Saturday, October 31, 2009

Brian Wynter, new BOJ Governor

Two years after this column was written, Brian Wynter returned to Jamaica, and assumed the post of Governor of the Bank of Jamaica on December 1, 2009

Excerpts from column - Brian Wynter goes regional 
By Jean Lowrie-Chin
Jamaica Observer | Dec 10, 2007
WITH an international education in law and economics, and the world of high finance at his feet, Brian Wynter had his choice of big city life on either side of the Atlantic. Happily for us, he chose to return to Jamaica in 1988.
By 1995, he had risen to deputy governor of the Bank of Jamaica, and after the financial meltdown of the '90s, was tasked to design and implement all aspects for the creation of a new integrated financial sector regulatory entity.
Thus, under Brian Wynter's watch, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) was formed. The FSC is Jamaica's autonomous integrated financial services regulator that registers and supervises the entire gamut of financial operations, including insurance, securities, mutual funds/unit trusts and pensions sectors.
Wynter is a stickler for due process. He recalls that though he had been a main player in the setting up of the FSC, applications for CEO were invited locally and internationally, and he had to apply and attend interviews like any ordinary Joe. He was happy that the FSC started out on that proper footing, and says that his successor would be chosen in like manner.
Speaking at a series of fora with the theme "Think and Check Before You Invest", Brian Wynter has been warning his fellow Jamaicans that unregistered investment schemes "will separate you from your money". Wynter says that in listening to and reading recent utterances, he believes that people who are sincere but misguided can be the most damaging.
Wynter is very clear about entities that refuse to abide by the rules and regulations of the Financial Services Commission which demand transparency and accountability: "Anyone who does not register," he says, "is on a slippery slope".
Wynter is hoping that responsible members of the media will help to raise public awareness about these schemes. "In all fairness to the average person," he observes, "many do not understand the workings of financial organisations. They are so occupied with going about their daily lives that they allot only a few minutes to really examine where they are putting their money."
Wynter, who was a vice-president for international financial house Schroder Wertheim International Company, is glad that the Companies Act was amended in 2002 to allow for the establishment of mutual funds/unit trusts that will efficiently intertwine investment instruments and legally deliver more to the depositor.
Wynter has a striking resemblance to his father, the late Hector Wynter, Gleaner editor and JLP senator; eyes that shine with extraordinary intelligence and a positive, self-assured manner.
Although his parents separated before he was 10, and he and two siblings moved to France with their St Vincent-born mother, Hector remained a steadfast presence in their lives.
He and his brother Colin were educated in England where they had to dodge the occasional racist epithets hurled at them. "I do not consider myself to be from a privileged middle-class background," he mused. "Growing up in England, I was always aware that I was Black and a member of a minority group."
This mental toughness served him well as he toiled like a journeyman at the FSC. "You have to expect brickbats when you work in the public service," he observed. "You can't even say 'job well done' because this kind of job is never done. You always have to be dealing with new issues. But that is the nature of the challenges and I find it rewarding to have helped to take the organisation thus far."
The brothers and their sister Astrid have excelled academically and professionally: Colin is the first Black commercial lawyer in England to be awarded the QC and Astrid is a senior IDB representative in the Dominican Republic.
Now Brian Wynter is striking out again to new challenges, having given nearly eight years to the formation and leadership of the FSC. He will shortly be leaving for Barbados, where he will be technical assistance advisor to The Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), a UNDP programme run by the IMF. Its operations span the 15 countries of Caricom as well as Cayman, Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname.This is a logical progression for a man who has built an organisation regarded throughout the Caribbean as a model for financial regulation.
Wynter chuckles when he remembers that after months of discussions on the new post, confirmation of his appointment did not come until the Friday before Jamaica's September 3 general elections. "It was purely coincidental," he says.
As he leaves for his three-year stint, he maintains that "Jamaica is the most exciting place to work and live."
The dedicated family man's main concern for Jamaica is law and order. "Our judicial system is critical," says Brian, "I know that switching around resources is not easy, but we have to spend money on reforming the justice system and equipping our police force. This is the only way that we can address the 'big man vs small man' tensions in Jamaica."
Brian has a sense of satisfaction, mingled with the expected sadness as he looks back at the FSC he will be leaving. "We started out with only Sheila Martin and myself," he remarks. "Now we have high-achieving management and staff that have earned the respect of the financial institutions."
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Monday, October 26, 2009

