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Adopt the Singapore model - Chuck

Published:Monday | July 1, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Delroy Chuck

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

SAYING HE walked approximately two miles of Singapore's roadway combing the sidewalks to see if he would find cigarette butts, the opposition spokesman on national security, Delroy Chuck, is convinced Jamaica should adopt some practices from the Asian country if the country is to achieve significant reduction in crime and grow its economy.

Chuck, in making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives last week, said that although he was able to find two cigarette butts, the zero-tolerance approach taken towards crime and violence by Singaporian authorities have benefitted that country.

"We are still killing more than 1,000 Jamaicans every year. So far this year, we have recorded in excess of 500 murders and we are just at mid-year. It means we are killing over 80 citizens per month, or about 20 per week," Chuck noted.

"In most countries, this would be a national disgrace and a scandal that demands drastic actions. But it seems this high level of killing has become the norm, and most Jamaicans, including our leaders, no longer feel the strong sense of disgust, intolerance and indignation at the daily dose of killings, unless it is some close relative or friend, or some important personnel," he added.

He told Parliament that Singapore recorded 19 murders in 2011 and 16 in 2012. He questioned what could have been the reason for the marked difference between the countries, arguing that at the time of Independence in 1962, Jamaica and Singapore "were on very similar levels of social and economic development".

According to Chuck, while Singapore has developed economically to become a First-World country with one of the highest per capita incomes and, correspondingly, one of the lowest crime rates, Jamaica has stagnated and struggles in the bowels of poverty, criminality and social disorder.

learn and adopt

"We need to learn and adopt some of what Singapore has done. For far too long, we have failed to come to terms with the escalating and high levels of crime and it is about time something is done, lest we deteriorate even further," Chuck said.

Singapore utilises corporal punishment and capital punishment for serious crimes. Offences such as drug trafficking and armed robbery bring a mandatory death sentence. More than 400 people were executed in Singapore, mostly for drug trafficking, between 1991 and 2004. Singapore also imposes fines on persons who dispose of chewing gum improperly in public. In imposing the law, the state noted that gum was being left on sidewalks, and other public areas, rather than being properly disposed of in designated receptacles. This was costing the government large amounts of money to remove and clean, as well as causing damage to the cleaning equipment itself, which then cost more money to replace.

"We do not have to go that far, but surely the regulations and restrictions that are on the stature books must be enforced. When we turn a blind eye to wrongdoing, deviance and breaches of regulations, the violators are emboldened to commit even more serious misdemeanours, and soon the wrongdoing and breaches become commonplace," Chuck said.

Chuck argued that the approach to reduce crime is to adopt a policy of zero tolerance, and to enforce laws, regulations and restrictions everywhere.

"It is a proven and workable policy. But it must be directed, implemented and enforced at every level, at every corner, every nook and cranny, and in every institution of our island," Chuck said.