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Stabroek News

Crime and political leadership
published: Sunday | May 8, 2005

Last week's killing of three policemen is a direct attack on the Jamaican state and the Jamaican people. It is unprecedented in our entire post-independence history. Of all the gruesome homicides which have been committed in Jamaica over the years, these three have the most serious implications, for they are an attack on the very foundations of our society.

All must unite behind the security forces in their efforts to deal with this direct and audacious challenge. A forceful response is called for and the general public must understand and cooperate. There can be no forceful security response which does not inconvenience many law-abiding persons. But this is the price we have
to pay. We must make up our mind to pay this price and pay it
cooperatively and in a positive spirit.

For we should be under no illusion: successes against organised crime in Jamaica are bound to meet vicious and determined criminal resistance. The real war has just begun and we must gird our loins and be steadfast in the face of the many bolder and more cruel
challenges which are yet to come.

In this connection, a very special responsibility rests with our political leadership. The initial response of Leader of Opposition Bruce Golding was inadequate, to say the least. It had the quality of a lawyer preparing to defend a client. It was not that of a political leader seeking to be the prime minister of a country under direct and violent criminal attack.

While 'condemning' the attacks against the police and calling for 'meetings' with the Prime Minister, Mr. Golding hedged his
position with all sorts of qualifications concerning the need for 'intelligence.' Such equivocation is extremely dangerous in these dire circumstances. It is playing with the future of Jamaica.

To his credit, however, Mr. Golding eventually initiated a Jamaica House meeting with the Prime Minister which has led to agreement on political unity to be embodied in the establishment of a special Parliamentary committee to deal with security.

We expect all political leaders to take a forthright and robust stance on this crucial matter and back the security forces all the way. This is especially the case when police reports involve allegations against well-known party supporters in one's very own constituency. All of our political leadership, both JLP and PNP will face the test that Mr. Golding and his colleagues are now facing. Indeed, all of Jamaica faces the challenge of putting aside political and personal partisanship and giving unqualified support to the efforts to crush this menacing attack. Our very future as a society is hanging in the balance.

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