'J'cans rebel ...Trinis crack jokes'

Ja-Trini couple Dale and Francis Wade: “Change of behaviour will lead to fulfillment”

JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Observer Column | Monday, October 26, 2009

Francis Wade and his Trinidadian-born wife Dale love "tough, intense, unique, hard-to-solve, emotionally charged, corporate-culture-based problems". Their company, Framework Consulting, deals with "typically acute situations" in various Caribbean countries. The savvy consultants work with large corporations but their advice will help businesses of all sizes.

Francis, who returned to Jamaica in 2005 after 21 years abroad, is thoroughly fascinated by the complexities of the Jamaican workplace, which he thinks is not very far from the days of the plantation. He does not blame this "master-servant" relationship on either party. He believes that we unconsciously fall into these roles and recommends that to achieve transformation, leaders should "have the courage to show your imperfections and it will give you a better chance".

The Wolmer's graduate worked with AT&T's Bell Labs in the 80s and 90s when it was a huge entity of over 100,000 employees, but he much prefers his tougher and more exciting Caribbean assignments. "Being back here and dealing with various situations, you realise that even when Jamaicans quickly learn new behaviours abroad, things don't necessarily change at home," says Wade.

Francis Wade opines that the plantation syndrome translates into workers "giving very little and even practising sabotage". He says there is still the pressure of feeling that they are under the hand of the overseer, hence they view their tasks as "their work, not mine".

"I have found that under pressure, Jamaicans become rebellious, Barbadians become restrained and Trinidadians resort to humour," says the sought-after expert who loves giving free advice. (Check out his free e-zines, audios and video at where he has learned from Chris Anderson's FREE - The Future of a Radical Price to offer an unusual amount of content to all visitors.)

"Here in Jamaica, we enjoy protest a little too much," he says. He reflected on a study by Michael Carter entitled, "Why Workers Won't Work", in which Carter analyses a range of studies on our workplace. "He found that when someone gets promoted, they transform," relates Wade. "Thus a worker will say that he wants respect, appreciation, opportunities to improve, while the newly appointed supervisor will say that all the worker wants is money. The supervisor adopts the mindset of "management'."

Wade says that this situation doesn't really exist in the US. "Here we have problems in both directions: employees refuse to be responsible, wanting the boss to be fully and solely in charge, while the boss is expecting an unhealthy loyalty, a kind of subservience."
He contrasts this with the Trinidadian workplace where workers have no time for "the big man". He says that in Trinidad, they make fun of their leaders and the boss drives a modest car. "In Jamaica, even as we are criticising the boss, we may withhold our respect if he or she is not living large, complete with fancy car."

"We like to keep our leaders on a pedestal," says Wade. "And our politicians have exploited this over the years. They give themselves biblical names and offer manna-like promises. But this adulation is not useful because it doesn't build a healthy community."

Wade has seen people even doing good work and not taking the credit, as they fear it may lead to greater responsibility. "In some multinationals you will see the expatriates speaking up more frequently than their Caribbean counterparts not because they are smarter, but Europe and America train their executives to show leadership by speaking up. In several courses at the Harvard School of Business, as much as 60 per cent of the marks are awarded on spoken class participation."

Wade says Caribbean leaders will have to acknowledge a bigger context than the mere inheritance of a culture, and realise that however you proceed, you may be deemed "wicked": "You will just have to accept the context and take the actions."

There is a cultural minefield to be negotiated even by Caribbean executives working in another country in the region. "Trinidadians like to make jokes," says Dale Wade. "But their kind of joking may not be appreciated by everyone. The Jamaican tea lady who is teased about which fete she was at the night before may very well take offence, while her Trini boss believes he is being friendly."

