Mid-Week Memo: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dark clouds linger over uptown Kingston today, and yet it will not rain. Up on the north coast, residents of St. Mary in particular have been wading waist-deep in flood waters. The issue of flooding repeatedly occurs in the same areas, and everyone throw up their hands in despair every time. It is due to poor planning, lousy environmental practices (deforestation, blocking of drains and so on) and general carelessness. On television, a woman cried her heart out as her house was once more flooded. “Look inna mi yard!” she sobbed. “Mi lose so much tings… and mi work hard, hard!” Member of Parliament Morais Guy, who must know the area like the back of his hand, looks lost. Wake up, people, for heaven’s sake! I sympathize, but… Now, while acknowledging that they are not engineers, the People’s National Party Youth Organisation are suggesting that there was perhaps a technological flaw somewhere in infrastructural projects…

Water, water everywhere… St. Mary flooding. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Water, water everywhere… St. Mary flooding. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

And as one of my tweeps observed the other day, who would build their house in a place called Canoe Pond?

So the government lied? Or is it all bluster? Chairman of the Port Authority of Jamaica Professor Gordon Shirley told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that YES, “It will be the Great Goat Island and Little Goat Island and some lands to the north of there” that will be destroyed and developed as a Chinese seaport, creating 10,000 jobs (for Jamaicans?) So those ministers who said (on television) that no agreement had been signed were not telling the truth? I believe it was just a Government official getting a bit carried away.

Magnificent Frigate Birds in Portland Bight, southern Jamaica, which was designated a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar convention seven years ago. (Photo: Gleaner)
Magnificent Frigate Birds in Portland Bight, southern Jamaica, which was designated a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention seven years ago. Goat Islands will now be destroyed to create a Chinese seaport, a government official has told the Jamaica Observer. Is this simply sheer arrogance?
The rural communities of Grants Town, Mason Hall and Kidd Land in St. Mary are cut off from Port Maria by flood rains.
The rural communities of Grants Town, Mason Hall and Kidd Land in St. Mary are cut off from Port Maria by flood rains.

Thieves’ Paradise: This epidemic of “tiefing.” The private sector has donated equipment in the past to many schools (including Walkerswood All Age School in rural St. Ann) and thieves continually steal them. At Walkerswood, they have stolen a fridge, food supplies, computers…you name it. Even the teachers’ shoes! It is so shameful and so sad for schools that have so few resources to start with. Do the police themselves have the resources to pursue these predators and bring them to justice?

Nakia Jackson, the cook shop operator who was shot dead by the police in Orange Villa on Monday. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
Nakia Jackson, the cook shop operator who was shot dead by the police in Orange Villa on Monday. In this photo he does not have dreadlocks. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

Orange Villa on fire: The community where a cook shop operator was killed, possibly in error, by the police on Monday remains angry. Last night, residents protested by blocking Orange Street and setting fire to the blockade. Please read my last blog post on the killing of Nakiea Jackson: https://petchary.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/orange-villa-i-dont-want-anything-less-than-justice/ Now, the residents’ demands have been heard. Minister Philip Paulwell (representing the Prime Minister), National Security Minister Peter Bunting, Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie and Police Commissioner Owen Ellington all visited the area this afternoon and assured them the matter will be thoroughly investigated. A police officer has been removed from frontline duty – good. (Did Mr. Jackson really point a gun, as the police alleged; and if so, why was he shot in the back?)

Police Commissioner Owen Ellington (R) at meeting with Orange Villa residents on Wednesday. At left is Desmond McKenzie, MP for West Kingston. (Photo: Ivan Shaw/RJR)
Police Commissioner Owen Ellington (R) at a meeting with Orange Villa residents on Wednesday. At left is Desmond McKenzie, MP for West Kingston. (Photo: Ivan Shaw/RJR)

Nationwide’s George Davis went down to Orange Villa and filed a very good radio report. He also writes a column in the Gleaner, and this week described Jamaica as a “hand-to-mouth country,” where hustling is the predominant activity. Would you agree, dear reader?

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites read out a list of all the high schools reportedly breeding criminals, then said he didn’t mean to upset them.

