Jamaica Customs – The Dreaded Agents – Are They Really? – How Did We Get Here??

What side of the coin are you perching on?  Are you the importer, the customer, the agent?  Are the concerns one of the same?  How could customs be allowed to function in this manner for so long?  Who is really being facilitated here?  From where I am standing for the last 12 years or more many importers have been affected severely by customs fees and charges.  Have we forgotten the small business owner who is in the retail trade?

With a sliding dollar that no administration has managed to stabalise for any length of time for real recovery to take place.  This reality is daunting.  Imports is and still remains the major source of revenue making up 60% of our productivity on the Roc.  Simply put without losing my audience that likes to receive their information as simple as possible.  Livelihood for most Jamaicans is derived from some form of importation.  Either direct or indirect.  So what has fueled customs to operate in this fashion for so long?

We cannot have charges and taxes that are so excessive that we become less competitive to the region.  This will open the door towards corruption where the very same agency who is bolstering collections in one hand.  The other hand turns a blind eye to in house corruption where desperate people, the importers will revert to desperate measures in order to ease the burden off their investment.  To eliminate those practices, you must have prices that are competitive forcing importers to willingly pay the charges and duties because paying them will be far less than seeking alternative measures.  Adjust the root and the vines will respond accordingly.  We are in a global space, not lickle Jamaica a try fi rob peter fi pay paul.  This idea that seems rampant in our leaders thinking that if you increase, increase, increase, then all will be well is rubbish.  In one breath you are encouraging Jamaicans to become skilled entrepreneurs and the reality is goods and services is where it is at.   What kind of competitive edge can one hope to have much less maintain, when our customs is hell bent on crippling the livelihoods of those whose bread and butter relies on the very same business of goods and services?  Our approach signifies that we are prepared to out price ourselves from a sector and that must change.  All is affected by the way customs conducts business from the one man operator to the micro and macros business operators.  No one is above or below when it comes to ensuring that their bread will indeed have butter, and so the doors to back deals will always be tempting.  Who do you blame?

A lot of scream is being heard re a system called ASYCUDA?  Change is inevitable no denying.  However, who were the players engaged alongside customs in the initial phase of launching this database?  Freight forwarders, brokers, any shipping personnel, telecommunications representatives?  How is it at this stage, can there be concerns re confidentiality of customers personal details, respective companies client listing, pricing etc?  Come on, this sounds like basic school operations.  It says alot about collective approach and our belief system towards collaboration when necessary as opposed to every man fi himself until the obvious gets out of hand.


Customs crisis!

Fears that Jamaica could lose revenue to other countries which charge less

BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive Editor — Publications davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

(Jamaica Observer) Sunday, October 30, 2016   45 Comments

 REECE… CAF rates have not changed

Jamaica Customs Agency’s apparent single-minded focus on raising revenue is said to be stifling businesses, leading to growing concern that the island could lose a significant chunk of shipping and logistics revenue to other countries, particularly Panama, where rates are half those being charged here.

At the same time, the agency has been asked by the finance ministry to explain why it has not yet provided justification for charging Customs Administration Fees (CAF) at twice the maximum designated by the Cabinet in 2013.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw wrote to Commissioner of Customs Major Richard Reese recently after it emerged that Reese had not responded to a November 17, 2015 query from then Financial Secretary Devon Rowe.

Rowe, in that letter, had said that it was brought to the attention of the ministry that the CAF being charged was $2,500 per piece, up to a maximum of $40,000.

 

“This is in contravention to Cabinet decision #29/13 dated July 29, 2013 which provides for $2,500 per piece, up to a maximum of $20,000. Please provide an explanation for this digression by November 20, 2015.”

On October 20, the Jamaica Observer, acting on complaints from shippers about the fees, as well as the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) system, sought to get a response from Reese.

At the time, he said he was overseas, but acknowledged that “CAF rates have not changed” but are “being reviewed”.

He directed the Observer to e-mail questions to Karlene Henry and Patrick Chambers at Customs. The questions were sent the following day. Six days later, having not received a response, the newspaper resent the questions, but up to press time yesterday there was still no response.

Earlier this month, a highly placed source in the shipping industry confirmed to the Sunday Observer that representatives from a number of foreign shipping lines serving Jamaica, as well as local entities, met with Shaw at the end of September to air their concerns.

“We had about 10 entities, including Kingston Wharves, Montego Bay Airport, all of them had the same complaint that the facilitation and growth of the logistics side is being stifled by the commissioner,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In August this year, Reese told journalists that Customs earned net revenue of $44.136 billion for the first quarter (April to June) of the 2016/17 financial year.

This, he said, surpassed the agency’s target of $2.183 billion or 5.2 per cent.

Reese said that when compared to the first quarter of financial year 2015/16, Customs recorded growth in net revenue collection by 13 per cent or $5.120 billion, up from $39.016 billion in 2015.

He said that major tax items, including Import Duty, General Consumption Tax and Special Consumption Tax performed positively relative to the targets for the quarter and prior year.

“At the end of June, collection in respect of Import Duty was 5.4 per cent above the target, while General Consumption Tax and Special Consumption Tax were 9.35 per cent and eight per cent, respectively, above the targeted collection,” Reese said.

“He’s excellent at collecting revenue, nobody can fault him for that, but what it is doing is stifling the growth of business,” our source said.

According to the source, when goods are taken off a ship in Jamaica and sent to the free zone for inspection, the charge is $20,000 per container. “By the time everything is done, that container is ending up costing $50,000 for Customs alone. That’s nearly US$400 more than it costs to take it off the ship and put it back on. To load and discharge a container doesn’t cost US$400. It’s lower in Panama,“ he said, pointing out that the cost there is US$45.

A flow chart of the costs for the movement of cargo from the port to the economic free zone in Panama obtained by the

Sunday Observer shows that the total charge amounts to US$620 compared to US$934 in Jamaica.