Francis also warns against the labels we put on our businesses. "Workplaces are not families," he says. "If you promote this impression of family, when there has to be a firing there will be sense of betrayal. It is better to make the analogy of team in which the CEO is the coach, but the players know that in the event of non-performance or injury they may be replaced."

This time of recession, says Wade, presents the best opportunity to call people to "a different way of being". The savvy leader can change his organisation "from kingdom to team". He says it requires "bringing everyone on board, identifying acceptable behaviours and promoting a new level of collaboration".

"Not enough is being said about having opportunities and stepping up to the plate," Dale Wade believes. "We are dwelling too much on what's wrong. If we each took that one step, crime could be finished fast. If we decide that we would no longer be paying a single bribe, crime could end. Let us say, 'the act corrupts me and I refuse'."

"None of us is too small or insignificant to cause change," she says. "Change of behaviour will lead to fulfilment and ultimately success."

10/26/2009 2:10 AM
Francis has an accurate analysis of how most Jamaican workplaces operate - even the one inside the home, where the "helper" knows to act like she is mute & the employer makes derogatory remarks about the uselessness of the help, rather than acknowledge the work that has been done. A Trini friend visited Ja. earlier this year & one of the first things he said to me was, "why are Jamaicans so conscious of their place? Nobody even have to say it, but everybody seem to just know what their place is, and how to behave." The man had never set foot in Ja. before & noted that he got precious little accomplished during his trip because of the overly deferential &/or controlling behaviour of those he had to interact with. Until we have employers/supervisors who can think differently about how to organize the workplace & create a more collaborative and congenial work culture, I suspect Francis & Dale will make lots of money off this intractable problem that inheres even in the PM's Cabinet.
10/26/2009 6:50 AM
All I can say is Hallelujah and Amen!!!

Subservience is demanded and freely given!!

The bad thing is that the perpetrators and the victims do not even know that they are in a downward cycle of doom!!
10/26/2009 6:59 AM
hahahahaha Longbench. This is Jamaica and if you dare elevate them out of their place they accuse you of the worst things imaginable.

People are not empowered to think beyond their sphere or position. It is not their job.
10/26/2009 9:26 AM
I endorse Longbench's comments, but I think it goes way beyond mere subservience. For example, you enter a business place and ask the person at the front desk a question that maybe the person one rung above him/her may be the one to answer, but that front desk person does not even to try to get the answer or even to equip himself with the answer, it's just a don't care attitude and you go from one place to another and it's the same attitude. It's not within my purview, so why should I even know the answer - that type of attitude, and there is no effort to correct this on the part of employer/supervisor.
george bish
10/26/2009 9:56 AM
The problem is not equal........

"Managers" will not allow employers to shine........

Owners will not promote employers who have different ideas......who might shine...............80% of the educated leave Jamaica..........

Also, look at the politics of Eddie and Patterson......for the past 30 years......LOYALTY........

Tell me what the people are suppose to do......?...

Have a calypso song and dance.......?......

The people who excel are those like athletes and musicians who have nothing to do with our managerial and political class.........They are the only high achievers we have........

........and I cant help myself but add..........the EDUCATED managers.......they are more ruthless than the owner.........

.......even on the cheapest of salaries.......

Again......tell me what the ordinary Jamaican is to do....
10/26/2009 10:57 AM
Gwaan mIssa Wade brilliant.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jamaica beat NZ!

"I am overwhelmed with pride. What a fantastic year what a fantastic 2 weeks!" Message from JNA President
Marva Bernard

JA 53
NZ 50
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Marva Bernard just told me - New Zealand squeaked past our Sunshine Girlz just in the last 5 minutes - 61-56. She believes we can beat them on Thursday - 'they just need to stay consistent,' says Marva.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunshine Girls' awesome victory!

