Sun | Mar 18, 2018

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Jamaica First

Published:Thursday | January 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM

With 2018 upon us, I have been musing about the things I want and need this year. My number one want: Brazil winning the FIFA World Cup. That said, enough about my wants; let's focus on needs.

The late US President John Kennedy, in speaking about country and self, alluded to 'it's not about what your country can do for you, but rather about what you can do for your country'. Simply put, if we are not a part of the solution to national issues, then we are part of the problem.


Responsible politics


Throughout the current government-police wage impasse, opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has repeatedly chided the government and seemingly lent support to the malingering police. Ironically, during a similar stand-off in 2015 under a PNP-led government, the then attorney-general obtained a court-issued injunction against the Police Federation, compelling them to cease their protest or risk being in contempt of court and having their assets confiscated. Why did Dr Phillips not encourage the government to take a similar stance against the malingerers?

This leads me to my first need for 2018: responsible politics. It has been a fact that our politicians in opposition, whether the People's National Party (PNP or the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), have taken their role very seriously, that is: to oppose for opposing sake, regardless of the circumstances of the issues or potential benefits to be derived from the government's decisions and actions.

Objective guidance and constructive criticism from the opposition are critical to advancing the lot of the Jamaican people. This may require occasional siding with the government on certain issues: a true demonstration of credibility and backbone, which augurs well for the nation.

On the other hand, the incumbent JLP-led administration needs to be more responsive to what the opposition and members of the various sectors of society have to say. It is hypocritical to be seeking the public's support in addressing key national issues, while usurping the national good for political benefit. We are all stakeholders: this is our country and while some politicians may take John Public fi idiot, don't be fooled. Responsible politics is all about putting the people's interests first.

The 'not business-as-usual' environment in which we find ourselves means that we not only have to start thinking outside of the box, we have fi fling weh di damn box and unite, putting aside sectoral agendas for the common good.

Curbing crime, especially corruption and violent crimes, is my second need. I have repeatedly spoken to just how better off we would have been as a nation had it not been for corruption, with better application of limited resources for the nation's benefit rather than for personal gain.

The social costs of crime are particularly demoralising, given the unnecessary losses of lives and the trauma and fear that permeate society. Concurrently, violence-related medical costs have a prohibitive effect on the national budget, amplifying our inability to satisfy public-sector wage demands.

However, these are but symptoms; criminals are the problem. We need to isolate the source of the disease before we can achieve a cure: deny bail to persons who are charged with offences involving guns and murder and to repeat offenders and known gangsters.

The same can be said of the recklessness on our roads. We need to 'immobilise' less-than-wholesome drivers and vehicles.

Keep us free from evil powers, as per the national anthem.


Country above self


I am not suggesting wholescale abuse of human rights here, but practical and measured initiatives to deal with unnecessary losses of life and billion-dollar expenditure which we can ill-afford.

To our leaders grant true wisdom. Give us vision lest we perish. In so saying, politicians need to speak and act for the national good: put party loyalties aside. Lawyers need to be more discerning in their representation of criminals: justice yes, but not blind justice at the expense of law and order and public safety.

Public servants, you have a right to decent remuneration, but you need to be realistic. The national treasury is running dry. We cannot afford your demands unless there are reductions in your numbers. Not an attractive option? Then commit to improved service delivery; justify your claims by doing your part to reduce the social and economic costs of crime and road accidents ease the burden on the treasury.

Let's put Jamaica first!

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