My fellow Jamaicans,
Generation 2000 (G2K), celebrated its 18th anniversary in 2018. It has proven to be quite an eventful year for the organization, with many events that showcased the organization’s growth since inception and our unwavering commitment to Jamaica.
As the year started (January 2018), former JLP Member of Parliament for St Andrew North Western Derrick Smith resigned. With the selection of Dr. Nigel Clarke, a founding member of G2K, as the JLP’s candidate for the seat, G2K immediately went into campaign mode. Just as we contributed to the election victory a few months earlier (November 2017) for Dr. Norman Dunn, ‘team G2K’ exceeded all targets that were set for the organization for the by-election in St. Andrew NW. The organization performed so well that we were asked to assist in additional areas. It is safe to say that the hard work and sacrifice of the members of G2K contributed significantly to the JLP’s by-election victory and Dr. Nigel Clarke taking his seat in Parliament.
Also, in 2018 G2K successfully executed a number of outreach activities including beach clean-ups, blood drives and feeding the homeless. In addition, when the organization learned about the need to build a modern bathroom at the Hodges Land Basic School our members banded together and raised the funds to purchase the material. Members also traveled to the school, which is located in St. Elizabeth, to physically assist the community with the works. There can be no doubt that the members of G2K are staying true to the organization’s motto, ‘More Than Just Politics”.
Sadly, the organization suffered a severe blow with the passing of former Vice President Richard Porteous. ‘Porteous’ will be truly missed as he remained close to G2K and committed to the Jamaica Labour Party after graduating to the ranks of the organization’s alumni. His death reminds us that tomorrow is promised to no man. We must therefore, while we continue to work tirelessly to advance Jamaica towards her full potential, remember to be our brother’s keeper.
Jamaica has achieved much during 2018 including: The economy entering the growth phase; Establishment of a flexible exchange rate and recorded low inflation; Business and consumer confidence remained high; Record high levels of employment including youth employment ; Reduction in absolute poverty ; Record number of infrastructure projects including the Mandela Highway Improvement Project, Constant Spring Road, Three Miles, Ferris to Maxfield and many more; Record number of housing starts and developments through the National Housing Trust and the Housing Agency of Jamaica; and Major gains in improving safety and security in the country which resulted in a 22% reduction in murders for 2018. However, violent crimes are still inhibiting Jamaica from unleashing its true potential.
Past administrations have employed a myriad of different tools to fight crime. The record will show that the only tool that has significantly reduced the murder rate in Jamaica is the State of Public Emergency (SOPE). This temporary measure gives the state the time and space it requires to focus its resources on fixing the country’s ailing crime-fighting architecture, which was neglected for quite a long time before.
While the SOPE was implemented new courts were built; the backlog of court cases were being aggressively tackled; security forces received more equipment; police stations were upgraded; the number of persons in the security forces were expanded; government rolled out many initiatives to engage unattached youth, a range of social intervention programs were being executed and much more. The results were just beginning to show with Jamaica recording a reduction in murders of approximately 22% when compared to the previous year. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the security forces requested an extension to the SOPE’s in St. James, St. Catherine and sections of Kingston, to complete their mission, it did not receive the support of the Opposition. The States of Emergency are now projected to end prematurely in January 2019.
Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon following Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ invitation to the Opposition leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, to meet on Wednesday January 2nd, 2019. The meeting provides an opportunity for both parties to discuss the problem and hopefully revisit the decision to not extend the SOPE.
The youth of the nation stand to gain the most from a continued reduction in crime, given that we are the ones who will reap the benefits. This generation has never before experienced a Jamaica where the achievement of our goals are unaffected by violent crimes. If we are to achieve something that we have never achieved before, we must be prepared to take actions that we have never taken before. It is therefore incumbent on us to support measures that go beyond the established routine, which includes support for the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO), the extension of the States of Public Emergency and any other measure that has the potential to reduce crime to a manageable level and secure the future that is promised to us.
A new year brings with it exciting new opportunities for our spiritual lives, families, careers, and the environment. Let us grasp them with both hands and always endeavor to counsel the doubtful, enlighten the unaware, forgive willingly and comfort the afflicted.
For all Jamaicans I wish a very happy and prosperous new year!
President – Generation 2000