April 17, 2014 By
April 17, 2014 By
…on AG’s salary?
As they promised, the Opposition parties continue to behave like they’re filming a tropical version of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. But somewhere along the line, they seem to have forgotten that like in all movies, all they’re doing is “make believe”. Nothing changes in the end. The chopped-off hands of the actors remain at the end of their arms; the spilled guts are so much spaghetti and the sauce for the latter does come in useful as “blood”.
Fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, the Opposition parties can’t really “chop” anything. They can plead. They can suggest. They can threaten. They just cannot cut the estimates. So it really doesn’t matter that they’re jumping up and down like a “fowl-cock” on steroids – nothing will change. It all depends on which way the Government wants to return the items that would be “not approved” by the Opposition. “Supplementaries” and such like.
But suckered in by an “insider Internet news” site that’s sprung up like a jumbie umbrella, (they grow on dung), the editors of this newspaper headlined the AG’s and a Presidential Advisor’s salaries. This, of course, wasn’t any real news – just the jealousy of a rival. As a matter of fact, just last month, an ex-AG, Bernard De Santos, commenting on the (vexed) matter of the possible nexus between the qualifications of magistrates and their pay, reminded all and sundry of the origins of the super-salary of our AGs.
And this is where the irony of the PNC-dominated APNU castigating the AG’s salary’s gets so rich: it was Burnham who set up this salary. While not quite in the “As I lay dying” mode described by Faulkner, Burnham was approaching the end of his days and did a nasty thing to the profession of law – which he claimed to love.
The man took Keith Massiah – Chancellor of the Judiciary and the highest judicial official in the land – and decided to make him his Attorney General. Now we know – because the Opposition has been screaming long and loud enough about every AG the present Government’s appointed – the AG’s the legal hound of the Government. He HAS to be partisan. But what was Massiah to do against the wishes of a petulant and vindictive dictator?
He demanded that the AG’s salary be equivalent to his much more stellar Chancellor’s remuneration. Burnham, of course, could do as he wanted. And the next day Massiah was AG with a salary that was put into law.
And this was what APNU wanted to “cut”? Can’t be done…because of Burnham!!! But imagine the treachery of the “insider”!!! What strange bedfellows does ambition make!
Last week, a PNC councillor from Region Nine complained that he was organising a “workshop on democracy”, but the big bad PPP didn’t want to attend. They spoiled things, because they told their people to do the same. But we’re a bit confused, why should the PPP and their supporters attend a workshop conducted by their political opponents?
And more to the point, why would APNU expect that the PPP would show up at their workshop? But hold it!!! Maybe it wasn’t an APNU workshop? Could it be those fellows from the IRI who’re doing much to teach us benighted natives about the real meaning of “democracy”? After all, USAID pocketed a cool US$7 million in funding for this sacrifice and we guess they have to spend that dough.
Thing is, how come they’re working through an Opposition official to spread the good word on democracy? But we’re assured that all is kosher: Amit Shah, the head of USAID that’s doling out the funding, said apropos another (secret) project to spread democracy (in Cuba): “the operation isn’t covert…it’s just discreet”.
…on inner-city youths
The police want to institute change in Albouystown. Too much crime emanating from there. But shouldn’t the police lead by example? Let’s stop those traffic shakedowns!
April 17, 2014 By
Yesterday, 15,000 plus 11- and 12-year-old children began that Guyanese rite of passage called the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), which will end today. It used to be called the “Common Entrance” – originating, like most of our educational precepts, from England – in 1903 as a mechanism to filter some from the lower classes into the elite “Public” School system. In typical British inverse snobbism, these were actually private schools: represented in Guyana by Queen’s College and Bishops’ High School.
The exam was actually introduced into then British Guiana in the 1950s: before that students such as Cheddi Jagan (1935-1938) had to pay for their tuition at Queen’s. The curriculum and teaching methodology were openly elitist and the rest of the secondary schools were in a decidedly inferior position as far as the allocation of resources was concerned.
Not surprisingly practically all “Guyana Scholars” originated from Queen’s College and later Bishops’. The other high schools were considered suitable for producing haulers of water and the hewers of wood.
The English abandoned the Common Entrance in 2003 and we, in full independent, post-colonial mode, followed suit. Thirty-seven years after independence, we were informed by our Ministry of Education that we were going to level out the disparities between the “elite schools”, all in Georgetown, and the others, primarily rural secondary schools.
