Letter of the Day | Govern for development of Ja’s human resources
THE EDITOR, Madam:
A cursory analysis of the governance in Jamaica in general, and the Andrew Holness administration in particular, leads to a worrisome pattern of authority that needs to be highlighted.
In 2019, the three-judge panel of the Supreme Court ruled that the National Identification and Registration Act violates the constitutional rights of its citizens. The chief justice noted that Jamaica’s 2011 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms constrains the Parliament from passing laws that may infringe on the Constitution, unless they can be proven demonstrably justified for the functioning of a free and democratic society.
In 2020, another landmark Supreme Court decision ruled as unconstitutional and unlawful the months-long detention of five men without charge in the states of emergency (SOEs) as a long-term crime-fighting measure. Justice Morrison outlined why the detention of the men was unlawful. He states, “This I find to be the egregious overstepping of the bounds of the power of the executive.”
The intrusion of fundamental rights is a colonial baggage, the core of which is the devaluation of human dignity. In the same political vein, the failure of successive governments continues to perpetuate the vestiges of colonial governance structures such as retaining the British monarch as the nation’s head of state and the Privy Council as the final court of appeal.
If we add to the mix the failure to move towards proportional representation, fixed-date elections, and campaign-financing legislation, then it’s easy to conclude that the goal of our political culture is to maintain the oppressive colonial system for the benefit of a few. This conclusion is reinforced by widespread corruption in public office that benefits few political party supporters.
‘WHEEL AND COME AGAIN’
Mr Holness now has a historical opportunity to adopt a ‘wheel-and-come-again’ approach to governance. Twenty-one per cent of the electorate have given him another term to reshape and reform current legislations on NIDS and the SOEs, implement fair land reform and redistribution policy, plan for food security, invest in educational empowerment, and tackle constitutional reform grounded in the spirit and legality of human rights and responsibility.
This has to be the fundamental option for human development. It is a choice between governing to win the next election or securing the development of our people.
History is awash with failed political leaders who governed without respect for human development and human rights and responsibilities, especially in oil-rich countries.
On the other hand, there are many success stories of prosperous countries that place human development as the hub of the wheel of governance. Our political leaders have a choice – govern to win the next election, or govern for the development of Jamaica’s human resources.
REV FR DONALD CHAMBERS
Antilles Episcopal Conference
Port of Spain