Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Give Hanna her due for successes

Published:Friday | February 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I am disappointed that Father Richard Ho Lung, who has made an outstanding contribution to human development and the exercise of social responsibility in Jamaica, should focus with such negative passion on the subject of Minister Lisa Hanna.

Indeed, when I first saw the headline, I had thought it referred to her achievements as a minister and was more than surprised. All our citizens have a right to personal opinion about ministers, but influential leaders of thought should be primarily concerned about the quality of their service and their performance as holders of office.

It is interesting that our citizens seem, on the basis of the Don Anderson polls, to have reflected an appreciation of the minister's performance, including - among other things - the encouraging reality that all children have been separated from adult correctional facilities; that 45 children in state care qualified for tertiary education, up from one; and that 40,000 youth have been trained since 2012.

I recently followed the reports of Minister Hanna's presentation over two days of the country report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland, and I must confess that I was very proud. She was assertive, articulate and confident, displaying a firm grasp of her portfolio responsibilities, consistent with her performance and achievement not only in the youth dimension, but in the field of culture as well.

Ms Hanna was also a fine example of Jamaica not playing the shrinking violet to other larger countries. She held her own and cited relevant data when the committee kept regurgitating stale information about children in Jamaica.

What stood out for me was her ability, at every instance, to provide data to demonstrate her leadership, while acknowledging that she had not solved all the problems.

I was heartened to learn that, today, nine out of every 10 missing children are found and returned home; that the number of children coming into child protection has been reduced by 27 per cent and 28 per cent into custodial care, respectively; that more than 20 children had been rescued from child trafficking and several arrests had been made; and that the backlog of adoptions had been cleared.

I called Minister Hanna to congratulate her on her representation of us in Geneva. I write to express my appreciation publicly, because, too often, the headlines and content that impact on the public do not reflect the full story.

Ms Hanna's career development, from her leadership at high school, through university, as Miss World and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, into her present role as minister, has impressed me, and I continue to encourage and wish her well.

Perhaps other discerning observers could do likewise.

BURCHELL WHITEMAN