By Order, Management
By John Maxwell
The Jamaica Observer
July 9, 2006
John It is enough to make your hair stand on end. A child is screaming - a teenage girl is being gang-raped in the back seat of a moving car. The car is being driven by the deacon of a church. The rapists are the girl's schoolmates.
There is a voice apparently giving instructions to the hysterical girl although it is not clear that the hysterical child can hear anything but the sound of her own terror.
The car is being driven by a man, the deacon of a church to which all the participants in this obscene drama are connected. We do not know whether it is his voice giving instructions to the girl. We do know that his pastor says that the deacon has admitted doing wrong, that in the pastor's words, "he has disciplined himself".
The pastor is a retired judge of the Jamaican High Court. Mr Martin Wright does not apparently know that as someone who knows of a felony, it is his duty to report it to the police. The felon cannot discipline himself. In Mr Justice Wright's court, there must have been hundreds of cases where expressed remorse did not prevent the law from taking its course.
But perhaps the church has different rules.
Perhaps the church's law is now superior to the law of the land.
Perhaps the Director of Public Prosecutions should seek to establish this fact by bringing a prosecution against Mr Wright - simply, of course, to test whose law is supreme in this instance.
Recently, so-called Christian lawyers have been claiming that human rights should be subject to the over-riding doctrines of sectarian fundamentalist Christianity. The Jamaican version of the Taliban believes that human rights to privacy should be reduced to allow them or their agents to penetrate the bedrooms of consenting adults to view and perhaps prosecute instances of what they may deem to be unnatural behaviour.
Their view of what is unnatural is not derived from scientific observation but taken from the oral histories of nomadic tribes whose social mores reflected the times in which they lived, four or five thousand years ago.
At that time, of course, there was no such thing as universal human rights; women were the property of their men and anyone who took the name of God "in vain" was legally liable to be stoned to death.
Cherry picking the Bible to satisfy their lust for revenge and blood is, of course, superior to any other lust. It does not occur to the Taliban that any diminution of the privacy enjoyed by Jamaicans at this moment might be enough to get them into trouble with the law in another time, should there for instance, be a government, which supported a different religion.
If human rights are to mean anything, they must mean that all humans are entitled to the same rights. But the Jamaican Taliban has eminent precedent: certain elements of the Caribbean Press would wish to enshrine sectoral rights.
Freedom of the press, according to these worthies, does not belong to the People but to the Press. And, pretty soon, freedom of religion will only apply to those religions approved by the Taliban.
By order, management I
The Tinson Pen airport has been closed, on the orders and authority of the Port Authority. These are the same people who, without a care in the world, employed a Belgian dredging company three years ago to redistribute toxic waste from the bottom of the Kingston harbour to produce new land. The fact that these wastes included :
'Arsenic, Benzene, Cadmium, Chlordane, Chloroform, Chromium, Cresols, 2,4-D9 (aka Agent Orange) dichlorobenzene, dichlorethane, dinitrotoluene, Endrin, Heptachlor, Hexachlorobutadiene, lead, lindane, mercury, nitrobenzene, pentachlorophenol, pyridine, selenium, tetrachloroethylene, toxaphene, 4,5 Trichlorophenol and vinyl chloride.
'Many PBTs are associated with a range of adverse human health effects, including damage to nervous system and deformities of the sex organs and reproductive system generally, and associated developmental problems, cancer, plus genetic impacts.
They not only deform people now living, but may deform people not yet conceived. Particular risks may be posed to the developing foetus or young child where critical organs, such as the central nervous system and the reproductive system, are under development. (Commonsense: People at Risk, February 2002).
The incredibly dangerous movement of these poisons was, apparently, to provide space for the storage of containers. Unfortunately for all of us, the Port Authority's planning was faulty and so, in their wisdom, the Authority has decided to close down the country's busiest domestic airport at Tinson Pen, in order to store cargo containers.
So, having endangered the health of generations yet unborn as well as the present-day inhabitants of the areas round the harbour, the Port Authority is increasing our general risk by adding 50% to the traffic to be handled by the Norman Manley International airport - NMIA
This is not a small matter. In 2004, Norman Manley handled 39,296 flights (arrivals and departures) while Tinson Pen handled 20,186.
This bold decision of the Port Authority, without public consultation, means that Norman Manley's flight load will go up 50%, to 60,000 flights a year on one runway. This would not be so dangerous if all the flights were commercial jets with highly experienced pilots and state of the art navigation equipment. Among the new NMIA load will be student pilots and countless small aeroplanes flown for sport.
I plan to restrict my aeroplane time as much as possible in the future. Certainly, the new arrangements should provide for considerable excitement during rush periods like the World Cup of cricket.
By order, management II
We are all familiar with the signs by which Imperial Jamaica keeps its distance from the hoi polloi. Some absolutely arrogant notice is posted, arrogating all sorts of rights to some unnamed authority, ending in the words: 'By Order, management.'
