Opportunities missed, but not all lost
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The editorial of January 4 is concerned with the future of Jamaica and suggests some of the radical changes necessary in politics, the public (civil) service and civil society which, in turn, will engender the institutions capable of growing the economy and sustain an orderly society.
I hope your proposals will provoke the public discussion they deserve. Since I am confident that the majority of those who respond to your editorial will agree with you that "our country has faltered" since 1962, I also hope the discussion will concentrate on the implications for the quality of our life in Jamaica of attempting to give effect to proposals for change,yours,or those others, might suggest.
Making a comparison
Whether, your editorial excites the response I think it deserves, I wish no one who writes will be tempted, by your example, to compare Jamaica and Singapore. What are explicitly compared, are economic and social indices. We are invited to infer that the comparison is valid because the two societies were, in 1962, similar in the factors which facilitate economic growth and an orderly society. They were not.
Moreover,the differences in these factors,allowed the two states to adopt radically different styles of politics at independence. Jamaica modified some elements of the Westminster model, or abandoned others. But the main structures remained and affected the practice of politics. In post-independence Singapore, the regime was not only authoritarian, it was despotic. The institutions of society and the state were rejigged to compromise the judiciary and emasculate the opposition. These were the circumstances in which the decisions were made which grew the economy and ordered the society.
We who deplore, with good reason, the present state of Jamaican society, each have our list of opportunities missed since 1962 which, if taken, would have made Jamaica a moderately prosperous and healthy society in 2010. Yet not all opportunity is lost. You are still able to print an editorial critical of politicians, and without irony, call on "civic leadership" to speak "loudly and clearly on policy and issues of the day."
Let us consider, urgently, the implications of the various proposals for reforming our society.
I am, etc.,