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 Chik-V on vacation in the Caribbean http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Chik-V-on-vacation-in-the-Caribbean_17584714 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The Caribbean region known for its allure and beautiful white sand beaches now has a new visitor who has overstayed its welcome.<br /> <br /> All Jamaicans by now should know of someone who has recovered or who is currently experiencing the flu-like symptoms associated with the chikungunya virus. Chikungunya is not a new virus. This virus has lived quietly in south-eastern Africa for many years. However, since December of 2013 the virus's decision to take a Caribbean vacation has been creating mayhem and much discomfort for the region's citizens.<br /> <br /> Chikungunya means "that which bends over". This meaning is derived from the language of the Makonde people of Africa. The Makonde people are Bantu-speaking people of East Africa. The Makonde live in Mozambique and Tanzania.<br /> <br /> Chikungunya is transmitted primarily by two species of mosquitoes, the tropical Aedes Aegypti and the Aedes Albopictus, better known as the Asian tiger mosquito.<br /> <br /> There are different strains of chikungunya virus, and therefore one can be reinfected with another strain of the virus.<br /> <br /> In addition to the pain and suffering associated with this virus, there is also an economic cost to the virus since productivity will be negatively affected as victims are often debilitated and require time-off from work in order to recuperate.<br /> <br /> The Caribbean community needs to work more urgently and closely in coordinating efforts to eradicate and/or reduce the cases of chikungunya virus which plague many communities across the region. We now need to declare chikungunya "persona non grata".<br /> <br /> Wayne Campbell<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> www.wayaine.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> Chik-V on vacation in the C'bean<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11052846/mosquito_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 22, 2014 12:05 AM We can't honour those who brought us to this low http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-can-t-honour-those-who-brought-us-to-this-low_17584721 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Former Prime Minister P J Patterson is asking Jamaicans to show appreciation for politicians while they are alive and that we should cease to vilify our political leaders and not lump them together in a class of gang.<br /> <br /> On the face of it this seems like a reasonable proposition, our political leaders make extraordinary sacrifices in serving our country and many times we seem unappreciative. But there is another side to this issue and we all would be dishonest if we didn't acknowledge the mistakes of the past which continues to haunt us.<br /> <br /> As early as the late 60s our political leaders derived a formula to obtain power and to reward those that propelled them into office. This wasn't a feature of rural politics, where Patterson and Roger Clarke practised their craft, but it certainly permeated throughout urban politics. Not all politicians participated, but those that didn't sat silently by and kept their collective mouths closed.<br /> <br /> Those of us who grew up in ghettos or inner-city communities were introduced to politics when politicians encouraged poor disadvantaged youth to rise up against each other while they retired uptown to havens and the comforts with their wives and children. We experienced our friends, brothers, sisters, and neighbours being wantonly slaughtered all in the name of political power. That, Mr Patterson, is why we seem unappreciative.<br /> <br /> If our politicians had simply flooded our communities with social workers, if they had spent a fraction of the money they spend on arming the police, if they hadn't corruptly wasted our resources, I guarantee you, Sir, the love and affection you so crave would flow towards you with the ferocity of a river in spate.<br /> <br /> Today, because of false promises, corrupt leadership and a dysfunctional society mainly created by politicians we find it difficult if not impossible to contain the outbreak of a virus less harmful than the dengue haemorrhagic fever or an Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In the 1970s, though, simply because the outbreak wasn't politicised and the country's infrastructure wasn't falling apart, we did just that with a tiny virology laboratory housed in the Department of Microbiology, small staff and one PAHO representative.<br /> <br /> Our political legacy has left a trail of sadness and broken dreams and we are now relying on the International Monetary Fund to repair the damage.<br /> <br /> Mark Clarke<br /> <br /> Siloah, St Elizabeth<br /> <br /> mark_clarke9@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> We can't honour those who brought us to this low<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11070570/PJ-patterson-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 22, 2014 12:05 AM Why should we pay for their defence? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Why-should-we-pay-for-their-defence_17399810 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is happily noted that the Jamaican Bar Association, in a media release regarding the killing of Mario Deane, has added its support to the position of many others who believe that "where police officers breach the rights of individuals, and such breach results in harm or damage suffered by that individual, the officers must be made to pay and not the taxpayers..."