Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Mark Wignall | Political surprises in 2016, fighting crime and hope for 2017

Published:Thursday | December 29, 2016 | 12:15 AMMark Wignall

It may have been unexpected to many, but when it came the nation quietly embraced the JLP’s narrow victory in February and its cleanup act later in the Local Government elections.

Not so welcome in the global community was the surprising victory by the highly unqualified Donald Trump in the US Presidential elections. As it sinks in, the next phase, the guessing game trips in. Will he be the disaster that many are predicting or the great hope that part-time cynics have invested in for 2017?

Criminality and violence against women were unwilling burdens that we were forced to bear for yet another year. I congratulate national security minister, Bobby Montague, for reviewing his initial attempts at calling for divine guidance, recognising the limitations of prayers and facing the crime monster while on his feet and not on his supplicating knees.

The year 2017 will prove whether the grand partnership he strives to build on will bear fruit or wilt on the vine. We wish him well because if he succeeds so do all of us.

Journalism, that bulwark between the powers and the people may have faltered somewhat among those who covered the U..Elections but here in Jamaica its high quality reared its head.

I agree with Gordon Robinson on his positive review of the Gleaner’s Arthur Hall especially as he accomplished so much while facing a trying health issue. Arthur and I have spent many Sunday mornings discussing many aspects of Jamaican life and yet I had to go to a joint in Grants Pen to be told the full story on his ailment by someone else who knew him. I wish him continued health.

The team of the young and intrepid at Nationwide including Abka Fitz Henley were noted standouts.

While not all life is a zero sum game, in party politics, winning on one side breeds losing on the other side. In 2016 we saw the crumbling of the PNP, the decision of party president, Portia Simpson Miller, to step away and a last-minute injection of maturity that ought to bode well for the PNP as it tries to rebuild its structural failures and craft a new message for 2017 and beyond.

The sudden decision of Commissioner of Police Carl Williams to retire after only two years in the top post has blindsided many but it has also cleared the way for another aspect of rebuilding and rebranding in the JCF. Bringing in an outsider as Commissioner is always an option to trigger the needed cultural shift but the dangers posed to a ‘stranger’ at the top are many.

The levels of domestic violence especially against our women folk did not surprise me even as the heightened emotions of Christmas tripped in. All one has to do is listen to men and women at street-level, especially those under 30.  The level of ignorance on many matters including simple rules of relationships is stunning. Young men believe that to give-in during an argument is losing and women are automatically suspicious of the men they live with or see on a regular basis.

The passage of a mere 365 days will not be enough to bring healing to that problem so we must temper our hope with the harshness of reality.

Mention of 2016 would be incomplete without recalling the success of our athletes- Usain Bolt, the human wonder and newbies like Elaine Thompson at the Olympics. Where some people struggled just to find food to place on their children’s plate, the triumph of our athletes gave them more than a belly full. The hope that every nation needs was adequately supplied by our Olympic warriors.

Making the nation a business-friendly location will be obviously accelerated in 2017 even as we struggle with bringing our institutions of national security, education and health  into more viability than before.

At the heart of it all is the education of the next batch of 50,000 children next year. At some stage we must make the decision that not a single child will be left illiterate and behind. That must be the 2017 goal.

observemark@gmail.com