The source also confirmed complaints from shippers that ASYCUDA – the web-based system designed to transform Customs to a paperless operation through the use of electronic documents – was allowing competitors to see each other’s information.

“Agents have been putting this to the Customs since February and they haven’t fixed it. But guess what, since the meeting in September, it has been fixed, but let’s see if it’s permanent,” he said.

Last week, another industry source told the Sunday Observer that, while the system was not showing such data now, other problems have surfaced and meetings have been taking place to find solutions.

That second source, responding to Reese’s recent interviews in which he spoke of Customs’ revenue increases, and the success of ASYCUDA, said the commissioner “is patting himself on the back a little too hard”.

“On one hand he has fulfilled one of the requirements of the Government — to collect revenue — but all he’s done is replace one computer system with another one,“ said the source.

“The entire implementation process has been handled poorly. ASYCUDA is allowing competitors to see each other’s information, despite Customs saying they have fixed the problem. Now, customers have very little confidence in Customs to keep their data confidential,” said source who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

“While people are willing to co-operate and support changes at Customs, it has become apparent that the great thrust at Customs is to raise fees. Customs has not been transformed, it is the same old organisation with a new computer system and a new designation — executive agency. The transformation that needs to take place to air and sea freight business has not taken place.”

 

 

 

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Talk Di Tings – The Chinese Speaks – You Have My Attention

I applaud the contribution you have made and continue to make in my country.  You create business opportunities where many of our own black people will dare not labour for any extended period of time.  I hear and feel your hurt because what you have outlined is TRUE.

We are a nine day wonder set of thinkers, too many of us.  So the whites come in the form of tourists and our glad bag buss.  The tip you see, is what is sought after.  So much so that many blacks who vacation in their own country are often times ignored because the workers claim no tip will be derived from us.

The whites come and go correct.  However, we are still mentally enslaved and much rather to look at the moment versus the longevity in gains.  No race is above scrutiny.  This is not about who is corrupt or not; corruption is endemic to the human race.  The root boils down to Jamaicans racist behaviour towards the Chinese versus the white race.  You claim to hate the white man, yet when asked you are willing to trust him over your own race.  Where does that come from?   If the whites had invested in like manner as the Chinese, there would be nuh talk.  The Chinese suffer the brunt of our abuse because we fail to trust our own as they do their own.  We see in the Chinese the inadequacies/failures of our own kind as it relates to trust and unity.  They seem to be inclusive of their people while we are divisive of each other.  They edify each other, we are quick to tear each other down hence the term ‘crab n a barrel’.  As we continue to sell out the black man, the Chinese build their fellow Chinese up and we so despise that philosophy because we suffer from self-hate.  Do not blame the Chinese for the black man’s mistrust of each other.  Black people will forever be divided because they spend most of their time proving they are not black.  The Chinese spend their time trusting their own knowing full well Jamaican people if given the chance will rob them blind as the masses will never accept them.  It is better to know what you are up against and guard your heart.  The Chinese are doing just that and I say you have my admiration.

Interesting to note how we crave for acceptance and equality from other cultures.  There is no denying that on the Roc, Mr Chin has provided us with options in merchandising.  Options that allowed many to afford with ease merchandise that were once out of our league.  Not even hire purchase proved the solution as there are many who can attest to having their goods repossessed.  Speak the truth and speak it well an nuh bada gwaan like sey u nuh know wey mi a chat bout.

Jamaica is not the USA.  The USA has dollar stores, sales in retail stores not to mention outlets where you can own an item that was originally priced at US$200.  Yet in a sale you could get that said item for 50% off.  Where in Jamaica do we have sales that have such amazing offers?  Where on the Roc will you find the equivalent of a dollar store?  Mr Chin that is where!!!!!!!

I put it to you.  If the Chinese were to take your advice and go back a dem country.  Dwag woulda a nyam plenty a wi supper.  Some a oono nyam chiney food 5 days a week wid dem lunch box special.

The Chinese experience is reciprocal.  They benefit from the Jamaicans and we do also.  The white world is not lining up to invest long term in this crime driven country where bureaucracy rules.  I have been guilty in my choice of words when referring to the Chinese.  No more will I speak in that manner.  I certainly abhor the term ‘blackey’.

As I journey through Planet Earth in this life.  I challenge myself in my own growth, personal development to see the wider picture not living in the narrow space.  Recognising that this world is indeed a multi-cultural one, and equality cannot be exclusive to one race, but must be for the entire human race.  Equality for all is realising that the world as we know is changing.  The United States of America has the Asian-American race fast becoming the majority.  I truly believe that our Island on the Roc is more diverse in cultures and ethnicities than we want to see.  The Chinese happen to be the only group thus far that has capitalize on a marketing tool.  One of merchandising, wholesale and for them there is no uptown, midtown, or downtown.  Only people who want what they have to offer and they will  and continue to penetrate all 14 parishes.  As indentured labourers on the Roc history will show, the Chinese made a decision that toiling on the sugar plantation for Masa was not to their liking and they found another option. 

Take a few moments in this very minute and ask yourself these two questions and be truthful to yourself.   This is just between you and you alone.  Are you satisfied with the choices you have made thus far in your education, the profession you have chosen and are engaged in every single day?  Do you enjoy that aspect of your life?


Don’t call us ‘Chiney’

Businessman suggests Jamaicans racist towards Chinese

(Jamaica Observer) Sunday, October 23, 2016    125 Comments

A wholesale establishment in a Jamaican town. (Observer file)

They are often referred to as ‘Chiney man’ throughout Jamaica, but according to one Chinese-Jamaican, the phrase is offensive to his people.

Having lived in Jamaica for over two decades, the St Elizabeth businessman who spoke on condition of anonymity believes Jamaicans are racist toward Chinese.