<br /> <br /> The practice at present, however, has not only been confined to taxpayers having to pay for the harm or damage, but in addition the taxpayer is called upon to pay for the legal fees for police officers charged. The questions I wish to pose are not confined to the Mario Deane case, but indeed in respect to all such instances where "servants of the State's" legal fees have been paid from public funds.<br /> <br /> * Isn't there a conflict of interest when the State prosecutes and at the same trial employs counsel to defend? I am, of course, assuming that the reason for the payment of the legal fees by the State for defendants at a criminal trial is that the State has an interest to protect and that an acquittal through legal representation is desirable and in the best interest of the State. If that is the case, why bring the matter to trial at all?<br /> <br /> * Who or what body is it that determines or approves the payment of legal fees for "State defendants"?<br /> <br /> * And, aren't Jamaican policemen first and foremost Jamaican citizens, and why are they singled out for privileged treatment before the law? Why shouldn't every Jamaican citizen charged with an offence enjoy identical privileges? It certainly cannot be argued that, because at the time of the alleged criminal act, the policeman was acting as an agent of the government that it is only appropriate that the government offer protection by way of paying legal fees of a lawyer of one's own choosing. If that is the guiding principle, no wonder policemen don't appear to be deterred from acting unlawfully while on duty, confident in the knowledge that their defence will be taken care of by the very State responsible for their prosecution. There may very well be some sound legal reason for this practice, and so I beg one of our enlightened lawyers to please advise me of such a reason - at no cost to the government/state, of course.<br /> <br /> Colonel Allan Douglas<br /> <br /> Kingston 10<br /> <br /> alldouglas@aol.com <br /> <br /> Why should we pay for their defence?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11066974/mario-dean-3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 22, 2014 12:05 AM You disappoint, Dr Tufton http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/You-disappoint--Dr-Tufton_17584766 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I was looking forward to Dr Christopher Tufton's lunch-hour speech last week on how civil society organisations were bedeviled by the perception of political bias. What a disappointment it turned out to be.<br /> <br /> Under the guise of making an analytical presentation, Dr Tufton merely complained about the perceived leaning of certain select organisations towards the People's National Party (PNP).<br /> <br /> He could have saved his speech by also mentioning the Jamaicans For Justice, the Dennis Meadows-led CAPI, the Bustamante Institute for Political Affairs, Families Against State Terrorism, and the several others with a leaning towards the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).<br /> <br /> Beyond that, Dr Tufton should know that it is not enough to lament the political leaning of civil society organisations. The question is, why are they not leaning towards the JLP? Is the JLP not attractive enough? If so, the party has some work to do. Complaining just won't cut it.<br /> <br /> Moreover, there is nothing wrong with those organisations having a political leaning towards any of the parties. After all, their members are part of the general society and are entitled to their political views.<br /> <br /> What they shouldn't do is to blindly support a political party while pretending to be objective, which is what Dr Tufton was doing.<br /> <br /> John T Baugh<br /> <br /> jotdown@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> You disappoint, Dr Tufton<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11070582/Christopher-TUFTON_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 22, 2014 12:05 AM Commish, cast an eye on Barnett Street http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Commish--cast-an-eye-on-Barnett-Street_17573748 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I was really hoping that for the sake of Mario Deane's family and a peace of mind for us all that we would be able to watch the news and not hear another bad report on this matter.<br /> <br /> It is ironic that shortly after we saw the new commissioner of police being sworn in, we heard of yet another terrible incident that took place at the Barnett Street Police Station, where an eyewitness in the matter, who is also an inmate, escaped from their custody through an unlocked window.<br /> <br /> I must ask these questions as I am truly flabbergasted with the series of these events:<br /> <br /> * How is it that these suspects and other criminals are left unsupervised for what seems to be a sufficient period of time to escape through a window, which, if reports are correct, shouldn't have been unlocked in the first place?<br /> <br /> * Why is it so unfortunate that majority of the suspects identified are mentally challenged and disabled? This is quite a curious situation.<br /> <br /> * And, is it a case that the authorities need to implement more technological systems to have cameras and/or other resources in these cells to assist the police in monitoring what takes place on a daily basis?<br /> <br /> Frankly, I believe that the members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force that are stationed at the Barnett Street Police Station should be forced to resign. The time for leniency being showed to them has expired. We need to be assured that the people set over us to serve, protect and reassure are reliable and competent. If there needs to be a revision of their training and other psychological measures of doing this, it must be done!