Overcoming 'chaka-chaka'
Otani Shogo coaching students in baseball at Half-Way-Tree Primary School.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness's engaging national budget presentation last Thursday was peppered with his promise of "no more chaka-chaka" approach to development.

We appreciate his passionate calls against the terrorism of gangs and his compassionate move of granting a sizeable discount for the licensing of public passenger transportation vehicles. We applaud his approach to Jamaica's crying need for reliable water supply.

We celebrated the news that no fees will be charged for courses at HEART/NSTA Trust up to associate degree level. However, just a week before, we were told by a representative of the Vocational Training & Development Institute (VDTI) that they could not locate students who could take up scholarships in a well-needed field which were being offered by a donor. They explained that, since the novel coronavirus pandemic, enrolment had been low.

We cannot leave it up to the Government alone to recruit the thousands of people who can benefit from the free education; churches, unions, social clubs, and nongovernmental organisations (NGO) should now become active in the enrolment drive.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness delivers his presentation in the 2023/24 Budget Debate in Parliament on Thursday. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Even as he spoke, a well-travelled road in St Andrew was breaking and sinking just a few weeks after that section of the road had been closed for connecting the line from a newly completed development to the sewer main. One day later, Local Governmentt Minister Desmond McKenzie had to be warning water truck drivers not to extract money from citizens because the water is being delivered free of charge.

This chaka-chaka approach has been a boon to the corrupt and lawless. We waver when our call for good order is countered with the threat that "man haffi eat a food".

Imagine, extortionists targeted the officials at New Hope Preparatory School in downtown Kingston when they embarked on an expansion project. Treasurer Lerick Gordon and Education Committee member Nicola Hickman shared the efforts and ardent prayers they sent up for protection from evildoers and could last week celebrate the opening of the new wing of the school.

We have 63 Members of Parliament (MPs) and over 200 parish councillors. Why must a God-fearing school be left on their own to confront these extortionists?

Jamaica Observer reporter Romardo Lyons related the distressing story of elderly residents of a nursing home in Portmore, St Catherine, who were put out on the sidewalk by bailiffs earlier this month. To date he has been unsuccessful in reaching the authorities for a comment.

To overcome chaka-chaka we need everyone on board to ensure that good governance will prevail in all areas of national life. The technology exists to monitor and measure.

As we learn with horror of the death of a schoolgirl caused by bullying, let us get more social workers on the ground to assist frustrated parents who are trying to do the best for their children.

I did not doubt the sincerity of the prime minister as he announced measures to assist grass roots Jamaicans. Now the challenge is for him to ensure that no one plays favourites to the detriment of our Vision 2030 for Jamaica.

Shogo's baseball legacy

When Otani Shogo arrived in Jamaica, three years ago, to serve as senior vice-president of Marubeni's Caribbean Operations, he was surprised to see that his favourite sport — baseball — was not being played widely in Jamaica. He reached out to three primary schools — Dunrobin, Half-Way-Tree and Jessie Ripoll — and the student response to his coaching was enthusiastic.

Now that he will be leaving Jamaica, he has ensured that the young teams have a good understanding of the game and hopes that interest will spread throughout Jamaica.

Shogo and his family will journey to their traditional homestead in western Japan, where they will join his parents business in agriculture. We wish them Godspeed and best wishes in this well-needed endeavour.

Farewell friends

Having shared a beautiful morning last December at Alpha with a happy Carlene Francis, our Alpha and Sisters of Mercy families were shocked and saddened to hear that she passed shortly after being diagnosed earlier this year.

Francis was devoted to her family, and was a Convent of Mercy Academy 'Alpha' alumna who taught at her alma mater for several years. Marcia Tai Chun, CEO, Sisters of Mercy of Jamaica, describes her as "a phenomenal individual who made significant impact in all the spheres that she worked in at Mercy Institutions. She sat on a number of our school boards and served on the Alpha Primary board for 35 years, the last 10 years in the capacity of board chair".

Tai Chun described her endless energy and her care for the most vulnerable, noting: "She has nurtured a legacy of dedication and service to Catholic education in Jamaica. She was a professional and insisted on high standards of accountability in any capacity she served in."

Because of her extensive knowledge of Jamaica's Education Regulations, Carlene was a go-to person for the leadership in both the Mercy Schools and those run by the Franciscan Missionary (Blue) Sisters.

"She did not live to see her dream of a new Alpha Primary School come to pass, but I know she was comforted by the fact that she helped to design the new school, the plans for which should shortly be submitted for approval," said Tai Chun. "She requested that we include a chapel, and she was able to sign off on the design for us. The loss is palpable, and she will be greatly missed." We look forward to memorialising Carlene Francis in this new building.

We extend condolence to her family and colleagues. May her soul rest in peace.

Everard "Junior" Cox has left a lasting legacy of love, compassion and devotion to his nuclear and extended family, and wide circle of friends and associates. A natural leader, Cox excelled in all the sports he played and was the captain of the first teams in track and field, hockey and football during his high school years at Wolmer's Boys' School.

His leadership skills carried over to his working career and service to the Wolmer's Old Boys' Association.

His working life was spent mainly in the airline and shipping industries, ultimately being promoted to general manager becoming at the time, and at the age of 32 years, the youngest manager in the GraceKennedy Group, playing other roles at the company before retirement. After some years he served for a while as manager at Sunlight Windows and Doors.

His sister, Eleanor Cox Jones, shared that: "Junior's quicksilver speed in listening and responding to conversations was much like his sprinting on the track. He had a razor-sharp mind and often his response would leave you speechless. His wide-ranging knowledge and power of recall led to his being named "Mr Google" by friends and associates. Junior had personal challenges, and with his strong will and the grace of God he conquered them."

Our condolence to his wife Barbara of 51 years and family.

To honour his memory, the family has established the Everard E Cox Jr Memorial Scholarship Fund to recognise an outstanding multi-sport student athlete who is committed to excellence, a leader in the field of play, in the school community and amongst his peers.



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