Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Horace Levy | Hold that summit now!

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Howard Mitchell

The postponement of the summit that the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and other private-sector bodies were organising ought not to be for long. One can understand why Mr Holness and his team would find the end of this week, which was the proposed date, difficult to handle. They faced the Budget, chief justice appointment, and other pressures.

And yes, the final responsibility for resolving the nation's present public safety and order crisis lies with the Government. But that need not mean that the PM and his Cabinet should close the door to inputs from other sections of society in working out the best course of action. Judging by the relentless murder rate, this has not been too successful so far. That should be very clear. And it carries a lesson.

Civil society and the private sector have perspectives that could be, indeed are, very relevant. Cabinet and security chiefs do not have all the wisdom. Perhaps because they thought they did, there were several lessons that should have been learned from May 2010 but were not, or not fully, in rolling out the zones of special operations and the state of public emergency. One in particular, the most critical, was perhaps not even perceived, much less learned.

 

IMPORTANCE OF AUTHORITY

 

The central message of May 2010 was the critical importance of the State asserting its authority and doing so in a timely fashion. A security operation requiring 800 soldiers and 370 police to subdue a barricaded 'state within a state' would never have been necessary if the central authority of this country had recognised its true role and exercised it when it should have. And I don't mean just nine months earlier.

Did the previous administration not see the rising tide of murder in 2015 and even earlier? Does today's central authority, confronted by a crisis worse than 2010, know what to do, when and how to act? It certainly is not giving the impression that it does.

It is time for Mr Holness and his team, lay and security, to listen to more voices than those of their own narrow circle, voices in touch with the ground, with input from the Opposition too. The situation is too grave not to seek and take all help available and on offer.

The consultation proposed by Howard Mitchell must not be put off indefinitely. It should be held before the month ends. Right action is urgently wanted.

- Horace Levy is a human-rights campaigner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and halpeace.levy78@gmail.com.