<br /> <br /> We need hope to be restored in our hearts and minds and we pray that our new commissioner, Dr Carl Williams, will help in doing so.<br /> <br /> Joshauna Small<br /> <br /> UWI Mona student<br /> <br /> joshaunasmall@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Commish, cast an eye on Barnett Street<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10948343/demonsration_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, September 22, 2014 12:05 AM What has become of Vision 2030? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/What-has-become-of-Vision-2030-_17571027 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I encourage Jamaicans everywhere to have a look at Vision 2030. It is easily accessed online at http://www.vision2030.gov.jm/.<br /> <br /> Vision 2030 has as its central aim, the vision of "making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business". Vision 2030 is the result of true consensus across political divides and various civil interest groups and, to my mind, is truly something that all Jamaicans everywhere can embrace. It is for and about Jamaica and Jamaicans.<br /> <br /> Making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work and raise families is defined via a series of easy-to-understand goals. We are able to know if goals are being realised by more detailed outcomes that are assigned to each goal. And the document goes even further than merely listing goals and outcomes. It goes into some detail on how these goals will be achieved by assigning what I would call "to-dos", specific initiatives, which, if implemented, will result in the stated outcomes.<br /> <br /> Vision 2030 was launched in 2009. The same online link mentioned earlier points us to how we are tracking against the goals. Here's the issue: The progress tracker takes us only as far as 2011. How have we been doing since 2011? Is Vision 2030 regarded by the present Administration as the national plan for moving us towards developed country status by 2030?<br /> <br /> Richard Byles and the Economic Programme Oversight Committee have been doing a great job of monitoring Jamaica's performance against International Monetary Fund (IMF) targets. Madame Lagarde said as much in her recent visit to the island. No doubt the IMF intervention in our affairs, at our behest, has been inevitable. Yet, 52 years post-Independence, I can't help feeling let down that we monitor with such alacrity an agenda imposed on us, and we are here because of how we have (mis)managed our own affairs.<br /> <br /> But monitoring our performance against an IMF agenda does not mean that we should discard Vision 2030. I would like to hear from the present Administration if Vision 2030 informs our sectoral strategies. I would like to hear from the PIOJ how we have been tracking in terms of the Vision 2030 goals since 2011.<br /> <br /> Kelly McIntosh<br /> <br /> kkmac218@gmail.com<br /> <br /> What has become of Vision 2030?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11059931/vision2030_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, September 19, 2014 2:00 AM Alternative boots on the ground http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Alternative-boots-on-the-ground_17570980 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Please consider the following recommendation for President Obama:<br /> <br /> The repetitive mantra "No American boots on the ground" rings loudly each time defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria is discussed in Washington.<br /> <br /> It is appreciated that US citizens are war weary and reluctant to become again involved in another military campaign in the Middle East. "No American boots on the ground" could be replaced by "alternative boots on the ground" to assist with the war effort if the US Government would agree.<br /> <br /> President Obama could engage The Royal Regiment of Gurkhas to assist in defeating ISIS, which history tells us they are capable of doing effectively. With unemployment at a high level in Nepal, the opportunity of such an engagement would likely be welcomed in the circumstances.<br /> <br /> The Royal Regiment of Gurkhas are among the finest fighters in the world and have fought alongside the British Army in Burma during WWII, again when engaged by the Commonwealth of Nations during the Malayan campaign, and more recently again with the British Army in the Falkland Islands. It was reported they had excelled in all theatres.<br /> <br /> New enemies require new strategies, and the Gurkha soldiers, by all accounts, are far superior to ISIS. With American weaponry and air support, they could be of great assistance in getting the job done effectively, without the need for American boots on the ground.<br /> <br /> Anthony Gomes<br /> <br /> gomesa@flowja.com <br /> <br /> Alternative boots on the ground<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11012996/OBAMA-BARACK_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, September 19, 2014 2:00 AM A crisis of conscience http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/A-crisis-of-conscience_17570950 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Throughout the current global crisis, a great dishonesty has been at work. The issue has not been bank solvency, budget deficits, social welfare, or inceasing competition, through more privatisation in the West.<br /> <br /> The issue has been, and remains, the glaring disparity between living standards in the West and the poor countries of this planet, primarily in Africa, Asia, and the West Indies. For example, the Haiti earthquake exposed a multitude of Western sins: a country a little over an hour's flying time from the US, with an average living standard way below it.