Mon | Aug 2, 2021

Martin Henry in print - Excerpts of Gleaner columns from 1987 – 2019

Published:Sunday | June 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Thursday, November 5, 1987 

‘At The Crossroads’

“The kind of society we want can be determined by corporate conscious choices or can be left to chance. The people need leaders now – leaders of the calibre of Nanny, Tacky, Sharpe, Bogle. Gordon, Manley, Bustamante, and the thousands of respected village elders across the land who know what is truly worth dying for as we stand at the crossroads.”


September 28, 1995

‘Prayer For A Nation’

“Healing and reconstruction, true human development can only come by transcending the bitterness, antagonisms, and destructiveness of the past and present. This is a spiritual exercise requiring humble intercessory prayer. ‘Men ought always to pray and not to faint’.”


May 16, 1996 

‘Public Policy And Liberal Democracy’

“The market is closely allied to the ideals of democracy, both being based on the idea of personal liberty. The most highly developed modern states are those which have approached most closely in their history to the ideals of free economic enterprise and free political systems. There is no perfect market economy or perfect democracy, as there are no perfect people.”


July 17, 1997

‘The State In a Changing World’

“The government of the Jamaican state has seriously trespassed against these fundamental rules for the effectiveness of the state. Efforts at reform have been slow and half-hearted. The Report of the Nettleford Committee, like dozens of others, has been shelved. The Administrative Reform Programme-turned-Public Sector Modernisation Project has marched around the walls of Jericho for a dozen years, but the walls of public service inefficiency and corruption are yet to come tumbling down.”


April 2, 1998 

‘The Impoverishment Of The People’

“Godfather Government spending beyond its means, sustained by unbacked money and loans, has ravaged us with wealth-destroying inflation. A crippling tax burden, now one of the highest in the world and likely to increase unless blocked by a spirited Parliament, conscious of its power and responsibilities, rests most heavily on the backs of the poor and the salaried, destroying capital formation and jobs while feeding the bureaucracy of the State, not development.”


April 22, 1999

‘The Media and Public Confidence’

“And media responsibility is ultimately responsibility to free individuals. Censorship (which is not synonymous with reasonable regulation) cannot provide responsibility. The media is least free and responsible precisely where individual free persons have been converted into ’the masses’. Media freedom was most threatened in Jamaica precisely when the people were transformed into the masses.”


May 18, 2000

'The Finest Newspaper In The Outer Empire’

“I officially joined The Gleaner family when controversially appointed editor Dudley Stokes sent out his controversial public notice for columnists in 1987 and recruited me. Before that, I was sending in a steady stream of letters and articles, many of which got published. Like so many others, I first met The Gleaner as a child when it came home only on town days. There was no circulation in my part of the deep bush. I am proud to be associated with this great Jamaican institution.”


March 22, 2001

‘What The Law Cannot Do’

“THE LAW is to restrain evil, but it cannot make men good. The law seeks to regulate conduct, but it cannot provide good conscience … Liberty in a just society under the rule of law rests on foundations of virtue and moral rectitude a sound moral ecology, which cannot be created or maintained by law but are habits of the heart.”


January 3, 2002 

‘Flexible Work Week’

“With all the options of flextime, job sharing, compressed work week, shift swaps, and so on, being proposed as elements of flexible work arrangements in the Green Paper, the accommodation of a day of religious observance and rest should be quite feasible in the vast majority of work situations, and failure to do so should be regarded as discrimination on the ground of religion, which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution.”


May 15, 2003

‘Building A Wellness Culture’

“I have for long believed that the Jamaican population is exceptionally well compared to most other places, rich and developed or otherwise. The control of infectious diseases, lower incidences of the chronic lifestyle diseases of the rich, lazy and overfed, lower incidences of genetic diseases, and, most of all, an exceptional buoyancy of mind and spirit, despite everything, for which a match is hard to find anywhere else and which visitors quickly notice and fall in love with.”


February 26, 2004

‘Let Us Fix Education’

“The political, economic, and academic muscle of the terminal sector of the education system has tended to be deployed to frame the issue in terms of financing for tertiary education. We must break out of that unduly narrow and constrictive frame … A win-win- philosophy for all must begin with a commitment to full, multi-dimensional literacy for all Jamaican children by age 12, comprehensive literacy as a foundation for life skills as citizen, as a base for further learning, and as the starting point in preparation for productive work.”


March 31, 2005

‘Crime And The Jamaican Economy’

“A profile map of the degradation of public infrastructure and the decline of business in widening swathes of urban Jamaica would have serious shock value and should be done. But that would be only part of the picture, the visible part. The hidden psychological impact of crime on economic activity is greater.”


