Mark Lee

About Mark Lee

Editor, author and writer with career spanning print, radio, television and new media.

Dear Prime Minister Bruce Golding,

In the event that you are unaware of a UK production for TV entitled “The Secret Caribbean”, I feel the need to bring this divisive and damning programme for Jamaicans and Jamaica to your attention. The presenter, a renowned UK journalist from Trinidad, Sir Trevor McDonald, visited several islands in the Caribbean on behalf of ITV1 and with the apparent knowledge of Jamaica’s public relations agency in the UK, McCluskey International. I assume, this was to promote the lesser known aspects of the islands.

This week’s episode began by showing the luxury and opulence of islands in the Bahamas owned by David Copperfield, describing how beautiful it would be to spend a week there. Afterwards, and this is the most awful part, he visited Jamaica where the programme portrayed our beautiful island as a blood soaked, impoverished, unemployable den of iniquity. Following this assassination of the Jamaican people he proceeded to Barbados where the programme once again renewed its theme of luxury and opulence by showing their top hotel, their largest land developer and several yachts in a new marina.

As unfortunate and damaging as this episode is to Jamaica, and as easy as it is to lash out at Sir Trevor and his colleagues, my questions are “What part did the Jamaican authorities play or fail to play in all of this?  Who authorised the work permits for the film crew? Who authorised the access to the women’s prison? Who failed to properly supervise the whole event in the interest of our tourist industry?” These questions must be answered and the guilty must be held to account. There is an old saying that says “Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice shame on me”. Maybe the authorities should consider this when thinking of past disasters such as Jamaica ER, Ross Kemp on Gangs and others.

May I humbly suggest in the interest of Jamaican pride, that the Government and responsible Ministries consider a few simple precautions before granting foreign nationals the tools needed to damage our fair land.

1. Question journalists as to the intentions and motives associated with their request to film, ascertain where they intend to film and make it clear that an unbalanced view will not be tolerated.

2. Assign a representative from the Jamaican authorities to accompany the film crew at all times (paid for by the company requesting permission to film) this must not be optional as damage to our tourist industry may be irreparable!

3.We should as a nation encourage our own film makers in promoting our beautiful island whether it be through documentary, websites, face book, you-tube or others. It has become painfully evident that we cannot sit back and allow others to promote our country for free as “nu ting free nu good”.

FFBJ is appealing to the Jamaican Authorities, independent documentary and movie makers to produce top quality, balanced, “homemade” programmes for the international market. These programmes can start by depicting all things good and great about JA.

In respect of crime and violence and civil liberty issues, the Jamaican authorities, non-governmental organizations (including human rights organizations) must join forces to demonstrate to the ordinary people of Jamaica and the international community that the country is ready, willing and able to address these issues, by producing open and transparent documentary programmes about progress on a regular basis.

Finally do not be afraid to refuse permission to any film makers whose motives may be deemed contrary to the interest of Jamaica

Sincerely,

Sylbourne Sydial

Executive Chair

On behalf of Facilitators for a Better Jamaica (FFBJ)

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