July 29, 2015 By
July 29, 2015 By
The Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), led by Guyanese Ashok Ramsaran, and the Federation of Hindu Mandirs comprising mostly of and led by Guyanese, joined a number of other advocacy groups and community leaders last week at a press conference organised by New York State Senator Tony Avella, to urge New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law, Senate Bill S.903/Assembly Bill A.8122, which would explicitly recognise Hindu, Sikh and Islamic faiths in the State’s religious incorporation law.
The Bill amends the definition of “Clergyman” and “Minister”, to include Pandit, Swami, Guru, Granthi, Imam, Moulvi, Maulana, and other religious titles.
For the Bill to become law, it must be signed by the Governor who has not indicated any sign of approval or non-approval.
The Bill will go a long way in assuring religious freedom for minorities in the New York State which is home to hundreds of ethnic groups and people of all faiths.
Senator Avella, who represents a large district comprising of Guyanese, South Asians, and other immigrant communities of all faiths, helped to push through the Bill in the State legislature. Senator Avella said he was “proud to have worked with Assembly Member Brennan and my colleagues in the legislature to pass this Bill in both houses”.
Assemblyman Jim Brennan, Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions, also urged the Governor to sign the Bill into law.
Among the groups and individuals joining Senator Avella to urge the Governor to sign the Bill are GOPIO, Federation of Hindu Mandirs (USA), Hindu Temple Society of North America, the Sant Sagar Gurudwara, Bellerose, the Kapurthala Sports and Cultural Club, the Shaheed Udham Singh Society, the Al-Muneer Foundation, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and other religious and cultural institutions.
“Recognition of New York State’s diversity of people of different faiths and from different ethnic origins is important for continuing social progress and this Bill is an important step in that direction. Senator Avella and Assemblyman Brennan are to be complimented for their efforts”, said Jhairam Persaud, the Guyanese-born President of GOPIO Upper New York Chapter.
Both the Guyanese Naidoo Veerapen, General Secretary, Federation of Hindu Mandirs (USA); Co-Chair of GOPIO Cultural Council and GOPIO Life Member and AshookRamsaran; President of GOPIO International thanked Senator Avella and Assemblyman Brennan for their contribution and acknowledged their support to the Bill.
July 29, 2015 By
Over the last two weeks, Guyanese have been ‘intrigued’ if not completely ‘amused’ by the revelations made by self-confessed Death Squad member, Sean Hinds.
During what appeared to be a sit-down gaff with a local journalist and not a probing hard hitting interview as it is being described by some, Hinds made some sweeping if not totally spurious allegations against former and serving members of the Guyana Police Force linking them to death and phantom squad killings, and at least two unsolved high-profile murders of anti-PPP/C political activists.
He has also demonstrated a willingness to have discourse and an ongoing information sharing session with the new Government but not the police force whose reputation he has been impugned by his accusations.
As expected, State Minister Joseph Harmon, Public Security Minister KhemrajRamjattan, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, PPP/C General Secretary Clement Rohee and at least one high-ranking retired policeman, whose name has been invoked, have all added their slant on the Sean Hinds conundrum.
Hinds has since turned himself in to the police in the company of his lawyer Nigel Hughes who is also the incumbent Chairman of the Alliance for Change. While Hughes’ representation of Hinds, who is a convicted criminal, is in keeping with his legal code of ethics, it has raised eyebrows because of his other hat in the AFC. His party leader is now the Minister of National Security and has denied any amnesty for Hinds, even though this has been criticized by some legal luminaries.
Hopefully, the police will now do their work whether or not Hinds, who is refusing to cooperate, speaks and gives more credible, factual and truthful information about the executioners and intellectual authors of the criminal enterprise here which has claimed the blood and bodies of scores of innocent Guyanese – civilian and police – over varying periods of time.
Evidently orchestrated, the entire Sean Hinds saga can be viewed as an exercise in diversionary politics because for a short-period of time, the public’s attention has swayed from the serious domestic issues that will continue to eat away the bill of health of this country’s socio-economic status if not addressed frontally.