“When you go outside how much people say ‘hi Chinese people? No ‘Chiney man’ is what they call it? That’s a modest thing to you?” he questioned.

“When you go to America and they say, ‘you black person’, what are you going to say? or ‘black people go back to your country!’ How are you going to feel? You won’t feel good; it’s the same thing, you’ll find it offensive,” he continued

He noted that Jamaicans’ attitude toward his people is unwarranted and sought to dispel false notions that Jamaicans tend to perpetuate about them.

“You see in Jamaica, you have more than 80 per cent of the people will say ‘Chiney man come in this country to make money and go weh; they don’t wanna spend money and help develop Jamaica’… but Chinese help out Jamaicans here by bringing the cheap stuff that people can get to live in here. Because if all the Chinese run away you would totally find out — the cost would be really, really high.”

He argued that this belief may be as a result of the country’s history when the Chinese were brought into Jamaica as indentured labourers to work on sugar estates after the emancipation of the slaves. Their dislike for the job, however, led them to find other means of employment by developing businesses.

Conceding that in every country non-natives will experience some level of distrust from the natives, the entrepreneur said he could not understand the extent of it from Jamaicans.

“You people (Jamaicans) is something different. You say ‘Chiney man do this an’ do that’. If you really hate Chinese you can do whatever you want, of course, because nobody can limit you; but the point is what Chinese do bad to Jamaicans?” asked the entrepreneur.

“From how me see from the time me come out here, you see more Chinese people invest in here, even their business, even their property, even their house, even the development and even the employment to help Jamaicans. I don’t see any other nation’s people help like how Chinese people help here. White people come in here and what they do? They do a big factory, they get their big money and they go away, but you guys love white people; nobody complains.

“You guys only observe some things because you see Chinese people driving a good car, living in a good house, and you look on that. Chinese people nuh rob you, you know. They not really get so much money and go away, you know. They contribute to development because if they have ability, they expand and then they employ more Jamaican people in here. Of course some people will employ some Chinese because like one or two people can manage a big shop. And another thing is some of the Jamaicans is not really good either. No matter where they go, they try to thief and they rob we,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“If your country was observing how Chinese do, look at the contribution to the country — so much. Of course I won’t say everybody is good, you understand. Nobody can say their nation is very good, but you must have some good and some bad, even the Jamaican, Chinese, American, any country, but the point is you don’t observe it. We not really make up any criminal in here, we not really thief the Jamaicans in here, we not really make up trouble in here; [considering] what we do for your island, then why are there so much Jamaican people hate Chinese? I don’t know,” added the merchant.

He highlighted the stark difference in reaction that Caucasians would get from Jamaicans as opposed to his kind.

“What we get back or what Jamaicans return to us is that most of the people don’t like the Chinese because the Chinese ‘mean’. But put it another way, how much white people do for you,” he stated. “Because you only see the tourists them and they give you some tip and they say ‘oh, white man is so gentle’, and therefore you get something. But when you look on the long term, how much the people coming here and like Chinese staying here with you together to build up your country?”

He said the Chinese have helped to develop the country’s labour market, creating employment for numerous Jamaicans as their enterprises expand.

He addressed the notion that Chinese only help their own.

“But you guys just like to say Chinese help Chinese and not help Jamaica… even though we employ Jamaicans. We do good for Jamaicans, but turn around is what we get back; people thief you, come carry in other people for them to rob you, so why you going to help? Chinese and Chinese develop trust; we first pay to trust other people, but the trust people turn back to us can’t be trusted, so what you going to do? You going to continue keep the trust?” he questioned.

“We call it tradition in Chinese,” said the entrepreneur, “Chinese help Chinese, yes, but Jamaicans can help Jamaicans same way too; nobody limits you,” he aso stated.

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You Know Who I Am? – Look Pon Mi Farid Good – U Nuh Si Di Sign???

How many sides are there to a story?  Would you make a determination without having all the facts?  The person who is to be believed is the one who pursues justice, reports and records it.  The person who brings it to your attention on the inset must also bring  to your attention the progress, follow up.  The Roc has a term ‘nine day wonder’.  Usually after that duration, you are like, ‘wait memba dah story deh a wha happen?  Sad, unacceptable but true.  As it relates to this particular story, I need more information and that will only be forthcoming if the writer follows up with the respective government agency.  I will say this, however.

Wielding of power is a people thing.  The total unacceptability it appears to me is often times heightened when it is wielded by a black person to another.  It is twofold, we resent black people in positions of leadership and they resent anyone black that appears to be more intelligent or appear to be self assured who is not in leadership as they define it.  Wow………………..do I really believe that?  Absolutely, I live it, I experience it and I know exactly how to handle such 60% of the time.  I am not saying ALL, but certainly enough to create inefficiencies, unending bureaucracy in the way we conduct business on the Roc.  From the supervisor across the border to middle line and upper management.  I recall I encountered a road block a few years ago.  I summoned the worker to let me speak to the supervisor on duty.  Once the supervisor came and proceeded to speak, my comments were brief as I interjected, ‘clearly you have no training or you do not understand, waste of my time’.  I moved on never to return.  A minor incident that did not need a major follow up on my part.  Why?  The choice in hiring was made amongst wuss, wusserer and wussest.

Wielding of power…………………you could be part of the labour force who from time to time ‘bossey’ engages you in dialogue.  For you that could be a form of power you deem to hold over those like yourself who also reports to the ‘bossey’.  Can you imagine our borders, port of entries?  In training, is that behavioral disposition addressed or is it enhanced, encouraged by virtue of those who have the power to make the change failing to do so?

