Tue | Apr 25, 2017

What a country!

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2015 | 5:00 AM

On Friday, November 12, 2009, there was an article in this newspaper with the caption, 'Mad rush on passport office'. It referred to hundreds of people flocking to the passport office to avoid the new service fees. The more things change, the more they remain same.

The fact that in 2009, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) had increased the fees for passports by 80 per cent in one fell swoop for adult and child passports did not provide an institutional history for PICA in their action of 2015.

The said Jennifer McDonald was CEO of PICA, as she remains to this day. The reaction then, in 2009, and the decision to execute a 44 per cent increase at once in 2015, imply a contempt for those who they would claim to serve. They will ride out the protest of the citizens. They will describe the citizens as engaging in bad behaviour. They will write it off to our culture. We as a people are undisciplined, hooligans even. Obviously, there was no consideration to having a phased implementation of the increases. It is only hooligans - and they are to be tolerated.

Let us examine the rationale for the existence of PICA as a self-funding statutory body. It first must state who would best be suited to perform their functions. The immigration officers may best be accommodated within the Customs Agency. PICA's target is to secure the integrity of our borders regarding the entry and exit of persons. Customs must secure the said border with regard to the movement of goods. It seems to be the natural linkage.

The issuance of passports should be to reach the widest cross section of the citizens, as stated in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Why not use the post offices to collect the applications and related fees and have the passport books distributed in a manner by the similar process to the Registrar General's Department. All citizenship functions would be retained by the Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Justice. Think of the cost savings resulting from the rationalisation of PICA. Build in periodic annual increases for the fees. Base it on the rate of inflation. It would be collected as persons utilise the service over a period and have some certainty built into the system. It is time to stop creating jobs just to provide for favoured ones.

 

Homosexual Evangelism

 

The United States of America should have a name change. It should become known as the United States of America and Homosexual Evangelism (USAHS). Now that the White House has elevated its defence of the indefensible by appointing diplomats to come to Jamaica and preach the gospel of homosexuality, resplendent in all its rainbow colours and public exhibitionism, it is time for a name change.

It is almost laughable that these diplomats would come to Jamaica so soon after their elevation in February 2015 and Barack Obama's visit of April 2015. In addition, they come with links to USAID. Yes, people, they have come to 'aid' us in the adaptation of the homosexual lifestyle. Here come gay pride parades. The rainbow flag may replace the proud black, green and gold all with the assistance of the Americans, British, et al.

Strange, I do not recall the African nations, the subcontinent nations, the Asian nations pushing this agenda. As the US Embassy's representative states, what is a little perversion among 'democratic' friends. Of course, they spread the word wrapped in human rights. Yes, they are humans and do have the right to the deviancy in the privacy of their own spaces. I fear our dependency on largesse will lead to capitulation. How sad.

 

Cops, corruption, crime

 

Jamaica is a threatened place. Crime, corruption, degraded infrastructure and poor political leadership are among the most significant challenges. The new commissioner of police, like others before him, talks a lot, wears the khaki and delivers very little. We do not seem to be using the available technology to catch criminals. Where is the technology to track cell phones and tap them? How adequate is the screening for police recruits? Yes, there has been an improvement in the courtesies extended in police-civilian contact. But we need much more.

The level of corruption to be found in routine transactions is now so pervasive that it has become so normal. No high-profile politician or public servant has been brought to justice. We have fuzzy, legal logic in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions' interpretation in the nepotism case of Hanover's former mayor. I, too, believe the courts are there to test the laws, not for the DPP to capitulate in the exercise of her judgement with a disposition without trial.

The political leadership has not motivated the population to achieve national objectives. They act in a manner that causes the sceptical public to conclude the dramatic increase in passport fees is based solely on the need to get a new revenue stream in a short time. The business of the country dies for lack of clear policies and procedures. What a country!

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.