The truth is, Hinds crept out of the dark and into public limelight at a time when the crime rate was increasing rapidly and the Government, which was elected on a promise to reduce crime, was demonstrating high levels of incompetence in terms to even putting a plaster that would hold until more long term solutions were crafted and implemented.
People were growing inpatient and desperate.
They were losing confidence in the Government’s ability to deliver on many things included in its 100-day plan. At the time Hinds started to “sing”, the Government was under extreme pressure to explain why Local Government Elections could not be held this year and why the phased reduction of VAT could not commence immediately as well as why significant promised increases of 50% and 20% could not be given to nurses, teachers and other public servants.
Hinds’ startling claims were also made at a time when the economy was slumping into a pre-recessionary state as a result of decreasing remittances, growing economic uncertainty on the part of investors and private sector businesses and a general slowdown in domestic as well as foreign direct inflows and investments.
It is also apt to note that Hinds, appeared in the media, making much ado about extrajudicial killings and other State sponsored human rights violations, at a time when the new APNU/AFC Government was accused of violating the rights of hundreds if not thousands of poor and average Guyanese by firing them from the jobs and dismissing them because of the administration lacked confidence in them or they were allegedly corrupt and supportive of the PPP/C.
It cannot be forgotten either that the ex-policeman’s tirade climaxed as the rice industry’s crisis deepened while platitudes were offered as Government panicked being incapable of finding a long term solution to the problems being encountered.
That aside, the costly audits, Commissions of Inquiry, revamping of State boards and forensic probes have yielded nothing rather than a functional difference in how one Government choose to manage public affairs as opposed another. This is vindicated by the Government’s willingness to “let heads rolls”
It would appear that the divisionary politics of the political forces here worked for a short period of time but as the dust is settling and the police are investigating the allegations, reality is kicking in again as people continue feeling the squeeze.
Now with all this silence from Hinds and the new Government, the problems being faced since May 11 are being amplified. No amount of marketing and public relations will make people to forget the point when their standard of living drops so precipitously.
July 29, 2015 By
Pursuant to the libellous letter published in the Stabroek News on July 27, concerning the Mainstay/Whyaka Village Council and Toshao’s election held on July 22, the newly elected Village Council and the residents of Mainstay/Whyaka Village hereby make the following statement:
* We wish to thank the Returning Officer and team for conducting the election in a most transparent manner
* We are pleased that sections of the Amerindian Act relevant to the election was read and fully explained to residents
* We were given the opportunity to ask questions and to seek clarification on any matter with regards to the election
* In consultation with the Returning Officer, we decided that we will first elect the Toshao after which we would then elect Councillors. We further decided that we would give enough time so that residents could have the opportunity to come and cast their ballots
* At 12:15h, in consultation with the Returning Officer, it was decided that at 13:00h we would close the Toshao’s election, after which the ballots will be counted
* At 13:00h before closing, we ensured that there were no persons who didn’t get the opportunity to vote and we were satisfied that everyone who wanted to cast their ballot had done so. The voting for Toshao was declared closed
* We proceeded to have the nomination and election of Councillors which was once again done in a transparent manner
* All votes were cast by secret ballot
The newly elected Village Council and the residents of Mainstay/Whyaka wish to clearly state that we find no fault with the way the elections of the Toshao and Councillors were conducted on July 22 and the time allotted to conduct this activity was reasonable and acceptable.
We wish to strongly condemn any action by anyone who seeks to discredit the elections that were held on July 22, 2015 at Mainstay/Whyaka. We wish to clearly state that in our opinion, Ms Yvette Hastings, Ms Victorine Allicock and their team carried out their duties in a most professional manner without fear or favour.
Furthermore, the Mainstay/Whyaka Village Council will take legal action against any future libel published in the media, as this is aimed at disrupting the peace in the village and cause divide among residents.
Toshao Joel Fredericks
and residents of
July 29, 2015 By
Satiricus, duffer that he was, could never get the hang of thinking “outside the box”. Whenever challenged he’d just do things he’d heard about before. His teachers would throw up their hands, look to the up heavens and exclaim, “Sato, you have to think outside the box!!”
