7 reasons Montague should stay

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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Dear Editor,

In perilous times such as the ones now being experienced by Jamaicans it is easy to point the finger at those we believe should be held responsible for our perils.

While schoolyard banter has taught us that when you point the finger, three more point back at you, ever so often we forget.

Recently I read a column in the Jamaica Observer titled '7 reasons Montague should resign (or be reassigned)', penned by Canute Thompson. Regrettably, I believe Minister Montague is being unfairly victimised. Here are seven reasons, which I think warrant the minister being left in office.

1) While we are accustomed to the rapid turnover of capital from the tourism, agriculture and energy ministries, when was the last time the Ministry of National Security generated income? Under the leadership of Minister Montague, the Ministry of National Security commissioned two separate amnesties — a traffic ticket amnesty with extension and one at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) raising $516 million (first instalment) and $28 million, respectively. The funds raised from the FLA amnesty have been earmarked to pay for significant updates to that entity's procedures, saving Jamaican taxpayers the burden of an upgrade while earning millions for the country's coffers.

2) Last year Minister Montague, in one of the boldest moves from a Cabinet member, asked that hundreds of deserving police officers be promoted to fill available positions. His move, after much uproar, later saw the promotion of several officers. Had it not been for his very public outcry, we are left to believe that many deserving officers would perhaps be left waiting and suffering from decreasing morale while positions with better salary options lay open. That's pretty non-productive, especially when the force suffers from a staggering attrition rate.

3) He's loud about the things that matter, and that's admirable, especially in Jamaica's hush-hush culture. No one ever sees anything, knows anything, hears anything. The Palisadoes issue is one that deserved the very public attention of the minister of national security, and claims that suggest otherwise should be rubbished. He could have, like so many of us do, allowed the whole thing to blow over in due course by doing and saying nothing. Instead, he insisted that the people of Jamaica deserve to know what actually shut down one of its critical transportation services.

4) He demands respect on behalf of Jamaicans. I do not believe that the minister intended to disrespect Police Commissioner George Quallo, nor do I believe he meant him any harm by refusing to accept the report on the Palisadoes pile-up. He spoke the truth; the report was grossly inadequate and did not meet the standard the Jamaican people have come to expect. Fair is fair! There must be a standard upheld. We should thank Montague for being vigilant on our behalf. When we become accustomed to accountability, these things will no longer seem so taboo to us.

5) He acts without prejudice. Last year the minister of national security shared a stage with a man who was at the time charged with murder. This should not be considered an act of poor judgement; Montague acted without bias. A person is, after all, innocent until proven guilty.

6) He moves swiftly in the interest of the Jamaican people. Last year's botched used car purchase was as embarrassing as a public issue could get. Had he been someone else, perhaps they would've retreated to the hills to seek solace. Instead, Montague not only declared that his ministry had broken no rules in the importation deal, but he called on the performance bond and secured the taxpayers' money. He also quickly sourced the vehicles locally in the middle of the busy Yuletide season.

7) Finally, his leadership has seen the death of Jamaica's most wanted man Marlon “Duppy Film” Perry; the dismantling of several troubling gangs, including the multi-parish Uchence Gang; the mounting of successful zones of special operations in Denham Town and Mount Salem, St James; the recovery of several illegal rounds of ammunition; and the largest gun bust in local history.

Sharon Silvester


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