Tue | May 30, 2023

Letter of the Day | Frustration all around

Published:Wednesday | January 19, 2022 | 12:07 AM


It is frustration time all around right now. It’s not only Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey and Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica Keith Duncan who are feeling it and whose tears and voices we see on TV and hear on radio.

We are baffled to see Minister Horace Chang put police stations over paying the men and women who will work in them and paying them on time! And for so long! How blind and deaf can Chang and, praising him, Holness be!

The frustration cannot be measured by Andrew’s tears, however, nor even by the number of the murders daily, now at five. Who can measure the suffering, the trauma, of adults, mothers and children especially, living with gunshot explosions daily in their ears, daily the dead bodies? Duncan has been trying to be the voice of such communities and their long anguish.

The reason for frustration is another matter. For Holness, it’s the People’s National Party (PNP) blocking his preferred State of Emergency (SOE) solution. For Bailey, it’s his men and women with low pay, low morale facing – and taking home at nights – a daily torrent of cruel killings. For Duncan, it’s over Holness’ refusal to use the crime consensus already reached.

In my view (and in Duncan’s, it would appear) the location of the crisis is in governance. It is in Holness’ decision for the Jamaica Labour Party ‘Government’ to solve, by itself alone rather than in a national alliance, the deadly grip that violence and murder have on Jamaica. The new ministerial appointments and constitutional amendments, planned to allow ‘Government’, Labour Party alone, to take SOE decisions despite PNP opposition, make this patent. He is boxing aside every alternative.

Holness steadfastly refused, after a token instance, to follow the Vale Royal option urged by The Gleaner, private sector and many others. The consensus two years ago that took in, besides the Opposition, private sector and civil society representatives, was reached only after concerted pressure. But this has barely moved despite patient and persevering chairing by Lloyd Distant of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce. Private sector and civil society – church, trade unions, NGOs, media – all except Holness see and want a national undertaking as the only way forward out of the partisanship. Tourniquets on blood flow will not satisfy the grave demands stifled by decades of political partisanship.