Sunday Brew — February 28, 2021Sunday, February 28, 2021
with HG HELPS
When did Jamaica come to this?
THERE are some among us who dismiss as 'colonialist' or 'imperialist', the information put out by the respectable and reputable publication, The New York Times, which, in its edition of February 22, described Jamaica as having the second-worst outbreak of coronavirus in the world.
But such an influential organisation would not make that information public without having the facts, and for a country like Jamaica that depends so much on tourism, the news is not good. How did Jamaica come to this, or when?
We were hearing all along that the island's coronavirus matters were being well handled, only for The New York Times to knock that position out of the park.
It is simple. Jamaica has been playing around with the management of the coronavirus pandemic for too long, and now reality has hit home. We often seem to believe that mounting a so-called strong public relations strategy, campaign or scheme can deflect from the realities of life.
To be running second to Iraq, as The New York Times has said, is not the kind of silver medal position you would want in this ongoing relay. The first thing that people who live overseas and would want to visit Jamaica for a vacation would say, is 'why should I go there,'? and 'Suppose I even go there and get sick, knowing that hospitals are full, how will I be taken care of''? That's not good for a country that has one of the finest tourism products globally, nor is it good for its inhabitants who will now retreat into the zone of fear.
Obviously, there have been policy, and operational slips which have brought this additional stress upon the nation. How could Jamaica have allowed the rate of infection to rise by 210 per cent in less than one month? Was it due to Jamaica's insufficient testing, or not having the requisite labs in place to get quick results?
According to the paper, Jamaica is running at close to 750 cases per 100,000 people, and an average daily rate of new infections of 339. These numbers may well be higher, as I know people who have had the virus, but that information has not been captured in the national data.
This scenario is like being involved in a football match whereby you have the opponent down 6-0 at halftime, only for you to end up trailing 6-8 with five minutes left in the second half.
The spin doctors can run off their mouths all they want. Jamaica has done a terrible job of managing the pandemic in its part of the global turf.
There is a real fear that if personnel changes are not effected soon, vaccines arriving or not, cases will continue to mount, the death toll will rise, and Jamaica's name will make headlines of other major media organisations around the world.
It's key to the city, not keys
Every so often you hear officials of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, and the St James Municipal Corporation, usually the mayor, talk about honouring someone by giving him the “keys to the city”, which, I suppose, remains the organisations' highest honour.
During the service of thanksgiving for the life of outstanding footballer Luton Shelton last week, Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams said the same thing — that the corporation would be awarding Shelton, posthumously, the “keys to the city”. Now, as far as I know, the two cities each offer a symbolic 'key', which means that the recipient is allowed the freedom to visit and leave the city as he wishes, and not to try and open every door he sees, as someone asked me a few years ago.
It is one key, not keys, and the officials of these organisations should know that. And you can't miss that key either — it's a humungous object that resembles something that Columbus took with him on his second voyage to the region.
Pollard should lead Test team too, not Brathwaite
IT all seems like the silly season of West Indies cricket started with the two Test tour of Bangladesh recently, which we know by now the Caribbean team won 2-0.
The team, led by Kraigg Brathwaite, a Barbadian underachieving opening batsman and occasional slow bowler, did what many never expected — beating Bangladesh in the Asian country's backyard in Tests, although losing the limited overs series.
The calls have been coming from near and far, with former Trinidad & Tobago fast bowler, now commentator, Ian Bishop, stopping fractionally short of declaring Brathwaite Barbados' latest national hero; and other West Indies greats, Sir Clive Lloyd and High Commissioner Deryck Murray, poking the sides of the selectors that he should be retained as captain over countryman Jason Holder for the home series against Sri Lanka. All of that came after two Test matches against one of the lowest rated teams in the world.
While the performance of the West Indies was delightful, what they all seem to forget, is that had it not been for good fortune the result of both matches could have gone the other way. Even in the second Test, with Bangladesh's lower order going after 30-odd runs for victory, and the West Indies with one wicket to get, Brathwaite, quite foolishly, brought himself on as things got icy, went around the wicket to the right-hander, and bowled his first two balls wide of the legstump — both eluding the wicketkeeper and going for boundaries. Not only did he look silly doing so, but he proceeded to 'cuss' the wicketkeeper for allowing both balls to go for fours, when the 'keeper had no chance. The logical thing would have been to expose the tail to the fast bowlers, one of whom left the field in frustration towards the end. Happily, Jomel Warrican got the ball and sealed victory with the final wicket.
Now to the question of who should be captain. Holder is not the best person, but he is better than Brathwaite as a tactician. However, the region's best cricket brain is the man who now leads the Twenty/20 and One-Day team — Kieron Pollard. He has never played Test cricket, which is so unfortunate, as apart from him leading the side, he could be the perfect fit to bat at number six — a position that is held now by Jamaican Jermaine Blackwood.
Blackwood must be admired for his production against England and New Zealand in recent series. But he is too unstable… too much in rush of blood mode to bat at six. Pollard is the man to occupy that slot— one that is regarded as the stabilising position when early wickets fall — and maybe even Blackwood can take on number five. Pollard is the best onthe- field leader. Cricket West Indies should negotiate with him to run things in Tests.
In the meantime, the West Indies should take time to review Brathwaite's overall performance before trying to put him to do a job that he will flop at, especially when he goes up against the established names of international cricket.
Politics bun and cheese time soon come
IN a few weeks we can say, 'it's that time of year again', when politicians make their lists in respect of bun (and possibly cheese) deliveries.
Easter is sweet from that perspective. For certain individuals involved in politics though, things get even sweeter, as they can document how many buns they give, and use the numbers as campaign items.
The undisputed champion last year was attorney general and Member of Parliament for St James West Central Marlene Malahoo Forte, whose 2,600 packages of bun and cheese (200 added to the initial figure of 2,400 after a magisterial recount) left Patrick Roberts' 'nuff' hundreds way short of the mark for claiming the top prize.
From early indications, Malahoo Forte will be in the reckoning this year again to land the winner's trophy, judging from soundings exiting her Freeport, Montego Bay offices; but Roberts should not be ruled out as he is still People's National Party caretaker for the St Andrew West Central 'consikency', and could be a losing candidate for the sixth-straight time come next election, which would be another record. Talk too, that Roberts is under pressure to retain his Molynes Division seat in the Kingston & St Andrew Municipal Corporation could also see National, Maxfield, Whitfield, Purity, Honey Bun and other baking companies having to push up their orders, and cause Malahoo Forte's camp to fret.
It would be good to hear from some of the veterans of politics, like Babsy Grange, Ed Bartlett, Mike Henry, Fitz Jackson, Dr Morais Guy; and younger ones, including Mark Golding, Dr Norman Dunn, Julian Robinson, Dr Chris Tufton (sugar content would have to be checked in his case), Juliet Holness, and Hugh Graham to see if they are going to join the bun race this year.
Giving bun is not always bad… it's just that it leaves a sour taste in the mouth when the act has to be used as a tool to campaign by being listed among the 'achievements' of a term.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login