This is an instruction that these directions are not to be questioned. They are the product of 'higher authority' and perhaps, a higher intelligence, answerable, one suspects, only to God. The Port Authority is only one of several QUANGOs (quasi non-governmental organisations aka statutory corporations or more recently, executive agencies) in which the role of the plantation boss is assumed by newly empowered and overpaid bureaucrats masquerading as underpaid geniuses.
Apart from the Port Authority, there are three more, which should put the fear of God into Jamaicans. These include the Urban Development Corporation, (UDC) the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and the National Environmental Protection Agency, (NEPA) all of whom are engaged, in my opinion, in reducing Jamaican human rights to the Statutory Globalised Minimum.
The NEPA was formed by the conglomeration of the Town Planning Department (TPD) and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA). Among its duties are the safeguarding of the Jamaican natural patrimony and the planning of safe communities. Effectively, the combination of the NRCA and the TPD has meant a serious diminution in the protections afforded by the laws supposedly governing these bodies.
The understaffed and widely ignored TPD is effectively outranked by the NRCA, which means that its recommendations are not taken seriously. The NRCA apparently believes that its function is to get out of the way of 'development' no matter how unsustainable such development might be.
One way the NRCA gets round the rules is to regard any development as relevant only to the small populations nearest to it. Environmental Impact Assessments which should be on the public agenda, are discussed in small, obscure meetings, called at short notice in some backwoods meeting hall.
The so-called EIA for the horrendous Doomsday Highway was publicly discussed by a few dozen people in a restaurant in Spanish Town. The Northcoast Highway was never publicly discussed, as far as I can ascertain. The dispute over the Portmore connection to Kingston would not have happened had the government been forced to follow its own rules.
The destruction of Harris Savannah, one of the biological treasures of the world, is now imminent for the same reason.
Also imminent is the destruction of the Winniefred (sic) Beach in Portland, the last public beach for several miles in any direction and one of the first public beaches to be established by the Beach Control Authority 50 years ago.
The Winniefred Rest Home at Fairy Hill was the gift of Frederick Barnet Brown and his wife, Mrs Annie Brown, and was named, it is said, after their faithful retainer of many years, one Winniefred. In Brown's will, dated May 14, 1918, the Fairy Hill property was given as a rest home for missionary workers, teachers and responsible poor persons. When the Jamaican Poor law was revised the home fell into disuse. In the 1970s the land was leased to small farmers. The beach was left to the public.
Using some legal or illegal legerdemain, the UDC has managed to evict the holders of the 50 year leases on the property and is now seeking to capture the beach where, they say, they will be building an 'eco-tourist attraction', consisting mainly of an all-inclusive hotel and expensive cottages.
The gloriously unspoiled beach will no doubt be enhanced, a la Bahia Principe. The people who have managed the beach for years will be expelled. The beach is to be globalised. And you wonder why I describe the UDC as the Universal Degradation Conglomerate?
All of this would be of course impossible without the collusion of JAMPRO and the NRCA, who will make sure that there is no hindrance to the sequestration of the Jamaican patrimony into the safe hands of some foreign coupon clipper.
On Wednesday, on Disclosure on Hot 102, I received anguished telephone calls from Jamaicans and from Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands, from people who love the beach as it is and keep coming back year after year. One woman spends three months a year in Jamaica, on Winniefred beach and she has been doing it for 15 years.
Environmental Impact Assessments are, in the real world, examinations made on behalf of the public but paid for by developers. They are supposed to allow a rational discussion of whether any development should be allowed and if so, how it should be regulated. It is clear that the NRCA exists solely to rubberstamp EIAs, submitted in support of the development, thus eliminating the public interest from the start. Most of these EIAs are done by ESTECH, in which a former Minister of the Environment, Easton Douglas and his brother are partners.
The character of EIAs may be gathered from the following quotation:
"Previous EIAs reviewed have been notoriously negligent in the review of impacts associated with drainage, particularly impacts resulting from the development changes that will be imposed on previously undeveloped land and impacts associated with building layouts in flood-prone areas."
I don't have space for the rest of the quotation but basically, the NRCA is telling ESTECH: "Look, chaps, give us a plausible reason for approving this without further questions, OK?"
This quotation is from an EIA for another concrete avalanche on the beach. This time in one of the most gorgeous spots in Jamaica, the cove at Point, in Hanover.
The result of this hotel development will be an "enhanced beach", destroyed corals, a seriously diminished water supply for the natives and the end of informal sea bathing for the people near Point. Just as in Pear Tree Bottom, Mammee Bay, Lilliput, Bloody Bay and of course, Winniefred beach.
The moral is simple, If you are a Jamaican resident with a deep dream of surf, you had better get going now, or you may have to pursue your dream in Barbados or Miami.
'Trespassers will be prosecuted; pigs and goats will be shot."
By order, management.
Copyright 2006 ©John Maxwell
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