We did not need an “examination” or “test” to separate the chaff from the wheat, so to speak, to ensure that the wheat ended up only in the Georgetown schools.
In fact, in a revolutionary statement, it was contended that the unnecessary “test” was too traumatic an imposition placed on the students and might have been part of the old British elitist strategy. The “test” would have rewarded those who were more attuned to the mores and manners of the middle class.
Henceforth, we would now have an “assessment” and, in point of fact, three “assessments”. In addition to the one that would replace the “Common Entrance”, there were now going to be one at the end of Grade Two and another at the end of Grade Four.
But today, a full decade later, there has obviously been a slip between the cup (of education delivery) and the lip of the eager, budding high school aspirants. There is probably not a single member of the 15,000 plus cohort writing the NGSA today, who doesn’t believe he or she is vying for spots at the “premier schools” in Georgetown.
The Ministry of Education, in the person of the Chief Education Officer with a letter to the press, would persuade us that the recent topping at the CSEC exams two years in a row by two Essequibo schools means that we have now reached parity in the delivery of the curriculum across all the secondary schools in the country. But as the old colonial adage reminds us: “one swallow does not make a summer”.
What the Essequibo experience does teach is that parity is possible, but the Ministry must have a programme in place and, more importantly, must ensure that the programme is executed so that the goal of parity becomes a reality. The experience of the parallel-tracked “assessment” innovation is instructive.
It was stated that the “pressure” would be off the young charges in the Ministry’s care. But the pressure has only tripled, since the final score achieved from the summation of the individual scores still determine entry to the “premier” schools.
The “assessments” were also supposed to guide teachers in the classes or schools into which the students would have graduated, as to their strengths and weaknesses, that would then be considered in the pedagogical regime. As we have pointed out repeatedly, this has never occurred.
But we wish the NGSA students well in their endeavours, even as we know that the “bottom” 95 per cent will have to, by and large, fend for themselves.
April 17, 2014 By
We live in a society where every day we hear, see or even witness heinous crime being committed, and because we feel that we would endanger our lives, we leave it as it is, without reporting it to the police, and the culprits continue to do what they do to others!
However, a few months ago, the media reported a story about a notorious gang of thieves, known as the “Salt Fish Gang”, in Annandale, East Coast Demerara.
The gang members have conducted many robberies in Annandale, as well as surrounding communities, but were up to that time not apprehended because the victims were scared of them.
But when the gang’s robbery spree became too much for them to bear, they decided to alert others about them through the means of the media.
The news has inspired others to assist the relevant authorities to catch these members who are a nuisance to society and, to date, the police have arrested several of the gang members, who in the past thought they were above the law.
Thanks to the media, the victims have spoken out and the dedicated officers out there who serve and protect us have done a wonderful job.
A proud citizen from
(Name withheld by request)
April 17, 2014 By
Dr Henry Jeffrey in his column has arrogated to himself the role of an “authority” on almost every issue under the sun.
Having served in leadership positions, both under the PNC and the PPP/C administrations, he feels seemingly positioned to pontificate on governance issues on a comparative basis. But as an academic, his only concern should be to analyse situations objectively and scientifically.
His columns seem not to conform to the basic tenets of rigorous analysis. His most recent analysis of the situation as it relates to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Bill is indicative of such flaws, if not biased analysis.
Take for example the position he took in a recent column, in which he accused the PPP/C of not being serious in terms of passing the necessary amendments to the said Bill, with particular reference to the period when the PPP/C had enjoyed a majority of the seats in Parliament.
What Dr Jeffrey did not mention in his column is that there is a fundamental and qualitative difference between what obtained under the PPP/C and the former PNC administrations in relation to governance and in matters of Law and jurisprudence.
The first has to do with the fact that under the PNC, Parliament was not a representative and hence truly deliberative body in which the true preferences of the population were reflected and codified into the Laws of Guyana.
Parliament for all practical purposes under the PNC was nothing short of a façade in which laws were imposed on the people without any meaningful checks and balances.
In those days, the committee system was not institutionalised as is the case today. There were no Select Committees to try and iron differences prior to the full sitting of Parliament as obtained today.
It was the ‘PNC way or the highway’ insofar as the Opposition parties were concerned, even though the PNC was a de facto minority Government.
The second point to note is that the PPP/C never had any intention whatsoever to use its majority status to railroad legislation, even though as Dr Jeffrey himself posited, that given its majoritarian status in previous Parliaments, it could have easily done so.
The AMLCFT legislation was much too important with far reaching consequences for the country and people to play politics with, and for it to be hastily treated and rushed through Parliament.