Jamaica's goal attack, Nichala Gibson (right), looks to pass the ball over the hands of Australia's goal defence, Mo'onia Gerrard (second right), during the opening match of the two-Test Sunshine Series netball match at the National Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday. The Sunshine Girls rebounded yesterday to score an exciting 56-55 victory and tie the series 1-1. They had lost the opening game narrowly, 51-53 - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer

Awesome victory! - Sunshine Girls net thriller to tie series against Australia

The Gleaner | Monday | October 19, 2009

Andre Lowe, Senior Sports Reporter

Jamaica's Sunshine Girls produced a scintillating display to get the better of world number-one team, Australia, 56-55, and secure their first win over the Diamonds since 1998 in their National Commercial Bank Sunshine Series matchup at the National Indoor Sports Centre yesterday evening.

The Jamaicans reversed Saturday night's 51-53 loss to the Australians, to tie the two-match series 1-1.

Overcome with emotion, a tearful Connie Francis, coach of the Sunshine Girls, was proud of her charges but was concerned with the number of turnovers that they surrendered.

Just believe

"I am very happy. This is my first win over Australia as coach. I thought from the beginning that we had the talent within our team to do well, it was just for them to believe in themselves and they really went out there and asserted themselves," said Francis.

"I think we lapsed a little bit in terms of taking care of the ball, but we'll be working hard on that," she pointed out.

In a keenly contested encounter where both teams matched strides on every inch of the court, the Jamaicans managed to come out on top with quarterly scores of 15-14, 28-26, 41-43 in a see-saw game that offered everything in terms of excitement.

Experienced defenders Althea Byfield and Nicole Aiken showed all their class with a string of key interceptions and helped the Jamaicans to a five-point lead six minutes into the second quarter.

They were, however, stifled by a number of turnovers which allowed the Australians to cut the deficit and claw their way back into the game, to close the quarter two points behind, 28-26.

Seasoned campaigner Sasher-Gaye Henry was introduced in the third quarter in place of centre Paula Thompson, whose position was filled by Nadine Bryan.

The moves seemed to lift the Jamaicans' physical presence, but this did not stop the number-one ranked Australians from finally pulling level with 10 minutes left in the period.

Nicole Aiken went down injured and had to be replaced by 18-year-old national Under-21 standout, Malysha Kelly.

Kelly got involved in the thick of the action right away but could do little as the visitors racked up a 35-32 lead to silence the extremely loud masses inside the venue as the quarter ended 43-41 in favour of the Australians.

Nicole Aiken and Thompson returned for the final quarter, which is when the Jamaicans really showed their worth in a demonstration of intensity and determination that allowed them to firstly level and then pull in front 48-47 with nine minutes left.

Both teams exchanged the lead a couple of times before the locals closed the encounter with a moment of brilliance from captain Simone Forbes, who athletically played the ball to Romelda Aitken, who obliged by scoring the all-important winning goal.

Aitken shot 33 from 46 attempts, while Forbes supported with 23 from 26. For the Australians, Natalie Medhurst scored 22 from 24 to lead their lines with Catherine Cox, who got 12 from 16.

Tough encounter

Australia's coach, Norma Plummer, said: "It was another tough encounter that went right down to the wire again and I must say congratulations to Jamaica.

"But it's a drawn series, I can't say that I am totally shattered by the loss but it was a tough series for us."

Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Netball Association, Marva Bernard, could hardly contain her delight.

"This was an amazing display from the girls. They stuck out and fought hard ... this little island fought hard and defeated a continent, I am proud."

The Sunshine Girls will now turn their attention to tomorrow night's two-Test series-opener against New Zealand at the same venue.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Here's to you, Wycliffe Bennett

Bennett... master teacher who lived the parable of the talents

One day, we will all be but a memory. But as testified by the many tributes, few will be as memorable as Wycliffe Bennett. Those lucky enough to have worked with this icon may have complained of his demands but are now grateful to have been blessed by them.

In the summer of 1974, I returned from holidays to hear that Wycliffe Bennett had left several messages. He had read a piece I had done for the Daily News and declared, "You and only you can write my press releases!" I had never written a release in my life and had committed to another job, but when Bennett made up his mind, it was futile to resist. Thus, Mr B started me on an exciting life career.

