Thursday, November 26, 2009

Who is Peter Moses?

The Gleaner - Published: Thursday | November 26, 2009 Moses - Respected banker

Peter Moses has been selected to chair a special team which will oversee the recently established Public Sector Transformation Unit (PSTU).Moses, country manager for CitiBank, heads the six-member Consultative Monitoring Group. Others on his team are communications specialist Jean Lowrie-Chin, Cabinet Secretary Douglas Saunders, Financial Secretary Dr Wesley Hughes, lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Dr Alvin Wint, and Wayne Jones, president of the Jamaica Civil Service Association.

Previous appointments
This is not the first government 'appointment' for the silver-haired Moses. In 1999, when he was president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, he was asked to chair a committee to examine, among other things, how the gas-tax hike, which sparked nationwide riots that year, could be substituted.In 2007, he was a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Strategy Review Panel, chaired by Dr Herbert Thompson. Its mandate was to recommend wide-scale reform to the JCF.That committee issued its 86-page review with 124 recommendations in June 2008. The Government says it will consider implementing many of them over a three-year period.

Awarded CD
Moses was educated at Calabar High School and Carnegie Mellon University in the United States.He has been at CitiBank since 1974. In 1990, he became the first Jamaican to head Citibank's local operations in the island. He was awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) in 2000.In addition to his corporate profile, Moses is a footballer of some repute. He played for Calabar at Manning Cup level and for Real Mona in the Major and Masters leagues.He is currently president of Real Mona Football Club.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Working to end this 'dark night'

(L-R) DANVILLE WALKER and GREG CHRISTIE... Independent-minded public sector leaders.

Observer column | JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Monday, November 23, 2009

“Haven’t you heard?” asks my droll friend.  “Jamaica has moved up again … in the corruption ratings!”  Well if you don’t laugh, you will cry. The next day, we heard that Moody’s Investors Services had downgraded Jamaica’s local and foreign currency bond rating to Caa1 from B2.  Are we not seeing that there is a direct link between corruption and the lowered confidence of local and foreign investors alike?

In this ‘dark night’ for Jamaica, we have to believe that a brighter day is about to dawn.  The past five years have seen an increased number of interdictions of corrupt police, more probes of questionable practices in both public and private sector, and the appointment of independent-minded individuals to the top posts of Contractor General and Commissioner of Customs.  We have civil groups that we may not always agree with, but whose role in keeping us more honest cannot be denied.

Commissioner Walker has come under attack from those who have had their “dolly house” mashed up by his stricter regulations.  He has acknowledged that some of the bribes may have resulted from an inefficient system and has sped up the process by applying newer technology.  There are ‘no-man’s lands’ in Customs, in the police force, in inactive offices at Government ministries for individuals of suspect behaviour who cannot be placed on the frontline, but whose jobs are still protected legally. This business of corruption is costing us dearly.

We are all demanding a ‘spring cleaning’ from Government, ready to cast stones as if we are without sin.  Every single organisation – church, state, private sector, NGO – needs to take a long hard look at itself and do its own deep-clean.  It does not follow that in a country with so many churches and outreach organisations, we are still having such issues with crime and violence.  Could it be that we are all doing our own damage by protecting our narrow little fiefdoms and interests? 

It seems that once we get some measure of power, be it on the pulpit, in parliament, in the community or in the boardroom, the initial motive to serve gets edged out by ego.  In trying to keep our grip on power, status, pay packages we can become dangerous.

Years ago, I was called in to a briefing session after indicating interest in tendering for a contract being administered by a public sector agency and funded by an international body.  I knew the lady who conducted the meeting and on our way out, she told me, “You  are the only one I have briefed who has not offered me anything ‘under the table’.”   After making our pitch, we were notified that we would not be awarded.  A few months afterwards, I encountered the lady who said to me, “You made an excellent presentation but … these people, these people!”

What has sustained us and others during such low moments are the genuinely good people who still exist in the system.  I remember one CEO who unmasked a corrupt functionary who was hinting too heavily that business for us meant kick-back for him.  The unrepentant official remarked to someone that we didn’t understand “the runnings”.

We should acknowledge that our free media have gone a far way to help us uncover the ugly underbelly of our country, and that they too are putting in self-regulatory mechanisms. Last Wednesday the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) and the US Embassy Public Affairs office hosted a Forum to discuss a revised Code of Practice for Media practitioners.  It was heartening to hear journalists of three generations all on the same page about the updating and adoption of the Code, and calling for sanctions to be included. 

Main speakers retired UWI lecturer and former media boss Claude Robinson, PAJ President Byron Buckley and past President Desmond Richards made robust contributions.  We were encouraged by the respect shown to the advocacy of Women’s Media Watch for responsible reporting, and impressed by younger practitioners Klao Bell-Lewis, Stokely Marshall, and Naomi Francis. Bell-Lewis warned against us embracing unconditionally everything that the international press says about Jamaica. 