May 18, 2006

‘Lifestyle Diseases And Wellness’

“At the heart of wellness is living as naturally as possible in peace and contentment as the creator intended and directed. There are pockets of people here and in other places whose lifestyles are adding years to their life and life to their years above that of the general population. “


January 11, 2007


“By sheer statistical probability, another major rumble of the size of 1907 could happen anytime now; but it does not have to be so destructive of life and property. The only other earthquake of similar intensity in Jamaica in the last 100 years was one registering eight on the Richter scale on March 1, 1957 with epicentre in Hanover, but with considerably less destruction. As Hurricane Gilbert changed construction practices for greater wind resistance, so the 1907 earthquake changed construction practices for greater earthquake resistance.”


February 28, 2008

‘Tolerance In Jamaica’

“While Jamaicans themselves living here might not think so, on the whole, Jamaica, historically, has been a rather tolerant country on the issues which most deeply divide people: religion, politics and race. The level of intolerance for homosexuality is a variation from this general stance of tolerance and is deeply rooted in cultural and social values, something worthy of separate investigation in a follow-up study.”


October 18, 2009

‘The Role Of Citizens’

“Jamaica simply does not have a sufficient base of responsible citizenship for building a peaceful, productive and prosperous polity. Respect for the rights of others and personal responsibility are of low and declining quality. The polity cannot be successfully governed without fixing these problems and building a sufficiently robust and extensive responsible citizenship.”


January 24, 2010

‘The Church And Crime’

“It is difficult to identify a political leader in this country who is not affiliated with the Church in some fashion. One of the finest services that the Church could render in the fight against crime is to confrontationally call individual political leaders, senior police officers – and gangsters – to repentance. But that is far more demanding than brokering peace treaties between gangs and handing out welfare packages in the desperate places where gangsters, historically bred and sustained by the country’s tribal politics, run things. And the gangs sometimes provide better social services than both the Church and the Government from the proceeds of extortion and the drug trade.”


April 10, 2011

‘Political Parties As Gangs’

“The Gleaner is flexing its muscles against the ‘gangs’, otherwise known as political parties. In a series of editorials last week, prefaced on the front page, the paper has roundly trounced the two major political parties, alternating in Government since 1944 for having failed Jamaica.”


May 20, 2012

‘Towards A Sustainable Energy Future And Economy’

“Energy is set to wreck the weak CARICOM. Energy is a ball and chain hobbling the Jamaican economy. Energy, if it is true that human action is the principal cause of global warming and climate change from global warming, is set to wreak havoc upon the entire planet.”


June 9, 2013

‘The Commissioner, Gangs And The Occult’

“The number and the character of many of our murders, both by gangs and lone, ‘deranged’ individuals, have suggested to some a direct diabolic influence. Where madness stops and demonism begins and how they intertwine is an open question which people who are not pure materialists want answered.”


November 2, 2014

‘Put Money Where Your Mouth Is, Madam PM’

“The country, I have recommended, should adopt the practice of attaching a relatively small R&D levy on to the international contracts for services to the GOJ which companies would be required to pay as a relatively painless cost of doing business. Their operations in Jamaica would thereby leave a tangible legacy of development through the development and applications of S&T.”


March 29, 2015

‘Singapore And Jamaica: Development And Happiness’

“Singapore is now mourning the loss of its Great Leader, Lee Kuan Yew, at age 91. And Jamaica is mourning what might have been. But both countries, with vastly different levels of wealth and conditions of life, have scored highly on various happiness indices.”


April 3, 2016

‘Of Wigs And A Better Parliament’

“The return of the speaker’s wig on Charles’ head with all that it stands for in history and tradition, and the earnest appeal made from under it, no less than the Phillips-Shaw conversation for consensus and collaboration, point to the prospect of a brighter day for governance.”


January 29, 2017

‘Capitalising On Trump Presidency’

“Whoever is in the White House, there are some key things we need to do to advance our own interests at home and abroad. Pushed by the International Monetary Fund, we have bitten the bullet and, across administrations, substantially fixed our state finances. With more coming. Crime, lawlessness and disorder are seriously damaging growth and development prospects.”


January 21, 2018

‘Prayer’s Over, Time To Work’

“We pray too much. We deflect responsibility too much. We sidestep duty too much. There’s work to be done. And there are people in positions duty-bound to proceed with the doing of it. We’ve prayed – again. It’s time to ‘get up, stand up!’”


May 26, 2019

‘Brexit: The UK Will Be Ok, Worry About The EU’

(Final column)

“Running against history (and prophecy) and the potent power of commerce, one of the greatest forces in the whole world, world media has been feeding us a steady diet of gloom and doom for Britain outside the European Union while talking up the merits of membership. But once the hiccups of the actual exit are behind, and these will be short-lived, the UK will be OK. It’s the EU we should worry about.”