As it turns out, I am just one of the scores of Jamaicans who call Wycliffe Bennett mentor. Last week we heard Beverley Anderson Manley hailing him as hers, so too Gladstone Wilson, Errol Lee, Fae Ellington, Hopeton Dunn, Paula-Ann Porter, Naomi Francis and Simone Clarke-Cooper. Bennett did not stint on sharing his gifts, inspiring aspirants with his uncompromising demand for excellence.

Mr B chuckled joyfully as he related Oliver Samuels' unique tribute: "There we were, Hazel and I, enjoying Oliver's performance at Centrestage, when all of a sudden he spotted us and came out of character! He asked that the spotlight be put on us, and proceeded to tell the audience that he owed much to me." He paused and added the Wycliffe signature: "What a thing!"

At the Actor Boy Awards earlier this year, Jamaica's theatre fraternity poured plaudits on the distinguished graduate of Yale and Columbia universities, recalling the advice that helped them to make something of themselves: "Never apologise for your presence" and "Always occupy space, Darling."

Bennett would look for the largest of spaces to occupy: like the infield of the National Stadium where he had 25,000 dancers moving like clockwork representing the ethnic groups that are the diversity of the Caribbean in the unforgettable panoply (he loved that word!) of Carifesta 76.

Master conductor Bennett had recruited such virtuosos as Eric Coverley for design, Merrick Needham for logistics, Ancile Gloudon for construction, Ouida Tomlinson for music, George Carter for theatre management, Vilma McDonald for finance, Mortimo Planno for drummers, Joyce Campbell for dance and Emma Crooks for costume. In our PR department, we had Lorna Goodison, Harold Brady, Phillip Jackson, and Brian Meeks.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Prize for Obama!

Message from Emma Lewis, US Embassy in Jamaica:

President Barack Obama was announced as  the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner today. The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited President Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Of special note was President Obama's outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.

The choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Other U.S. presidents to receive the prize were President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson in 1919.
In their selection, the Nobel committee praised Obama's creation of "a new climate in international politics" and said he had returned multilateral diplomacy and institutions like the U.N. to the center of the world stage."His diplomacy," noted the Committee, " is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."
Please see CNN report at <>
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wycliffe Bennett takes final bow

By ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

EIGHTY-seven-year-old theatre and broadcast icon and stalwart Wycliffe Bennett yesterday took his final bow from the stage of life.

Bennett, who was ailing for some time, succumbed to his illness at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew.

During his lifetime, the retired educator served as a former general manager of the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), pioneering organiser of the National Festival of Arts, head of the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC), chairman of the Jamaica Drama League, and as a theatre director and producer.

Bennett, who mentored generations of media practitioners, was yesterday hailed for his contributions to theatre and the wider arts community.

He received many honours for his work in the arts, including the 2009 Actor Boy Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Order of Distinction (Commander Class), the Silver Musgrave Medal and the Centenary Medal from the Institute of Jamaica.

The CPTC's main television studio, which was destroyed by fire in 2005, was in 2007 renamed the Wycliffe Bennett Television Studio in recognition of Bennett's contribution to the organisation.

Yesterday, former JBC employee and chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Dr Hopeton Dunn, said while saddened by the passing of Bennett - whom he succeeded as chairman of CPTC - he was celebrating a life well spent.

"Mr Bennett's passing removes from us an outstanding and deeply patriotic Jamaican who has made an indelible mark on the cultural and communication landscape of the country... he was a great leader in broadcasting and the theatre arts and a very notable trainer in a whole range of areas including elocution and public speaking," Dr Dunn told the Observer.

"I had the benefit of working quite closely with him in his more recent years but his great impact on me was while I served as a young broadcaster in Jamaica while he headed the JBC and also while I headed the CPTC. He was a mentor to a whole generation of persons involved in this field, always insisting on excellence and discouraging mediocrity," said Dunn, who was also responsible for a biographical production on Bennett's life.

Reflecting with the Observer, broadcaster and actress Fae Ellington said Bennett's contribution to theatre and the arts could not be questioned.

"Over the years he has done some magnificent productions influencing the lives of several Jamaicans young and old alike. He has been involved in training a host of persons and he also trained me as a broadcaster," she told the Observer.