Wielding of power………………links run tings pon di Island.  Definitely a part of the inefficiencies in how we conduct business.  Do you know who I am?  Mek dem tell u who me is, so wen u si mi, u better humble uself or else.  We seem to suffer more being a small Island with an abundance of small minded thinking people in positions that while academically qualified to manage, fail miserably in personal development.  Your thinking about ‘self’ will greatly play a major role in how you perceive others.  Especially when you do not know them, they are not fazed by your positon as for them it is your job.  We pay for favours, we pay for links and when you have developed a culture of conducting business that way, then all and sundry believe they are able to wield power over someone.  The black man’s way of reigning supreme is over their own people and that is why the insult is even more devastating. 


ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Denied entry to my own country

(Jamaica Observer) Saturday, October 22, 2016 | 11:18 AM 57 Comments

Dear Editor:

I’ve read stories of Jamaicans being denied entry to other countries; however, nothing prepared me for being denied entry to Jamaica — the land of my birth.

On Friday, September 30, 2016, I was the first passenger to disembark WestJet 2600 from Toronto in the early afternoon.

As an airline professional with over 20 years experience I have never been to a country and on arrival found there was no one at Immigration to greet and process arriving passengers. This happened to us on arrival in Kingston.

After waiting several minutes, I expressed disgust at the poor service with another passenger. Suddenly an immigration officer appeared, he must’ve overheard and instructed me to “shut up… or keep my voice down”.

Of course I let him know as an adult, I didn’t appreciate being spoken to like that. He quickly glanced at my passport and passed me on to his supervisor, who explained that the officers were late due to some training session.

I found the excuse even more appalling. Why would they schedule training during peak work period, early afternoon — when most flights start to arrive?

By then the supervisor decided I was to be denied entry.

This stunned me, as a Jamaican by birth, who lived more than half of my life, in Jamaica.

I planned to visit a terminally ill relative and provide her with some nutritional health products. I explained all this to the officer who showed no empathy. I was to be returned to Toronto on the same day.

This caused me much inconvenience, embarrassment and distress.

The person who escorted me back on the return flight, further explained that under the Geneva laws, the authorities could’ve also stripped me of my citizenship.

Again, I was stunned at the idea I could be stripped of my citizenship by birth. I therefore call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate this matter.

I believe the Jamaican immigration took matters to an extreme here and overstepped their boundaries, only because I complained of what I thought was poor service. How can we get better as a country if we’re so touchy about criticism?

Richard Leiba

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The Power Of Oxygen by Dr Tony Vendryes

(Jamaica Gleaner) Wednesday 19 October 2016

 

breathing

Humans are oxygen dependent. We get this nutrient from the air we breathe which ideally contains about 21 per cent oxygen. A person can survive for weeks without food, days without water, but will die within a few minutes without oxygen. Yet this is the one nutrient that most people don’t think of as being associated with many health problems. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One problem is that oxygen concentration of the air in major cities and industrial areas has been found to be significantly below normal. That results in a decreased oxygen intake for each breath taken. Cigarette smoking or too much time spent indoors in poorly ventilated areas further lower our oxygen intake.

In addition to that, most people have developed poor breathing habits that further restricts oxygen uptake. This chronic oxygen deficiency has a negative impact on our health and our overall performance. Of course, many illnesses like circulatory and lung diseases will lower our oxygen levels. In fact, oxygen deprivation can be associated with all kinds of chronic diseases, including cancer.

CANCER And OXYGEN

Cancer is the number two killer in the world today. Cancer cells are radically different to normal cells. A German, Dr Otto Warburg, won the Nobel Prize in 1931 for his research that proved that cancer cells do not use oxygen to grow and survive.

They create energy to live and multiply in another way. Normal cells love and need oxygen but cancer cells do not – they prefer sugar (glucose). Oxygen provides very little fuel for cancer cells, only two energy molecules compared with 36 energy units from sugar. Optimal oxygenation of your body is therefore a smart and safe method to help prevent and fight cancer.

Heart Attacks And Strokes

These cardiovascular diseases are also among the major modern killers. They result from a diminished oxygen carrying blood supply to the heart or brain. Though doctors are now debating the pros and cons of using oxygen after these events, optimal oxygen before these disasters may help prevent them.

Low Energy

Inside the cells of your body, there are special structures designed to produce the energy needed for the cells to live, thrive and do their work. These structures are called mitochondria and they require oxygen for energy production. Low energy levels, fatigue, difficulty in concentration and poor mental focus are common features of low oxygen levels or hypoxia.

Infections

Many pathogenic germs are anaerobic, that is, they do not thrive in an environment high in oxygen. Increased oxygenation is a powerful aid in fighting infections of many kinds. On the other hand, low oxygen levels encourage infection.

There are several ways to optimise our oxygen levels both in health and disease.

Breathing Exercises

Most of us use only a small part of the capacity of our lungs. We usually breathe unconsciously and take short shallow breaths. We can learn to breathe consciously, taking longer, slower deeper breaths. This immediately increases oxygen intake while lowering levels of another less desirable gas, carbon dioxide. In addition, deep breathing provides many, many other benefits, and the commonest advice I have given to my patients over the years in many different situation is simply, ‘take a deep breath’. All the major eastern philosophies (e.g. yoga) teach specific breathing techniques for their physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

Breathing Oxygen

We can also enrich the air we breathe with oxygen. Patients with a variety of illnesses benefit from breathing oxygen through a face mask or nasal tube. Professional sportsmen and women use oxygen during games to improve their recovery and performance. The hotels in Las Vegas pipe extra oxygen into the gaming rooms to keep patrons energised and ‘oxygen bars’ are enjoying popularity in the US.

Doctors have demonstrated impressive benefits from a technique called ‘exercising with oxygen’. Individuals breathe oxygen while riding a stationary bike or running on a treadmill. Cardiovascular and immune function and performance levels soar. Oxygen delivery systems for home use are now readily available.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Another way to enhance oxygenation of our tissues is by use of hydrogen peroxide. This is a well-known liquid antiseptic that readily breaks down into water and oxygen. Soaking in a warm water bath with hydrogen peroxide added is a simple way to oxygenate your body.

