It’s “Build, build, build”: August 25, 2013

It’s been a busy week for me, and there is a lot more to come! After welcome rains, the air is softer and our garden awaits the return of our “winter visitors” – the tiny, beautiful migratory birds that arrive in September. Are you on your way, Mr. & Mrs. American Redstart?

Chinese “development”: I have no specialized knowledge of design, construction, etc. But clearly, clearly, something is wrong with the Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill “seriously considering” destroying a protected area, including fish sanctuaries, because the Chinese have told him that’s where they want to build a transshipment port. (Yes, they told him during the Minister’s recent visit there – or maybe before? Who knows, because there has been a complete lack of transparency). Now, the Portland Bight Protected Area and its marine sanctuaries are supported by not only overseas funders such as the California-based Seacology and Windalco (owned by UC Rusal) but also by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries – the sanctuaries were established only a couple of years ago! (See my reblogged post dated April, 2012 for details).

Mr. Peter Espeut founded the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM), the NGO that administers the Portland Bight Protected Area, and was instrumental in lobbying for the 1999 law that established the Protected Area. Do read his column. He is concerned (as I am) that the Chinese want 3,000 acres for this development. The Goat Islands add up to less than 1,000 acres. What does this mean? Are the Chinese going to buy this protected land to destroy it? Remember, they have already bought some 100 acres in St. Ann, for “development.”

“Build, build, build”: That’s a quote from Hon. Damian Crawford, M.P., Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, who decided to tweet on the matter. An updated version of my fellow-blogger Cucumber Juice’s exchange with him is below. Mr. Crawford, who has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Tourism & Hospitality Management from the University of the West Indies, told us it would take pages to explain his anti-environment stance.  Pray do, expand on it a little Minister Crawford. I am sure you know far more about biodiversity and conservation than people who have been working in the trenches in the environmental field for decades, while you were busy building political capital up at the University. Right? And of course, you are far more erudite on such matters than mere tweeters, whose academic and professional backgrounds you know nothing about?

What is “development”? In our Twitter debate with Minister Crawford I raised the issue of eco-tourism (which is actually big business in the region these days) but did not see a response.I heard him talking on radio about “equilibrium.” Meanwhile, as I have noted recently, the last tourism season showed declines in visitor arrivals. I wonder why? And do you not realize, Minister Crawford, that Costa Rica‘s rainforests, Belize’s beautiful coral reefs, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and many other national parks in the United States are huge attractions – for locals and foreigners? Just to name a few. Are foreign visitors attracted to concrete, I wonder? They can find that anywhere…

The Chinese, as we should be aware, have been destroying their own environment quite recklessly for years (a report cited in the Guardian describes their environmental record as “grim”) and are busy doing it in other developing countries. In Nicaragua, there are major concerns about their plan to build a canal running through the middle of a fragile eco-system. In Africa, the government of Chad very recently shut down a project   But, we know who calls the shots in Jamaica these days – in the name of “jobs” and “development.” (How many jobs would the logistics hub actually create, by the way?)

This is all part of a nagging, much bigger question: Are we selling off Jamaica to the Chinese? Is our Government in “How high?” mode? I do hope that the traditional media is as vigilant on this specific issue (and related, broader issues) as the social media has been, so far.

And if Jamaica is now China’s “largest trading partner in the Caribbean” (whatever that means. What are we selling to the Chinese?) why didn’t the Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton go to China with the Prime Minister?

Going back in time? Is West Kingston regressing to the bad old days of gang warfare (which have never really gone away)? A Sunday Observer report says the current wave of violence is due to rivalry between the families and supporters of the now-jailed Christopher “Dudus” Coke and Claudie Massop, a gangster who was slain by the police in 1979. Yes, over forty years ago. What are they fighting over? If you visited west Kingston you might well ask that question – it’s a pretty bleak place. But it seems that extortion is their business.

George Davis went over the top in his Gleaner column this week, I think. I know his “back is broad” as they say, but I hope he takes criticisms of his piece seriously. It is not witty or amusing to cast slurs on anyone’s color or other physical attributes, even when the article is supposedly praising said person. Mr. Davis’ characterization of the highly successful Jamaican athletics coach Stephen Francis as “a corpulent man who makes the shade black look black” is what Jamaicans like to call “unfortunate.”

