It is with sadness that I extend my sincere sympathy to the family of the Most Honourable Edward Philip George Seaga. He was a Prime Minister about whom character and corruption were never mentioned in the same sentence, and whose intellect for understanding the ordinary Jamaican was one of his most notable hallmarks.
As the tributes are outpouring of his many great achievements and foresight, one in particular resonates with me personally. This was his handling of the restoration of our country after the devastation of Hurricane Gilbert, and his willingness to assist all, regardless of area and party affiliation. Some say that his non-partisanship in this work may have cost him the following year’s election.
He was a Jamaican to be proud of; and his love for country was borne out by his actions and writings right to the end. May his soul find everlasting peace.
Recently the Constitutional Court gave a ruling regarding the implementation of NIDS and that ruling has caused the Government to reconsider the legislation that will make it compliant with human rights and the safeguards necessary for privacy. It is my view that the rushed timetable for NIDS may not have been dictated by the Government of Jamaica, but may have been imposed on them by “higher powers”. Those who may be the initiators I leave to the investigation and imagination of the readers.
I think that the general support for NIDS is very high; however there is an element of a lack of trust that runs through the population. The public relations campaigns have failed to clarify the concerns for many people, and this is the crux of the current rejection. Succeeding governments have tended to use information in varied ways that suit their individual preferences for and against individuals and companies.
These, by commission or omission, have been used to sterilize and sanctify party faithful who are then the recipients of contractual largesse. The first useful application of NIDS could be the tracking of professionals who allow their names to be used for the purposes of registration of contractors who have no demonstrated professional certification. The identity of persons who allow their names to be used, and who really don’t work for the designated companies, would provide an audit trail.
A second useful facility of NIDS would be an acknowledgement of the right of every citizen over 18 years to be automatically registered to vote. Currently the system of enumeration allows for some citizens to be included and others excluded, based on the degree of control that one party or the other may have in particular constituencies. This will likely be rejected by both political parties as it thwarts their ability to do selective registration.
Take the case of some “unholy agreement” about students at our major universities who live in their various campus housing between nine months or all year. They are not entitled to register in those constituencies in which they reside. So in spite of getting a half day, as provided under the law, if they wish to vote, a trip to and from, say rural Hanover, is much more than a half day. So they are disenfranchised. Thus the educated join the ranks of apathy.
Thirdly this also concerns the Diaspora who choose to return to vote their party loyalties and who may not really reside in Jamaica nor live here for over six months per annum. This will be a conundrum unless their right to vote remotely is treated like the USA or Guyana. Both have some Constitutional problems that have to be addressed in the context of Jamaican law.
Fourthly, the question of security of data has a very poor international reputation. The much lauded FBI; CIA; INTERPOL; court records; alleged Russian interference in the USA elections; Facebook; Twitter; and many others that are not used in conformity with their original intention, and which are regularly hacked must be a cause for alarm in a technologically challenged developing country such as ours.
I close by saying that this list of cautions is not collectively exhaustive, and I would implore all citizens with similar or different views to participate in addressing the Government in a collective sharing so that the laudable NIDS can be accepted by all people of goodwill, and the criminal and corrupt will be suitably cautioned.