"Wycliffe was for me a very giving person and as students I remember he and his wife Aunt Hazel going beyond the call of duty to facilitate us," she recalled.

"For me he was like a father figure and he still referred to me as 'little one' even on his death bed," Ellington said, noting that he will be remembered for his "very, very high standards".

Prime Minister Bruce Golding yesterday joined lovers of the arts and culture industry in mourning Bennett's passing.

Golding said Bennett, described by many as Jamaica's 'Man of the Arts', would always be remembered for his dedication to the training of young people in the areas of voice and speech, noting that he had dedicated almost 60 years of his life as an outstanding producer, director and trainer in the theatre, radio, and film industries.

The Press Association of Jamaica also mourned the icon and expressed condolences to Bennett's family.

Bennett is survived by his wife Dr Hazel Bennett, the noted author and pioneer in the Jamaica Library Service; his daughter Dr Carlene Bennett and his son Wycliffe Lincoln Bennett.

Unfortunately, Bennett passed before releasing the book - The Jamaican Theatre in the 20th Century: Highlights of The Performing Arts (UWI Mona Press) - which he co-authored with his wife and had planned to release this year.

The book is a collector's volume which carries photos of theatrical performances in Jamaica, set designs, art and architecture, some dating as far back as the 1600s.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A challenge to Jamaica's intellectuals

Letter to the Gleaner | Published: Monday | October 5, 2009

The Editor, Sir:

Jamaica's intellectuals at home and abroad have turned their backs on the country's violence. They are lecturing in universities, some hosting radio and television programmes - debating eloquently into a bottomless pit of nonsense - while the security forces struggle to stop this brutal attack on the nation. This country has a population of only 2.8 million, with almost 2,000 murders every year - one of the highest in the world - a scourge that will continue, unless the intellectuals rescue the minds of our youths.

Indeed, we have seen intellectuals unite on many occasions - splitting the atom to defeat the axis of evil of World War II, followed by 50 years of struggle against the expansion of communism - toppling it in the mid-1980s. Recently, they rallied against the Government's idea of bauxite mining in the treasured Cockpit Country - Jamaica's delicate ecosystem, rich in biodiversity with countless wild-life and endemic species, where 60 per cent of the country's fresh water flows. The same passion and zeal used to gather international storm against the Government's mining of the Cockpit Country must be re-routed to creating crimeless minds.

Chest-thumping nationalism

In his essay - 'New Treason of the Intellectuals', Pierre Trudeau argued against chest-thumping nationalism at all costs and proud self-government at the expense of good government, without advancing the people's living conditions: We have expanded a great deal of time and energy proclaiming the rights due our nationality, invoking our divine mission, trumpeting our virtues, bewailing our misfortunes, denouncing our enemies, and avowing our independence; and for all that not one of our workmen is the more skilled, nor a civil servant the more efficient, a financier the richer, a doctor more advanced, a bishop the more learned, nor a single politician the less ignorant.

Jamaica obtained its Independence from England in 1962, the same year Trudeau published his essay on the status of Quebec, still trumpeting political etiquette over economic discipline which would reverse the violence and, to this perilous mistake, our intellectuals sit silently.

Crime is a growth industry Jamaica can do without, so there can be no greater duty than its intellectuals reversing this trend. But if they see the country as a classroom of misbehaving students and, gazing anxiously at the clock, wait patiently to dismiss the class without teaching, then the awful breaches in the nation's social levees - families, law and order, schools and churches - are explainable but inexcusable. The intellectual's ambition is of the people's.

Indeed, it is time for them to lead, finding causes of aggressive behaviour towards one another. Priority should be given to male students entering post-secondary education, until gender equilibrium in education is achieved. Establish self-motivation courses with full academic accreditation into the education curriculum.

Qualitative and quantitative emphasis

Create anti-crime textbooks with projects focusing on family development with qualitative and quantitative emphasis on the economy - with and without violence. The first year of college should be subsidised - a benevolent act to inspire pride and patriotism in our youths. There should be a national correspondence course on parenting with a tax credit on completion. Deportees who committed serious crimes in other countries should not enter the public space before successfully completing psychological evaluation, certifying them fit to join the general population.