We were relieved that the public response to the Economist story on our ‘unfixable’ economy was not one of panic, but of resolve.  On RJR’s Facebook page, Dennis J. wrote, “In the last 10 to 15 years does anyone remember when this same publication has had anything good to say about Jamaica and most Caribbean countries? ... No, an emphatic NO, Jamaica is not unfixable. All that needs to happen is for Jamaicans and the leaders to face reality and do what is needed and not to expect outsiders to fix it or solve the problems for us.”

Austin F.  took a humorous approach: “Jamaica's problems unfixable … I disagree, I once saw a comment on Facebook which stated, ‘If I wake up in hell and find a Jamaican amongst the sinners, then I'm definitely gonna find my way out’."

We go through a gamut of emotions as we watch the evening news: frustration and sadness as we see more violence, hope as we hear a story of courage, and confidence as we see our stock market holding its own in spite of rough international conditions.  Looking overseas there are reports on those relentless wars: the dislocation, the arid landscape.  We see the terror and mayhem created by suicide bombers, followed by the wailing burial processions.  Obviously, Jamaica is not the worst place in the world.

But we do have big issues, totally out of proportion for this tiny country.  The slippage in our credibility and credit rating is a challenge for all of us who call ourselves leaders.  Our culture of corruption has been killing our entrepreneurial spirit.  Decent business persons are being frustrated because they will not participate in ‘the runnings’, and we keep silent for fear of reprisal and victimization.

It is a tough and perilous task, but as our PM has reminded us, he and his colleagues campaigned for the job. Opposition parliamentarians did likewise and are being paid to guide, not divide, our country.  We in church and civil society also share in this responsibility.  We are being called to heal one community at a time, sending the signal to our international partners that we are a united nation, ready to reclaim our birthright.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Frostbite! Kim-Marie heads home

Msg from Kimmy Lou on Facebook:
It's with much regret that Kim-Marie Spence from Jamaica has had to leave the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition due to frost bite on her fingers.
The team left base camp at Patriot Hills at the wknd & started skiing the 900km to the South Pole on Sunday but,following medical advice,Kim-Marie has not joined them & is instead flying home
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

As brilliant as TV's "House". But nicer !!!

Cryptic clues and offbeat remarks? Check. Toronto pays tribute to a diagnostic magician with a global legacy...

[From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 10:29PM EST Last updated on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 9:57AM EST]

‘What does the drooping face suggest, Jason?”
“Ah,” replies Dr. Herbert Ho Ping Kong, “you want to be pessimistic.”

It's Wednesday at 8 a.m., and a group of about 20 young doctors – third- and fourth-year students, junior and senior residents – are meeting around a conference table at Toronto Western Hospital for Morning Report.

The hour-long tutorial, based on a single patient's case file, is led every week by legendary internist Dr. Ho Ping Kong, who turns 70 Sunday. This week's case: a 54-year-old Vietnamese woman admitted to a hospital in Ottawa five hours after noticing facial droop.

Chinese-Jamaican by birth, the diminutive HPK – as he is known to his peers – is in medical circles a giant, a diagnostic magician with an encyclopedic memory and a winning bedside manner.

By title, he's senior consulting physician at the University Health Network; Chang chair in teaching of internal medicine at the University of Toronto; and co-founder of the Toronto General and Western Hospital's new Centre for Excellence in Education and Practice (CEEP). His many teaching awards notably include the 3M Fellowship Award (1999), the country's most prestigious prize for teaching at Canadian universities.

But the titles and accolades don't begin to encompass the range of his achievements. Nearly two generations of his disciples are now teaching and practising in universities and hospitals around the world.

“Give me an optimistic picture,” HPK says to the tutorial group. “So where's Todd?”
There is no doctor named Todd in attendance. The question is one of his characteristically obscure and playful clues, an allusion to Todd's paralysis (or paresis), weakness in the body after a seizure. Eventually one of the interns picks up the hint.

“Okay, what else,” Dr. Ho Ping Kong continues. “How about politics?”
“Bell's palsy,” one alert young doctor chips in immediately.
“How did you know that?” HPK asks, laughing.
This time, the word “politics” was a hint about former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who suffered from the condition, which is marked by paralysis of a facial nerve.

For Dr. Ho Ping Kong, the core case under discussion is merely an excuse for all manner of relevant digression, including geographic and ethnic medicine (to what illnesses might immigrant Vietnamese be most prone?). A little later, for example, informed that the patient's medical history is significant only for hyperthyroidism, he guides them through Graves' disease, Hashitoxicosis, the risks of atrial fibrillation, posterior inferior cerebellar artery syndrome, and the incidence of stroke among the young.

But he rarely lectures, relying instead on the Socratic method and lacing his rapid-fire questions and asides with cryptic verbal clues. Nothing he says is extraneous. His offbeat, seemingly incongruous remarks are designed to test what the assembled physicians know – and still don't know. The hour fairly whizzes by, probably as much as fun as any medical lesson could be.

HPK's diagnostic approach is more Oslerian (after 19th-century medical pioneer Dr. William Osler), based on the conviction that if a doctor listens carefully enough, the patient himself will deliver the diagnosis. When he enters a clinic room, HPK stands and stares at the patient for a long moment, taking in such indicia as colour, posture, energy, demeanour, eye contact – the telltale language of the body – all potential signs of illness. For all the advances in biochemistry and other disciplines, Dr. Ho Ping Kong is convinced that medicine remains as much about art as about science.

