For those of you fatigued and disheartened about the events happening in our world, you will agree that we are distressed and stressed, and in some cases feeling overwhelmed and helpless to do anything about events outside our individual scope of control.
Psychiatrists have said that generally, people are demonstrating more symptoms of stress and anxiety these days.
Somehow it just doesn’t seem as easy to watch a basketball game or watch a movie with the degree of abandon and peace we once did without wondering whether, without warning, we will be vaporized in a thermo-nuclear blast.
It is easy in this environment to simply throw up our arms about events which seem too parochial, too unworthy of attention in light of what could reasonably be construed to be larger more consequential issues.
Despite the larger issues we face, however, we cannot lose focus on whats important as we devise new paths forward to remove us from the constraining tentacles of separatism, partisanship and ultimately poverty.
One of the defining characteristic of garrisons in Jamaica is the evil of poverty. We can have a healthy debate on whether poverty preceded garrisons or the reverse and I would welcome that. I am of the view that like every other community, with the exception of the wealthier upper Saint Andrew communities poverty was a constant.
Despite the many political failings of the past, many open communities across the country have benefitted from investment opportunities, while new dynamic ones have sprung up in places none existed.
It is my humble suggestion that on that basis it is imperative that we move expeditiously to dismantle the existing garrisons in our country, as that is the only way that the peace, education and prosperity residents of these communities crave will be realized.
In recent times two of the most enduring garrison communities have seen new political leadership in the persons of Mark Golding in the community of (St. Andrew South) which includes the infamous garrison of Arnett Gardens(Concrete Jungle) once held by Omar Davies.
And the other Angella Brown-Burke in the (St Andrew South West), the garrison community once held by longtime parliamentarian and PM Portia Simpson Miller.
It is important that while we recognize the stubborn characteristics which identify these communities for what they are that we do not lose sight of the blithe which is created on the sole basis of what these communities are.
It is also very important that we understand that crime, one of the most toxic blithe which emanate from these garrison communities will not go away because we wish it away.
Most importantly, we must be adamant to those who would lead these communities a‑la Mark Golding, Angella Brown-Burke and others in both political parties that they do not for a moment see these communities as their own Kingdoms as has been the practice in the past.
Residents of these communities like the South West St. Andrew constituency once held by Portia Simpson-Miller must be educated also that their lives will not change regardless of the office their representative hold unless the underpinnings of these communities are dismantled.
Poverty, misery, crime, diseases, lack of education, lack of opportunity, lack of investment, lack of adequate infrastructure, are only of few of the blithe which are endemic in these communities and it is on that basis that we should never allow the likes of Mr’s Brown-Burke and Mark Golding to get comfortable in the assumption that these incubators of crime are their own personal fiefdoms.
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OLD SCHOOL STYLE POLITICS
Over the last couple of weeks, there have been voices within the PNP in the persons of KD Knight and Angella Brown- Burke threatening street protests to get what they want. Street Protests have a place in our democratic culture, it is a way for citizens to register their dissent with policies they do not support.
Street protest should never be a tool used by a political opposition to cause disruption in the society when dialogue and conversation would suffice.
It is on this basis that I found Senator Knight’s threats to rouse up Jamaicans against Government policy offensive.
It is on that basis that I find Angella Brown-Burke’s recent statements regressive, Monacharistic and troubling.
Brown-Burke said she would protest in the streets if a state of public emergency is declared in her violence-torn constituency, adding that she needs a push-back that entails social intervention – not only boots on the ground.
The constituency of (St Andrew South West) is a small part of Jamaica, but a part of Jamaica. It is not up to a constituency representative to dictate what national policy may or may not be applied in that or any constituency by the Government.
That applies regardless of the party which holds the keys to the offices at Jamaica House.
“I am not one of the technical experts, but, if a state of emergency comes for South West St Andrew, I am going on the road and I am going on the road to protest because we want investment; we want intervention too,” she trumpeted during her contribution to a debate on resolutions successfully moved for a 60-day extension to the ZOSO in the Denham Town area of Kingston and Mount Salem, St James.
Brown-Burke further said: “I want to see a holistic crime plan; I want to know that the individuals who live in South West St Andrew can boast of the freedom of which others speak; can boast of the development of which others speak.”
The People’s National Party of which Brown Burke is a member and a member of Parliament was in power for 141⁄2 continuous years. The constituency of St.Andrew Southwestern has been represented by former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
That constituency has been a safe seat for the PNP since 1976, it has not been represented by the JLP except for the brief period of 1983 when the PNP decided not to contest the election and the seat was occupied by the JLP’s Christopher Rose.
The constituency went back to the PNP in 1989 and has since then hasn’t been worth contesting by the JLP. That constitutes 29 unbroken years of PNP rule in the constituency.
With those facts in mind, I am confused at the temerity of the new member of parliament Mrs. Brown-Burke in demanding immediate solutions for her fiefdom considering that the present administration has been in office for only two years.
Both political parties maintain garrisons, the PNP maintains more, nevertheless, I recall Andrew Holness the present Prime Minister inviting Portia Simpson Miller to walk through the garrisons as a sign of goodwill and togetherness in his first go-around as Prime Minister.
She refused, maintaining that she did not see any walls in her constituency. The takeaway from her assertion was conspicuously confined to the traditional and most narrow interpretation of the word “garrison”.
In making her demands for the benefits of ZOSO Brown-Burke asserted that by the time the ZOSO is applied there may not be anyone left in her constituency.
A member of the Government side reminded Brown-Burke that the constituency has been in PNP hands for a long time to which she responded: quote: “I have not been there [as member of parliament] for 40 years; I have been there for six months, and I don’t care who was there before me.”
The lack of realism in Brown-Burke’s statement is palpable even as we understand what could be the frustration at the 55 murders which has been reported in the constituency since the beginning of the year.
Nevertheless, the situation in her constituency are not new, they were not created in the last two years. Brown Burke should confine herself to seeking dialogue in a respectful way with the administration to see what may be achieved for the people of St Andrew Southwest.
Making outrageous demands under the threat of social unrest harkens to a time which ought to be behind us. The continuation of virago representation should be discarded in the dustbin of history.
Brown-Burke must be made to understand that the type of representation offered by Portia Simpson Miller did nothing to improve the lives of the people of Saint Andrew Southwest. Continuing in the ways of Simpson Miller will only extend the misery and deprivation for decades more to come.