PERMANENT SECRETARY in the Ministry of Justice Robert Rainford has said despite the advances made in various sectors over the years, in economic terms, the average Jamaican is worse off today than 50 years ago.
Rainford was speaking against the backdrop of Jamaica celebrating its golden anniversary of Independence, at the swearing-in ceremony for 32 Justices of the Peace (JPs) for the parish of St James at the Wexford Hotel last week Thursday.
"Our advances in education, telecommunication cannot be denied. But in the pursuit of development in economic terms, we have lost the quintessential values that made us uniquely Jamaican. There is more crime, the community is disappearing and in its place are simply households living in the same area."
Rainford said the nation was suffering from a paucity of values as evidenced by the fact that etiquette, respect for elders and property are no longer commonplace attributes.
"With more churches per square mile, some of our churches are too eager to down traditional morals established in the scripture, and too slow to get involved and to reach out to stem the moral decay permeating this land that we say we love. Lewdness, immorality and savagery camouflaged as freedom of expression, is surely contributing to our regression."
Rainford has made a call for a resurrection of the values and attitudes programmes launched by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to spur a rebirth of civility in the society.
Wipe out corruption
In his charge to the new justices of the peace, Rainford urged them to be resolute in their stance to wipe out corruption and restore morality in the society.
"I call upon you justices of the peace to do everything in your power to stem the tides of corruption and moral decay. Be a standard in your community. If you have joined the service to further corruption or to aid in corrupt practices, you do not belong here."
Among the new JPs who were sworn in are Davon Crump, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Fagan Calvert, third vice-president Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Doreth Chambers, principal of Spot Valley High School.