“Criminal breeding grounds”? A report by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) – completed almost two years ago but just now coming to light – draws a profile of the typical prison inmate, after interviewing 894 of them (a rather small sample?) Most are associated with “non-traditional” high schools in Kingston and St. Catherine, the JCF concludes. Education Minister Ronald Thwaites proceeded to read out the list of offending schools in Parliament; every media house then repeated the schools’ names ad nauseam. Minister Thwaites says he will be implementing intervention programs in said schools; all well and good. But why stigmatize them? Principals, teachers and students  feel hurt and offended. Isn’t the issue the social problems in the surrounding communities, fragmented families, poor parenting? Did the Minister have to read out the names of all the schools?

Congratulations and kudos to:

Editor of Geezam Tech Blog Kelroy Brown has a happy smile as we basked in the orange glow of F1rst.com's bloggers' meet-up in Kingston last night. (My photo)
Editor of Geezam Tech Blog Kelroy Brown has a happy smile as we basked in the orange glow of F1rst.com’s bloggers’ meet-up in Kingston last night. (My photo)

F1rst.com (note spelling) – a vibrant new tech company out of Trinidad that is intent on connecting the Caribbean in fun ways – helping those in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados (initially) explore places and unlock new experiences. Learn more and sign up on their website. Their brand color is a vibrant orange and the young team (with fascinating accents, and hairstyles!) reflected that energy at a bloggers’ meet-up in Kingston’s Spanish Court Hotel last night. More power to you, Kiev Wilkie and team!

Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, Jamaica’s Yale World Fellow, for her thoughtful and balanced radio talk show (Mondays to Thursdays on Power 106 FM), which is also streamed live. I particularly appreciated her discussions on HIV/AIDS with the USAID-funded World Learning and some of its grantees; in particular, Eve for Life. Today’s discussion with the National Parent Teacher Association was also enlightening. Do listen in!

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? It’s an interesting social media platform. Many members use it for fun, hobbies and so on; but you can create “boards” on any topic that interests you and that you are passionate about. It’s also a useful tool for small business as a showcase for products and services. I am at http://www.pinterest.com/petchary/  I have 46 boards and over 3,000 “pins” (that is, photographs – you can pin videos and webpages too). My first (and largest) board is “Caribbean” followed by “Jamaica.” But I have boards on human rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, Nelson Mandela, oceans, the environment and many more. Take a look!

The grief and sadness of Jamaican families across the island continues. My condolences to all those who mourn.

Jermaine Walters, 28, Clarendon

Ransford Chambers, 34, Rousseau Road, Kingston

Maxine Kirlew, 72, Retreat, St. Thomas

Killed by the police:

Robert “Nakiea” Jackson, 27, Orange Villa, Kingston

Last year, Jamaica experienced a fairly steep increase in road fatalities (mostly pedestrians). At the suggestion of one of my readers, I am going to record the names of those who have lost their lives in road accidents, starting today. Just to remind us to be careful out there! Watch your speed! Do NOT use your cell phone and drive!

An unnamed boy, 7 years old was run over by a man driving a Toyoto Corolla on the Rocky Hill main road, St. Elizabeth. Man later turned himself in to police.

72-year-old Maxine Kirlew, a St. Catherine resident who was caretaker at a house in Retreat, St. Thomas, was found dead there on Sunday. (Photo: On The Ground News Reports)
72-year-old Maxine Kirlew, a St. Catherine resident who was caretaker at a house in Retreat, St. Thomas, was found dead there on Sunday. (Photo: On The Ground News Reports)
28-year-old bus driver Denzil Campbell has appeared in court charged with the murder of his two-year-old son Jabeim on August 21, 2013. (Photo: On The Ground News Reports)
28-year-old bus driver Denzil Campbell has appeared in court charged with the murder of his two-year-old son Jabeim on August 21, 2013. (Photo: On The Ground News Reports)

8 thoughts on “Mid-Week Memo: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  1. Police shooting: I honestly thought the man that was shot had dreads; how can such an error be made? Are these cops blind or just trigger happy?
    Sellout: Africa, Brazil, America and now Jamaica has been selling out to the Chinese but at what cost. The Chinese has been positioning themselves to have nations on their Knees in the future by acquiring whatever resources they can globally, including toxic debts (mostly Americas). Then within their owe domain they will no longer have to mine for coal or other minerals, they will control shipping among (BRIC)- developing nations by acquiring all these coastal land for seaport, which they have done years ago in Brazil. Then lastly the are building a new fleet of navy warships and destroyers which rivals Americas arsenal. The Chinese are coming world and they have a plan it been in effect for the past 8 years.This is not a joke. America now eat, sleep and buy China. Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYKAbRK_wKA

    Grants Town: Sorry. Where is the military? Don’t they have an engineering group that attend to such issues or even first res-ponders? Aid please.

