Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Mark Wignall | Prime Minister Holness must dictate benevolence

Published:Saturday | October 16, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Christopher Linton, also known as ‘Dog Paw’
Christopher Linton, also known as ‘Dog Paw’

Moral suasion with vaccines has suffered a most unfortunate accident and has crashed headlong into its own limitations. It is now lingering outside the gates of a mental hospital pleading to gain entrance. A more robust approach from the PM cannot come too soon.

At this time the COVID-19 playbook is not grooving to any ideal songs that were previously lined up. But for the moment the positivity rate is down and where the number of hospital beds was approaching one thousand a few weeks ago, that has slowed down.

It seems more than just a philosophical consideration as to whether PM Holness can lean on his tough side in trying to eventually close down the options of the hardcore unvaccinated by opening a new campaign on behalf of extending the freedoms of those vaccinated.

Of course, there are some, including many in the opposition PNP, who believe that what the prime minister wants is not so much to use the power of government to force a benevolent act, that of the unvaccinated saving themselves by bowing to the incoming strictures, but more so simply to prove his powers of the governmental bully pulpit.

I consider that position a flawed one. It may not be written out in simple letters and sentences but in the prime minister’s main job description is protecting the security of the people of this country.

In terms of violent crime, many of the gunmen are having their way so on that count it has been my position that the Government never had any other sound options than the stop-gap states of emergency.

And at all times I am reminded of Dr Harriott in 2016. Crime prevention is a long-term goal. Crime reduction is an immediate need.

If a JLP government cannot render vicious gunmen less potent in 2021, I can hardly see a future PNP government faring better, especially when we know that in the PNP’s playbook, the past doesn’t just present us with prologue. It haunts us.

In the last 45 years, the cash register on crime was being rung up at all times and both political parties simply pretended that no day of reckoning would ever come. Well, it is here now.

If every now and then a few of those taking up lethal space in the box of stinking, rotting eggs are squashed, it provides breathing space until the security forces lucks into another squashing moment.

The other key part of the security of the nation at this time is the obvious one, especially with the rise of the anti-vaxxers in Jamaica and around the world. There is no way that any sensible prime minister can simply stand aside and watch these activists, charged up as they are on their words and ability to sway the gullible.

It is said that the great leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, was a ‘benevolent dictator’. I took this to mean that he, more than just about anyone else, knew how far a responsible but specific population could grow before individual wants and desires would mushroom and throttle the grand experiment.

I know that for all the noble objectives, I could not live in Singapore then because, like so many in Jamaica are now claiming, even if my personal freedoms and those of others could in some way derail the progress of the nation, let me have my freedom.

The most basic understanding that our people can get from this unprecedented moment is that we have so much of the past, not necessarily in our memories but in our history books, to assist us in formulating the best way forward.


Police culture in Jamaica has not evolved to the point where the best of our detectives can walk with their heads held high and declare that they have a 75 per cent plus clear-up rate on solving our worst crimes.

Many poor people are constantly packed at various police stations throughout this country and the vast majority will always be disappointed. Domestic matters; a knife drawn, a stabbing, a piece of lumber smashed across one shoulder, a cutlass … and it goes on.

Many communities are natural producers of heavily armed gang members but no one is prepared to rat out these dangerous young men with AK-47s and an M-16 or two. So they see them and say nothing.

If one of their cronies is taken out, the gang members fan out in the community checking phones. If one is suspected, the killing is publicised where it matters. In the community. If a child is to be sacrificed for the cause because of the absence of a live adult to be shot to death, then the new normal continues.


I cannot get inside the heads of those who loved the late outlaw and reputed killer Dawg Paw Linton, but I must confess confusion over those close to him who have expressed the view that society failed him. Really?

Even the very explanation of what one lady said blew up the fallacy of that view. According to the socially powerful and economically safe lady, she identified Linton as a youngster who needed help. She assisted him to attend a prestigious prep school. That propelled him to attending a brand-name high school.

Where he got expelled.

It goes downhill from there.

Society helped him in a very big way and he eventually made a choice to be a parasite to that very society.

I know bright youngsters who have done just about everything to move ahead in life and still it forces them to pull up stumps and emigrate. This society fails them.

Dawg Paw got a big break and, whatever were the psychological fault lines troubling him, it would have suited these uptown ladies to not make it appear that they are standing up for badness when what they are struggling with is trying to explain away the abject failure of pet personal projects.

- Mark Wignall is a political- and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to and