MONTEGO BAY, St James — Opposition Leader Mark Golding Tuesday blasted the Government for the current crime wave being experienced across the island, and accused the Administration of mismanaging the national security of the country.
At the same time, Golding called for resignation of Security Minister Horace Chang, saying his tenure has been an abject failure, leaving Jamaicans feeling frightened, hopeless and in despair.
Meanwhile, he issued a 60-day ultimatum to Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson, whom he said should be replaced at the end of the period if he is unable to deliver a strategic crime-fighting approach that does not involve “abrogating our fundamental rights and freedoms”.
Golding, president of the People's National Party (PNP), was speaking at virtual press conference Tuesday morning.
“... Jamaica has witnessed a 10 per cent increase in murders in 2021, and a 19 per cent increase in murders over the first three or so weeks of 2022 with 112 people being killed in just 23 days,” Golding said.
“Jamaica cannot go on like this. There must be accountability for such poor performance in the critical area of national security,” he said.
Golding also charged that the current approach to crime fighting in Jamaica has caused more harm than good, as it lacks the social investment programmes which are needed to tackle the problem from the ground up.
“More fundamentally, the Government's approach to national security is unbalanced and has led Jamaica to becoming an increasingly violent and dangerous place. Generally speaking, Jamaica needs to tackle the deep inequalities in our society by investing and repairing the most egregious manifestations of that inequality if we are to achieve sustained improvements in our national security situation,” the Opposition leader said.
“There is no other way forward [and] the Government's approach to national security completely ignores this reality. Crime prevention programmes... like the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) and Unite for Change have been defunded or abandoned all together with no effective replacement,” Golding argued.
He continued: “Community action to prevent disputes from escalating into a series of reprisals must be a critical part of violence reduction strategies in Jamaica, but this has been ignored by the government.”
With the topic of a crime plan a sore point for the leaders of the country, Golding suggested that emphasis be placed on implementing additional social programmes and educational resources as a method.
“Jamaica needs a national, well-funded, well-designed holistic programme to give the hundreds of thousands of youths who have been failed by our school system a chance to become productive citizens through mentoring, skills training and life coaching. The education system, which is in crisis and is failing a substantial percentage of the children who go through it, needs transformation especially at the early childhood and primary levels so that all Jamaican children who move into secondary school can already read, write and do basic arithmetic proficiently,” said Golding.
“There is no reason why our children should not be able to achieve that. They are bright, talented and capable, but the system is failing far too many of them,” he added.
Additionally, Golding said, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) should benefit from additional resources to help in their overall management of crime across the island, noting that while Government has acquired resources for the Jamaica Defence Force, the JCF has been left “deprived of critical resources”.
“The additional resources that have become available to the Government because of the success of Jamaica's fiscal reforms over the last eight or so years have been skewed heavily towards providing ships, aircraft and other expensive capital equipment to the military. As needed as those things are, the police force, which has primary responsibility for law enforcement and fighting crime in our violence-torn society, has been deprived of critical resources to improve their operating capacity and effectiveness,” the Opposition leader noted.