Our Readers' Opinions
October 26, 2007

Has the government surrendered?

Dr. Richard A.B. Cox 26.OCT.07

Even while it was still “fore-day-morning” of the settlement of his administration in office, Gonsalves declared that his stewardship transformed SVG into the second-best-organised black nation on earth, clipped at the tape only by Barbados. Many questioned whether Ralph had joined Alice in her world of wonder. Truth and politics are complete strangers, for it’s impossible to square Ralph’s affirmation with Arhnim’s certification of him being a billion-dollar hurricane. Hurricanes destroy order. So, was it merely the usual Gonsalves’ bravado designed for the feel good effect of both leader and the blinded party faithful?{{more}} Okay, the gibberish aside, what is the truth?

While I accept that there has been a qualitative change in governance since Ralph ascended the throne, reality is, after 6 years, some schools are overrun by rats; Kingstown has not a single garbage receptacle; Little Tokyo is organised confusion; some government ministers meet foreign counterparts totally unprepared; others provide bail for suspected drug lords, and still others use their contempt for the police as the centre piece of their feature address to public servants. Accusations of police brutality, political nepotism and victimisation abound; power outages are back; and to cap it all off, SVG is divided now more than ever. If these are the makings of the second-best-organised back society, then black people need to “dip themselves in ah hot water” as Yellow Man said, for there is obviously little hope.

Claims are misplaced

The above in no says that the ULP has not sought to improve governance. Such arguments would be ludicrous, as from training for parliamentarians (did Walters attend?) to public service reform got attention; there is island-wide garbage collection; and education, health and economic development are always on the front burner. But not withstanding those and others, is this country organised with crime on the rampage? Once national security is compromised, such claims are misplaced, for everything else hinges on this. Being organised entails, inter alia, proper order. So criminals acting at will expose the hollowness of any such boast and put a lie to the claim. It’s simple enough.

If people are being murdered high daylight at Lowmans Hill; if Paul’s Lot is now the Wild West; if murder victims’ bodies are regularly found in different parts of the land; doesn’t that make a mockery of claims that this is a very organised country? Or is it that flourishing crime makes for such a society? And listen this. While the blame for the poor performances in other ministries may be partially laid at the feet of his copybooks, national security is Ralph’s direct responsibility, so crime fighting is his. No, not Vincent, the buck stops with Ralph. And, no, the intent here is not criticising Ralph, but exposing a national disease that threatens to become malignant if the good doctor doesn’t attend to it now.

I disagree with those in opposition who say Ralph brought this upon us so we should elect them with their magic wand and puff! No Ralph, no crime. However, if Ralph fails to address this crime problem, we will soon emulate the pathetic disgrace that Jamaica represents. Feel good rhetoric and pleading with criminals is an Ostrich response. Ralph must act decisively now to arrest this situation, or his bell ringing about SVG being an organised society is just the sounding of an empty barrel, and, Owen Arthur and others will continue to belittle us. We need an orchestrated and concerted attack on crime, where everyone must strike a blow, and I believe these could form part of our arsenal:

a) The police must make regular unannounced searches of the properties of known and suspected drug barons and their accomplices. These people must always be thoroughly searched on leaving and entering the country as well as randomly on the streets.

b) The minimum time one must serve for illegal possession of guns and or ammunitions must be 15 years; this to be applied from age 17. Anyone 14 to 16 found with these must be publicly flogged with the cat-o-nine and placed at Liberty Lodge.

c) The death penalty must be applied without undue delay.

d) There must be a genuine effort to remove and jail the corrupt criminal elements in the police.

e) The leadership of the police must stop this chatter about the country being “still safe” and be forced to get down to actually making it safe.

f) The US must be asked to provide 4 helicopters to our coast guard, along with training for 24 pilots and 10 maintenance engineers in the first instance. After all, it is in their interest as well. These strategically placed will significantly improve our ability to protect our waters.

g) Two policemen should be designated to each neighbourhood watch, which will have their home and mobile numbers. The formation of more neighbourhood watches must be actively encouraged.

h) There must be more socio-economic measures to deal with the causes of crime. For example, the wages of the least paid must be increased, and the general redistribution of wealth needs to be seriously addressed. (The NDP will hate me forever).

i) Government must actively engage civil society (the church, NGOs, CBOs, etc) in finding solutions, thereby establishing a broad based social partnership to deal with crime.

j) The foolishness preached by the new house slaves, the so-called human rights bunch, must be exposed for what it is. They are wrong in believing that rights take precedence over justice and that society must be endlessly merciful to evil.

The hallmark of an organised society is primarily its ability to safeguard its citizens. How to handle crime seems to so baffle Ralph. He now resorts to pleading with the perpetrators.

Is this masking the fact that government is bankrupt of ideas and has simply surrendered to criminals?