Thu | Sep 29, 2022

Gordon Robinson | It’s compulsory

Published:Tuesday | May 28, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The Beast had been boiling in the summer heat waiting in his father’s car (no air-conditioning in those days), while Gene Autry and I drove around trying to find a fourth.

As usual, I expressed concern. Gene’s standard reply was “Let the Beast boil! We’ll have him for dinner!”

Eventually, as our last resort, we located The Dunce at his favourite habitat, Hope Road, engaged in his priority occupation ‘walking street and kicking stone’. When we three arrived at Autry’s home, the Beast drew Gene aside while I kept the Dunce occupied.

The Beast reminded Gene he’d vowed never to play with the Dunce again. Gene pretended not to recall. Nor remember. So the Beast reminded him that, on the last occasion, the Dunce killed the Beast’s double-five twice and his double-four once.

When tackled, the Dunce’s sole comment was “If a macca mek it jook yu!” which only served to infuriate the Beast. Gene told the Beast we had no choice. “It was compulsory. We couldn’t find anyone else. It’s the Dunce as partner or no game!”

So the Beast reluctantly sat down. It wasn’t long before I drew one of those hands. You know them. That hand that makes you open your mouth to request a reshuffle, before you remember the rule that you can only claim a reshuffle if you draw eight doubles? I drew six-five; double-four; double-trey; double-deuce; deuce-blank; double-ace; and double-blank.

On my left, the Beast posed double-six, so I played six-five. The Dunce drew double-five and Autry, dutifully cutting the pose to preserve ‘my card’, played six-blank. The Beast contributed blank-four. With a sigh of relief, I offloaded my double-four. The Dunce went two-fives, Autry survived with five-deuce and the Beast deuce-four. I announced I was antisocial so wouldn’t play. I think I played once more for the game (double-trey) and the Dunce ‘bowed’ with relish. Autry commented drily, “You were a big help!”

My defence was, “I only had compulsory plays.”


I remembered that unpleasant experience while hearing Delroy ‘Short Order’ Chuck announce that Government wouldn’t be appealing the NIDS judgment. As satisfying as it was to hear Delroy finally admit he has no appeal (Grants Pen voters may disagree), I warn Jamaica that, in this world, nothing is as it appears.

So, when Delroy announces that a new ‘voluntary’ NIDS Bill will be rammed through Parliament as swiftly as the first in order to have it passed by November, Jamaica had better sit up and take detailed, careful note of what’s presented.

Will this new “voluntary” NIDS be the only form of identification accepted in order for citizens to access government services? If so, will the level of invasiveness of biometrics required be lowered? Will the NIDS registrar still be permitted to ‘share’ your biometrics with foreign or local government agencies? I urge MPs, senators and civil society advocates to heed the sage words of Batts J who opined:

“It’s the right to choose whether or not to share personal information which individual liberty in a free and democratic state jealously guards. The mandatory nature of the requirement as well as the breadth of its scope and the absence of a right to opt out are not justified or justifiable in a free and democratic society … . THE DANGER OF ABUSE BY THE STATE OR ITS AGENCIES, AND THE REMOVAL OF PERSONAL CHOICE, OUTWEIGH ANY CONCEIVABLE BENEFIT TO BE HAD BY THE COMMUNITY OR STATE [my emphasis]”

My unsolicited advice to the prime minister: take this one slowly. Either appoint an attorney general who is independent of Parliament or outsource Government’s legal advice on this sensitive matter to private practitioners. Don’t be myopic or political.

Jamaicans, be careful. What might appear ‘voluntary’ can easily be, in reality, compulsory. Either you play with NIDS or there’ll be no game.

Peace and Love!


Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to