    Education Minister: My mom always say talk out loud to yourself and listen to what you have said. If it’s offensive chances are it should be whispered. If not say it and stand your ground. Once again, I don’t think the school are the breeding ground. Where are these kids coming from? Chances are what the display at these institutions comes from their homes/community. It shows up at the school because that is where they spend most of their waking moments. I remember when I attend school in Jamaica, Jamaica College students had a bad reputation for fighting on buses, beating and bullying other kids, and also destroying property but they weren’t like that on their campus.

    Kudos: Where are the Jamaican start-ups?

    Condolences: My regards to all whom you have noted.
    “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

    Like

    1. Yes, he did have dreads; the photo shows him with short hair but I understand the police were pursuing a man with dreads also. I saw his body lying on the ground (after they had dragged him out and dumped him there) and you could see he had short dreads. I think the adrenalin gets going and they just shoot. I do not know or understand what goes through their minds when they shoot a man. They afterwards claimed to have found a gun.

      I find the whole issue of China’s “global plan” disturbing. It is clear that there is a strategy, and plans to build an “alternative” canal through the rainforest of Nicaragua seem to indicate that. There are fears of a Chinese “enclave” in Goat Islands. (A few years ago I was in San Francisco. I was gazing down at the beautiful bay, when a gigantic container ship came into view. It was covered in Chinese lettering. Somehow this image of a monstrous container ship filled with Chinese goods stayed in my mind!)

      Of course, the kids come from families and communities that are suffering from a breakdown in values. I also remember JC students – as soon as they were let out of the school gates they seemed to get into trouble! But they are very much better now thanks to very strong leadership at the school. However, schools can only do so much (and with very limited resources) with the material that they receive and have to try and educate. They are under such stress. I am afraid the education minister, however well-intentioned, has a tendency to pontificate (loudly). You are right, he should whisper.

      Thank you as always for your thoughtful comments!

      Like

  2. Rev. Thwaites was on All Angles panel discussion last night, discussing English Language teaching in schools. This was a rare sighting, for sure. I don’t know enough about the general practices of government ministers. When present at events such as conferences or symposiums, I’ve seen very good openness to discussion, though, from ministers present. Are they exceptions?

    Like

    1. Yes, Minister Thwaites is partly doing some damage control after his speech. I was more thinking of the ministers making themselves available to the local media. I know they are happy to make speeches at conferences etc but many of them do not invite discussion afterwards. Minister of Justice is one of the more forthcoming I think!

      Like

  3. @Dennis – remember that “Portia don’t watch news” (much less read it)! You should see how many spoof Twitter accounts she has; quite funny if it weren’t so sad. The lack of response from government agencies is a constant source of frustration to me. One can only conclude that they don’t want to hear and can’t be bothered to deal with complaints.

    Like

    1. No, they are not responsive at all. This administration in particular seems to have a major communication problem. Only one or two Ministers are willing to go and sit on a television panel discussion for example. I know the media are always inviting Ministers to participate in discussions, interviews etc (and of course the PM is a “no go area” it seems!) But you know, they have never even answered letters written to them. I don’t know whom they think that they are accountable to…

      Like

  4. Thanks for including the road accidents victims. They deserve to be remembered.

    I’m inclined to think about ways social media can help government serve better (beyond my suggestion that all politicians have a social media presence). What quicker way is there now to put a picture or short description of a problem in front of those who need to know about them, and begin to deal with them?

    Like

    1. Yes, I agree and it was a good suggestion of yours, Dennis! I agree with you about social media forcing our political leaders to confront issues. I think some do monitor the social media, but are hesitant to participate.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.