Sunday Brew – April 4

‘Foot-in-mouth’ disease affecting crime

Those famous words of Prime Minister Andrew Holness on the eve of the 2016 General Election still linger. In effect, the prime minister said that if people elected the Jamaica Labour Party they could sleep with their windows and doors open, for his Administration had the answers to solving crime.

Maybe the answers are there, but the Administration is taking too long to give them, long after the questions have been asked. So what we are all suffering from in Jamaica now is an ongoing case of ‘foot-in-mouth’ disease (as distinct from foot-and-mouth), and there is no vaccine ready to administer to Jamaica’s most serious problem since its creation.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force has admitted that murders have been on the rise, but other crimes, like rape, for example, have dropped. Wow! What a consolation.

The reason we are not seeing a rise in some cases, though, is that many of the victims are not reporting them – they think that it doesn’t make sense to do so. I have spoken to women who have been raped and they flatly refuse to go to the police for two primary reasons: (1) Nothing will be done to catch the offenders, and even if someone is caught, the hellish cross-examination that they would have to face from defence attorneys would be too much; (2) They cannot stand the potential humiliation, and those who did not know about the incident, would be let in on the secret.

Of course, I always encourage women to report acts of rape and other sexual offences, but you just can’t force them. Rape, to me, is the most heinous crime and should, in some ways, be treated more seriously when sentence is to be handed down than even some cases of murder.

But what of crime in general in Jamaica?

In an age of technological advancement, things are getting worse. The criminals can be detected easier, but law enforcers can be put under surveillance by crooks too. In the same way that some women and other advocates are pushing for women to carry pepper spray and defend themselves from men in particular, those men, if carrying pepper spray becomes law, will likely be allowed to have the object too and will be able to use it as a tool against women.

Jamaica’s political Administration is not serious about reducing crime. The only weapons of attack are states of emergency, and zones of special operations, while there exists a glorified commissioner of police whose salary is the most cherished state secret that ever existed.

The prime minister’s salary is known, the salaries of ministers are also known, the salaries of the governor general, president of the Court of Appeal, chief justice and other senior officials…all available to the public. So why is there this level of secrecy as it relates to the commissioner of police, at a time when we see no reduction in this country’s most serious problem, which he is being paid to take us out of? It’s a vulgar situation, and the Police Service Commission should hang its collective head in shame.

We know that deputy commissioners earn in the region of $6.5 million a year, and the commissioner, before the end of his last contract, was earning around $10 million, basic, which is far more than the minister of national security’s salary. Has the commissioner’s salary been doubled, as speculators have it? The continued secrecy will only give rise to unlimited rumours.

In the meantime, the country bleeds, while excuses continue to be made for a sorry lot of people in and out of uniform.

Lockdown could do more harm than good

Last weekend, the country was treated to a lockdown that left many questions unanswered. Now, Jamaicans are into the second weekend of that so-called lockdown, but there is no evidence, or indication, that such action on three consecutive weekends will do this country any good.

Look at last week. By the time Prime Minister Holness announced that unauthorised people would be directed to stay off the streets from Saturday through Monday morning, people began to behave like headless chickens.

The mad rush for consumer items that engulfed sections of Jamaica might have done more harm than good and defeated the purpose of the lockdown.

The long queues that I saw at PriceSmart, Lee’s Supermarket, Brooklyn Supermarket in the Corporate Area, and others, based on reports, in Montego Bay and towns all over, were not things that a nation wanted to see at the height of a pandemic.

In fact, the increased number of people packing these places, many not wearing masks, rubbing against each other, could have placed people at greater risk than if things were operating at a ‘normal’ pulse.

It is those same people who were rubbing up on each other and not maintaining the protocol, when it comes to wearing masks, who would go home and expose their families to some of the filth that they came in contact with.

My visit to Coronation Market in West Kingston last Saturday was unlike other days. Although many of the vendors did not turn up, shoppers did, and everyone seemed to be in competition to get the deals, many ignoring the wearing of masks, and everybody bunched up like grapes on a vine.

The question of whether the weekend lockdowns have worked will be answered within days or weeks when we get to examine the COVID-19 numbers. But viewing things from the hillside, I doubt that there will be any improvement caused by a shutdown.

Enforcement of the regulations, like locking up people who walk in public without masks, is one sure way of reducing the spread…not locking away people on weekends as if they are in prison for committing some kind of unknown crime.

It is sad, certainly at a time when people you admire continue to die, among them lawyer Bill McCalla and businessman John Murdoch.

Skerritt deserves to continue

Not everything was right with the administration of Cricket West Indies over the last two years, but there were good things emerging following the demise of the administration led by Jamaican Whycliffe Cameron.

Lately, the cricket results have been encouraging, though not spectacular, and as far as the books are concerned, any administration which can trim an acquired debt of over US$30 million to US$20 million in two years must have done some things right.

Last Sunday’s postponement of the annual general meeting because of lack of a quorum was not a good day for West Indies cricket. As it turned out, the representatives of Guyana and Barbados failed to show. That’s unfortunate because those two nations are perhaps tops when it comes to providing the region with its fine talent since 1925 when the West Indies first played Test cricket.

Barbados is the undisputed supplier of the best performers, and the talent put out by Guyana cannot be questioned. That’s why the people who represented those cricket boards should hang their heads in shame.

Guyana’s main man at the time, Anand Sanasie, the secretary, was set to have challenged incumbent Ricky Skerritt for president of Cricket West Indies. He did not show, and made it harder for himself to even dream of heading the regional organisation. It’s good to know that he has withdrawn as a candidate.

Sanasie’s running mate, Calvin Hope of Barbados, also blew his chance of serving in the number two position.

I saw Hope shooting off his mouth in a television interview last week, and my message to him is to chill, drive up to St Lucy and treat himself to a good plate of barbeque pig’s tail, wash it down with two Banks beers, and just walk away from West Indies cricket.

At least some progress has been made by Skerritt and his team to clean up the mess left behind by Cameron and his fellows. Now is not the time to change for worse.

Football must be saved

More people are joining the chorus that Jamaica’s football is in shambles and there must be administrative changes if this nation is to make any global progress.

The only ones, unfortunately, who do not see that are the football leaders themselves.

Women’s football ambassador Cedella Marley, player Kemar “Taxi” Lawrence, and former star Hector Wright are the latest to tell the JFF officials that they are doing pure foolishness and only killing the game.

Maybe more voices will be heard saying in coming weeks that the time has come for people like Michael Ricketts, Raymond Anderson, Bruce Gaynor, Elaine Walker Brown, Danny Beckford, Dalton Wint and others to make way for visionaries like Chris Williams, Kimani Robinson, Chris Dehring and Gary Peart.

The embarrassing 1-4 loss to the United States in Austria over a week ago will only demoralise those who mean football well and further choke the national programme. Truth is, Jamaica could have fielded a much stronger team, but because of the ongoing dispute between players and administrators, a lesser team was used.

Football administrators must realise that it is not they who people want to see on a pitch. Right now, there is an effort to show up the players as money mercenaries who want to stick up the JFF for elaborate notes. That’s not the case. The players are willing to make financial sacrifices, though the JFF does not know how to attract sponsorship, for few serious people trust the organisation and raising money is proving to be one hell of task.

That can change with new faces in the management of the sport.

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