Fri | Oct 19, 2018

PM's apology alone won't cut it

Published:Saturday | December 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMTHE EDITOR, Sir:

First, it is just disgusting that the specific amounts of compensation to named Tivolites are published. Is this the doing of The Gleaner only, or also of the Compensation Committee? This is an invasion of privacy. It sets up those named for parasites; it is the disrespect shown usually to poor people but also last year to the West Kingston commissioners, whose renumeration was published.

Second, I do not congratulate Prime Minister Holness for his apology. It is calculatedly sweetened with money compensation. But there is much more to 'sorry' than money. He leaves out too many essentials.

The PM wants to not apportion blame. But there can be no peace of mind for Tivoli families without the justice of having those responsible for the murder of their sons named, or an explanation given why not.

The West Kingston Commission of Enquiry identified five senior police officers whose dereliction of duty led to the loss of the evidence, making such naming possible. It's further urging that they never again be given operational oversight has even been ignored, at least in one instance. Yet this is only one symptom of the abysmal failure of successive administrations to address the profound inability of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to do its work accountably.

The PM claims to have learnt the lesson of May 2010. Only superficially, I would say. The non-partisan social follow-up to May 2010 in West Kingston and elsewhere, which is the real lesson when you consider what led to the formation of Tivoli Gardens and thence to the incursion, was anaemic at best. It is now compounded by the setting up of a zone of special operations (ZOSO) in Denham Town and Hannah Towns that excludes their Tivoli Gardens conflict rival. This could have very dangerous consequences.

The ZOSOs' social intervention committees are yet to seek to mainstream the 250 at-risk youth in Denham Town or the 50 in Mt Salem. A programme to carry out the dismantling of garrisons, which the commission also recommended and which today would have to refer to their low living standard, seems hardly thought of. Sticking calculatedly to a ZOSO 'plan' without being open to any other, while people to die in droves, makes no sense to most critical observers.

I agree with solitary Opposition critic, MP Ronald Thwaites, that not just Holness, but other members of parliament should be apologising. But also, heading the apologisers should be Bruce Golding, who, notwithstanding other excellent things he has done, fumbled this one badly. He holds a large responsibility for the May 2010 mess.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The compensation amounts for West Kingston residents were tabled in Parliament on Thursday for free review by the public.