Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Letter of the Day | Draft out-of-school teens into military

Published:Tuesday | April 25, 2017 | 4:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I fully support MP Ronnie Thwaites' call, in his From the Back Bench column of April 17, 2017, for a place for 150,000 unattached youth to be added to the minuscule recruitment to be done by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to its new Jamaica National Service Corps. Give the HEART Academy to the JDF to accomplish this. It is in the national interest.

For many years, I have publicly advocated for military drafting, even in auxiliary cadet academies, of 17-19-year-olds leaving secondary school and not enrolled in a professional degree programme in a tertiary education institution. As the saying goes, 'The devil finds work for idle hands (and minds)', the result of which is evident, mainly in the antisocial conduct of juveniles and young adults in Jamaica.

The draft is long overdue but has been resisted because of the high incidence of social discrimination and stigmatisation in Jamaica. The so-called upper class does not want its sons and daughters to mix in this regimental setting, where all recruits are equal, with those from the ghetto, as if the final outcome would be compromised in any way by it.

Additionally, the society culturally perpetuates the unjust stigmatisation of the underclass youth as being exclusively at risk or as a threat to civil order. In reality, however, crime and misconduct have no class barrier. At the very least, the upper class instigates, incites and sponsors much of it, and children of this demographic imitate their parents just the same as others.

 

TRY IN VAIN

 

We always make reference, with admiration, to Singapore and its late former prime minister, the colossus, Lee Kuan Yew, saying its economic rise was the result of a template obtained from Jamaica. We try, in vain, to separate its economic prosperity from the civil order attained by regimental military socialisation. In Singapore's case, they were not mutually exclusive under Lee Kuan Yew.

Maybe, Jamaica's political leaders don't have the ambition of the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, to make our beloved country 'Great Again', as it certainly was in all spheres of consideration up to when we claimed to have become independent in 1962. However, maybe they do and, therefore, they will activate military draft as essential to achieving this.

Just as we declare that no one is above the law, we must similarly mandate drafting for all, regardless of social class designation, who fit the criteria. Those who have the privilege of migrating to skip it can leave, as that might also take care of their contribution to the social decay of Jamaica.

HYLTON DENNIS

Mona, Kingston 7