Editorial

The Peter principle…or lack thereof

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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Mr Peter Bunting might wish to reconsider his mindless position against the extension of the state of public emergency (SOE) in the St Andrew South police division, while there is still yet no obvious working plan to drastically bring down murders in Jamaica.

For a man who threw up his hands in the air and resigned himself to the fact that only divine intervention can solve our crime problem while he was managing the portfolio under which crime falls — as the former minister of national security — he needs to wheel and come again.

What was implicit in that conclusion of his was that crime, and murders in particular, is bigger than all of us — Government, Opposition, police, army, Church, private sector, and civil society. Only God himself could do it.

On what basis now does Mr Bunting pontificate that an SOE is unconstitutional and ineffective as a tool for fighting crime? One can now see the wisdom of Dr Peter Phillips in not selecting him as the Opposition spokesman on national security.

Mr Bunting needs to rely on that experience and wisdom of his party leader. Having made the dreadful mistake of voting against the extension of the then SOE in December last year, Dr Phillips has learnt a harsh lesson.

Until we find this elusive formula for reducing murders — something which is going to demand every ounce of Jamaican effort and genius — we have to do the best we can, including use of SOEs.

Intentional or not, a vote against extending the SOE is providing comfort to the gunmen who are making our collective lives hell. What does it take to get big men to understand that we can walk and chew gum at the same time? While we have no viable long-term crime plan, it can't be better to leave the country to these merciless killers.

As Dr Phillips said in the House on Tuesday when he supported the extension: “…the communities want some relief from the immediate terror that they are experiencing.” Messrs Bunting and fellow traveller Mark Golding are the only ones who can't see that.

In giving his support to the SOE extension, Dr Phillips did not abandon his position that this tool is not an ideal solution to this problem or even the best solution in the circumstances. But he understands that something has to be done while the search for the best solution continues. That is why he is on the right side of history in pressing the Andrew Holness Government to resume the multiparty talks on crime.

We note that Jamaica Council of Churches has chided the Government for seemingly going it alone on crime while abandoning “meaningful, non-partisan dialogue and strategic action to tackle the country's crime problem”.

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston Kenneth Richards has also advised the political leaders to acknowledge that, without collaboration, there would be limited success in rooting out the crime problem.

We in this space again urge Prime Minister Holness to put the country first and resume the Vale Royal talks with all the stakeholders on behalf of the ultimate stakeholders — the people of Jamaica who are feeling the brunt of the viciousness.


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