Was that Mr. Azan? I caught a glimpse of the Hon. Richard Azan, M.P., Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Works, on TV the other night. (Notice I am giving everyone their full titles, “Honorable” and all!) It set me to wondering (and another online friend mentioned it): What has happened to that investigation of Minister Azan’s alleged involvement in the construction of illegal shops in Spaldings Market in his constituency of North West Clarendon? Wasn’t the new Contractor General, Mr. Dirk Harrison, to investigate? Well, I have learned that this report is not yet forthcoming; but the Ministry of Local Government (which I believe defended Mr. Azan back in April when the issue was big news) has already completed its report. How much longer are we to wait, Mr. Harrison?

Two high-profile tweeters make their debut: And speaking of Contractor Generals, former CG Greg Christie is now on Twitter; I hope he will be tweeting regularly. He was far more communicative than his successor – we used to get press releases from him every week! I wish Mr. Harrison was a little more high-profile. Mr. Audley “Man a Yaad” Shaw, who is showing signs that he is throwing in his hat for a leadership race with Andrew Holness at the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) conference in November, is also now tweeting. Politics junkies like broadcaster Cliff Hughes of Nationwide News Network are already speculating on the level of support the former Finance Minister will get, although he has not made an official announcement yet. Others say the leadership contest is a sign of weakness in the Opposition JLP. Why? Political parties all over the world change leaders, all the time. No big deal?

What on earth can we do? The death toll from motor vehicle accidents this year continues to soar. The screams and groans that I heard on a television news report (after a major crash in St. Mary yesterday) express the pain and grief and the long-lasting impact of these terrible events. Dr. Lucien Jones of the National Road Safety Council is concerned about distracted driving – put away those cell phones, people! And of course, speeding is a huge factor. Let’s try to do what we can to bring those numbers down.

“Study ranks Jamaica as the worst place for female entrepreneurs in the region”: Let’s say male and female, shall we? Something the Government pays lip service to, but has done very little to really encourage, is entrepreneurship. It’s always a risky business, but the economic climate makes it ten times harder.

Let’s build a statue! Yes, a lovely idea to have a statue of Usain Bolt in Falmouth, Trelawny. But his birthplace, Sherwood Content, still has no running water in 2013. I agree with Mr. Daryl Vaz on this. But hold on… Sherwood Content doesn’t have any tourists, does it? And there is a great photo-opportunity coming up for the Tourism Minister, Sports Minister… who knows, the Prime Minister herself! Which is more important? Go figure…

Petchary sends greeting and “cheers” to:

  • The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) for their support for environmentalists at their hastily-called press conference on the Portland Bight Protected Area. It is very good to see JCSC members supporting each other on different issues affecting civil society. All hail to them!
  • My tweep and fellow blogger (laceandzippers.blogspot.com) Jomarie Malcolm for her great new social media initiative, Social League. More details later – but it’s a good concept with great potential, I believe!
  • Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites for his sincere apology to the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) for any misunderstandings his comments have created in the past few months. Minister Thwaites was clearly offering an olive branch and seeking an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, after a rather uncomfortable period.  ZERO applause for JTA President-Elect Doran Dixon, who in giving the Vote of Thanks did not thank the Minister or show any appreciation for his words. His ungracious comments and demeanor embarrassed many of his colleagues (including the current President, Mark Nicely, who tried to interrupt him) – and indeed, embarrassed us all.
  • Jamalco, Digicel and all the other private sector and non-governmental organizations, at home and abroad, who help support our children as they go back to school with scholarships, supplies etc. Every year they do this, and it is warmly appreciated.