Maybe, on hindsight, it was perhaps the better thing to do given the intransigence and the anti-national stance now being taken by the combined political Opposition where they are now prepared to sacrifice the national good on the altar of narrow partisan interest.
Sadly, while the Opposition parties are fiddling, narco-traffickers and money launderers are having, as it were, a field day, and the blame is put on the PPP/C Government.
Dr Jeffrey went on to draw a parallel between the PNC and the PPP/C by making the spurious point that both parties at varying periods entered into ‘deals’ in order to promote their respective partisan political agendas. He gave as an example the support given to the Burnham regime in the mid 1970s on the issue of nationalisation of the sugar industry by the PPP to get the regime to put mechanisms to allow for union recognition of GAWU.
There are two fundamental points that needed clarification and further elaboration. The first, as Dr Jeffrey ought to know as a former ideologue of the PNC, is that the PPP has consistently taken a principled position when it comes to the issue of nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy. As such, there was no need for any political horse trading on this matter insofar as the PPP was concerned.
The second point has to do with the fact that GAWU at the time of nationalisation was the largest sugar union with overwhelming support from field and factory workers. The issues of union recognition were a non-issue which was bound to happen with the passage of time and therefore was never the subject of any horse trading.
And, if only for the records, the PPP had never advocated nor supported the deliberate burning of sugar canes to hurt the economy during the Burnham regime being peddled by the PNC, even though it was in support of legitimate industrial action by sugar workers in an effect to address grievances.
The PPP/C administration has nothing to gain from the non-passage of AMLCFT legislation. To suggest otherwise, as Dr Jeffrey sought to do in his column, is not only intellectually deficient, but wholly incorrect.
April 17, 2014 By
If you live in New York, and you wake up one morning to find snow on the ground, it wasn’t dumped there by a few trucks as a friend mockingly suggested a few weeks ago. Instead, the science of assumptions and deductions would dictate that although you did not see nor hear the snow fall, it must have snowed overnight.
Freddie Kissoon’s column of April 15, commented on the Education Minister’s refusal to apologise to the then APNU Parliamentarian Jaipaul Sharma for a comment that was directed to his father, CN Sharma.
This Minister has no need to “bend and shape public opinion in her favour” on any matter. Her impeccable record, fighting for the rights of women and children, is well documented and something she can truly be proud of.
On April 16, 2010, a local newspaper carried a story about the Proprietor of the CNS TV Channel 6, Chandra Narine Sharma, being questioned by Police ranks at Eve Leary, after he was invited there following reports by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s Child Care and Protection Department of multiple rapes committed on four underage sisters.
Following a bout of questioning, he was taken to the Brickdam Police Station lockups where he collapsed and was subsequently hospitalised at the Georgetown Public Hospital, the article said.
“Earlier in the day, formal reports were lodged against Sharma at the Brickdam Police Station and Eve Leary Headquarters after the reports had been made to the Child Care and Protection Agency.
“That arm of the Human Services and Social Security Ministry commenced investigations of its own and unsuccessfully sought to remove two young girls (ages five and nine) from their home facilitated by Sharma adjacent to his business place, located at Robb and Wellington Streets, Georgetown. Sharma at the time retained the services of Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes.
“The action comes in wake of revelations that a 13-year-old girl in a sworn affidavit signed by Justice of the Peace and Commissioner of Oaths to Affidavits Lachman Narine, dated April 12, 2010, recounted a most harrowing tale of repeated rape and sexual molestation of four sisters over several years,” the article continued.
Is Freddie questioning the accuracy of this article? This case may yet be tried to determine CN Sharma’s guilt or innocence.
Freddie Kissoon has his own agenda, and that is, to use his columns to discredit the PPP/C Administration, even if he has to shamelessly lie and libel himself to satisfy the political base of the Opposition.
I often ask myself, “How can anyone hate so much?” Where was Kissoon’s outrage when the monsters who murdered 11 innocent villagers of Lusignan, including five children, walked free? Why is he silent on these murders?
Or is it because the victims were all Guyanese of Indian descent? We all know how he feels about this sector of the population. Where was Kissoon’s outrage when the joint Opposition voted to deny our native Guyanese the $1.1 billion budgeted for Amerindian development?
Kissoon cited public outrage against Minister Manickchand in the pages of Stabroek News, but that’s nothing new. Stabroek News is not objective about this administration, and is considered the mouth-piece of the Opposition.
