The year seems to be flying past, doesn’t it? We will soon be talking about making sorrel drink and putting up Christmas lights… Meanwhile, “back to school” looms this week!
Minister Hylton’s sticky week: As the heated debate rolls on over the proposed Chinese mega-project in the Portland Bight Protected Area (known generally as the “Goat Island issue”) Industry and Investment Minister Anthony Hylton unexpectedly went and put his foot in it. You know when you get stuck in a quagmire and the more you struggle, the deeper you go? It was a bit like that. Firstly, his office invited local media to a meeting of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), where he was guest speaker. The meeting started late (more on that later). The media were all ready to roll when the Minister’s assistant suddenly ordered them to pack up and leave, because the Minister wanted a private meeting. One or two journalists tried to resist, to no avail. But one radio station “inadvertently” left a tape recorder running, recorded all the Minister’s comments and replayed sections of it later that evening. Oops.
The “nauseating” media: On the tape, the Minister referred to the media’s coverage of the Goat Islands issue as “nauseating.” He does tend to mumble at the best of times, but he did not sound in a very good mood at all, making some comments about his colleague ministers that he subsequently sought to retract/explain in a follow-up press conference.
And why was he late? At the “make-up” press conference, Minister Hylton confessed, in an attempt at being disarming, that he was late for the JEA meeting because Usain Bolt was running in an athletics competition and he wanted to watch the race. “ I apologised [to the JEA], we had a laugh about it and I proceeded,” said Hylton. I, for one, am not/not amused. Nor should the good people of the JEA be – they are after all businesspeople, and time is money.
My main problem is: I don’t understand what the logistics hub is, where it is going to be (more than one place?) and how much space it is going to take up. Most of us actually do not know how far the Protected Area itself extends and just talk about Goat Islands. I do know that there are possible alternatives to Portland Bight; and that Minister Hylton (who is in fact responsible for the logistics hub) has already mentioned the Caymanas Enterprise Zone and other places. It’s worth reading today’s Gleaner editorial, too.
I feel we do not have enough information. In fact, more transparency in general is needed. The government has been astonishingly quiet recently on matters of critical importance.
And talking of ignorance… Opposition Member of Parliament for South West St. Catherine Everald Warmington dismissed the Portland Bight as a bit of wasteland of no consequence. We already had former Finance Minister Omar Davies‘ declaration on the primary cause of environmental destruction. Why don’t these people do their homework (or don’t they care about displaying their ignorance?) To quote a Jamaican on Twitter, “It is laughable to suggest that poverty is a greater threat to the environment than a bulldozer about to flatten a delicate ecosystem.” And where is our Environment Minister in all this – the one who first mentioned the Goat Islands as a possible site for the development, while in China? Silent.
Why didn’t Minister Hylton go to China? Do we know what actually happened during the five-day visit to China – apart from signing agreements and contracts we don’t know any details of? Why wasn’t there a press briefing by those Ministers who did go there, on their return (including the Prime Minister? But I might as well give up asking these questions.
The Interview: Please see the link below to a rare one-on-one interview (in fact, possibly the only one since taking office) given by our Prime Minister to the China Daily. It is quite clear that she has had no practice. She appears hesitant, almost lost for words at times – seemingly “winging it.” Am I being unkind? Watch and tell me what you think. At least, as Simon Crosskill commented after airing it on his program this week, one thing we do know after watching this: Jamaica has a relationship with China!
Not pressing charges: I do not know any details of the whys and wherefores, but the University of Technology student who was beaten up by security guards on campus last November has decided not to continue with the case. The guards were identified on video tape (widely shared on YouTube) as they vigorously assaulted the young men, who had run to the security post to escape an angry mob accusing him of homosexual activity in a bathroom. The episode was shocking and painful; but UTech has been taking steps since then to reach out and sensitize the student community on such issues, encouraging a more tolerant and inclusive community on campus and in society. I applaud their efforts.
Big ups are due to:
Kate Chappell: One of Jamaica’s intrepid CUSO volunteers, a writer and reporter, with a new online television project - 18 Degrees North. You can view their three-part report on “The New Face of the Jamaican Lottery Scam” at http://18dn.anishaconcepts.com now. Her program on children in adult lock-ups will air on Monday, September 9 at 9:30 p.m. on Television Jamaica and you will also be able to view it online afterwards. You can follow Kate’s progress and her thoughtful commentary at her blog: http://jamaicajournal.wordpress.com.
Food for the Poor (again): I’m not sure what the government would do without them. I am getting the impression FFP is stepping into the breach more and more often. It has provided J$149 million worth of furniture and equipment to roughly twenty schools, whose infrastructure has deteriorated considerably in the past year – including the well-known Kingston College. Not to mention J$5 million worth of grants to 200 needy students. Once again, I am so impressed by FFP’s ability to come to the rescue.