Now he was an adult and all, Satiricus accepted he just couldn’t figure what the heck was OUTSIDE the box. So how could he think of it? But when his editor sent him to cover the conference on rice – which was NOT in crisis – , even he knew that some “out of the box” thinking was called for.
After all it was an out of the box action that’d gotten rice into a “not a crisis” mode. Here it was, Guyana’d been shipping a third of its rice to Venezuela at a premium price. But the Government got into a shouting match and told them where to get off!! Hey!! They were starving and needed our rice, no? So what if they could get rice from any of a hundred other sources? Satiricus would’ve had a chat with the Venezuelans on the side. But what’d he know? He didn’t think “outside the box”.
Anyhow he was at the “Non-Rice Crisis Conference”. People were moaning and groaning about what the heck were we to do with all that rice. Pretty soon, we’d all be drowning in parboiled rice and paddy. There were lots of rice farmers at the Conference and from the dark mumbling and rumblings, Satiricus was sure they hadn’t been told, there was “no crisis”,
Until one Government official thought outside the box!! As soon as Satiricus heard his solution to the rice non-crisis, Satiricus just knew that this was the kinda man he could never be. “How come I can’t have these “out of the box” thoughts?” he moaned. All the man said was, “Let us make rice flour with our extra rice. We will also be saving on bringing in wheat.”
How come no one had thought of this before. This would solve everything!! We wouldn’t need money to pay for wheat…we’d be healthier….none of that gluten and all that. Satiricus just knew that Guyanese would love this solution. So what if rice flour couldn’t make roti or bread that stuck together?
If baked rice flour goods became mushy …then that would save us from chewing, no? Another benefit! Satiricus stood up and raised his hand. The chairman asked him, “Yes?”
“Can I nominate that fella for an OR? As a person who can think outside the box, he deserves an OR as much as the other great Guyanese we honoured a couple of months ago”.
July 28, 2015 By
On July 19, I visited the Congress Place to be part of the birthday celebrations for President Granger.
When the President gave his speech, it wasn’t any prepared notes. I usually pay closer attention to people when they are speaking from off the ‘top of their heads’.
As I listened to President Granger, he said three things that fascinated me. He said that he would like the givers of gifts to him, to hold the frankincense and the Myrrh.
He said hold the frankincense and myrrh and give me boats instead. He said he wants the gifts given to him to be boats so that the children in the riverine areas could get to school in a more consistent and timely fashion. I am fascinated with this approach by the President because it speaks of his mindset. For one to defer the acceptance of personal gifts in preference of the gifts being given to others, speaks of a mind that has self-actualized and is magnanimous in scope.
Such qualities are rare, especially among politicians.
Then that night he also said that he released those young boys from prison because “young boys should be in school and not in prison”. He again reaffirmed his commitment to making this an annual event.
One wonders why the President with so many pressing priorities, is concerned about the plight of the least respected in the society, and take the political risk of releasing offenders back into society, without forcing them to serve their sentences. As a criminologist and prison chaplain, I have a passion for working with ex-offenders and recovering addicts and so I fully understand the President’s rational.
I would like to think that the President has surrounded himself with folks who would provide suitable recommendations to him, so as to reduce the likelihood of any adverse backlash.
But the thing the President said that night was that, “Leadership is a lonely road.”
Sigmund Freud had used the analogy of an iceberg to describe the three levels of the mind: preconscious, conscious and subconscious or unconscious. That night, the President dipped below the surface of the water and made an admission that was earth shattering to me.
Why would a three-month old President say that, “Leadership is a lonely road?” What has happened or is happening in his world that caused such a revealing admission to surface so publically? Who, or what, was he thinking about when he made that revelation?
The reason that I was so taken aback with that statement from President Granger, was because in a very informal and relaxed conversation with the former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, he had said the same thing to me. My secretary and I had visited his office on my request and as we spoke he said in passing, that leadership is a lonely road. And ever since Mr. Samuel Hinds said that to me, my Freudian mind caused me to view him in a whole different light. I could not help but wonder if he was just going along with the political flow of things.
