March 30, 2015 By
March 30, 2015 By
The PNC/APNU-AFC coalition boasts that if elected to Government come May 11 (never will), the crime situation would be effectively dealt with.
But while they are boastfully telling people what they would do and not do for them, they are not telling the people that it was Carl Greenidge, the PNC’s former Finance Minister, who ruined Guyana’s economy when he presented the ERP (Empty Rice Pot) budgets prior to 1992.
The same goes for Winston Felix, a former Commissioner of Police (COP) and PNC/APNU Member of Parliament (MP) in the 10th Parliament, which was justifiably prorogued and dissolved by President Donald Ramotar.
In the 10th Parliament, Felix was the spokesman on security matters for the PNC/APNU. When Felix was sworn in as the COP, he publicly declared to the Guyanese people, “Hold me accountable”.
But it was when Felix was the COP there was the politically-charged crime wave which rocked Guyana in the early 2000s. It was during this crime wave that Minister of Agriculture Sash Sawh and other relatives were killed execution-style.
Also there was the Lusignan massacre where many persons were murdered execution style and the infamous jail break prior to that, which occurred with fatal consequences from cold-blooded killings. The question is, were the families of the victims granted justice by the former COP?
He himself needs to publicly answer this question since he said “hold me accountable”.
This demonstrates the incompetence of the PNC, now calling itself APNU+AFC, in the management of Guyana’s security matters/affairs. This is why come May 11, the PPP/C shall by a majority win the elections.
March 30, 2015 By
The ongoing imbroglio surrounding the University of Guyana, should not only raise the issue of the governance and administrative structures at the institution, as suggested by the Vice-Chancellor.
As has been raised several times by his predecessor, it is more than high time we interrogate the very purpose of a university for our country. This is not to say that we do not need a university – but the question that must be asked is , “What exactly is the University supposed to produce for our country?”
We would then be joining a larger debate and discourse that is unfolding in the developed world. They have been forced into this introspection by their economic collapse and with no evident light at the end of their tunnel, they realise that much deadwood will have to be jettisoned.
And a good deal of that deadwood lies in the halls of academia. They are not just questioning the number of Ph Ds being churned out in obscure fields and even more obscure topics. A hard look is being cast at the relevance of the undergraduate programmes.
The bottom line, the powers that be are asserting, is whether the degree awarded is worth the investment. On their own, since the 2007 crash in the US, students have been asking this question. One of their response has been to abandon programs in ‘business’ and ‘language’ in droves and head into fields that are directly connected to available jobs such as in the health field. Suddenly, nursing schools are “in”.
In Guyana, the need for this sort of introspection seems to have escaped both students and administrators. Do we actually need all those graduates in Sociology or International relations? Are we not just creating trouble for ourselves when the young (and not so young) graduates in these fields cannot find employment?
Did anyone hear when a couple of years ago, the investors in the new mining venture complained that Guyana has practically no geologists? Are we going to wait until we strike oil before we have programs and qualified individuals in that field?
And we are not talking only of specialised knowledge in petroleum mining. What about skills in laying and connecting all those steel pipes that even lay-persons can appreciate will be needed in the petroleum industry?
But one development in the US that addresses the need to provide academic knowledge and industry-specific training points in a direction in which we have some experience and which we hopefully can introduce quite quickly: apprenticeships. And since we tend to only copy what is common ‘overseas’, maybe our educators may take notice?
In recent decades, we seem to have bypassed the apprenticeship system, introduced in the sugar industry since the fifties. We’ve opted for some nebulous “internship” system that really do not provide the background and training for its graduates to step into any available jobs.
They still need further academic “university” teaching. Apprenticeships, of course, combine paid on-the-job training with college-level or trade-school classes. The Booker’s Apprenticeship Training Programme (now GuySuCo’s) was immensely successful for decades and can become the nucleus for expanding our apprenticeship schemes.
Apprenticeship programmes make economic sense because specific companies – such as the ones in the budding information and communication technology sector, for instance – do not have to look outside the country or towards retraining to fill their personnel needs.
In the US, the Department of Labour is trying to expand apprenticeship models in high-demand fields like health care, green jobs, transportation, and information technology.
One problem with the Technical Institute model that we are expanding at present is that it does not offer the graduates the assurance of specific skills that employers need.
The apprenticeship scheme, by combining the employers with the institutions and the specific training, removes that doubt. It also allows corporations, to more directly absorb the costs of training their employees.