If Jamaica's intellectuals have confined their courage to eloquent speeches, leaving only the security forces as a cushion between disorder and peace, the road to true independence will continue to be long, winding and rocky.

I am, etc.,


Ontario, Canada

'Golding opportunities'

Golding and Simpson after the Pre-Election Debate in 2007 - both have a responsibility to help us emerge from this crisis.

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Observer Column | Monday, October 05, 2009

If every crisis is an opportunity, then opportunities abound for Prime Minister Golding and his administration. Leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller, in describing Jamaica as being "between a rock and a hard place" has also summed up the position in which the prime minister finds himself.

So what would you do if you were faced with ever-mounting debt and debtors who would no longer humour your spendthrift ways? First, we have to convince the public that we have no choice, as "He who pays the piper calls the tune". This tune can probably be summed up as a medley of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh: "Talking Blues", "Many Rivers to Cross" and "Glass House".

We heard Education Minister Andrew Holness "talking blues" when he told us that in spite of the fact that his ministry has been encouraging CSEC students by paying exam fees for certain key subjects, over 10 per cent of those who registered for the exam did not show up for the tests. That was $4.5 million down the drain. In his Observer column last Thursday, Mark Wignall quoted the PM's address to parliament regarding the size of the civil service: "the Civil Service Establishment Order shows that there are 41,353 posts in the Central Government. But the total number of persons employed by government in all its ministries, agencies and companies and statutory bodies who have to be paid every week or fortnight or month is 117,000".

Click on title for full column

jam 2
10/5/2009 2:01 AM
Balanced article Ms. Jean and really sums up the task facing Mr. Prime Minister.........his problem is not with saying the right things it is actually finding the courage to do it, pity he doesnt know how many persons he would win over if he could just find the will to do the unpopular thing...........after all if the PNP were in Government they couldnt escape it either.

10/5/2009 6:18 AM
The tighting of the belt is one part of the equation but the other part is a change in our psyche;work attitdue.I remember as a civil servant worker in Jamaica that all it takes was just a light drizzle of rain drops that it would take for me showin up late for work or not showing up at all.I you be at work at 8 AM,showed up at ten,took two hours of lunch,then never return to my post after that; I went home.Does that sound familiar?Vacations in the public sector can be accumulated to two years or more!!Public sector workers who had "green cards" took advantage of this by seeking "under the table" jobs in the US.It has been a long held view that because public sector workers are paid starvation wages,they are given free reign to do what they please without the prospect of being fired.This is a dilemma that any goverment in power faces because of the inability to pay proper wages we are left with a lacklustered and indisciplined civil service.

Oliver Hunter
10/5/2009 7:15 AM
The J.O.S. had ceased to exist at least a decade before Peter Phillips took office.
And as for "bringing order" to the commuter system -
I take it that Ms. Chin is not a commuter.
If she was,she wouldnt say such nonsense.

Wes MoLan
10/5/2009 7:20 AM
Both parties have made significant contributions to our development, both positive and negative. It is pointless though to argue which is better.

The "Opportunity" presenting itself now is for Bruce and Portia to sign a pact to stop the nonsense, and, together, rescue our nation from the darkness that surrounds us.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dr Lucien Jones bats for road safety

Dr Lucien Jones as he announced his council's latest initiative - the inter-parish road safety competition. (Photo: Collin Reid)

Observer column | Jean Lowrie-Chin | Monday, September 28, 2009

Of the seven children who died as passengers in motor vehicle crashes last year, not a single one was using a protective device - neither a seat belt nor belted child car seat. Road crashes are the second leading cause of violent death in Jamaica.
Each year, hundreds of scheduled surgeries in our public hospitals have to be postponed when crash victims are rushed to hospitals in need of urgent care.

These are the facts that have turned Dr Lucien Jones, convenor and vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council, into an evangelist for more responsible road use.
"This is a very serious national issue," says Lucien. "Besides the obvious tragedy of each road death, every year scores of families are plunged into poverty by the loss of their main breadwinners."

