Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Politicians must restore order and respect

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM


As we prepare to cast our votes on February 25, we feel that there are some demands that rightfully should be made of the two major political parties vying to form the Government.

We undertake to express those demands on behalf of our fellow Jamaicans.

First, we should state who we are. We are a group of concerned Jamaicans, mainly of advanced years, who meet on a Friday evening to fraternise and discuss the issues of the day. We have each made a contribution to our country, in one form or another, and we are deeply concerned about the legacy that we will leave to the next generation.

Second, although we empathise with those who feel disenchanted with the political system and who say, with some validity, that nothing fundamentally changes with the election of either party over many years, we would urge all Jamaicans, who have been properly registered, to exercise their constitutional right to vote. It is a right that ought to be taken seriously, as some have made the supreme sacrifice for us to be able to enjoy that right today.

As we prepare to cast our ballots, we must demand of both political parties, the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party, that they give a solemn undertaking to the Jamaican people that, if elected, they will do everything possible to see to a restoration of the respect for law and order in our society.

The breakdown of law and order is, in our view, responsible for many of the ills that bedevil us.

- It is at the root of our rampant criminality, as many have come to believe that they have a right to take the law into their own hands, and to carry out senseless murders and other acts of criminality in the confirmed belief that the chances of them being caught are slim. The parliamentarians seem to believe that perpetrators of lawlessness will be deterred by stiffer penalties in the promulgation of laws.

We believe it to be true that it is not the severity of the punishment that restrains criminal behaviour but the certainty of it.

- The abuse of our children can be traced to the same factors.

- It is the breakdown of law and order that is the root cause of the carnage on our roads, where speeding and a reckless disregard for the rules often result in a loss of life and damage to persons and property.

- The restoration of law and order should also extend to the police force, as far too many of those whose duty it is to protect and to serve have come to believe that the authority of a uniform bestows upon them a licence to abuse citizens and to be indifferent to the rights of the individual. Anecdotal and other evidence continue to point to high levels of criminality in the police force itself.

The criminals must be rooted out.

Finally, we believe all Jamaicans should demand that both parties commit to an effective programme of fiscal and monetary reforms, with the provision that measures to generate growth in the economy must be an added condition as we go forward.