Monday, September 30, 2013

Observer column - Desperadoes on our roads

Observer column for MON 30 September 2013
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Health Minister Hon Dr Fenton Ferguson and SSP Lewis, Head of Police Traffic Division at World Remembrance Day Service for Crash Victims - Webster Memorial Church
We were stunned by the news that Holmwood Tech again lost four young lives, allegedly through reckless driving last Wednesday.  To see the tears of relatives and fellow students, to hear of the suffering of one particular child who died after there was difficulty in extracting her from the crashed vehicle – one would believe that such scenarios would be a deterrent to recklessness on our roads.  However, it seems that this society has spawned a bunch of desperadoes, posing as bus and taxi drivers.  Senior Supt Radcliffe Lewis head of the Police Traffic Division, alleged that two of the drivers involved each had over 100 unpaid traffic tickets!
Now, if you have ever been on the road when our two major political parties are on the campaign trail, you would have seen abject recklessness.  There are party supporters hanging out of bus windows, some barely balancing on top of vehicles.  When you brainwash people into thinking that they cannot trust in themselves and their God, but trust only in you to ‘eat a food’, it destroys their dignity and results in brutishness. Come on now leaders, let us see you banish this double-standard and agree that you will no longer be contributing to this indiscipline, born out of desperation. 
Because, make no mistake about it, it is indiscipline that killed those children on our roads.  It is indiscipline that has caused our road safety statistics to soar way beyond last year’s encouraging figures.  On September 26 road fatalities had jumped to 219 since the beginning of the year, compared to 187 in the previous year. 
Zoleka Mandela and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the UN Forum
Even as we were mourning the Holmwood students last Thursday, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller was delivering remarks at the UN Forum on Sustainable Transport and Road Safety. She lauded Zoleka Mandela, the grand-daughter of Nelson Mandela, who had lost her 13-year-old daughter Zenani in a crash in 2010, and Jamaica’s own Road Safety Ambassador, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who has joined the campaign which was launched by the Mandela family to honour the memory of the child.

“I welcome the UN Secretary General’s inclusion of road safety as a health priority in his report ‘A Life of Dignity for All’,” said the Prime Minister.  Let us take that message of dignity to our political platforms to promote greater self-respect among all Jamaicans.  It is only then that we will feel safer on our roads, and indeed in our homes and communities.
Kenya attack
The madness that unfolded in a Nairobi Mall last weekend reminded us that the evil of terrorism can strike anytime, anywhere. We extend our sympathy to the people of Kenya. Followers of all faiths including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, need to ask ourselves if we have been diligent enough in spreading our message of peace, love and respect.  This calculated, cruel terrorism tells us that we have not.  Let us make the effort to soften the hearts of our disaffected human family with the understanding and compassion that is the foundation of all these great religions.
Governor General Most Hon Sir Kenneth Hall unveils a 'Bold Ones' bread truck featuring logos of the small manufacturers sponsored by National Bakery.  Looking on are Lady Hall, National/Continental Chairman Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson and Steven Sykes.
If you think Jamaicans are giving up on their country, think again! A galaxy of 32 leaders in business and outreach were nominated for various Awards offered by the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica.  The ‘Bold Ones’ of manufacturing, identified and empowered by National Baking, were delighted to learn that their pillar of strength, Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson received the top Award for Civic Leadership.  Here is a man who has spent millions assisting new manufacturers to market themselves, including painting their logos and products on his bread trucks.  His company also sponsors the islandwide Crayons Count educational project, as well as the ‘Talk up Yout’ programme. 
Hope Zoo benefactor and generous philanthropist Kenny Benjamin, ground-breaking scientist Dr Henry Lowe, and tireless outreach worker Gloria Palomino were honoured in this category.  Congrats also to the great outreach organisations and nominees in arts and culture including colleagues Hon Barbara Gloudon, Marjorie Whylie, Winston ‘Sparrow’ Martin, and Sonita Abrahams.
Prof Palmer rewards Sunshine Girls
Last Tuesday the Jamaica Under-21 “Sunshine Girls” National Netball Team donated an 18th century map of Jamaica to the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ). A valuable addition to the NLJ's collection, the map was a gift to the team by Professor Emeritus Godfrey Palmer of Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. The proud Jamaican was present at the third-place play-off for the International Netball Competition in Glasgow in August, where the junior Sunshine Girls defeated arch-rivals England 52-33, capturing the bronze medal. Prof Palmer told JNA President Marva Bernard that the presentation “was a small token of thanks to the management and team for the wonderful display of talent and excellence.”
Dr Shane Alexis new MAJ President
MAJ President Shane Alexis as he addressed the Rotary Club of Kingston Luncehon last week.
Yesterday Dr Shane Alexis succeeded Dr Aggrey Irons as President of the Medical Association of Jamaica.  He has big shoes to fill, but will no doubt benefit from the wise mentorship of the legendary Dr Irons.  Last week he addressed the Allison Peart-led Rotary Club of Kingston on challenges in the health sector, reminding us that the budget allocation for health in Jamaica is woefully low.  He gave us statistics from Trinidad and the US to demonstrate that good health care is linked to the economic well-being of our people. “Health care is not a cost: it is an investment,” he noted. We look forward to hearing more from this brilliant young leader.
Minister Paulwell – strong communicator
Whether you may agree with him or not, the statement to Parliament by Science, Technology, Energy & Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell in response to the Contractor General, was a model.  Mr Paulwell, who is a lawyer by profession, did not drown us in legalese, but rather stated the OCG’s conclusions and answered them point by point, clearly and concisely.  The statement is a good study for those of us in the business of communications.
Tessanne Chin - photo from
Tessanne did it!  
Jamaicans held our collective breath as we awaited the arrival of Tessanne Chin on stage for her audition on “The Voice” on NBC.  She did not disappoint – the competition requires that at least one of the four judges who start out with their backs turned to the stage, turn around and offer to coach her.  As she belted out Pink’s ‘Try’, every single chair turned and we enjoyed the ‘begging’ by her judges - she chose Adam Levine of the Maroone 5 Band to be her coach. Tessanne – a true Jamaican blend of Chinese, African, European and Cherokee united us and made us proud with her well-developed talent, her authenticity and humility.  Kudos to Jimmy Cliff for his mentorship and to Shaggy for encouraging her to audition on The Voice. Let’s get her those votes!

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