A gold medalist in medicine at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Ho Ping Kong completed post-graduate studies in the U.K., then spent more than a decade at McGill University, where he established the first division of internal medicine at Royal Victoria Hospital. He was lured to Toronto in 1984.

One Saturday night last month, an elite group of Torontonians gathered in a downtown hotel ballroom to pay tribute to him. There were half a dozen speeches (and numerous telegrams) extolling his prodigious diagnostic gifts and innovative teaching abilities – and one announcing a new, anonymous donation of $2.5-million to CEEP, established last year with his Toronto Western colleague, Dr. Rodrigo Cavalcanti.

As a result of the anonymous donation, the centre – designed to incubate new approaches to medical education – will henceforth have Dr. Herbert Ho Ping Kong's name permanently attached to the front of it. Among its prize acquisitions is “Harvey,” a $60,000 cardio-pulmonary simulator in the guise of a full-size manikin that mimics 30 cardiovascular conditions, everything from mitral regurgitation to atrial septal defect.

In his own remarks last month – he will be feted again next February, as a recipient of a vice-chancellor's award from the UWI – Dr. Ho Ping Kong insisted the evening was not only about him, but rather represented a call to all doctors, young and old, specialist and generalist, to seek the good in others, help those less fortunate, heal the sick and “not let even insurmountable difficulties stand in the way of good and heroic deeds. There is no greater joy than being your brothers' and sisters' keepers.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blake Hannah on 'unschooling'

LA Times photo

Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, November 16, 2009

"We are being programmed to be inferior," declares Barbara Blake Hannah. Unfortunately, the news of the day supports her. Barbara is very much the daughter of her nonconformist father, writer and publisher the late Evon Blake who famously challenged the racist status quo of the 50s by defiantly diving into the swimming pool of the exclusive Myrtle Bank Hotel on the Kingston Waterfront.

Barbara plunged into the schooling of her son Makonnen and, 23 years after his birth, has published a book about their experience, ending with one of the most impressive résumés a young person on Planet Earth could have. Her account of the care and attention given to her child is in sharp contrast to the conditions described by Betty Ann Blaine of children gone missing from their homes, many trying to escape the misery of abuse.

Blake Hannah made the home environment a place of comfort and learning. In spite of financial difficulties, she was able to provide her child with an education that saw him being invited to conduct sessions in collaboration with Harvard University and address the United Nations Economic and Social Committee.

In listening to Barbara's account of her carefully organised "alphabet wall" where her toddler learned his letters, their nature walks where he counted shells, I harked back to an important observation of Donna Duncan-Scott on Beverley Manley's radio programme: "If you want something to grow, you have to give it attention."

(click on title for full column)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Towards the greater good

Minna Israel calling for 'greater financial literacy'

Jamaica Observer column | JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN
(click on title for full column)

Monday, November 02, 2009 - Last week, a fine young man Gary, from the inner city called to tell me his brother, Bob (not real names), had been murdered. Gary said that Bob did a little farming and each Saturday would set up his stall to sell his produce. Bob's only mistake was to be living in a section of a community from whence it was alleged a killer had taken the lives of two men from the other side. Community members decided to avenge their friends' death and Bob, out in the open trying to make an honest living, was an easy target. Another good life snuffed out by no-goods.

When we read such reports, sad to say, we check the address and mentally move on if the victim is not from our neighbourhood or our circle. If Gary had not become a friend of our family, we may have had the same reaction, so inured have we become to news of yet another terrible death. But Gary's brave voice, cracking as he described his grief and shock at seeing his brother's body, brought us to tears.

Gary was bright enough to get a place at a traditional high school, but sometimes had to walk several miles to attend classes on days when bus fare was short. Gary passed his subjects and now works and attends university part-time. He still has to skimp on food but is beloved at his workplace where he is energetic and creative.

Gary has decided to keep his faith and his dignity, fighting off all inclinations for bitterness or revenge. When someone asked him where were the police when his brother was killed, he answered, "They had been patrolling all day but they just can't be everywhere." What a refreshing reply from an inner-city dweller who has seen the shortcomings of some police throughout his life.

In order to keep Gary's dignity and hope alive, we have to promote an environment of productivity and harmony. If he were not supported by mentors, how could he know that he can still see a way in life despite his cruel loss? If he had not had positive experiences with good police, how would he still be able to defend them? This is the vital link between all the stakeholders in our society. This is the reason why the Partnership for Progress first proposed by the PSOJ must never be allowed to become a casualty of narrow partisan politics.

Profit from ethical business, support for honest endeavour, protection of the less fortunate and efficient government are necessary to keep Jamaica up and running. We support the recent call of Bankers Association President Minna Israel for "greater financial literacy" so more of us can understand the symbiotic relationship between individual responsibility, good business and strong government. While we must attend to our respective agendas, we cannot expect lasting outcomes if we do not operate within the context of Jamaica's greater good.