The Sunday Observer: For today’s excellent coverage and commentary on the “Goat Islands issue.” I particularly enjoyed the Lord Bishop of Jamaica’s column. I love the way the head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica speaks out calmly, eloquently but emphatically on important issues of public life – including corruption and other touchy subjects that most churchmen and women would prefer to avoid. I also loved Michael Gordon’s lovely pictorial; the reporters actually took the time to go out there. Good going, Karyl.
Our young netball team: The photo below says it all! The Under-21 team beat England to win bronze in the World Youth Netball Championship in Scotland. Well done, girls!
A guest columnist in today’s Sunday Gleaner prefaced his excellent piece with these words: Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. - (Devotions on emergent occasions No.17 – John Donne, 1624) It’s my quote for the day. These are the deaths that have diminished me over the past four days:
“Geico,” Sirgamy Beach, East Kingston
Howard Reddy, 27, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Troy Thompson, 42, Caymanas Gardens, St. Catherine
Unidentified man, Caymanas Gardens, St. Catherine
Elaine Simpson, 52, Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Jonathan Lawrence, 24, Rosemount Gardens, St. James
Clayton Burey, Feldman Corner, St. James
Glenroy Flemming, 32, Grange Hill, Westmoreland
Killed by police:
Ronald Gayle, 22, Gordon Pen, St. Catherine
Dane Ramsay, 28, Green Pond, St. James
2 men, 1 woman, Windsor Heights, St. Catherine – can anyone confirm (I only saw one media report)?
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/no-decision-on-goat-island-development-industry-minister No decision on Goat Island: Industry Minister: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/uwi-academics-urge-government-to-find-another-location-for-logistics-hub UWI academics urge government to find another location for logistics hub: RJR
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-sacredness-of-our-birthright_14977677 The sacredness of our birthright: Howard Gregory/Lord Bishop of Jamaica column: Jamaica Observer
http://www.og.nr/ms/blogs-by-author/ognr-guest-blog/17110-curry-goat-or-goat-won-tons-the-right-approach-to-the-logistics-hub-on-the-goat-islands.html Curry goat or won tons: The right approach to the logistics hub on the Goat Island: On the Ground News Report
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Goat-Islands-issue–Both-sides-need-to-talk_14970536 Goat Islands issue: Both sides need to talk: Jamaica Observer editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/A-PICTORIAL-JOURNEY-TO-THE-GOAT-ISLANDS_14986152 A pictorial journey to the Goat Islands: Sunday Observer
http://barryawade.com/2013/09/the-logistics-hub-a-course-in-how-not-to-do-it-101/ The logistics hub: A course in how not to do it: Barry Wade blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130901/cleisure/cleisure1.html Show us the money, Mr. Hylton: Sunday Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Wrong-approach-to-hub-concept_14958872 Wrong approach to hub concept: Mike Henry op-ed/Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/HyltonBolt-race-made-me-late Hylton: Bolt race made me late: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Shaw–I-ll-rebuild-JLP–if-elected-leader_14985662 Shaw: I’ll rebuild JLP, if elected leader: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Silence-of-the-lambs–Has-the-Gov-t-gone-dumb_14979625 Silence of the lambs: Has the government gone dumb? Letter to the Jamaica Observer
http://video.chinadaily.com.cn/2013/0826/1118.shtml Interview with the Jamaican Prime Minister: china daily.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130828/business/business8.html Hoteliers skeptical of China outreach without airlift: Gleaner
http://www.stabroeknews.com/2013/opinion/editorial/08/28/jamaica-treading-through-its-difficulties/ Jamaica treading through its difficulties: stabroeknews.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Phillips-says-economic-sacrifices-starting-to-pay-off_14977240 Phillips says economic sacrifices starting to pay off: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Big-MoBay-raid_14979893 Big MoBay raid: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130829/lead/lead4.html Telecoms firms lose millions to battery theft at cell sites: Gleaner
http://blog.biancawelds.com/2013/08/eat-your-own-dog-food/ Eat your own dog food: biancawelds.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/JHTA-president-welcomes-Hyatt_14963297 JHTA president welcomes Hyatt: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130829/lead/lead1.html Give ganja green light: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Muslim-family–St-Hug-s-fuss-over-girl-s-dress_14978219 Muslim family, St. Hugh’s fuss over girl’s dress: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaicajournal.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/close-to-one-in-five-births-in-ja-are-to-adolescents/ Close to one in five births in Jamaica are to adolescents: Jamaica Journal
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/rate-of-adolescent-pregnancy-still-too-high-health-minister Rate of adolescent pregnancy still too high – Health Minister: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Food-For-The-Poor-to-the-rescue_14966289 Food For the Poor to the rescue: Jamaica Observer
http://thecrooksofthematter.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/when-media-cease-to-nauseate/ When media cease to “nauseate”: The Crooks of the Matter
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130829/lead/lead3.html International press body saddened by Samuda’s censorship of tapes: Gleaner