Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Redemption or Retribution

Back in 1994 the Privy Council stated that Earl Pratt had been on death row for way too long - about 16 years at the time, and could no longer be hanged for the murder that he and Ivan Morgan were convicted of in 1978.

I interviewed him the next day in the Spanish Town Penitentiary. At the time it seemed to me that there were way more people that I would have preferred to see hanging from a rope than Earl Pratt, who seemed like a decent enough murder. I even hoped that he might have been unjustly accused.

I interviewed Ivan Morgan the next day. He did not look like a man who had just escaped the death penalty and seemed much more concerned about his poor state of health. He died in jail about a year later.

About a week ago, after almost 30 years in jail, Earl Pratt was released. He has since been to church and has preached to youngsters about not following his footsteps. On radio this morning he admitted that he had infact committed that murder.

But still - I believe that he will be able to make a positive contribution to Jamaica's society - as a man who is seeking redemption. If he can convince people here to turn away from the gun - if less people are murdered as a result, then the society benefits more than it would had his own life been extinguished by the state.

But, the majority of Jamaicans no doubt disagree - and if the government had been legally able to overtun the Privy Council ruling it would have. It is still working on that by wanting to create a Caribbean Court of Justice as our highest court.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Muslim clerics, Virgin's progress and Slavery

Jamaica has been in the news this week - not much of it good. A mad muslim cleric is being sent back to Jamaica (what's old is what's new). He has lived in England since 1992, and now he's been released early from prison to become Jamaica's problem. Hopefully he won't create a terrorist base here. But, as he hasn't been found guilty of any crime here, he will be free to give it a shot.

Air Jamaica has sold its route to Virgin - so there will be no more Jamaican national carrier flying into Heathrow. But as its on its last wings anyway, hopefully this could actually help to save the the little piece of Jamaica that flies. How it was losing money on that route when the planes were always full beats me. Maybe Virgin will have better luck.

And last but not least John Prescott came to Jamaica. For what I don't know. But he announced to a Jamaican audience that Britain had no reason to apologise for slavery. Mike Henry, a member of parliament here, walked out in disgust. Prescott's also added that the effort now should be on helping African nations rather than formal apologies.

This sounds to me like madness - akin to Japan refusing to apologise to Korea for its crimes against humanity there during World War II. But why the effort should be now on helping African nations - when they were the Africans who escaped slavery and who escaped the middle passage, I don't know. The Africans who were ripped from their motherland and who now live in the Caribbean should be given no thought at all it seems.

Meahwhile, Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean are supposed to be happy at losing their protected markets in Britian for sugar and bananas, the sidelining of the Commonwealth in preference to the EU and ..... well that's about it I think.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More crickets than cricket

May Day! May Day!

New month - also the cricket is now well and truly over. Our white elephant in the green fields of Trelawny can now kick back and watch the grass grow. Well, really, our white elephant has been doing just that since the last guest left the grand opening ceremony more than six weeks ago.

Sabina Pork put on a good show. I went to two matches - the first one, between the WI and Pakistan and then the St. Patrick's Day massacre. That one was fun, watching from the 'party stand' and watching Ireland do the impossible. The first one was fun too - when it seemed that the WI really had a chance.

But fun or not, I think I could have had more fun for Ja$9 billion than that. And the sad fact is that Jamaica may never recoup anything like that $9 billion, no matter what the spinners say. Hardly anyone came for a start. Not even Jamaicans (except for that first game). No ships were needed to house the thousands of tourists.

And the white elephant certainly wasn't needed - and I'm certain that there is no practical plan in place to try to recoup its cost. It makes the Forum Hotel look like a God send. Greenback Fields is destined to see more crickets than cricket.

Hopefully, the public will believe their eyes and not their ears when election time comes. It may then finally vote against a government that thought it better to play with 9 billion desperately needed dollars than to actually try to improve our schools, hospitals, police and economy.

The party's over - it never really began. Now that the hoopla is gone, empty promises, chirping crickets and the occasional passing of tumbleweed have taken over.