Those persons who criticise the Education Minister for not stooping to Opposition demands and pressure for her to apologise to Sharma are the very same ones that would have sided with Pontius Pilate if Jesus was a Minister in this Government.
Freddie Kissoon has no shame. At least under the PPP/C Administration, he’s prosperous enough to be living in a big mansion in an affluent neighbourhood, and could now easily afford to buy any book he wishes to read.
April 17, 2014 By
It is after much consideration and deliberation that I have decided to participate in this public forum of opinionated expression. This action now to be undertaken stems from the combined Opposition’s proposed non-approval of the Amerindian Development Fund.
I would first like to say that it is my belief that both Granger and Bulkan, who headed the press conference on this matter, can be forgiven, for they certainly “knew not what they did” – the reason being, the now much publicised opinion, that they are newcomers to the political arena, and unsuitable for the said positions.
Mr Sydney Allicock is, however, another matter, as I believe we can both be called stalwarts of this arena, since we have both been involved in the struggle for Amerindian development, while learning and suffering some indignities along the journey.
Sydney became a respected leader and was highly regarded by both the former Minister of Amerindian Affairs and the President, who assisted unstintingly in his development endeavours, and is the primary reason that he was courted/enticed by APNU, to assist in what has now become most glaringly apparent since the presentation of the last two national budgets. And that is to return the Amerindian People to “hand to mouth” existence.
After becoming aware of some of the utterances delivered by Sydney in both the previous and current budget debates, I have come to the only conclusion possible, and that is he has suffered from some form of memory loss.
He should do the honourable thing and resign from his position, as was done by his other comrades, thereby retaining some amount of dignity and pride that were bestowed upon him, for his previous achievements.
Another reason I looked at, derived from his own utterances emanating from the current debate, where he lamented the present condition of the trail to Lethem, which he now realises has “holes within holes”.
Sydney would have recalled the involvement of the Amerindian Peoples Association in travelling all the way to Norway to inform the European Union that the money they had allocated for the upgrading of the trail to a road would not be beneficial to the Amerindian people, as they claimed they were not consulted.
Thus, the funds were withdrawn, and to date the Government of the day still has this Important Development that will certainly contribute to the development of our region and the people on their agenda, and as we all know is vigorously pursuing the funding for same.
My final reason for Sydney’s condition is, in my opinion, the stress and degradation he suffered at the hands or mouth of his Chief Whip Comrade Ally, when she publically berated and “hollered” at him to remove himself from the interview he was engaged in with the media.
I have not the vaguest idea of Amna’s contribution to her profession as a teacher, but her public degradation of such an esteemed Amerindian leader certainly gives her no acclaim, but instead demonstrates her unsuitability for this modern political era of free thinking, as she seems mind locked in the days of the “Plantation Hope era”.
As I mentioned previously Sydney and myself suffered some indignities in our earlier struggles, and Sydney himself once remarked that we should not endure such and should leave, but we persevered and continued the struggle.
However, this latest degradation, bestowed upon Sydney by his Chief Whip, certainly goes beyond acceptable, as I am positive that his beloved parents never treated him this way, nor would they expect him to accept this public humiliation without saying “enough is enough” and doing the honourable thing: resign and return to the People, and continue the struggle for Amerindian development with dignity.
With thanks and
John A Fredericks
April 16, 2014 By
Satiricus was pleased. There were some who complained that the Opposition MPs only showed up at Parliament to eat free food and collect their duty-free car allowances. At $1.7 million per sitting to feed just 65 Parliamentarians, and an average of $5 million in duty per car forgone, Satiricus knew you weren’t talking about peanuts.
But yet, Opposition MPs sometimes came up with such brilliant ideas that Satiricus understood right away why it was worth denying thousands of Guyanese a decent standard of living just to take care of them.
Take the KFC MP, Trevon Willums, who rose in indignation to demand why the Government hadn’t formed an Anti-Kidnapping Unit, a whole week after a businessman had been kidnapped and killed. “Why just the other day, that 19-year-old had been kidnapped and ransom demanded,” grimaced Satiricus ruefully to his pal Cappo, who’d dropped by.
“But da na de bai fram Enmore, who bin fake he own kidnapping?” replied Cappo.
“Whatever!” growled Satiricus defiantly. He had looked up the statistics and seen that there was a person kidnapped every other year.
“Now, you might think this number small,” said Satiricus. “But, old buddy, you can’t look at only money when you got things like these going on.”