<br /> <br /> The case of Zimbabwe speaks volumes: rich in natural resources and farmland, while its gross national income per capita is a truly shocking $820 a year. The equivalent figure for its former colonial boss, the UK, is, at least, 40 times that. It is simply unacceptable. In fact that kind of disparity is a cancer eating away at global well-being and security.<br /> <br /> Instead of owning up and putting serious corrective measures in place, the West is planning air strikes against an Iraq that has already suffered enormously. The fact is, radical Islam is defending the oppressed poor of this planet, for the notion of social justice is central to that faith; one which was a witness to the virtual rape of Africa in former times.<br /> <br /> The West is experiencing a moral crisis, one that has seriously shaken confidence and threatens war. It must locate its conscience at least and take responsibility for the 70 years since the end of World War II and before. The idealistic vision of persons such as Jack Kennedy, Willy Brandt, Fidel Castro, Indira Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, Helmut Kohl, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Nelson Mandela has been betrayed, and billions who suffer hardship and deprivation have been let down.<br /> <br /> Cadhla Ni Frithile<br /> <br /> Wexford,<br /> <br /> Ireland<br /> <br /> A crisis of conscience<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10451469/mugabe_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, September 19, 2014 2:00 AM CAL being beaten by the laggards http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/CAL-being-beaten-by-the-laggards_17571205 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> There was a time in Jamaica's history when our image in aviation was one to envy. We always took great pride in seeing the colourful Air Jamaica aircraft at an airport. I also made it a deliberate choice to fly with Air Jamaica.<br /> <br /> The decline and demise of the airline is well-documented. It was sad to see it go. What is even more painful is to watch its successor Caribbean Airlines (CAL) struggle to establish a position of dominance in the Jamaican market. A recent report in the Jamaica Observer notes that American, US Airways, Delta, and JetBlue had greater load factors on major US-Jamaica routes than CAL. They are also experiencing declines out of Trinidad as well. This is a gut-wrenching thing to read, although not at all surprising.<br /> <br /> None of the four airlines kicking CAL's butt are considered preferred carriers in the US. While they have varying market shares, they are not the leaders in the US market in terms of customer perception and profitability. However, they walk into Jamaica and unseat the incumbent. Why?<br /> <br /> I'll provide two reasons. First, CAL does not place employees "first". Second, CAL does not appeal to what's important to many travellers. The success of low-cost carriers SouthWest and WestJet are well-documented. Both airlines have challenged the status quo profitably, even in times of recession. Both airlines built their success on being truly focused on their employees and their customers. Both companies had leadership that understood and acknowledged that having engaged employees was a critical part of their business success equation. WestJet developed an "ownership" mantra that enlisted employees at all levels to have a deep emotional investment in the airline. Additionally, they built a business model that appealed to the travelling public because they knew the airlines cared about their customers. To that extent, they were able to build a loyal following that was not easily manipulated by the promotions and offers of other carriers. I will wager that CAL does not have these factors working within the airline.<br /> <br /> Clearly CAL does not have that degree of loyalty in its customer base, hence the steady decline. It is likely the leadership spends time focused on business analytics, traditional marketing, and other stuff which are not likely to solve the problems. I would recommend a major strategy-change based on a model developed by Patrick Lencioni. The core strategies would be geared at becoming an organisation with truly engaged employees and one that delivers an outstanding customer experience. Lencioni wrote a book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, in which he outlined the issues that really kill most organisations. Conversely, it also gives a good sense of what makes others truly successful. If CAL is to recover and be an accepted ambassador of the Caribbean &mdash; a great reason to exist -- there is a lot of work to be done. Getting one's butt whipped by organisations that are not superstars in their own backyard is by no means something to be taken lightly. It should also serve as motivation for all at CAL to build a platform to recover ground and restore some of the glory of the good old days of the Lovebird. If four average airlines can justify operating in the Jamaican marketplace, it could represent opportunities that CAL is missing. Fighting on price and schedule is not likely to change the current trend, neither will asking the taxpayers for subsidies of $1.4b over two years. The answer rests in the extent to which the culture and core strategies are going to change.<br /> <br /> Donnovan Simon<br /> <br /> donnovans@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> CAL beng beaten by the laggards<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/7448934/cal-up_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, September 19, 2014 2:00 AM 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