March 30, 2015 By
Dr Baytoram Ramharack quoted my friend Moses Nagamootoo at an APNU-AFC rally in Richmond Hill (March 22) as saying he told Indians in New Delhi at a GOPIO award recognition ceremony that “he is not Indian, but Guyanese”. But Moses went to India to be recognized for his work as an Indian to uplift the lives of Indians and he deserved it. A response was not published in another media.
It is strange, therefore, for Moses, who fought racism against Indians in Guyana, would make such a statement to a respected and influential gathering in Delhi. Moses should be proud of his background and the contributions of his ancestors to world civilization and to Guyana in particular.
Few fought against PNC racism and for racial equality in Guyana like Moses, and fewer put in as many years as him in the struggle for restoration of democracy against the PNC dictatorship. I recommended Moses for the GOPIO honour (January 2008), as I did earlier for former President Bharrat Jagdeo and later for President Donald Ramotar for the PBD Samman recognition as well as for honours by GOPIO (2004 and 2015 respectively; President Jagdeo was also honored in NY by GOPIO in 1999).
The GOPIO convention honours Indians for their outstanding achievements and or contributions to society in various facets of life. The recommendation of Moses for the prestigious GOPIO honor was on the basis of his Indian background, a prerequisite for the honour, for his immense contributions to national life in Guyana and to Indo-Guyanese in particular.
The idea of honouring Indians in the diaspora was proposed and pushed by Dharamdat Durjan Sukhai (from Mahaica) and myself in discussion with Indian politicians (primarily from the BJP, including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, that launched the PBD in January 2003 and Dr Mukund Modi who founded the Overseas Friends of BJP) – recognize Indians in the diaspora for their work in uplifting the lives of others.
Ashok Ramsaran, President of GOPIO and a Letter Kenny villager, near Whim, was instrumental in convincing the GOPIO executive to honor Nagamootoo.
Dr LM Singhvi, eminent jurist and the original convener of the PBD who met with Indo-Guyanese in NY and Guyana to discuss issues starting the PBD, as well as Lord Rana of UK, Justice Minister Meira Kumar, as well as others, were all honoured with Moses that year for their contributions to the Indian diaspora.
Ashok and myself used our contacts to facilitate his stay in Delhi. GOPIO and the Indian Government must be disappointed to hear Moses does not define or see himself as Indian. Perhaps he needs to clarify his comment because I recall reading a piece Moses penned expressing pride in his ethnic heritage and (of meeting people from South India, where he traces his roots (a Madrassi or Tamil).
It is not un-Guyanese or anti-national or in any way conflicting to say one is Indian or Indo-Guyanese. Almost everyone in America, for example, is identified as a hyphen American. President Obama, as an illustration, refers to himself as American, African-American, Black-American, Kenyan-American (father’s nationality), Irish-American (his mom is of Irish, Scottish and Welsh descent), and bi-racial.
Obama met with his ancestral cousins in Europe and Kenya and proudly identified with his father’s tribe. Obama did not tell his village hosts or his African family he was not of their tribe, and he proudly partook in tribal and religious ceremonies they organized for him in a visit.
It does not make Obama less of an American in saying he was of African descent, and he did not run away from his multiple ethnic identities. Guyanese cannot understand why Moses would want to hide from or not acknowledge his Indian identity. Afro-Guyanese or Chinese or Amerindian Guyanese don’t hide from theirs. Granger and Winston Felix are not ashamed to say they are African.
While it is politically correct to say “I am Guyanese”, it does not define the ethnic identity of Guyanese for we proudly proclaim Guyana is a nation of six races. So why would it be wrong for anyone to say he is African or Indian, or Amerindian, or Portuguese or Chinese?
And there is no such thing as real American or real Guyanese or real Canadian. We are Guyanese or Canadian or British (a national of those countries for passport purposes) by virtue of birth or naturalization; that does not identify our ethnic stock or origin.
Saying he is Indo-Guyanese does not make Moses any less of a Guyanese; in fact, it allows him to develop strength in being Guyanese. Being Italian or African in America does not make one less of an American.
And someone from Guyana can have multiple identities. For example, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan is Indian, Guyanese, Hindu, West Indian, Indo-Caribbean, and South American. Dr Ramharack can add to those identities American, Indian-American, Hindu-American, and South Asian.