“But wha de Unit gon do 99.999999 per cent ah de time?” “Deh might get bored and start kidnapping, de self.”
“Haven’t the GDF, with thousands of soldiers, been sitting around since 1965? That’s 49 years! Nobody complains about them!” huffed Satiricus. “How many people they kidnap?”
“Well, deh use to rent out dey gun…” remembered Cappo ruefully.
But Satiricus’s blood was boiling. “Why should we stop with a Kidnapping Unit?” he fumed. “There were all kinds of atrocities committed every day. There should be Police Units formed to handle every one of them.”
“Take stray dogs. Please! “ grinned Cappo in his best comedian voice. “But seriously, Sato, yuh na think dem should gat wan police unit fuh pick up all dem stray dog running around de place?”
“Damn right!!!” Satiricus agreed so fervently that he slipped into Creolese, “only last week one a dem jump up and bite me bamzee. And wha about wan Police Unit fuh look after all de Police Unit abee gon get?”
“I never thought of that,” said Cappo in Standard English, which he never liked using. “Maybe we should change the name to Guyana Police Units”?”
April 16, 2014 By
…from Granger on Federalism?
One of the most intriguing utterances from David Granger, Leader of the PNC, Leader of APNU, Leader of the Combined Parliamentary Opposition (and not so incidentally, the opponent of Carl Greenidge and sideliner of Aubrey Norton), was his take on the Budget.
No. We’re not talking about his promise to “chop the Budget viciously”…that might have something to do with fending off Greenidge, more than anything else. You think?
What intrigues us is his cry that even though the hinterland’s producing so much wealth with gold, timber, bauxite, diamonds and what not…they’re not getting a proportionate share of the budgetary allocations. Now here it is, silly us, we thought we’re an indivisible state and no matter where the revenues come from, we’re supposed to spend them to increase the “national wealth”. Emphasis on the “national”.
So, for instance, if 90 per cent of the population lives on the Coast, we oughtn’t to be surprised if most of the road-building projects are located there. But Granger, the old-time military strategist, thinks otherwise. He feels that since we’re, say, digging up so much of the gold from the Pakaraimas, the folks up there ought to be getting pitched roads also. It’s their money.
Never mind it’ll ruin that big tourist attraction we’re building for the rugged he-man tourist type – the Pakaraimas Safari, Granger’s insistent we ought to be tooling around the mountain passes with panache.
But we detect from this utterance something revolutionary from the old soldier: when you examine his thrust, the fella’s calling for federalism. Each state has first dibs on their own revenue streams and all that.
And here we thought that crackpot idea had sunk into oblivion along with its originator Ravi Dev! But like your Eyewitness said, Granger’s a strategic thinker. Didn’t he play chess with Odo himself? So what’s he up to?
Well, one theory that immediately springs to mind is he’s given up on believing he can break the PPP/C’s stranglehold on coastal politics and believes he can do better in the interior.
Then again, with Greenidge yapping at his heels (that Greenidge does remind you of a terrier, doesn’t he?), it could be that if the Pakaraimas and the other parts of the Highland Region are separate states, Greenidge won’t be able to keep up with him on the campaign trail. You don’t see Greenidge rappelling down the sheer face of Ayanganna, much less Roraima, do you?
But it’s encouraging that at his age, (he’s about 80, no?) Granger can change his thinking. Who knows? Maybe he’ll soon be calling for “balancing the forces”!!!
Well, Dear Readers, those of you who’ve been following this column would know your Eyewitness’ take on this legalisation of marijuana business. And it is a business. Here it is, cigarettes are a known cause of lung and laryngeal cancer and yet they are legal.
Sold everywhere: with warnings – but sold. Making billions in profits for the cigarette makers in the First World that’re busy shipping the death sticks to Third World countries like Guyana.
And let’s not even talk about alcohol and its effect on the liver. That’s nothing compared to the damage it does to the social fabric of our country. But up to now we’ve been going along with the U.S. line on outlawing the use of marijuana – even though they’re pushing the entire trade as the largest consumers.
So we’re very happy that we’re backing the region’s efforts, led by Jamaica, to legalise the herb – especially for medicinal purposes. Not to mention its religious use. It’s irie, no?
The Muckraker’s fussing about Minister Rohee saying there’s a “kidnapping unit” in the Guyana Police Force versus the new Commissioner claiming there are individuals distributed within the force that perform this function.
The turds over at the Muckraker obviously think a “unit” has only a physical attribute and not also a functional one.
April 16, 2014 By