In the past four days, the Jamaicans named below have been murdered. Tragically, two women were allegedly killed by their male partners. The suffering continues…

Dianne Hines, 33, Oakland Crescent, Kingston 11

Paula Martin, 41, Devon District, Manchester

Jabeim Campbell, 2, Spanish Town, St. Catherine

Winston Nesbeth, 65, Montague Heights, St. Catherine

Damion Saunders, 32, New Bowens/Hayes, Clarendon

Shawn Thompson, 36, Salt River Spa, Clarendon

Mark Bradford, 30, Savannah-la-Mar, Westmoreland

Related links and articles (do read and comment on local blogs, with are highlighted in purple! Jamaican bloggers have something to say!)

http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2013/pr13312.htm Statement at the conclusion of the IMF Staff Mission to Jamaica: imf.org

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130821/cleisure/cleisure2.html He ain’t pretty, but he’s pretty damn good: George Davis column/Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130822/letters/letters3.html Pretty ugly commentary: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130822/lead/lead5.html Thwaites says sorry to teachers: Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Dudus–vs-Massop-war-heats-up_14941075 “Dudus” vs Massop war heats up: Sunday Observer

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/PBS-Jamaica-donates-40-printers-to-schools_14922138 PBS Jamaica donates forty printers to schools: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130825/lead/lead3.html No country for women: Study ranks Jamaica as the worst place for female entrepreneurs in the region: Sunday Gleaner

http://thecrooksofit.livejournal.com/3876.html From the pen of a Custos: Sally Porteous on hate crimes: TheCrooksofit.livejournal.com

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130822/cleisure/cleisure1.html Sexual orientation beyond athletes: Editorial/Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130825/news/news3.html “Somebody must stand up to homosexuals”: Sunday Gleaner

http://www.jflag.org/2013/08/statement-on-the-cancellation-of-queen-ifrica’s-performance-at-rastafest-in-canada/ Statement on the cancellation of Queen Ifrica‘s performance at Rastafest in Canada: J-FLAG

http://dmarcuswilliams.blogspot.com/2013/08/why-i-am-conflicted-about-ban-on-ifrica.html Why I am conflicted about “ban on Ifrica”: cogito ergo sum/dmarcuswilliams blog

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Will-Messrs-Bunting-and-Ellington-rise-to-Mr-Levy-s-challenge-_14919185 Will Messrs Bunting and Ellington rise to Mr. Levy’s challenge? Letter to the Editor from Jamaicans for Justice/Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130823/news/news1.html Houses for the Lord: Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/JTA-moves-against-child-trafficking_14930938 JTA moves against child trafficking: Sunday Observer

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/A-mother-s-tears-of-joy_14938691 A mother’s tears of joy: Sunday Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130822/lead/lead1.html Hub sights new home: Government puts China’s preferred logistic site on top of list: Gleaner

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gov-t-admits-Goat-Islands-under–serious-consideration–for-trans-shipment-hub_14922802 Government admits Goat Islands under serious consideration for trans-shipment hub: Jamaica Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130823/lead/lead1.html Environment lobby says Goat Islands development would betray pact with government: Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130823/cleisure/cleisure3.html Selling our birthright: Peter Espeut column/Gleaner

http://cucumberjuice.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/soft-sustainability-and-jamaica-a-twitter-conversation-with-minister-damion-crawford/ “Soft sustainability” and Jamaica: A Twitter conversation with Minister Damion Crawford: cucumberjuice.wordpress.com

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130825/focus/focus6.html Goat Islands: Ecology and economy: Rev Garnett Roper column/Sunday Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130822/cleisure/cleisure4.html China boosting Jamaica’s labour capacity: Liu Lei op-ed/Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130823/lead/lead32.html Jamaica is a major investment target, says Chinese firm: Gleaner

http://www.ibtimes.com/chad-china-oil-spill-challenges-already-faltering-partnership-1386923 For Chad and China, oil spill challenges an already faltering partnership: International Business Times

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Digicel—the-tonic-for-downtown-Kingston-s-revival-_14938854 Digicel: the tonic for downtown Kingston’s revival: Sunday Observer

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130823/lead/lead3.html Barbican residents mount roadblock to go-kart plan: Gleaner

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130824/letters/letters3.html Still no running water for Usain’s birthplace: Daryl Vaz letter to the Gleaner

http://ayooutloud.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/st-bess-a-mini-walking-tour/ Black River, St. Bess: A mini walking tour: ayooutloud.wordpress.com

http://hill60bump.com/2013/08/22/goinggreen-changing-habits-recycling/ Going green: Changing Habits – recycling: hill60bump.com

