December 29, 2020 | By Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |
Senator Peter Bunting A Deep Thinker?
Despite any other feelings one may have about newly sworn in eight (8) Senator for the People’s National Party (PNP) Peter M. Bunting, it is an undisputed fact that he does his home work, and makes a real difference at times, and could be regarded as a deep thinker. The former Central Manchester MP who was defeated by Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP’S) new commer Rhoda Moy Crawford in the September 3, 2020 general elections in Jamaica has been also appointed leader of Opposition Business in the Senate. Bunting in 2019 lost his bid narrowly to become President & Opposition Leader for the 82 year old PNP when he challenged Dr. Peter Phillips for the top job. It was a bruising contest that many believe has helped to divide the already ailing party.
Comments attributed to the newly appointed Peter M. Bunting gives us all great hope. It is reported that under a Mark Golding Presidency and Opposition Leadership, as it relates to states of emergencies they will take a new approach and possibly treat with them as the need arises. This appears to be an about turn. Have they seen to light?
State of Emergency
Murder Rate High
In short the leadership of the Opposition will start be viewing states of emergencies (SOEs) not necessarily as an obstacle, but as a real tool to assist with crime fighting and or the control of same. This is my take away from this proposed new approach by the Opposition. It is no secret that the lack of political unity on this critical area of national life has been cause for some concern. The violence producers have been emboldened, it is widely felt. Crime and approach to crime, cannot be seen as a divisive area in a place where there is just too much crime especially murders. The Opposition has accused the Holness administration of using States Of Emergency to trample on the rights of citizens. Hon. Mark Golding has personally attacked the use of SOEs. There has to be a mechanism when other measures fail to restore public order. The Constitution provides for a state emergency. Homicides are just too frequent and common place. A murder rate of forty nine (49) per 100,000 is unacceptable and not sustainable going forward. Jamaica is heading to the brink of social chaos, if not already there, if something is not done urgently to stem this madness. SOEs are not therefore illegal … they have to be effectively managed.
At the said sitting on Friday December 18, 2020, in the Senate, it is further reported that constitutlional reform is on the Opposition’s agenda for sound management of the Jamaican state. Hurrah! These utterances please my heart. A constitution must reflect the changing times and must reflect the realities of the day. Recent court rulings of breaches of the Jamaican constitution should not be glossed over. Deep analysis and review must accompany any such rulings of the court. For example: Was it really unconstitutional the continuing and extended detention of certain suspects being labelled ” “Violence Producers”?
How do you somehow isolate such undesirable elements without earning the wrath of the courts and violating the Jamaican Constitutional arrangements? Even a suspect has rights and should be protected under our supreme law aka the Constitution. Should there be such a stark difference between the thinking of the Judiciary and the Executive? It is one society and a murdered judge is no different from a murdered citizen. In the end they are both very dead.
The citizen on the other hand needs to know that their right to freedom and liberty are enshrined, respected and safeguarded. Also there is an avenue for redress should there be breaches. It is a very thorny issue and no easy answer seems to be on the horizon. Where do you draw the line between personal freedoms and tighter state survilance and control of crime in any society? Is more police the answer? Or is it a stepped up public education
campaign? It may have to start at the kindergarten level and all the way through to university. There needs to be a greater respect for the laws of the land, property and the individual rights by all … both state and citizen. We cannot continue to see others as we and them. We are all in one society persuing the same goals … that of social cohesion, harmony, high productivity and safety. There has to be a better way to settle our differences than by the gun or the knife and in too many cases the machete. Jungle justice and reprisal killings or maiming are never the way to go.
“An eye for an eye …
And a tooth for a tooth …
Leaves us all toothless
If not unltimately ruthless …
We will all not look so cute …
In fact could become a brute”
States Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie.
There needs to be a new day. Restorative Justice may be the answer to society’s interpersonal conflicts which lead to violence at the local community level. I have seen this approach work in Canada and is being promoted in Jamaica by Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck. He reports great success. Justice Centres are being set up in all 14 parishes in Jamaica. Many are up and running already. South Africa used “Truth & Reconciliation” to settle their Apartheid mess. This is a firm of restorative justice. Trust me it works.
As 2020 draws to a close, may we have a peaceful Christmas. We already see a national decline of three (3) percent reduction in reported homicides in Jamaica in 2020. In the main tourist area of Montego Bay there is a much higher drop in all crimes including homicides. Much lower drop in crime than the national average. May this trend continue into 2021. We do hope so.
We wish Peter M. Bunting great success as the newly appointed 8th Senator for the PNP.
If Senator Bunting’s utterances are for real then going forward we should see more cooperation between Government and Opposition? Will this really happen?
Bunting has been at times an obstacle. When did he have his Damascus experience?
“United we stand and divided we fall.”
There are issues which call for division, but others call for joint action. For example: Fighting Crime is one such issue along with the national economy to name a few. Of course there are others. Space does not allow for such details at this time.
Let us wait and see.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a keen observer of politics, a veteran journalist, with an international exposure.