Dear Minister Ramjattan:
The curfew your ministry has imposed on bars, nightclubs, and restaurants is no doubt well intentioned. Good intentions, however, aren’t the best grounds for making public policy. Everyone understands that there is an urgent need to address the skyrocketing crime rate, especially on account of the dramatic rise in violent crime. The speed with which you acted is admirable, not least because it shows resolve and because it gives the supporters of the new administration much needed talking points. Yet, it is important, and not too late, for you to reflect on what has just happened. You should do so despite the political pressures placed on you to stay the course.
A few weeks ago you stated that the crime rate is up due to economic desperation and hopelessness. It was therefore quite shocking that the remedy is a curfew on ‘sporting’ late at night. You must explain the relationships among the supposed socio-economic variables influencing crime against women and home invasions etc., and the measures you have put in place. As you know, the business community is upset with both the law and the manner in which it was concocted. You also need to explain why regional and international artistes should get privileged treatment over Guyanese citizens.
Through this letter I urge you to actually study the crime situation in the country and to do so with both objectivity and with social scientific methods. A simple pronouncement based on your personal views is a far cry from what is expected on any cabinet member. It is not foolish to deduce from your policy that late night sporting (drinking in particular) is a major reason for armed robberies, home invasions, kidnappings, and violence against women? Yet, as the Minister of Public Security you should know that most home invasions and armed robberies against small businesses are not carried out after the time of the curfew. So what is the point of the curfew? As for violence against women, you need to present evidence that sporting late at night increases violence against women. It may be true, but show us rather than tell us.
Mr. Ramjattan, you need to consider the unintended consequences of the curfew policy. Many in the business community are convinced that a huge underground ‘market’ of unlicensed establishments would crop-up in no time. Revenues would be lost, and wherever something illegal is happening, even more illegal stuff might follow.
Finally, if you want to prevent road deaths due to drinking and driving then strengthen the road laws and have the police department expand the breathalyzer test programs. You may also start server-intervention training programs for bartenders/servers. The programs train servers to detect inebriated customers and take appropriate action.
From: The Piper