If only Holness, Golding would leadTuesday, November 30, 2021
On Thursday evening last I watched the last 15 minutes of the Senate debate regarding the resolution to extend the period of the current states of emergency (SOEs).
I stayed up for a while after the vote was taken and then retired to bed. I dreamt that night that early Friday morning Prime Minister Andrew Holness called Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding and invited him to Vale Royal to have a full and frank discussion on the crime situation with a view to finding a set of agreed positions on the way forward. He asked Golding to have Peter Bunting, his spokesman on national security, accompany him, and advised that Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang will be with him.
I said to myself, “We will either have a meeting of the 'fantastic four' or a meeting of the 'four horsemen'.” Time will tell.
I hoped that they would leave their egos with the police security at the gate to Vale Royal and proceed to the meeting allowing no one else to be present, save for, maybe, a few interruptions from J Wray and all the little nephews.
After calling Golding, the prime minister summoned his security chiefs to a meeting at Jamaica House. He instructed them that they are to jointly prepare a comprehensive set of strategies and operational initiatives to support each strategy. The plan is to be designed to reduce the current murder rate and restore public confidence. He further told them that they should be prepared to attend at Cabinet on Monday to present and discuss their plan.
I thought that this directive was eminently sensible. Our security chiefs are two generals who are well educated, well-trained, well-experienced, and well-grounded in the art of critical thinking and strategic leadership. I have every confidence that, working with their staff, they can produce and execute a plan that will get the job done, without resorting to the ultimate tool in the law enforcement toolbox — the SOE — the sharp end of which has already been blunted.
I woke up to realise that it was only a dream and the great euphoria and expectations I felt in the dream quickly dissipated.
I cannot think of another moment in my lifetime in which leaders, big men and big women at all levels, need to lead — and not be led by popular opinion — by what is just, upright, and correct. Can they answer the clarion call?
Incidentally, President of the Senate Tom Tavares-Finson, in his passionate plea for the removal of a safeguard in our constitutional arrangements, referred to the “illegal and corrupt” 1976 State of Emergency. My recollection of the finding of Chief Justice Kenneth Smith is that the state of emergency was “illegal but not corrupt”.
Given the manner of the execution of the recent states of emergency, and the purposes for declaring them, we may very well elicit a similar finding if a proper tribunal were to pronounce on them.
I am not a lawyer, so spare me your poisonous barbs. I am just a simple sailor who loves his country and want us to do right by her.
Former Commissioner of Police
Former Chief of Staff, Jamaica Defence Force