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Sunday, July

31

- August

6 , 2 0 1 1 • NEWS 8A • w w w . s u n h e r a l d j a . c o m

FROM THE BACKBENCH

Dancing on the edges FROM PAGE 6A

Sell-out…? the loose governance arrangements for the TEF. Kellier asks for specific allocation for important heritage sites. Portia bats for the full development of the Trelawny Stadium. In reply, Minister Bartlett declares a draw in a scrap with Opposition members over the credit for building hotel rooms. He makes a distinction without as difference between our Fund and the British tax. Lawrence and Bartlett are the dribbling acolytes behind the minister.

By Ronnie Thwaites

G

overnment is approving the sale of 40 per cent of the shares in Jamaica Public Service Company to the South Korean Government electricity company. Clive Mullings thinks that this group will introduce liquefied natural gas. He rejects the proposal to introduce competition into the electricity distribution sector. This is the price of new investment without government guarantee. The spoiler Warmington immediately rises to complain about what he sees as protection of the JPS monopoly. Holness tries to shut him down. Warmy is in full cry against the Prime Minister who he says gives latitude to the Opposition but not to members on the Government side. The Speaker is completely out of her depth by suggesting that responses to a minister’s statement ought to be directed through the appropriate spokesperson. The Opposition tells her that this is completely unacceptable. Lady Philibert treats us to a long treatise on bad behaviour. Respectfully, it is her attitude to Warmington (of whom the Government members are deathly afraid), which is causing the problem. I check with Chuck and remind her of the decision of the House to amend the Standing Orders to allow ordered responses to ministers’ monologues. She has clearly forgotten. Everald asks when the bloodsucking approach to collecting electricity arrears is going to be broken and that provokes another long discourse from Minister Mullings on how ill-advised breaking up the power monopoly would be. Most of us are not convinced. He is unable to say how much savings per kilowatt-hour the consumer could look for in this new dispensation. I point out that there is very little protection for consumers in the present regimen. The Office of Utilities Regulation is not a consumer protection agency. The Bureau of Consumer Affairs is not technically equipped to han-

Everald Warmington — immediately rises to complain about what he sees as protection of the JPS monopoly. Holness tries to shut him down. Warmy is in full cry against the Prime Minister who he says gives latitude to the Opposition but not to members on the Government side.

dle many utility complaints. Nor can the JPS be considered appropriate to adjudicate on complaints against itself. It is this injustice that riles up consumers and encourages animosity against the monopoly provider. And it is something, which Minister Mullings can redress right now. He promises to help. Multi modal Mike Henry makes a statement on the RedJet approval. It is about time. A shameless, anticompetitive hold-up is being styled as a deliberate triumph. When it is time to ask and answer questions, the House Leader and an ever-so-compliant Speaker take the outdated point of procedure that it is past three-thirty. Holness tries to make a principle out of his obstinacy and is supported by Bruce Golding. They want to put off questions until after Public Business when many members and the press would have gone. Once again, arrogance masquerading as good order stares us in the face. If it isn’t government business, the House Leader pays no mind.

Behind all the rule quoting, the real issue is the anxiety to get away from the answers, which Ministers Henry and Shaw have for Omar Davies. The narrowness and mean-spiritedness ought to be beneath the personal dignity and the offices of those expressing. Bills & Motions The Speaker was ranting earlier about the House not being a dictatorship. True, but is she listening to herself and considering her pliancy to the House Leader and Prime Minister? Is this how she wants her tenure to be remembered? Her start has been shaky. Wykeham McNeil wonders if the Tourism Enhancement Tax was or is now intended to catch Jamaican residents. He points to the incredulity of any Jamaican advocacy over the British travel tax when we are doubling our own. McNeil questions the use and management of the TEF. Nothing transformational has been achieved. Bartlett blanches. I hear him say that this is the best managed of all the funds. Both McNeil and Davies stress

Unlawful detention Does becoming a minister often rob good men and women of their convictions and turn them into intellectual geldings? How else do you explain the turn and twist of Delroy Chuck’s head: an erstwhile fervent civil libertarian, who two weeks after swearing to uphold the Constitution, finds it so possible to promote and preside over the diminution of the carefully and liberally expressed right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention in the revised Constitution? He acknowledges not having read the relevant judgment of the Constitutional Court the week before and chooses to rely on the convenient opinion of an officer called the Solicitor General. One would have expected that he would have responded to the references to the Constitution raised in the debate on his motion to extend by one year the 72-hour period in which the police can without rhyme or reason lock up anyone.