Tiny quantities of pharmaceutical grade hydrogen peroxide can also be added to your drinking water as another oxygenation technique. Holistic doctors sometimes even administer hydrogen peroxide intravenously.

Ozone

A particularly powerful oxygenating agent is ozone. Ozone chemical formula is O3 compared to that of oxygen O2. Pure medical ozone can be administered in many ways to hyper oxygenate tissues of the body. This includes ozonated water baths, intravenous, rectal, vaginal administration or by drinking ozonated water, applying ozonated olive oil to the skin or bagging infected limbs. Cuban doctors use ozone extensively to treat a variety of health problems.

Hyperbaric Oxygen

At the upper end of the scale of oxygen therapies is the use of oxygen delivered at above atmospheric pressure in special chambers. This allows for an even more powerful use of oxygen therapy. Well known for its use to treat deep-sea divers with decompression sickness, it also has many powerful medical applications and all the major hospitals in Cuba have hyperbaric oxygen departments.

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Shabba Ranks Part 2 – He Shut It Down – Loudest Reception Of The 200 Recipients

I have always maintained ‘ghetto’ is a state of the mind.  We may not all have the best start in life, ideal environment but what you make of it is far more important than having the best of it all.  Family structure is what defines ones foundation most of the times.  Very few of us can give what they have never received even from one person who you call family.  Whether it is 1, 2, or 3 family members/guardian that played a role in your development.  Parenting fostered around respect, love, broughtupsey, will take you a far way even if you were separated from your birth parents.

The road is indeed a narrow one, but the journey you take is not always a given.  At some point in time you make choices and when those choices are more positive than negative, there is a higher chance of achieving success in life.  Be reminded that success is not dictated by the amount of money you amass.  We have more than enough financially wealthy people on Planet Earth who are tormented and struggle with the demons in their minds.

It is with great awe that I am moved by these photos showing Shabba’s mother being present, alive, to see her son receive an award that once upon a time it was believed only ‘so and so’ would be honoured.

The real King of Dancehall, Trailer Load, Ting a Ling a Ling School Bell Ring, Mr Lover Man.   Woiiiiii, goose bumps a tek mi as I go down memory lane to my dancing days.


 

Trailer load of cheers

King’s House crowd goes wild for Shabba

(Jamaica Observer) Tuesday, October 18, 201613 Comments

 Shabba Ranks Joseph Wellington

WILD cheers rang out across the expansive lawns of King’s House in St Andrew yesterday as deejay Shabba Ranks rose to accept his Order of Distinction from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.

Shabba Ranks, whose given name is Rexton Ralston Fernando Gordon, was recognised for his invaluable contribution to the Jamaican music industry.

Dressed in an off-white suit, pewter-coloured shoes, topped with a Fedora Bordeaux, the two-time Grammy Award winner moved towards the platform and earned the loudest cheers from the hundreds gathered.

Before ascending the steps, the 50-year-old artiste paused, doffed his Fedora then handed it to the uniformed guard. With this, the cheers grew even louder.

It was a proud Shabba Ranks who spoke to the Jamaica Observer moments after the investiture.

“Triumphant. Dat a my feeling right now because, as my mother used to tell mi from I was little, that hard work does pay off. So wi can see dat di validation for hard work is jus’ greatness — good really begets good. For my island to look at me as one of those proteges and bestow the Order of Distinction pon me, when I first hear, it’s just delight, joy and ‘cause me to think about how, for so many years, mi a work with the strength of my forefathers who did their work and still could not achieve dis in their lifetime… So mi jus’ proud,” he stated.

The deejay, known for tracks such as Trailer Load, House Call, Ting-a-Ling and Mr Lover Man, said he continues to work, having recently completed a summer tour in Europe.

“Di music continues. Di music never stops. People in their mind feel like di music stop. Music can’t stop until di man who is doing di music is ungrateful to God Almighty, that’s when his creative process and development ends. So whoever waan hear Shabba, I never disappoint, I’m always here. Mi have some whole heap a music but some people feel like they don’t want to pay Shabba for my music… a some free issue dem want an’ for 30 years I’ve been doing that. So, if they don’t want to pay my yute dem will release it in case of anything.”

He said he is ready to perform on a local stage any time, once promoters are willing to pay.

Watching from the sidelines was Shabba’s mother, Constance Christie, whom he affectionately calls “Mama Christie”. For her, Shabba had nothing but the highest praise.

“When mi look pon Mama Christie mi jus’ know how beautiful life is ‘cause she bring mi forth and nurture mi in di right an’ proper way so mi could become a progressive man in dis world. Every time mi look pon her mi see progress. Every time mi Look pon her mi see a representation of God Almighty… every time mi look pon her mi just see strength and and niceness,” Shabba added.

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Mutabaruka OD – Infamously Known As The Roc’s ‘Barefoot’ Dub Poet

There was a time when you  would catch a glimpse of Muta moving through the Streets of Kingston.  No denying he drew attention at least from myself.  Walking barefoot on the piping hot streets of Kingston, where roads are laced with asphalt.  Rock stones, not pebbles, and all manner of grime, and everything that can come out of one’s mouth when they decide to ‘hack to’.   How did he maneuver through all that?  For crying out loud, as a child I was scolded for walking barefoot and to this day, my barefoot walking extends to an area around a sandy beach right by a chill spot.  Not even walking to enter into the ocean, can I muster up the experience of having the sand on my feet for too long.  For sure, I have on what I refer to as my beach sandals and wear it as close as I can and then enter the Ocean.  I really do not care what you have to say on that revelation.  From the Islands, but do not walk barefoot.  So you get an idea of the kind of reaction I would have on those occasions I would see Muta during the 1980’s. 

