Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Daniel Thwaites | Putting the cart before the donkey

Published:Sunday | December 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM

There is a video floating around the Internet that was captured at the recent OPM Live Youth Forum hosted by the prime minister. In it, the prime minister is confronted by a young man named Daniel Thomas. This other Daniel identified himself as a member of the Love March Movement, explained that it is politically unaligned, and that it has serious concerns with the NIDS legislation.

There is now a claim that the video is "spliced", which I certainly hope is true, because in it, the prime minister basically lost his s**t when asked a very reasonable question by a bright youngster.

Thomas politely raised some questions about the bill, noted that he wasn't in complete disagreement with a National Identification System, but quite forcefully stated that there was deep dissatisfaction with the process.

Please note that the young man has what I think is the standard position of most 'sensible' people who don't have my fear of NIDS. My own view, which doesn't turn on trying to be 'sensible', is that the Government would need to demonstrate some basis for the citizenry to trust them before any such mega database should be even considered. Not to mention that passing such legislation before proper cybercrime and cybersecurity legislation is just outright irresponsible. It's putting the cart before the donkey.

 

Andrew rush de yute

 

Anyway, to return to Daniel Thomas and the Love March Movement, in response to the question, Andrew rush de yute. That was when I realised that perhaps Ninja Man's appearance as a motivational speaker might not have been a random event. "Mi got de permit fi bury an' de licence fi kill! From him test mi, him shoulda write him will!"

All joking aside, though, if that video is at all correct, INDECOM may want to look into the unwarranted use of excessive force by the prime minister against the young questioner.

Speaking of which, INDECOM has been such a welcome addition to the Jamaican social and political landscape that it would be nice if the political directorate would leave it alone to do its work. I count it as one of Bruce Golding's signal achievements.

Anyway, the town hall was obviously meant to be packed with sycophants and NIDSiots, because from what I could see, there was a genuine look of dismay that reasoned opposition was even presented. And doing a road tour now, after the bill has already been forced through, is another example of putting the cart before the donkey.

But I don't want to waste the prime minister's anger. My question is: Would Andrew please harness that emotional intensity and direct some of it to the jokers that have caused this car procurement debacle? One wonders how the Government of Jamaica got into bed with O'Brien's International Car Sales & Rentals to supply 200 preowned donkey carts.

Let's be clear: I'm not prepared to say anything untoward about Bobby Montague-Bay. People don't realise that one of my grandmothers hailed from St Thomas and she developed within me a vibrant fear of the occult. Hence Bobby's revelation that he has serious obeah connections is decisive for me. But Mr Holness, who chairs the Cabinet, should be able to say why he thought it a good idea to carry through with a procurement such as this.

 

No small change

 

The contract was for $426 million, half of which was paid upfront. Now that's not quite enough to effectuate a proper bush-clearing programme, but it's no small change either. Remember, used cars and the provision of condoms for police personnel were major planks in the security policy announced at the outset by the Government, and all the fresh equipment was to assist tremendously in the fight against unwanted pregnancy and crime. I'm tempted to say that you should judge the results, but that would be to reach my conclusion too quickly.

The announced intention was to acquire four motor vehicles for the outlay that would ordinarily bring in just one new vehicle. That hasn't quite worked.

The result is not what was intended, but it was certainly foreseeable. We can be certain it was foreseeable for the simple reason that Peter Bunting not only foresaw the calamity, but spoke at great length, and even made a video or two about it.

In fact, on May 5, The Gleaner carried the alarming headline, 'Procurement process of security vehicles corrupt, flawed - Bunting'. At that time, Bunting pointed out that the cost of acquiring the brand new second-hand donkey carts was about 80 per cent of acquiring new vehicles of superior quality, bringing into question the whole rationale of the policy. It also gave Jamaica the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world acquiring previously loved carts for the police force.

Now it turns out that O'Brien's has been able to deliver only 30 vehicles so far, and is asking for the Government to foot the bill of taxes and duties to bring in other vehicles that have been languishing on the wharf. The idea of O'Brien's being able to successfully deliver the 200 vehicles that the Government felt the JCF needed seems to have been quietly abandoned. It would be quicker and more cost-effective to breed 200 donkeys.

In the meanwhile, the JCF has to be operating with a shortage of vehicles, and the criminals are at large. I'm not saying that for want of the 200 vehicles, 300 people are now dead in Montego Bay, and 1,400 in the island, but the figures are suspiciously round. It's as if the universe is trying to send us a message that even a jackass could read.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.