Wed | Jan 23, 2019

An open letter to Arnaldo Brown

Published:Monday | November 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Michael Abrahams, Online Columnist

Woi, Mr Brown,

phone bill certainly has people up in arms. To be honest, when I heard
that it was in excess of $1 million, I was in disbelief. As a matter of
fact, the revelation prompted me to write a poem titled 'Phone Bill
Passa Passa'. Check it out on my Facebook fan page or in yesterday's
edition of The Sunday Gleaner. You just might like it. Then again, you
might not.

Anyway, I know that being in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, you will have to make lots of calls to 'foreign', travel to
'foreign' and make calls home from 'foreign'. All of this, however,
comes at a cost, and as we are supposed to be under austerity measures, I
thought that as a patriotic Jamaican citizen, it would be appropriate
to offer you some advice about how to keep your phone bill down to
levels that will not incense the public and have people writing columns
in newspapers about it.

Regarding foreign calls, whether you have
a LIME or a Digicel phone, and whether you are prepaid or postpaid,
$1,500 can buy you at least 800 overseas minutes. But wait, there's
more! If you download magicJack to your phone, you can make calls for
free. And if you download Skype, Tango or Viber, you can not only make
calls for absolutely free, but you can also make and receive free video
calls as well, which is fantastic, especially if you are speaking with
ladies who are pleasing to the eye.

If you are unable to speak,
or would just prefer not to, you can download and use WhatsApp, Facebook
or BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), all of which allow you to
instant-message. For WhatsApp, all you need is your other party's phone
number, but for Facebook, you and the person you are communicating with
are required to have Facebook accounts, and for BlackBerry Messenger,
PINs are utilised. In addition, with Facebook and BlackBerry, you can
also make voice calls if you change your mind and decide to speak.

making calls from overseas, roaming can be rather expensive, but both
LIME and Digicel have roaming plans. As a matter of fact, we were
informed that part of the reason why your bill was so high is because
you incurred significant data roaming charges as you have to send and
check email and stuff like that. But guess what? There is a thing called
Wi-Fi that you can use that (brace yourself) incurs NO data charges!
Isn't that, like, totally awesome?

With Wi-Fi, you can not only
email, but you can communicate in some of the cool ways mentioned above.
I know that when you travel you may find yourself in locations where
there is no Wi-Fi or the signal is weak. For example, I understand that
in the Amazon Rainforest, the Sahara Desert and the Arctic Circle the
Wi-Fi service is lousy, and at the peak of Mount Everest it is an epic
fail. But when you travel, try to arrange to stay at a hotel where Wi-Fi
is available. Trust me, it is worth it. Also, while you move around in
the various cities and towns, look out for Wi-Fi hot spots.

Brown, your phone bill was probably high enough to have paid for the
installation of toilets to replace pit latrines in at least one school.
And this is what makes us angry. Many of us believe that the Government
wastes money and is reckless with it, while ignoring areas where it is
Your administration installed a bigger Cabinet than the
previous administration's, bought new SUVs for its ministers, spent $57
million on  the Grand Gala this year, found $4 million at the drop of a
hat to send a Trinidadian back home on a private jet, pays your high
phone bills and is using $180 million of National Housing Trust (NHT)
money to purchase an attraction, but failed to locate funds to purchase
temperature-checking machines for our ports of entry.
This makes
many Jamaicans feel disillusioned, betrayed, neglected and disrespected.
Our confidence in the Government is shaken and continues to be eroded.
Many of us are convinced that you and your peers do not care about us,
the people who put you in power. The people whom you are supposed to be

So Mr Brown, I have a proposal for you. How about
adopting some of the measures taken above, reducing your next phone bill
and sharing it with the media so that we can believe that at least one
person in the Government cares about us? Many of us would respect a move
like that.
We can call it 'The Phone Bill Challenge'. Try it nuh.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Abrahams

Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician,  comedian and poet. Email
feedback to and, or
tweet @mikeyabrahams.