Now that I think about it, I never really knew him. I never really knew the pain and anxiety; the resentment and fear, I never really knew who he was. In fact, those closest to him will tell you that they themselves did not know him. You see, he was many things; smart, caring, fun loving, feisty, emotional, arrogant but most of all he was afraid. Yes, he yearned to be at peace with himself, he yearned to bridge the two worlds which existed within him. Unfortunately, there was very little he could do; he was, after all, my father’s son… PAIN… His life began in the early hours of an unknown day, of an unknown month some 22 years ago, in an unremarkable room at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. A young woman has just given birth to a baby boy… HOPE… There are no family members present except the woman’s mother… LOVE… Weighing in at 7lbs 8 ounces with dark hair and brown eyes, the child is at best average. The attending nurse will recall, though she does not know why, that the on the first occasion the child is slapped he makes no sound, he simply stares at the occupants of the no doubt strange environment… LIFE… When last I heard, he’d grown up and become quite the man. Proving them all wrong, one by one. And though he lives, I still do not know him. And though he is, I still do not see him. I long to sit with him, to know who he is. If you ever see him, tell him I’d like to meet him… but wait, do you even know my father’s son?
The sudden resignations of BOJ Governor Derrick Latibeaudiere and Police Commissioner Harley Lewin have caused alarm in sectors of the society, with questions abounding about the stability of the two year old Bruce Golding administration. Added, the constant rumors about the mounting tensions between the two senior officials and the government have not made the situation any better. Bruce Golding is expected to make a statement to parliament regarding the sudden exit of the two senior officials; but even as the country awaits the Prime Minister’s presentation, I am tempted to posit that the government does indeed appear unstable. Within the last two years, the cabinet has been reshuffled twice; the country has had three national security ministers, the boards of the UDC, the PSC, Air Jamaica, the Governor of the BOJ, two police commissioners have all resigned or been fired. To add insult to injury, the country’s credit rating has been downgraded by Standard and Poors in light of the Governor’s resignation. This kind of governance is faulty and reflects poorly on the stewardship of the Prime Minister. It would appear that the Golding government is unable to form cohesive relations with the individuals who are in government employ; the Prime Minister must come clean with the citizens of this country and provide a fulsome report to parliament on what is happening in the country he leads. The Information Minister is quoted on TVJ News as saying that the seeming disagreement between the Governor and the Finance Ministry is no reason for alarm as it is a contractual matter, but that is not enough. The country should have been briefed immediately on what prompted the resignation of the man who has led the central bank for the past 13 years. It would appear that the Prime Minister is only prompted to speak out at this junction because “it look bad”. The deafening silence of the Justice Minister on the extradition request has now resulted in international criticism being leveled at the government. The US government had requested the extradition of Tivoli strong man Dudus but the Jamaican government is seemingly incapable of honouring their commitment under the treaty. The Prime Minister must show that the government he leads is transparent, he must instruct the Justice Minister to explain to this nation why it is taking so long to respond to the US. She must tell us what are the ‘legal issues’ that must be sorted through before the extradition can happen. The time to act is now Mr. Golding! Your government loses credibility as the days go by. All these factors only point in one direction, the government is unstable and cannot effectively govern this country. I therefore call on the Leader of the Opposition to move a motion of no confidence in the Golding administration, as it is evident that the government has lost the credibility and the right to govern. We all wait with bated breath as this country careens out of control.
“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. And whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new Government, laying it’s foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such a form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness…”
- U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776.
These are the words which came to mind as I listened, with mounting horror, as the Finance Minister released his government’s third onslaught of taxes on the Jamaican people in less than a year. I was even further distressed when it became obvious that the Minister had opted to apply the General Consumption Tax to items which were previously exempt out of deference for the poorest among us; the Prime Minister was unrepentant as he, too, rose in the House of Representatives to defend the cruel tax burden. The government seems to have lost its touch with the Jamaican people, they seem to either not care, or are so consumed with government power that they have forgotten that they have a responsibility to protect the people of this country, whether from an economic crisis or from criminal elements, jobs they have proven to be woefully ineffective at doing.
Reports have now surfaced that the Opposition may be considering national demonstrations to show their outrage at what the Opposition Spokesman on Finance terms ‘a stupid and ill advised’ decision, and I say right on. We the People have to send Mr. Golding and his cabinet a clear and forceful signal that we expect, no, we demand responsible governance. These unjust measures are not unlike those imposed on the original thirteen colonies of the United States by the then King George of Great Britain, which led the people to rise up and revolt against the cruel and unjust rule. Mr. Golding and his government must be careful that they do not aggravate the already irate people of this country further, as the consequences may be severe and far reaching. I am yet to hear a response from the government on the recommendation that they gap in the budget may be filled by taxing government paper. I am curious to know why the government opted to tax the poor and most vulnerable and rejected a proposal that would have more equitably spread the burden among the population. I am pleading with this government to be compassionate towards the plight of the people of this country, we cannot, and should not be expected to bear such a burden, not at this point, not now. Think Mr. Golding, think.
“…prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
- U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776.
The recent report in the Associated Press regarding the Golding Administration’s tardiness in handling the request made by the US Department of Justice for the extradition of an alleged Tivoli strongman; has cast serious doubts on the commitment of the Government to honour obligations under international law.