Decapitation But what must we make of our own brand of extremism in Jamaica. Beheading is a form of extremism. It is present as a method of execution everywhere that extremism is rife. We might not have noticed it before, but four beheadings in a matter of days means that extremism has announced itself amongst us in Jamaica. It is not a special squad that is needed to respond to extremism, it is a return to rational discourse. I would like to suggest that two places to begin are one, with the police and the other with the church. I would have to begin by calling for a new leadership to the JCF in St Catherine North (Spanish Town). The rise of heinousness in Spanish Town has coincided with the change of leadership from Asan Thompson to the present crop. One of the

This is shameful; bears no relation to curbing crime, as the vast numbers of detainees are never charged anyway and merely condones lazy policing, as the police lockup first and investigate afterwards. Security vs Justice Carl Rattray, arguably the finest Attorney General and Minister of Justice we have had, used to affirm how often considerations of national security were allowed to triumph over principles of justice. My reading of the JLP’s position supporting detention without charge is that it is all meant to appease the police whose support they crave in an effort to be able to make the point that the Government is really to be praised for the reduction of crime. But it is a pity to watch the minister’s useful legal brain gone astray. Imagine the rot about taking the police to task if they detain beyond the limit! Consider the impossibility of ghetto youth mounting a challenge against their captors in the 73rd hour! If this is to be the pattern, what confidence can we repose in the Government to defend the Constitution? And it’s not Chuck alone. You should have heard Charles braying about those with reservations about the Bill being defenders of murderers. He and Babsy both claim to have been victims of unlawful detention but now vote enthusiastically to visit the same punishment on hapless others. Some logic. Postscript They searched the faces of Portia and Peter, as they chatted together amiably in the House on Tuesday. As usual, they sat beside each other. Were they really getting on after all? Would there be no hint of animosity or bitterness, which could fuel another propaganda binge? In the end, there would be nothing to report.

FILE PHOTOS

They searched the faces of Portia Simpson Miller (right) and Peter Phillips (left), as they chatted together amiably in the House on Tuesday. As usual, they sat beside each other. Were they really getting on after all? Would there be no hint of animosity or bitterness, which could fuel another propaganda binge? In the end, there would be nothing to report.

It is all the same; it is unnecessary waste and carnage in the service of some pious ideals that are at once delusional and counter productive. We have seen the world of ideologues from the communists that executed Maurice Bishop, the Prime Minister of Grenada, and Tiananmen Square to Apartheid in South Africa, to the Zionists in Jerusalem to the Jihadists and suicide bombers and they make an ugly picture. The Hollywood appearance and business suits with high sounding religious words do not obscure their wastefulness and intransigence. There is ugliness about extremism whether it comes from the Left or the Right.

signature marks of the leadership in the JCF is that once a crime is committed the first words indicate that it is the work of the Clansman gang and then proceeds to supply the motive. Thereafter not much is heard about the crime until the police kill someone and wishes to tag their bodies. I recall that when the very first beheading took place in Lauriston the police in a cynical release said it was a Clansman member and it was the result of infighting in that gang. Contrast this to the approach taken in August Town in which SSP Derrick Knight has anticipated reprisal for the beheading there and the police have stepped up measures to prevent reprisals. More profoundly, we have to acknowledge that the antecedents for the high murder rate remain the same. Therefore, we have to do more to address the fundamental imbalance and inequity in the society and give the residents in community a greater stake in this country. At the same time we have stop seeking to decapitate those with whom we disagree in the wider society. We have to do more to make the society a more tolerant one. To this end the church has to be prepared to do more than hold prayer meetings — it must engage a dialogue with the society not as experts but as citizens who are a part of the society. The decapitation of that mother and daughter tells us that our society is dancing on the edges of Sheol. We have to do far more to bring ourselves back from the edge of the precipice; the bottom is a long way down. It begins with the rejection of extremism in whatever form.

Ronnie Thwaites, attorney at law, is Opposition Member of Parliament for Central Kingston

John Boehner is doing his bit with brinksmanship in the Houses of Congress.

Emancipate ourselves FROM PAGE 6A I was there for the opening of Emancipation Park on July 31, 2002. The seven-acre park is part of former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson’s legacy. He saw the need for a park in Kingston. It has truly provided a place and space for so many varied events. There is a jogging trail, which has grown in popularity and so many couples have headed there for their special wedding pictures. The large bandstand has provided a stage for many a concert. Any talk about Emancipation Park must include Laura Facey’s Redemption Song monument. It’s a 3-metre high bronze statue appointed at the entrance of the Park at Oxford Road and Knutsford Boulevard. The male weighs in at 2000 lbs. and the female 1300 lbs. There was such a furore! That was almost all the focus on the talk shows for months. The news and current affairs programmes had their fair share too. Many Jamaicans were scandalised that there was such a public display of ‘nakedness’. Truth be told, I saw it as ‘art’. The debate raged on for months in the print and broadcast media; in offices and homes; schools and the markets; roadside and academia. It just wouldn’t stop until another nine-day wonder knocked it off the radar; people just ran out of steam or those violently oppose simply avoided that part of Jamaica.

The fountains and landscaping should also be mentioned. The exquisite lignum vitae trees, which boast our national flower, also called the Tree of Life; Poui and Blue Mahoe (the Jamaican national tree) trees complemented with the Ixora and Lantana shrubs. There are several other beautiful tropical flowering plants and palms. Miss Lou at Emancipation Park The August 2003 concert in honour of ‘Miss Lou’ the Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley was hosted at Emancipation Park. There was absolutely no space for a breath, as the old and young poured into the park to show their love and respect. Peace, justice, love and respect make up the foundation of a civilised emancipated society. In addition, if each one of us is to emancipate our self we must first inform and educate our self. If we don’t, we’ll realise that all we’ve done is change the slave master. Who or what may that be? Happy Emancipendence! My column is published every other week, so back with you on August 14, DV. Walk good! Fae Ellington is a broadcast journalist, lecturer in radio and a communication consultant. Your views and comments are welcome. Send them to fae@mail.infochan.com


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