I must admit Muta through my eyes and ears have evolved on a level that pales in comparison to my earliest memories of him.  Talk about social issues and Muta is your man.  He has become a distinguished radio host on Irie FM, Cutting Edge, his segment.  With his uniqueness, intellect, and raw talent Muta captures an audience where he seeks to educate the listeners on social welfare on the Roc.  He is famously known on the global stage make no bones about that.

On a trip some years ago to the USA, a colleague of mine sat beside him on the aircraft.  Once we landed, her excitement at having him engage her in dialogue where she excitedly shared with him her wellness interests.  The attention he paid to her thoughts and at the end of it all encouraged her on those pursuits.  Oh yes I saw him, did I notice whether he was barefoot or not, yes he was, and I smiled to myself.  Mutabaruka is many things, but what is profoundly remarkable is that as he is established he has never strayed from his beliefs and his truths.  He is credible because he remained true to his philosophy and has never saw it fit to ‘tear down’ malign another to remain relevant.  His awareness and involvement on social issues which will involve politics is the way he sees it.   Your message will not always be favorable or acceptable to ALL; that is this life.  In time, however, there comes a moment when the powers of be take note of those whom a few have become the influencers,  contributors, the voice of the people in a land where social, political and environmental issues cannot be separated in our pursuit of freedom and democracy.

Mutabaruka OD, commander class, well done on achieving this accolade!!


‘Muta’ called to order

(Jamaica Observer) Monday, October 17, 2016 25 Comments

When he took the stage to perform at Reggae Sunsplash in 1981, the barefoot dub poet called Mutabaruka was unknown. He created a stir with his raw delivery of pieces like Witeman Country and Every Time A Ear De Sound and left the stage a star.

Now 63, ‘Muta’ is still raising eyebrows with his take on social issues — from corrupt Jamaican politicians to rampant poverty and crime in Jamaica.

Today, the man christened Allan Hope will receive the Order of Distinction (Commander class) from the Jamaican government for his contribution to the country’s music.

He will be recognised today during the National Awards and Honours ceremony at King’s House in St Andrew.

Two years after his triumphant Sunsplash debut, Mutabaruka’s debut album Check It! was released. Produced by guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, it contained the aforementioned songs as well as the hard-hitting De System and Butta Pan Kulcha.

Check It! is one of reggae’s great statements. It touched a nerve with budding poets like Yasus Afari and Afro-centric people like Marcia Simpson, who was raised in the United Kingdom.

“I have known Muta since 1982 and he has always been an inspiration because of his investment in books and for the knowledge acquired. He’s very outstanding…his impact is global, not just in Jamaica,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

For over a decade, Mutabaruka has hosted the aptly named Cutting Edge on Irie FM, touching hot button topics and playing like-minded music from Jamaica, the Diaspora and Africa.

The entertainment/arts are strongly represented at today’s ceremony. Deejay Shabba Ranks, singers William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke and Gregory Isaacs, and painter Cecil Cooper have also been awarded ODs (Officer class). Chris Chin, president of VP Records, and sculptors Cecil Cooper and Basil Watson have been awarded the OD Commander class.

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Loud and Clear We Hear You National Security Minister- God Chose You!!!!!

We now have two ministers who have publicly called upon God to intervene on the Roc as crime spirals out of control.  The first was the former Minister Peter Bunting (PNP) and now the current holder of that portfolio, Minister Robert Montague (JLP).  Excellent they both now agree on that front despite the lack of support the former minister received when he uttered words asking for Divine Intervention.  While the past is the past it is always referred to as is customary in politics and almost everything else in life.

What we must note, however, is that Jamaica a Christian country will always cry out to the Supreme Being in times of crisis or impending crisis.  The Church is where you will see them flock and it is not unusual to see leaders and politicians in this society seek prayers when they do not have the answers.  From the looks of things, more prayers are being sought now as all there seems to be are proposals, proposals, talk, talk, talk and absolutely no solution to what is ailing the Roc.  The Minister, government and others are now asking the Church to play a more dominant role in the fight against crime.  According to the Minister, the Church needs to come out of the house of God on either a Saturday or Sunday and take to the Streets and have church there.  It is widely known that the Seventh Day Adventists worship on a Saturday.

It is no longer the politician that can fix it, rather God according to this government minister.  The Church relevance which is sought now more aggressively is only the beginning.  As we progress in times to come, the Church will be called upon more and our memories must not become muddled when we may have to refer to arguments re Church and State.


Montague: God picked me to tackle crime

(Jamaica Observer) Sunday, October 16, 2016 189 Comments

MONTAGUE … the spate of crime didn’t start on February 25, 2016

ROSE HALL, St James — National Security Minister Robert Montague says he was specially picked by God to tackle the crime monster on the prowl in Jamaica.

“I have been truly blessed and I cannot deny that I have been blessed. Many of us will prefer, and can, like experts, tell us what is wrong and we can complain and we can find fault; but I am blessed. I am specially chosen by my God to be here to confront what confronts Jamaica and I am confident that with the prayer of everyone, we will overcome,” Montague stated.

“Many persons will tell you that we face serious times. But I don’t tell God how big my problems are, I tell my problems how great my God is.”

He was addressing the Jamaica Christian Diaspora Conference held at the Iberostar Rose Hall Resorts in St James on Friday.

Noting that the crime problem existed long before the Jamaica Labour Party formed the current Administration, the security minister however argued that with political will, it can be successfully addressed.

“We are here where we are and it took a long time to get here and it is not going to be easy to leave here. But we will leave here. It is not going to be overnight, it is not going to be instant, but it is going to take unity, hard work, a political will, and a belief in what is good about Jamaica,” Montague said.

“The spate of crime in Jamaica did not start last night, did not start last week, and it certainly, members of the press, did not start on the 25th of February 2016.”