Despite constant appeals from the Opposition People’s National Party for action, the administration has opted to remain deafeningly silent on the issue. Attorney General Senator Dorothy Lightbourne has stated that there are delicate legal issues which have to be cleared up before any action is taken on the issue but the Obama Administration has rubbished these claims. While the Golding Government plays hide and seek, the United States is reported to have stated that “While cooperation between (the) Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and United States Government law-enforcement agencies remained strong, delays in proceeding with the significant extradition request for a major alleged narcotics and firearms trafficker who is reported to have ties to the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and subsequent delays in other extradition requests, have called into question Kingston’s commitment to law-enforcement cooperation with the US”. The Daily Gleaner has reported that the so called Information Minister declined to comment when contacted; an art that this joke of an Information Minister has seemingly mastered.
While this Government remains silent, the country’s reputation is being dragged through the mud and disgraced in international spheres. The report from Washington repeatedly makes the point that the extradition request calls for a crime lord with ties to the ruling Labour party. According to the report “The GOJ’s unusual handling of the August request for the extradition of a high-profile Jamaican crime lord with reported ties to the ruling JLP which currently holds a majority in Parliament, on alleged drug and firearms trafficking charges marked a dramatic change in GOJ’s previous cooperation on extradition, including a temporary suspension in the processing of all other pending requests and raises serious questions about the GOJ’s commitment to combating transnational crime. “The high-profile suspect resides in and essentially controls the Kingston neighbourhood known as Tivoli Gardens, a key constituency for the JLP”
This can in no way help the country’s ranking on current corruption indexes worldwide. Adding insult to injury is the fact that other extradition requests have been handled with as a matter of urgency but this one is mysteriously taking a long time. We are not idiots Mr. Golding and I wish you wouldn’t treat the people of this country with such utter and complete contempt. I once again reiterate my call for the Opposition Leader to move a motion of no confidence against Mr. Golding and his administration. He has lost credibility nationally, Jamaica is little more than a footnote regionally and we have now almost certainly lost credibility internationally. Shame Mr. Golding! SHAME!
The recent allegations of child abuse against clergy within the Roman Catholic Church has alarmed many individuals the world over. Many persons view the abuse as a betrayal, of the worst kind, by men and women who were entrusted with the innocence of children and no doubt; some of these individuals will never quite be the same having endured years of abuse. Many persons are now seeking someone to blame for not having protected them from the horrors which they endured and understandably so. However, I view with disgust the current campaign which is being waged against Pope Benedict XVI. I want it understood that I in no way support or endorse the heinous crimes perpetuated against these children, but there comes a point where we must not allow the sensationalization of the media and the weight of public opinion to cloud our rationale minds. Lawyers in the United States and Europe are now initiating legal proceedings against the Vatican, naming the Pontiff as defendant for ‘negligence and crimes against humanity’; this is according to the Catholic News Service of America. Some of these lawyers, in the U.K., are now seeking to ascertain whether the Pope can be arrested when he visits the United Kingdom this September, while the Vatican is pleading that the Pope is diplomatically immune from any such attempt at prosecution by virtue of his role as Head of State of Vatican City.
With my limited knowledge of international jurisdiction and sovereign immunity, I wish to question the practicality of hauling the 82 year old Benedict before courts to stand trial for crimes he simply did not commit. This is rubbish and these lawyers should be ashamed of themselves. While it would please the media hype and the gossip to have the Pope sentenced to prison, let us remember that the Church is not a multi national corporation, nor does it operate like any such organization. The Pope has spiritual primacy over the Church, I concede that. However, every Bishop is individually responsible for the Diocese entrusted to him. Maybe it is more practical to subpoena Bishops who have covered up the allegations of abuse, let them answer for their actions, but let us not attack the Pope simply because he heads the church.
Is it that we are now at a point where we are so bent on revenge that we cannot see the attempts of Pope Benedict to make amends? What will prosecuting the Pontiff accomplish? He has come out publicly, in his pastoral letter to The Church of Ireland, condemning the acts of abuse and urging church leaders to refraining from covering up the allegations. He has asked the perpetrators to submit themselves to the law and allow justice to take its course. What more can he do? What more would you have him do? This is a church of some one billion people, he is one man. Let us be rationale and fair. There are many who will be quick to cite the allegation that while a cardinal, he allowed a priest guilty of abuse to continue to serve, but I ask you, is he not human? Is he not fallible? Is he not prone to mistakes, just like the rest of us?
Then there are the calls for his resignation. At a point where the church is deeply wounded and divided and many persons are perhaps now questioning their faith; is it practical for the Pope to resign? What message would that send to Catholics across the world? Now, more than ever, the church needs strong and sustained leadership. Yes, mistakes were made. Yes, crimes were covered. We all want those guilty of these crimes to be brought to justice. Still, we do not support a witch hunt. I urge all my Catholic friends, do not be shaken or moved by the attempts to demonize our Holy Father and our church, remain steadfast in your faith. Finally, my heart goes out to all those who have suffered at the hands of priests and nuns and it is my sincere hope that somehow you will find comfort and peace. We must find a rationale and practical solution to the problem we face. In short, leave the Pope alone.