the Eastern Caribbean, the University of the West Indies CHART programme, as well as programmes in the United States and elsewhere. In fact, the Eastern Caribbean was advised about a month ago that funding would end in September.<br /> <br /> There has even been a policy shift within the domestic US AIDS programme. The upshot is that more money is to be made available for the direct care and treatment of men who have sex with men and sex workers. In its new iteration, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Suriname are to be treated as high priority.<br /> <br /> I trust this information is helpful to your readers. I resisted the impulse to score political points in the LGBT debate at the expense of unfortunate persons afflicted and affected by HIV/AIDS. Respectfully, I recommend that others do the same.<br /> <br /> Helene Coley-Nicholson<br /> <br /> President, Lawyers' Christian Fellowship<br /> <br /> helenecoley@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> AIDS funding shift long time coming<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11033138/Thu-sept-4_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:00 AM We cannot be that helpless http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-cannot-be-that-helpless_17528645 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While we in Jamaica can breathe a sigh of relief that that aeroplane crash off the coast of Portland a few days ago was as a result of a very unfortunate accident, it should be a wake-up call for us.<br /> <br /> If nothing else, the incident should awaken us to the need to pay more attention to our own air defence.<br /> <br /> How many of us have considered what would have happened if that plane was not flying in American airspace and it was heading for land? We would not have even known what hit us. We cannot afford to be that helpless when it comes to protecting our own territory.<br /> <br /> While it is true that we will never be able to defend ourselves against a determined air attack from a powerful country like the United States, Britain or even Cuba, we should be able to defend ourselves against any nut job who might decide to take a small plane, full it with explosives, and fly it into some populated area.<br /> <br /> We live in a very dangerous world these days. There are a lot of crazy fanatics who will go to great lengths to attack countries like the United States in any way they can. Seeing that any air attack on the United States would be suicide, these crazies may try to strike that country by attacking us. We cannot dismiss this possibility as the reasoning capabilities of some of these fanatics leaves much to de desired.<br /> <br /> I don't know how much the air aviation administration authorities monitor what flies in our air space, but I would hope that they would be doing a thorough job. However, the experience with that plane crash proves that we don't have the means to intercept or stop any threat to us from the air.<br /> <br /> As such, I would suggest that we seriously consider equipping ourselves with the ability to provide a reasonable, yet effective, defense against any such threat. Our current antiquated air force, with its World War II equipment is of no practical use to today's realities.<br /> <br /> We don't need an extensive, large or the most modern jet-aircraft fleet, as the purpose here is to stop fanatics who can use civilian planes to wreak havoc. A few jet fighters are all we would need. Our aging propeller planes won't do. Also, we should acquire a reasonable surface-to-air missile system to shoot down planes that refuse to be escorted by these jet-fighters.<br /> <br /> I remember talk some years ago about us getting these surface-to-air missile to shoot down planes trading in drugs. I wonder what became of that idea. It is a bad idea to expect America to always come to our rescue. We need to start taking some responsibility for our own air defense.<br /> <br /> Michael A Dingwall<br /> <br /> michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> We cannot be that helpless<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11021972/VESSEL-TWO_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:00 AM Disastrous J$ decline under PNP http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Disastrous-J--decline-under-PNP_17528611 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Dr Peter Phillips and Portia Simpson Miller seem to take pleasure in telling us that it is the four years of Jamaica Labour Party administration which cause us to be in this bad state. Does the facts support them?<br /> <br /> In 1989 the PNP assumed office with the exchange rate at $5.50 to US$1. They left office in 2007, after eighteen and a half years with the Jamaican dollar devalued to $70 to $US1.<br /> <br /> This is what wiped out the productive sector, all our factories disappeared because most of our raw materials are imported. So with devaluation all the inputs cost more, therefore local manufacturers cannot produce at competitive prices.<br /> <br /> The People's National Party returned to office in 2012 and devaluation of the Jamaican dollar resumed. In less than three years the dollar has lost some 25 per cent of its 2012 value. I remember the days when Edward Seaga would warn the PNP that they were putting the country on collision course with bankruptcy. They called him a prophet of doom.<br /> <br /> When one take into account the fact that the PNP has occupied office for 28 of the 41 years since 1972 -- the period during which the deterioration took place. They need to blame themselves. It reflects adversely on their own credibility.<br /> <br /> A James<br /> <br /> alvalj@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> Disastrous J$ decline under PNP<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11006547/downward-arrow_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:00 AM Make Ja the land of invention http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Make-Ja-the-land-of-invention_17528644 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I think our political administration should focus on employment and income by making Jamaica a land of inventions, contributing to the prosperity of United States for example.<br /> <br /> In this context, we should give priority to natural sciences and research in the allocation of our scarce resources and so relegate arts-related subjects to a lesser place in our institutions of learning.<br /> <br /> Math has traditionally been classified as both art and science, but I don't think it is necessary to emphasise passing a public examination in math. Albert Einstein, who failed math, has demonstrated that fact. Indeed, I do not believe in public examinations, but in the average grade gained in a subject in school. One swallow does not a summer make.<br /> <br /> Owen S Crosbie<br /> <br /> Mandeville, Manchester<br /> <br /> oss@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> Make Ja the land of invention<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/8764267/albert-einstein_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:00 AM