He bemoaned that despite the trending down of other crimes, the Jamaican culture of measuring the crime index is by the number of murders.

“No matter what the levels of crime go down, we don’t see it if murders are up because we count crime by the murder index. So in all the other categories of crime trending down, but murder is two per cent up and that is what we as Jamaicans use as the index and we have to confront it,” Montague argued.

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Shabba Ranks – Undeniably One Of The Best If Not The Best Dancehall Artiste Of Our Time

There is just something about a Shabba Ranks who enthralled many of us with his style, performance and as we now say swag.  For me, he was the consummate performer in dancehall circles.  When Shabba Ranks graced a stage, you knew the best of him was what you were going to get.  His popularity both in the USA and London and elsewhere was amazing notwithstanding the ‘pause’ due to what I would say was ‘foreign politics’.  There was a time when BET network could not get enough of Shabba Ranks in the USA.

I say this is long overdue and most deservedly so that he will be bestowed the Order of Distinction as the rank of Officer.  When you can still play and listen to music produced over 24 years and rock a house, you know it is pure quality.  At any given time you can buss a Shabba track, turn to the under 30’s and say before your time and will still be during your time.  He brings no hype, no unwanted attention, but his name, presence, execution and delivery of his art says it all.  Husband, father, role model to his children, he is the one and only Shabba Ranks, OD.


Shabba’s King’s House Call

(Jamaica Observer) Sunday, October 16, 2016 27 Comments

 Shabba Ranks

Shabba Ranks was among the artistes who provided the soundtrack for the 1990s. And, nearly a decade and a half later, his songs still resonate with listeners.

“He’s my favourite deejay. He had the ability to woo fans, and I’m glad I had the privilege of working with him,” said producer/songwriter Mikey Bennett.

Tomorrow, at King’s House in St Andrew, Shabba Ranks will be awarded an Order of Distinction (OD) at the rank of officer by the Jamaican government for his contribution to music.

Bennett — who co-wrote and produced Shabba Ranks’ mega hits Mr Loverman and House Call — shared what distinguished the deejay from his contemporaries.

“He had three things going for him. He was an unbelievable wordsmith… he could turn everyday conversations into lyrical gems. Secondly, he had an unbelievable sense of groove… he could ride the rhythm. And, lastly, and certainly not least, he had a dominant voice, which many considered sexy,” said Bennett.

Undeniably, Shabba Ranks’ raspy voice spawned a generation of similar acts, including Buju Banton, Terror Fabulous, and Jigsy King.

Bennett said he first met Shabba Ranks as a fledgling deejay while working at King Jammy’s Studio in 1987.

“I was at a recording session with (producer) Bobby Digital… Initially, he was doing risque songs. I wasn’t into that… We later developed a friendship. But what I can tell you is that, if you had a concept, he could take it and make it his own,” said Bennett.

The Bennett-Ranks alliance produced hits including Who Shi Love (featuring Home T and Cocoa Tea), Pirates Anthem (featuring Home T and Cocoa Tea), Mr Loverman and House Call. Some of the deejay’s other big hits are Trailer Load A Girls, Wicked Inna Bed, Caan Dun, and Ting A Ling.

He earned two Grammy Awards for Best Reggae Albums: As Raw As Ever (1992) and X-tra Naked (1993). The St Ann-born, Seaview Gardens-raised deejay subsequently migrated to New York.

“I’m disappointed he never stayed in Jamaica and lead from the front… He’s extremely relevant to the dancehall and reggae vibes,” said Bennett.

Singers the late William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke and Gregory Isaacs, and painter Cecil Cooper have also been awarded ODs officer class. Chris Chin, president of VP Records, dub poet Mutabaruka, and sculptors Cecil Cooper and Basil Watson have been awarded OD commander class.

Bunny Rugs, former lead singer of Third World, died in February 2014. Isaacs died in October 2010. Cooper passed away last month.

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JamRoc Politics – Who Makes Up Our Political Parties Base?????

Can you blame the people?  Before you react to the end of the story or partial ending, can we for a brief moment start from the beginning????

Residential living in that community has been the norm for at least 50 years, we know that much.  How long have we gained Independence??????  How many persons living there for the last 50 years voted in both  our local and general elections?  For you to be eligible to vote in Jamaica, you must be able to prove your identity also your address where you would have lived for at least 6 months I believe.  In proving such, you would have to produce an electricity bill at minimum.  Whose name appears on the water utility bill as I am sure the powers of be must know that.  Therefore electricity could only have been provided once the owner for the premises gave instruction to the power company to provide such for the occupier.

While squatting exists on the Island, and is a thorn we can all agree.  We must not lose sight of the fact that each community/region has a Councillor and a Member of Parliament.  So how could this be allowed to continue for so many decades is the question?  Land ownership or housing occupied or unoccupied should not give rise to squatting.  There are laws governing this land, and those in political leadership know them well.  If not, certainly with the abundance of attorneys we have as aids or players in our political sphere, the head of government would be and can be at any time be brought up to speed.

People need to be led, they need laws otherwise left to their own volition we would have anarchy, living like uncivilized beings. Enforcement of such laws MUST be constant and not only when it suits the interests of others.  Interestingly to note, we have now created through I daresay political design the stark reality that lack of enforcement of laws is now going to hurt both political parties.  Are our political parties guilty of giving citizens land whether owned by them or not in turn for votes?  Why have we turned a blind eye to squatting for so many decades?  Is squatting a form of government welfare?  Who exactly makes up our political parties base?  Do our utility companies when providing service, ensure that documents tendered for service are as they appear to be, legal?  If not, who has been footing the bill for decades and how could informal residential living go on for so long in that community?  Do you really blame the reaction of the people 50 years later?  If you do, how well thinking could you be?

