Mon | Jan 24, 2022

Letter of the Day | Use what’s right to fix Jamaica

Published:Monday | January 10, 2022 | 12:06 AM


Hotels and restaurants recorded a third-quarter (July to September 2021) economic growth of 114.6 per cent increase, compared to the corresponding period in 2020. This shows that the tourism sector is getting it right and other sectors need to use what is right in tourism and apply those best practices to fix what’s wrong with Jamaica, such as the senseless slaughter, speeding on the roads, corruption in high places and COVID-19 pandemic. And what are the best practices?

Proactive leadership from the Minister of Tourism Ed Bartlett and the president of the JHTA, Clifton Reader. In responding to the crisis, there was the resilient corridor, mobilisation of workers to get vaccinated; pumping financial resources into the sector; support for local entertainers, etc.

In times of catastrophe, leadership must be visionary and articulate what is possible. Leaders ought to respond to crises and more importantly, to anticipate crises and opportunities. Leadership must take responsibility for the portfolio under its stewardship. Every leader, whether politician, pastor, police, private sector or public sector, will face obstacles and opportunities and must take stock and decide what to sustain, what to start and what to stop in terms of policies and programmes. Leadership ought to avoid blaming and scapegoating and instead find solutions.

It is obvious that the prime minister believes that protracted states of emergency (SOEs) are major tools to reduce the killings. This PM has called more SOEs than all other PMs combined. However, the sincere mistake being made is to believe that Jamaica cannot have both security and respect for human rights. It is possible to reduce killings without abrogating or abridging human and civil rights. The policeman who said on video that he will kill anyone in possession of a gun may be well intentioned, but makes the mistake that safety of citizens ought to be at the expense of due process of the judicial system.

And the people who are denied rights are people who are poor while the powerful are immune to the laws of the land. So, a MP paints the curb in the colours of the JLP and the minister of national security and deputy PM says it is okay. However, if citizens want to paint pedestrian crossings they have to get permission from the National Works Agency. Further, the law states the colours for the curb. In other words, a lawmaker can be a law breaker with no consequence. A lawmaker has not denied that he was the one caught in the video mercilessly beating a woman with fists and stool and he still sits in Parliament.

The current senseless slaughter of humans should not be divorced from these double standards in how people who are poor are treated differently from people who are powerful. The producers of violence feel disconnected from a dysfunctional society.

The society is in need of serious re-engineering as it descends into further disorder and decadence of the most disastrous proportions. There was the cutting off the head of a human and then using the head as a football; there was the killing of a woman during church service; there was the killing of children as collateral damage and there was a pastor ordering the killing of a congregant.

Therefore, there needs to be a moral agenda with a strategic plan, which is adequately resourced and with personnel to see to its oversight. This is more than an annual prayer breakfast and walk in troubled communities. This moral agenda ought to be just, responsible, sustainable and wholesome in order for all to prosper and be guided by five principles:

• Value all human life

• Value the totality of life

• Zero tolerance on corruption and sexual assault

• Equality before the law

• Accountability for wealth accumulation

There are some other good things happening in the tourism sector. In this 60th political anniversary, let’s use what’s right with Jamaica to fix what is wrong.