Jamaica Blog Day concentrates the efforts of the vibrant national blogging community on one theme each year; last year we shone a light on the all too important issue of police abuses, and this year we are called upon to examine the debate between environmental preservation and development. This theme is particularly relevant in light of the government’s stated intention to develop a port and logistics hub in the Portland Bight Protected Area. Predictably, an overwhelming amount of Jamaicans are suddenly environmentalists, decrying the government as greedy, short sighted and any other emotionally charged description that will grab a headline. I’m particularly concerned that most, if not all, the arguments coming from our recently converted environmentalists are emotionally charged. There is a kind of reckless refusal to accept that the extraordinary economic challenges we face as a country necessitates an extraordinary response. It’s unfair and disingenuous to characterize our politicians as greedy when they seek to do the job the people elected them to do. This present government was largely elected with a mandate to address the dire economic situation facing the country. We can quantify the value and effect of the construction of the port and hub on our economic sustainability, what exactly is the practical and tangible value of saving the Portland Bight Area from industrial development?
Christianity is not dynamic, it remains static. As society’s understanding of rights and freedoms evolve, Christianity must necessarily remain steadfast. Anything else would disturb the supposed infallibility of the religion’s tenets. It is against this backdrop that I approach the controversy currently surrounding the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Central Jamaica. The University stands accused of suspending a female student for “depicting homosexuality in a (cheerleading) routine”. This depiction amounted to dressing like a man and proposing to another female student, all in the name of fun. The decision of the University has come under fire from human rights advocates who charge that the suspension is in violation of the student’s most basic rights as a citizen, with many condemning the draconian and theocratic approach of the tertiary institution. While I agree that the action is draconian and startling, I am persuaded to stand with NCU in this matter. It is my considered opinion that the University has the right to determine, as a matter of conscience, what behaviours and attitudes it deems acceptable under the existing “ethos” of the campus.
After deliberating for just under two hours, the 11 member jury returned its verdict. The three men and eight women found Adijah Palmer, and three of his four co-accused, guilty of the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. The verdict has put to rest a legal drama that began in 2011, one which fascinated and mystified the nation, but there were more sinister undercurrents at play here. As much as my own conscience tells me justice has been done, and as much as I would rather not see any selfless heroism in a convicted murderer; I am unable to shake the feeling that in the end Vybz Kartel was able to serve as a living testament, a sacrificial lamb of sorts, for many of the realities dancehall music has explored over the years. Kartel’s arrest, trial and conviction put the very state on trial, and on nearly all counts, Jamaica was found guilty.
Today is being celebrated the world over as International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate the achievements of those of the fairer sex, while highlighting the work that is still to be done on behalf of women in some of the forgotten corners of our world. Perhaps inevitably the conversation today will turn to towards finding solutions to the real and perceived inequalities facing women. That conversation will undoubtedly rest on quota systems. In fact, a member of the Jamaican Senate has already raised the issue, arguing that it would compensate for the disparity between men and women in the Parliament. I’m no expert in these matters, and I do not pretend to be – these are my opinions having thought about the issue. I have no doubt that the Senator has good intentions, but I cannot support quotas on the basis of gender, especially in political representation. Here’s why.
A friend of mine recently accused me of being a political conservative. He went on to point out that such a characterization will undoubtedly cause me to find myself on what he described as the “wrong side of history.” The characterization and accompanying condemnation arose as a result of my defence of Trinidad and Tobago in the ongoing drama surrounding the decision of immigration officials in that country to refuse entry to thirteen (13) Jamaican nationals. Apparently defending the right of a sovereign territory, particularly Trinidad and Tobago, in the exercise of its legitimate right to decide who can and cannot enter its borders is an unforgiveable sin, a politically conservative sin and possibly even an unpatriotic sin. Jamaicans in our righteous anger and pride have condemned Trinidad and Tobago in this matter and many have gone as far as calling for the secession of Jamaica from the Caribbean Community, CARICOM. I take strong exception to this, and wish to share my unpopular thoughts on the issue.
The hour draws nigh. In just about twelve hours, approximately five thousand two hundred delegates of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will converge on the national arena to cast their votes for leader of that party. Theirs is no enviable task. In one corner sits the incumbent; the cool, calm, collected and self-styled transformational leader. He is a former Prime Minister, the former Minister of Education, the former Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, and current Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition; his name is Andrew Holness. In the other corner sits the challenger. He is the self-styled “Man-A-Yard”, allegedly the best hope to return the Labour Party to government. He is the former Minister of Finance and the Public Service and current Opposition Spokesman on Finance. His name is Audley Shaw. As tomorrow’s vote draws closer, the pundits are busy making predictions as to who will emerge leader when the dust clears on Sunday afternoon. In my last few posts on this leadership contest, I urged delegates to choose Andrew Holness. I listed, as best as I knew how, the reasons Mr. Holness should be retained as leader of the party. I am now prepared to go a step further; I predict that Andrew Holness will be retained as leader of the JLP tomorrow. Here’s why.
After months of waiting, the country has the verdict of the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) on the Spaulding market scandal. The newly minted Dirk Harrison has concluded that Junior Minister Richard Azan acted in what is tantamount to a “politically corrupt” manner, in relation to the construction of shops on parish council lands. The Contractor General has since recommended the Minister to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to determine if his actions warrants criminal prosecution for conspiracy to commit fraud. The tabling of the report in the House of Representatives has thrown the government in a tailspin, with many sectors of the society calling for the resignation or dismissal of the minister. However, the Information Minister, clothed in her usual arrogance, has advised the country that no action will be taken against the minister until he has had a chance to consult with his attorney and his colleagues. Why would a man accused, by a Commission of Parliament, of political corruption be granted any time to consult anyone? To what end?
You will recall that some time ago I advised the Prime Minister that the time had come for her to step aside and allow for new and credible leadership of the country. Her inaction is again the subject of great concern and distress to me, only this time the inaction threatens the very legitimacy of the Government of Jamaica.