Fri | Jun 22, 2018

I meant it! - PM remains steadfast that J’cans should not sleep in an ‘oven’

Published:Thursday | January 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Often reminded, and sometimes lambasted by his political opponents for failing to fulfil his election promise to make Jamaicans sleep with their doors and windows open, an emotional Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday refused to back down from that commitment.

Last year, 1,616 Jamaicans died violently, and up to January 20 this year, more than 100 persons have been killed.

The prime minister said that although his comment was made at a political rally, he meant every word he said.

"I find it incredible that someone would want to diminish the value of Jamaicans sleeping with their windows open. Though I made the comment on a campaign platform, my comment was serious. I take it personally," he insisted.

The prime minister said that when he visited the zone of special operations in Mount Salem, St James, "the people there, without prompting, came out and said, 'Thank you. I can sleep with my window and door open'."

He argued that the life experience of many Jamaicans is that they "have to lock up and sleep in an oven".

Fielding a question from The Gleaner yesterday during his quarterly press conference at Jamaica House, Holness said, "I think that this is something that we should all rally around and tell the criminals, 'We don't like this kind of life'."

With his voice lowered, punctuated by a lengthy pause, the prime minister said that he benefited from public resources to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI) and received a good education, "so I can't go home and say, 'You know, everything is fine.' I am prepared to do what it takes to address this crime problem."

Divulging that he and a friend had come face to face with two armed robbers years ago when he attended the UWI, the prime minister said that the thugs threatened to shoot him before relieving him of his Clarks shoes and his watch, a gift from his wife.

"I take it personally. I don't live in an ivory tower, and so because it doesn't affect me I say, 'Cho! This is how Jamaica will always be'," said Holness. He argues that many Jamaicans have been very quiet in expressing "our dreams and aspirations and ambitions for Jamaica".

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com