What I Learnt During the Pandemic week ending 27/6/20

In Jamaica I Learnt

  1. A Joint Select Committee discussed the Sexual Harassment Act 2019. J
    • Some members of the committee give the impression that sexual harassers are exclusively from the working class and does not happen in their own circles. There was too much slamming of bus and taxi drivers and not accepting that sexual harassers come from all levels of Jamaican society including the political class.
    • Delroy Chuck, Justice Minister, said he does not wish for any metoo-movement-type legislation that allowed alleged victims to raise complaints  years after the alleged incident(s) took place. Chuck suggested that alleged victims should have a limited window of 12 months from the alleged assault to file their complaint to the authorities. Chuck’s entire contribution incl. innuendos (“woman should take the balls and report it”) was  unprofessional. Chuck has since apologised.  Equally disappointing was that not one member from the select committee challenged Chuck over his comments. This was a golden opportunity for committee members to put Chuck in his place and show Jamaicans watching the proceedings that they are taking the issue of sexual harassment seriously. Not even the chair of the select committee – Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange – raised any objections to Chuck’s comments and she is the Minister for Gender Affairs. Simply not a good look all round.
    • Danny Roberts was doing his best Meg Ryan impression (When Harry Met Sally) when he “yes,yes, yes” to Chuck’s suggestions.
    • The strongest arguments during this week’s session came from Horace Dalley People’s National Party (PNP), JLP Senators Kerensia Morrison and Dr Saphire Longmore. But their non-response to Chuck’s remarks was a blot on the overall discussions. But I disagree with Dalley’s suggestion to restrict  victims to 2 years from the alleged sexual harassment to officially file their complaint. Why is there a push to restrict the time scale for victims to file such accusations? Are some employers lobbying to limit the time frame?
    • The sexual harassment bill has taken 3 decades to reach parliament and from the discussions I have witnessed I little little faith that the proposed legislation will go far enough to give victims adequate recourse. For sexual harassment to be effective the media has to play its part to expose sexual harassers in high society. But the current antiquated libel laws means the media could not report such allegations. No point having sexual harassment legislation if the Harvey Weinsteins in Jamaica are not brought to book because of powerful lawyers and a scared media. Real press freedom is paramount.
    • Every Jamaican woman I know under the age of 55 has told me they have been sexual harassed. In same cases the alleged aggressor is a pillar of society and the alleged victims know they had no chance of any justice. In some cases the alleged victims emigrated vowing never to return Jamaica.
  2. With Peter Bunting now in place as the newly appointment Opposition Leader of House Business he has moved to sit next to Peter Phillips -Leader of Opposition- in the debating chamber. The optics of Phillips & Bunting side-by-side presented a  powerful image of unity between 2 political heavyweights that has been missing from that PNP’s front bench since 2016. Both gave strong speeches in the debate over crime and the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) overuse of states of public emergency. You could see the energy of Bunting and Phillips feeding off each other. Bunting said to Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ face “Unity cannot mean that the Opposition capitulates to your (national security) position every time. That is not unity Prime Minister that is appeasement.” Strong stuff. It was one of those rare moments when both PM and Leader of the Opposition were in parliament at the same time.
  3. It has been a week since Lisa Hanna, MP, was made the PNP’s chief campaign spokesperson. But Hanna has said very little since the appointment. You would think Hanna would have made her presence felt throughout the week by giving interviews via the various media platforms. No official date for the general election has been announced (August) but the governing JLP has been in campaign mode for months and Holness’ impromptu appearance this week on Radio Jamaica’s Hotline -hosted by Emily Shields- was more evidence that the PM is limbering-up to fit into his green Clarks shoes.
  4. One thing you learn about Jamaican governments is that cabinet ministers don’t get fired that easily. So this week cabinet minister Dayl Vaz lost the land and environment portfolios but has been tasked to oversee water and housing. This is in light of Vaz’ controversial bid to lease land on a world heritage site. Vaz was forced to withdraw his application following public and media outcry over his poor judgement and conflict of interests. But he remains in the cabinet.
  5. George Williams has been released after spending 50 years in prison without trial.
  6. On Television Jamaica (TVJ) Simon Clarke Cooper’s debut her live evening chat show. It was deep and moving. Big up to Neville Bell for his own honesty over failing at fatherhood.
  7. Saharan dust storm smothered the entire island for days. Some places – due to the humidity – felt as high as 104 degrees.
  8. Growing number of journalists who are working in public sector roles as PR/communication managers. You have Dennis Brooks (police), Dara Smith (Factories Corp) Andrew Canon (water), Cecil Toms (buses), Archibald Gordon (CMU). Hiring journalists by governments has been common practice across Western and developing nations since the 1990s. A reminder how governments value the art of messaging and spin when sharing information with the public. Pay & perks are better too.
  9. In light of the outrage over the Governor General’s Order of St Michael and St George insignia, that depicts a white man as the angel and black man as satan, is the whole governor general style of of governance relevant to a modern Jamaica?

Warm Up Session -Emily Shields & PM Holness

Globally I learnt

  1. 868 children arrived in the tiny island of Malta last year after being rescued at sea. They included 768 who were unaccompanied or separated from their parents. Most originated from Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.
  2. Rwandan journalists and media practitioners are set to have free legal representation when faced with lawsuits concerning their work.
  3. People in several parts of Greater Lisbon will have to go back to staying at home from next week as Portuguese authorities deal with a worrying wave of coronavirus on the city’s outskirts
  4. Canadian authorities knew that an accused Liberian war criminal – Bill Horace – was  living freely in this country for at least a decade before he was gunned down during a violent home invasion in London, Ontario.
  5. In Ireland, the excellent jockey Rachael Blakemore rode in the prestigious Irish Derby (flat racing) over the weekend. Back in March this year she also rode in the grueling Cheltenham Gold Cup over 3+ miles (jump racing).  Given these are 2 different racing disciplines Blackmore’s achievement is a rarity.
  6. Greater London Authority/London Assembly building that also host the mayor of London is owned the government of Kuwait.  The idea of UK government offices in London being owned by a Middle Eastern country would be preposterous 2 decades ago.
  7. Ireland has a new prime minister (Taoiseach) in Micheál Martin of the Fianna Fáil party in a 3 party coalition government with Fine Gael  and the Green Party. Martin will hand over the premiership to Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar in 2+ years time. Still it is weird to see Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael sharing power. But no doubt Sinn Fein will be waiting in the wings should the coalition fall apart.
  8. As a Queens Park Rangers fan you are conditioned not to say positive things about Chelsea football club but I must sing the praises of its manager Frank Lampard for the sterling work he has done in giving the younger players a chance in the senior squad.
  9. After more than 100 days still no conclusion to the elections in Guyana. The latest move by Guyana electoral officials to delay matters even further (invalidating 115,000 votes) drew a public stinging rebuke from Mia Mottley (Prime Minister of Barbados and outgoing Head of CARICOM).
    • Mottley said “…we must ask – on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Elections Officer determine that he should invalidate 1 vote, far less over 115 000 votes when the votes were already certified as valid by officers of the Guyana Elections Commission in the presence of the political parties”
  10. Ghana’s government apologised to Nigeria after a building at the Nigerian High Commission was destroyed by armed men.
  11. Malawi has a new president in 65 year old Lazarus Chakwera after a re-run in the election. Headline writers will have a field day given Chakwera is a philosopher, theologian and clergyman by training.
  12. Dumbest answer of the week came from Canada’s top cop Brenda Lucki who was asked by parliamentarians to provide examples of systematic racism. By even Trump’s standards Lucki’s response was on another level.

About africanherbsman1967

Funking all over the globe
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