Ever since 1993, when as president of the Medical Association of Jamaica, he was invited by the late Professor Sir John Golding to canvas support in the medical fraternity, Lucien Jones has been passionately promoting awareness and legal reforms towards increased road safety.

As the founder and head of the Mona Rehabilitation Centre, Professor Golding had become distressed at the increasing number of patients ending up as physically disabled as a result of vehicle crashes. "The National Road Safety Council was his initiative," says Lucien. "He organised a group of us to meet with then Prime Minister Michael Manley and invited the PM to chair the council. We were delighted when the PM agreed and immediately established an office within a week. Succeeding prime ministers have continued this tradition, and this has worked wonders for our programmes."

We may believe that road safety is a no-brainer, but the challenge is to transmit this message to our young drivers. "This is not just a Jamaican problem," says Lucien. "Worldwide, the leading cause of death for the 10-24 age cohort is road traffic injuries."

One of the reforms to the Road Traffic Act will directly address this issue. "We have proposed a graduating licensing system," discloses Lucien. "For the first year, new drivers will be allowed no alcohol use whatsoever, will not be allowed to drive at nights or on certain highways, and will not be able to have more than two other people in the vehicle with them. After proving themselves to be safe drivers in that first year, they will then be granted a full licence."

I related some of the nightmares being experienced by folks who find themselves in the hands of irresponsible driving instructors. "This will also be dealt with under the reforms," said Lucien. "Instructors will have to attend courses and be registered. We will also be modernising our training and testing methods."

Lucien says that the police have been as cooperative as they can under some very trying circumstances. "Their breathalyser equipment had become damaged over the years, so they had no accurate way to determine the sobriety of a driver. We are grateful that late last year they were finally replaced," he relates.

Further, the ticketing system for traffic offences has been in shambles. "There is currently a less than 50 per cent compliance rate," says Lucien. "The computer systems were found to be inefficient, as they were not communicating with each other. So an offender could be breaking traffic laws in various areas of Jamaica and getting away."

Earlier this month, National Security Minister Dwight Nelson announced that testing for a new automated, integrated ticketing system would begin on October 20. This will include an islandwide IT system with companion hand-held instruments so that police officers will be able to check immediately if they have stopped a repeat offender and hold the person on the spot.

Lucien has lauded Prime Minister Golding on his vigorous chairmanship of the council. "It is because of his interest why we are able to start the pilot and why we are hoping to introduce new road laws in the very near future."

He said that with speeding being the biggest headache on our roads, the prime minister fully supports the committee's recommendations for the introduction of surveillance cameras at intersections. "The PM believes that if we can catch offenders early with this method, we may save their very lives before they take their bad driving habits on to the highways."

Having collaborated with Lucien Jones on several road safety projects, I was surprised to learn that his role is totally voluntary. This doctor with a 31-year practice in Clarendon spares no effort, attending frequent meetings and working nights and weekends.

Such stewardship has made Jamaica known worldwide as trailblazers in road safety. We are ahead of several developing countries, thanks to the collaborative efforts of multiple government agencies, NGOs, civil society and tertiary institutions represented on the council.

Because of Jamaica's work, our prime minister was invited to address the United Nations on Road Safety, and was represented by Minister Mike Henry in March 2008. Lucien has also been a member of a regional body headed by Costa Rica President Oscar Arias and with membership of the IDB, World Bank and PAHO.

However, we still have a far way to go to minimise road fatalities. The NRSC, with the support of Jamaica National, recently launched an inter-parish competition, featuring star hurdler Melaine Walker challenging Jamaicans to make their parishes safer.

Lucien Jones' care for his fellow human being is reflected in his internet ministry -, and his service to the St Andrew Parish Church where he is People's Warden.

He credits his values and patriotism to his parents, the late Winston and Sylvia Jones. "My father served first as an MP in Norman Manley's PNP and later as minister and president of the Senate," he says. "The Manley-Bustamante era was a time of friendly rivalry. At that time politics was fun for me as a child. I have seen in these leaders and our historical figures the resilience of our people and I believe we can bring Jamaica back."