I had submitted my application through Former Minister Hinds for the position of administrator for the Onverwagt Project. There was a possibility of taking people off the streets and developing a sustainable, hydroponics agriculture project on the sprawling land space on the compound in Berbice. The idea was to create employment if the occupants were to be convinced to remain at the facility. If this was done then a win-win situation would have been created: you keep them off the streets and they make some money.
The $250 million facility, that the Prime Minister had launches a year ago, was at the time unoccupied. One year later, the Onverwagt Project had 17 occupants although the facility could house 180 occupants and the streets of Georgetown were still filled with the homeless. The Social Services Ministry never provided the opportunity for me to manage the project.
The Prime Minister had then indicated that Hugo Chavez wanted the facility built in Georgetown because there is where he saw the homeless people, which caused him to make the donation. However, the land space was not available in the City.
Mr Hinds seemed to have wanted more than he was able to get from those around him, even though he was the Prime Minister. I think this might have been one of the reasons he said to me that leadership is a lonely road.
Now almost two years later, I am standing, listening to another political leader, of the governing party, voice the very same concern. I wonder if it is that President Granger, like Former Prime Minister Hinds, is wanting things to go differently than they are going at the moment. Is President Granger, like Former Prime Minister Hinds, more magnanimous and visionary than those in his inner circle? Is it that these men are not innate politicians but are forced to toe the politically correct line?
I am just an outside observer, a budding psychologist, trying to psychoanalyze the President. Maybe I will never find out why he said what he said. But this I know; I like what he said, for I am convinced that his thoughts find their origin in a beautiful mind.
July 28, 2015 By
With Emancipation Day just days away, one of the tasks of those of us living in a country where slavery held sway for hundreds of years is to overcome the imposed world view that “Africa had no philosophy”. Not only did Africa examine the human condition most profoundly but its world view would serve us and the rest of the western world well, if we were to apply its concepts to our modern world that seems to have reached an existential dead end.
We present the views of a westerner, Heinz Kimmerle, who examined how the African concept of “Ubuntu” addresses the alienation of the western world much more germanely and holistically than the “communitarian” approach formulated in the past few decades. One African philosopher, Tschiamalenga Ntumba had distilled the overall difference between African and Western philosophy as the former being a philosophy of ‘We’ and Western philosophy being a philosophy of ‘I’.
Heinz, however thinks this is too simplistic and says: “Things are more differentiated…since we have to take into account that the ‘I’, or the person, is becoming increasingly important in African ontology, too.” Heinz interrogated the book, “African Philosophy Through Ubuntu” by the South African Mogobe B. Ramose as follows.
“The discourse of this book is organised around three proverbs, maxims or aphorisms taken from the language of the Northern Sotho. The first aphorism, ‘Motho ke motho ka batho’ can be understood as a simplification of ubuntu. According to Ramose it expresses the central idea of African philosophical anthropology. It means more specifically: ‘to be human is to affirm one’s humanity by recognising the humanity of others and, on this basis, establish respectful human relations with them’. In other words, my human-ness is constituted by the human-ness of others, and vice versa. And the relations between human beings, other persons and me, are characterised by mutual recognition and respect.
“The second aphorism, ‘Feta kgomo o tshware motho’, says in a condensed formulation: ‘if and when one is faced with a decisive choice between [one’s own] wealth and the preservation of the life of another human being, then one should opt for the preservation of life’. Hereby a basic principle of social philosophy is presupposed: the other ranks higher than I myself, especially when his/her life is in danger. This is due to the fact that life or life force is the highest value, which determines also the relations between human beings.
“The third maxim is about kingship and expresses a fundamental aspect of political philosophy. The formulation of this third maxim, ‘Kgosi ke kgosi ka batho’ is very much similar to the first one. It relates kingship like human-ness in general to the humanity of others and demands mutual recognition and respect. In the words of Ramose it means ‘that the king owes his status, including all the powers associated with it, to the will of the people under him’.
“However, ubuntu has aspects that reach further than the contents of these proverbs. It has to be discussed in a comprehensive ontological horizon. It shows how the be-ing of an African person is not only imbedded in the community, but in the universe as a whole. This is primarily expressed in the prefix ubu-of the word ubuntu. It refers to the universe as be-ing enfolded, containing everything. The stem -ntu means the process of life as the unfolding of the universe by concrete manifestations in different forms and modes of being. This process includes the emergence of the speaking and knowing human being.”