WPA leaders David Hinds, Ogunseye, Eusi Kwayana, Robert Corbin and other Afro-Guyanese are not bashful about saying they are Africans and Guyanese. Obama traced his roots to Europe as well as to Kenya.
Several Afro-Guyanese traced their roots to Ghana and are not ashamed to identify themselves with their tribes from Africa. Moses should not minimize, belittle, undervalue, marginalize his racial identity.
The APNU-AFC alliance has been formed on the basis that the AFC (under Moses charisma and popularity among Indians) can bring its Indian support to the APNU’s African and Mixed support to defeat the PPP/C.
Reports say Moses repeated that point to several gatherings in NY. How does he now say he is not Indian? By discounting his ethnic identity, how would that help the strategically constructed racial alliance? So the alliance wants the Indian votes to win but they want nothing to do with Indians!
March 30, 2015 By
There is a saying that none so blind as those who would not see. This saying has much relevance in the context of a deliberate attempt to deny the role played by the PPP/C in the transformation of Guyana from a poor and backward country to one in which here is economic and social progress.
Who can deny that life in Guyana is qualitatively better than before which came about mainly because of the visionary leadership provided by the PPP/C administration?
Vision is the ability to see things not as they are but as they will be in time. It is that ability to see ahead and on the basis of a correct definition of the situation to plan and strategize on the way forward.
But vision is not enough to transform a nation. Good leadership is what is required to translate vision into reality and it is the ability to provide visionary and strategic leadership over the decades that has been the defining characteristic of the PPP and the PPP/C Administration.
There is a tendency by the political opposition aided and abetted by some sections of civil society to project a view that the PPP/C is found wanting when it comes to transformational leadership.
Some even go to absurd levels by suggest that the PPP/C lacks the intellectual capability to develop the country and all manner of derogatory remarks are being made against some party members.
The facts however will reveal that whatever progress was made took place largely under the stewardship of the PPP both during the 1957-64 and the post-1992 period.
Under the PNC regime Guyana was reduced to a highly indebted poor country status. The country borrowed huge sums of money not only from multilateral financial institutions such as the IDB, IMF and the World Bank but also from several other countries.
At one time the country was deemed ‘uncreditworthy’ by the IMF after the PNC regime failed to repay loans and the high interest repayments which accumulated over the years.
The PPP/C Administration not only succeeded in writing off a significant proportion of the debt burden under the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPIC) but it was able to exit the IMF programme after the economy developed to a point where there was no longer a dependence on IMF money.
This was a very significant development and a re-affirmation of the country’s economic sovereignty in terms of our ability to chart our own developmental path without external dictation.
These are some aspects of our developmental history which sometimes go unnoticed but which speaks to our capacity as a nation to assert our national independence not hitherto possible under the previous PNC regime.
Guyana is no longer a pariah nation which at one time was the laughing stock of the Caribbean and the world but a country that has become a respected member of the international community of nations.
This came about largely because of the efforts of the PPP and the PPP/C Administration to create a new society where there is full respect for the norms of democracy and the rule of law.
The PPP/C’s record of progress is unmatched when it comes to taking this nation along the path of sustainable development. This is why it is so important that the PPP/C is returned to power in the elections of May 11.
March 30, 2015 By
Up to date figures are not readily available for Guyana, but over the last three years or so there have been at least eight reported cases of elderly women found murdered, almost all of them after being raped. The latest such victim, was a 74-year-old pensioner at Richmond on the Essequibo Coast home earlier this month.
In fact sexual violence crimes against women in Guyana are escalating: a rise of one-third in rape reports (117 to154) occurred between 2000-2004 and a 16-fold rise in statutory rapes (two to 34).
However the rape rate in 2010 was 15.5 per 100,000 which would translate into a 124 rapes for that year – an almost four fold increase over 2004 figures.
Also according to the Guyana Times newspaper, from January to September 2014, Police stats indicate that there were more than 140 cases of rape reported, while from January to July 2013, there were 179 reported cases.
Also a 2007 report by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) analyzed sexual crimes between 2000 and 2004 and found that 92 per cent of all victims were females, 43 per cent were in the 12 to15 age group, and 26 per cent were in the one to 12 age group. It also found that Amerindian girls between 12 to 16 years were the most vulnerable group nationally.
Furthermore, while, it is well known that rapes are vastly under reported globally, more so in nations where family honor prevents victims from reporting; in Guyana rape is still considered taboo, too shameful to be made publicly known and a significant percentage of rapes is incestuous.
