Basil Waine Kong
With all due respect, I believe our PM (Prime Minister)is under the illusion that a state of emergency (SOE)that authorizes our soldiers and police to be arresting officer, judge, jury and executioner is the answer to the crime monster. While the declaration of the SOE was absolutely the right thing to do to meet the immediate threat and the attack against the state, it is no substitute for day to day policing. He has, however, sold the public that a long term SOE will be effective and make us feel safe again.
Crime statistics reported by the government predictably show dramatic improvement but at what price? The killing of over 70 suspects or imprisoning over 4,000 compromises our rights as citizens without the requirement that they be formally charged and determine their guilt or innocence in a count of law. Apparently, more than 99% of those taken from their families and detained for up to two months under horrendous circumstances are never charged. An attack on crime in any society requires an investment in people, strategic planning and hard work, these do not seem to be elements of what is being done.
According to Hunmin Campbell: “The security forces and their admirers believe that the current crime problem can be solved quickly and easily. There is no quick fix to our crime problem. The Government must not be fooled by the facade of commissioner of police Owen Ellington or the eloquence of Colonel Rocky Meade of the Jamaica Defence Force.”
Regardless of the pushback from the Chamber of Commerce, It was correct for the PNP representatives not to support the extension. The SOE provision in our constitution was never envisioned as a long term approach to crime. But our PM’s great gift is that he can sell worthless pyrites for gold. While the Dons are on the run and we are focused on catching the bad guys and reducing the number of homicides, what is this doing to our basic human rights? What is the price of a crime free society?
With our culture of police brutality against poor people, we should be reminded about what they say about the path to hell. This usurpation of illegal powers is no substitute for a comprehensive plan to address not only crime but social development as well. The only money we are never short of is for law enforcement. When will we start redirecting some of these funds to education, jobs, and the rehabilitation of the criminals we are bent on putting behind bars?. As these are not life sentences, how will they be re-introduced into society? Most of these men who are being imprisoned are our youths. With five to ten years in prison, they will not only be more bitter, they will have gone to prison school and will have been indoctrinated into the criminal sub-culture. What will they do when they are released?
If you ever wonder about the plight of our young black men,I am envisioning two of them sitting side by side at the Emergency room at KPH waiting for a doctor to tend to their wounds—one a soldier shot by a criminal and the other a criminal shot by a soldier.
This is what a confessed criminal told me: “Wa me fe do? Me a desperate man and desperate men do desperate things. I am 21 years old and nutten a gwaun. Me can’t read and me no fine no work. Every day me wake up from kotching and stress over how me gwan get a food. Me try to sell a little ting them pon the road but the police run me. If me don’t beg, tief or borrow, how me fe live? How me ever gwan have woman and pickney? Can me even dream of owning a car and house? Life hard. From the day me bawn, me have trouble. Life better in prison.”
Illiteracy is intolerable everywhere else but Jamaica. One third of our people cannot read. Where is the investment in their future? Our government close their ears to the cries of the oppressed and shut their eyes to the crimes of the rich. According to Mr. Lloyd Smith: “Jamaica has one of the highest levels of illiteracy and non-productivity in the Caribbean and Latin American region. This country is also one of the most undisciplined, corrupt and crime-ridden in the world. Education must be the means by which we change all that for the better, not just freeness or states of emergency.”
Declaring a SOE says more about the incompetence of government than about law and order. We do not educate our people, tell them not to bother knocking at the door of government for help, deny them access to basic services and sentence them to a life of misery.
Leaders with a lust for power, once in fear for their tenure, cannot help but to be arbitrary and cruel. Today the gunmen and the poor. Who will it be tomorrow?
Personally, I live in fear, not only from criminals but from the government as well. What is to prevent the PM (under his emergency powers) from sending soldiers to extricate me from my home just because he doesn’t like what I write or say about him. Do we still have free speech? Tumultuous liberty is better than disgraceful peace. “I would rather be a dead man in my grave than living as a puppet or a slave.” (Jimmy Cliff) Ruling by fear is the worst kind of government.
To quote Mr. Stanley Redwood: “Expediency has often been used as an excuse for oppression. Let us be very careful what we ask for. We just might get it. And those of us who spring from an ancestry of oppressed people and who continue to live and work among our people, we cannot afford to be so cavalier with our hard-won fundamental rights and constitutional freedoms.”
Our PM is not only misguided, he does not think things through and is without the moral fortitude to lead the country. It never occurs to him that solving one problem creates at least two more problems to solve. I am going to guess when he ordered the detention of thousands of our citizens, he never thought about where they would be housed and how their physical needs were to be addressed. History will judge him unkindly because:
“Moral Evil is Falsehood in actions; as Falsehood is Crime in words. Injustice is the essence of Falsehood; and every false word is an injustice.” (Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike)
But then again, desperate men do desperate things. The end, ladies and gentlemen, does not justify the means. It is time to bring back the restorer of the trust and the builder of the nation.
Bullet Columnist Basil Waine Kong has written several pieces for this journal and especially likes to expound on his favorite subject: his beloved Jamaica. He is a former Atlien (resident of Atlanta GA), and was the CEO of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) for 22 years before his retirement in 2008 to return to Jamaica. This article is reprinted with his permission from his blogsite; Coming in From the Cold… Bob Marley