Heinz also showed that the concept of Ubuntu undergirded the “African Socialism” propounded by leaders such as Leopold S. Senghor from Senegal, Nkrumah from Ghana, Kenyatta from Kenya, Nyerere from Tanzania, Kaunda from Zambia. Traditional African societies show harmonious forms of life without any antagonism of classes. There is an ethics of mutual help and of caring for each other.
July 28, 2015 By
I read the Guyana Times article of July 23, captioned “postponement of Toshaos elections-Ministry says “villages” did not qualify for elections”. In responding I wish to advise President David Granger that the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Honourable Sydney Allicock as well as his team of advisors, that they have misinterpreted the Amerindian Act 2006. As such, the advisors, in particular the legal advisor, should submit their resignations.
It was a violation of section 88 of the Amerindian Act 2006 for the Minister of Indigenous Affairs to direct the postponement of elections in Four Miles and Eclipse Falls Top in the Port Kaituma sub-region, Region One. Furthermore, the reasons given by an advisor named Mervyn Williams have little to do with titled or untitled Amerindian Communities as specified in the Amerindian Act (Part X).
The Communities Minister is not mandated to deal with Amerindian communities. It is the responsibility of the Indigenous Affairs Ministry to provide for and defend all titled and untitled Amerindian communities in Guyana.
The Amerindian Act 2006, is “an Act to provide for the recognition and protection of the collective rights of Amerindian villages and communities, the granting of land to Amerindian Villages and Communities, and the promotion of good governance within Amerindian Villages and Communities”.
It is the Indigenous Affairs Minister who can make such decisions, which must be consistent with the Amerindian Act 2006, and not the Communities Minister. However, Minister Allicock and his team of advisors should have familiarized themselves with the Amerindian Act 2006 and understood that when Amerindians speak of “CDCs” they are really referring to Community Councils as specified in Part X of the Act.
Former Adviser to the Amerindian Affairs Minister, Yvonne Pearson, is indeed an Indigenous expert who in the article I am referring to, was very factual in showing Minister Allicock and his advisors how they were misled in the postponement of the elections in the Amerindian Communities. Worse yet, the Minister and his team have also violated the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) since no prior notice was provided to the Community Councils.
What is more grave is that with the postponement of the elections in the communities, the Minister and his team violated articles 3 and 4 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which refer to the deprivation of self-determination.
It is disappointing that Minister Allicock and his team of advisors would contradict the Amerindian Act 2006. Amerindians should pay keen attention to the future proceedings of the Ministry to ensure that no further violations would be made to indigenous peoples’ rights.
Martin La Cruz
July 28, 2015 By
The present APNU/AFC Government seems to be intent on destroying the PPP/C, and is distracting Guyanese from their failure at governing this country.
Less than three months in Office, the country has become dismal. Why should the people support them? Since their election in May 2015, there has been disasters, one after the other.
Floods, crime, robberies and a border controversy getting worse by the minute are making people and investors flee from this country. The tourism industry will suffer and development would stop.
Their guilt is evident as they attempt to throw the blame on the PPP/C leadership.
The APNU vendetta, scornful language, lies and deception are evident and the bully tactics they commonly employed when in the Opposition haven’t changed. Politically lynching members of the PPP/C leadership is the Government’s way of trying to hide its failure.
This coalition Government has dismissed many employees perceived to be supporters of the PPP/C, people who are of Indian descent. Yet, it hasn’t the skills and experience needed to run the country.
Maybe this is why this Government feels threatened by people such as Bharrat Jagdeo. At least the Law is still alive in the High Court, to defend victims of political lynching.
Only the High Court would now be able to save the country from the chaos in which it now finds itself. The High Court should have ordered a recount of the votes a long time ago to save the country.
This matter should be seriously dealt with by the High Court because the country cannot move forward on what is deemed by a majority of the population to be a non-transparent election.
July 28, 2015 By