The root of many ills on the Roc stems from political orchestration.  Until those who have a vested interest in this country, who have children and grandchildren and have contributed more than their fair share hold both political parties accountable for the voting machine, we will forever be grasping that quest to achieving our true potential as a country and people.

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Red Hills Rd residents upset at MP amid eviction order

(Jamaica Observer) Thursday, October 13, 2016     143 Comments

An angry Tanesha Palmer stomps on a T-shirt bearing her MP’s image while a masked man looks on.

RESIDENTS of 85 Red Hills Road, St Andrew, faced with an eviction order, yesterday lashed out at Member of Parliament (MP) Karl Samuda who they allege has offered them no help.

The residents, who burned T-shirts bearing Samuda’s image in protest, said that their dwellings in the informal community were at risk of being demolished.

“The inspector from up a Constant Spring Police Station come wah day and tell wi seh him get orders fi come tell wi fi leave off di land. Dem come yesterday (Tuesday) again and say no longer than tomorrow (today) the bulldozer a come bulldoze down the whole place,” explained Karen Cohen, who has been living in the community for more than 40 years.

“Wi nuh know nothing, wi nuh hear nothing from nobody, no MP nuh come out here,” Cohen told the Jamaica Observer, yesterday.

She said had it not been for the media she and others would not have known that the land had been sold.

“Right now, wi want to talk to Samuda. From dis a gwaan all now Samuda don’t come represent nothing nor we. Dem nuh show wi nuh title, nothing seh people own the land,” Cohen fumed.

She said they learned, through the media, that a plaza is slated to be built on the land.

“Nobody nuh come seh nothing to wi all now seh where wi fi relocate, and if wi a go get back wi things dem. A just the police dem inna di brown suit wi see a come down here all the while,” Cohen added.

Theresa Smith, another irate resident, said that members of her family have been living in the community for decades and had been contributing to Operation Pride.

“Mi mother a 50-odd, mi grandfather dead inna him 70s, a yah him build up, and all these years nobody no come represent us,” she said.

“Tomorrow mawning (today) we nuh know what a go happen. Police come yah a tell we fi come off and go look place fi live ‘cause people want dem land. Mi want justice, mi have a bar and a shop and ah it mi use send mi pickney dem a school,” Smith said.

Yesterday several calls to Samuda’s cellphone went unanswered.

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Mi Blood A Boil, Dog Life More Valuable Than Human!!!! – Part 2

Thank you for this piece of editorial.  It is heartwarming to see that the alarm has been sounded.  I sincerely hope that out of the many esteem high profile lawyers we have on the Roc, this case is taken up as pro bono.  If this is not a case that needs a precedent to be set, I do not which is.

Can we assist when there is no political scoring to be achieved?  Is every supposedly kind gesture done publicly in the name of politics only?  Let us see where this is going to go.  No political points to be scored on this one so will it be taken up by any of our ever ready camera profilers?  I know at least ten (10) attorneys publicly that is who I would love to see if any one of them will take this case.  Please let there be a part 3 to this report.

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Editorial

Enough is enough!

(Jamaica Observer) Monday, October 10, 2016

The story ‘Vicious dog attack!’ in yesterday’s Sunday Observer is yet more evidence of the deep-rooted tendency in Jamaica to treat serious issues as nine-day wonders.

The story of an attack on a mother and her two young children by pit bulls in St Andrew in early March is horrific. The mother, Ms Aleiya Chin of St Andrew, says her five-year-old son seems to have developed long-term medical issues as a direct result of the attack.

Even more horrifying, a story from the news archives dated March 1, 2016 tells of 56-year-old Mr Jerome Pow who was killed by pit bulls in the vicinity of Hagley Park Road in St Andrew.

Such reports are not new. Each such incident triggers urgent calls for tougher action to protect citizens from vicious dogs and their careless owners. Then, with the passage of time, the issue is forgotten until there is another nightmarish report.

Writing in January 2014 Jamaica Observer columnist Ms Grace Virtue highlighted some of the cases leading up to then: “In July 2011, 62-year-old Valerie Stephenson, of St Catherine, was killed by a pit bull as she walked in the community. Four months earlier, in Westmoreland, eight-month-old Oshawn Obermann was mauled by a pit bull owned by his parents. He survived with major injuries. In December 2012, two-year-old Ronica Gregory of St Catherine was killed by a pit bull and her sister seriously injured…

“Also in 2012, a woman and her 14-month-old son were attacked by a pit bull in Spanish Town. January 2, 2014, a three-year-old lost an eye after he was mauled by a pit bull in St Ann, and on January 4, 2014, a 59-year-old mechanic was mauled by three pit bulls in St Mary.”

Though apparently hamstrung by legal limitations the police have urged Jamaicans to stop keeping pit bulls and to be vigilant in securing dogs.

In 2014, some opinion leaders, including veterinarian and former Member of Parliament Dr St Aubyn Bartlett, urged registration of dogs and specific legislation.

But then the issue died its usual natural death. Two years later, here we are again.

In the case involving Ms Chin and her two young children, it is alleged that the dogs had free access to the road through an open gate. A lawsuit is apparently the only legal recourse.

A near 150-year-old law, The Dogs (Liability for Injuries by) Act of 1877 is applicable in this instance. Like so many other pieces of Jamaican legislation it needs urgent upgrade.

This should not again be a nine-day wonder. All stakeholders, not least the media, should push with might and main to make sure that this time around concrete action is taken.

We are well aware that Jamaica’s legislative and judicial process is tediously inefficient — we need only listen to Justice Minister Mr Delroy Chuck. But it is full time for action.

For the doubters and naysayers, we think it appropriate to borrow from Ms Virtue in her January 2014 column: “Close your eyes for a minute, honourable ministers, and visualise your child or grandchild being mauled by a dog. Or, imagine yourself, as a two-year old, caught between the jaws of a killer dog.”

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