Portland Bight, in southern Jamaica, was designated a Wetland of International Importance on World Wetland Day, February 2, 2006. The Jamaican Government is now seriously considering a demand from Chinese investors to build a transshipment port in the area, which is protected by law and includes recently established fish sanctuaries.  (Photo: Gleaner)
Portland Bight, in southern Jamaica, was designated a Wetland of International Importance on World Wetland Day, February 2, 2006. The Jamaican Government is now seriously considering a demand from Chinese investors to build a transshipment port in the area, which is protected by law and includes recently established fish sanctuaries. (Photo: Gleaner)
Athletics coach Stephen Francis. (Photo: Gleaner)
Athletics coach Stephen Francis. (Photo: Gleaner)
"Man a Yaad" Audley Shaw is reportedly seriously considering vying for the Jamaica Labour Party leadership. (Photo: Gleaner)
“Man a Yaad” Audley Shaw is reportedly seriously considering vying for the Jamaica Labour Party leadership. (Photo: Gleaner)
I am now receiving tweets from former Contractor General Greg Christie.
I am now receiving tweets from former Contractor General Greg Christie.
Special Corporal Claude Patterson takes a close look at the Corolla Axio, that was involved in a crash along the Mandela Highway in July of this year. The driver was killed.  (Photo: Norman Grindley/Gleaner)
Special Corporal Claude Patterson takes a close look at the Corolla Axio, that was involved in a crash along the Mandela Highway in July of this year. The driver was killed. (Photo: Norman Grindley/Gleaner)
The district of Sherwood Content in Trelawny, where Usain Bolt comes from, still has no running water. (Photo: Gleaner)
The district of Sherwood Content in Trelawny, where Usain Bolt comes from, still has no running water. (Photo: Gleaner)
(l-r) Environmentalists Ingrid Parchment, Diana McCaulay and Danielle Andrade at last week's press conference on the Portland Bight Protected Area, now threatened by Chinese development. (Photo: JET Facebook page)
(l-r) Environmentalists Ingrid Parchment, Diana McCaulay and Danielle Andrade at last week’s press conference on the Portland Bight Protected Area, now threatened by Chinese development. (Photo: JET Facebook page)
Education Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)
Education Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)
The Jamaica Observer cartoon of Friday, August 23 depicts then Finance Minister Omar Davies (in 2005) and our current Prime Minister "selling off" Jamaica to foreigners...
The Jamaica Observer cartoon of Friday, August 23 depicts then Finance Minister Omar Davies (in 2005) and our current Prime Minister “selling off” Jamaica to foreigners…
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller attends a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday.-AP
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller attends a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday.-AP
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang toast during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday. Simpson Miller is on a five-day visit to China to bolster economic and diplomatic ties. - AP
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang toast during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday. Simpson Miller is on a five-day visit to China to bolster economic and diplomatic ties. – AP
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (right), escorted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, inspects the honour guards during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Simpson Miller is on a five-day visit to China to bolster economic and diplomatic ties. - AP
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (right), escorted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, inspects the honour guards during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Simpson Miller is on a five-day visit to China to bolster economic and diplomatic ties. – AP
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang greets Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on her arrival at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, yesterday. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang greets Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on her arrival at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, yesterday. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

6 thoughts on “It’s “Build, build, build”: August 25, 2013

    1. No, that doesn’t make it right. They are exploiting developing countries with complete disregard for sustainability and of course have cash-strapped governments like ours in the palm of their hand. They say “Jump!” and we say “How high?” I think the difference now is that, after colonial powers plundered half the world for resources and riches (Jamaica was once the UK’s richest and most productive colony, and also its most corrupt!) there is not much left. The Chinese are furiously trying to scrape up the remainder. And we will be left with nothing. Climate change is already playing its part (and by the way I didn’t mention that the Chinese completed destroyed a large area of mangroves in Kingston Harbour – our protection against storms etc – while rebuilding the airport road). UGH.

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