In fact the 2007 GHRA report found that more than two-thirds of sexual assault crimes occurred in the homes of the victims while three out of four perpetrators were known to victims and one in every five perpetrators were related to their victims.
And while there is legislation pertaining to rape, with the Sexual Offences Act being completed in 2012, the conviction rate is abysmally low for a number of reasons: lack of rape kits at hospitals, flimsy evidence, an inefficient jury system, shoddy prosecution of such cases, reluctance of victims to give witness and discontinuance of cases owning to unwillingness of victims to pursue.
In fact, in 2014, Guyana’s Attorney General, Anil Nandlall reported that there had been no convictions for sexual offences since 2011.
And according to a 2005 study done by the Guyana Human Rights Association, entitled, “Without conviction: Sexual violence cases in the Guyana justice process”, Guyana only reached an average conviction rate of 1.4 per cent in rape cases.
Amidst all of this, emerge very disturbing trends. The rape/murder of the elderly is one such trend. Another is the rape, resulting in serious injuries, to small children less than 10 years old and as young as a few months old. The latest victim is an eight year old, raped by an uncle who, to date has not been arrested.
Meanwhile, even after the child underwent surgery because of extensive bleeding, the bleeding was not fully stopped.
A third trend is the rape of teenagers, many of who end up pregnant, forever changing their lives and often times putting an end to dreams and aspirations. In most cases sex may have been consensual but the reality is that sex with anyone under 16 is statutory rape.
And in many cases the victims are bought off, with police often fostering the ‘deal’ for commissions. Sometimes families are also bought off after being intimidated, especially if the rapist is politically connected or comes form a family with status and influence.
In effect, in Guyana, issues such as poverty and complicity involving law enforcement officers also impact both the under reporting of rape and the conviction of rapists.
Furthermore, the Sexual Offences Act is still to be given teeth and too many police still do not enforce the provisions of that act; in fact sensitivity training with respect to provisions of the Sexual Offences Act, is still to be widely implemented.
Given these realities, there is really very little protection against rapists for communities across Guyana.
Thus, The Caribbean Voice and Save Abee Foundation have teamed up to promote an online petition to the Government of Guyana to establish a registry of sex offenders in Guyana.
In the Diaspora, this petition is also being promoted by a range of media. We welcome the support of other institutions and organizations, including those from Guyana, for this campaign.
Also, we’re asking for the support of the public. Please click on the following link at www.change.org, or log on to www.caribvoice.org and click the petition link.
Institutions and individuals can also help out by getting handwritten signatures. Please call 646-461-0574 (US), or 621-6111 and 223-2637 (Guyana), or email
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for printed copies of petition sheets as well as to become involved in promoting the campaign. We are aiming for 10,000 signatures by July 2015.
March 30, 2015 By
When the PPP/C Administration assumed the reigns of power on October 5, 1992 after nearly three decades of undemocratic rule, one of the first tasks the newly elected Government embarked upon was the reconstruction and rebuilding of a shattered economy and the restoration of confidence and hope among the Guyanese people.
The vast majority of Guyanese people were demoralized and depressed but the new Administration assured the nation that the dawn of a new day was very much on the horizon. It was quite a daunting task given the depleted Treasury and the huge debt burden that the new Administration inherited.
The budget was used as the principal instrument for economic revival and income redistribution in favour of the poor and the marginalized. The first budget presented by the new PPP/C Administration saw a reconfiguration of government spending towards the social sectors in particular education, health, housing and water.
In addition, significant sums were allocated to the rebuilding of a collapsing social and physical infrastructure. Salaries for public servants were also increased including the miserly pensions that were doled out to senior citizens.
It is worth recalling that the budgets presented by the previous PNC Administration were highly skewed in the direction of the military and the paramilitary, the Foreign Service and Office of the President. In fact, the PNC spent more on the Foreign Service Ministry than on education, health, housing and water combined!
The social sectors were highly de-emphasized and housing was removed as a budget item, an indication of how much the then Administration cared for the Guyanese people, in particular the working people.
The main concern at the time was regime survival and the budget was highly skewed in order to ensure such an outcome. In fact, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alone consumed more money than education, health, housing, water and agriculture combined.
The PPP ever since it assumed the mantle of leadership way back in the late 1950s always sought to utilize the budget to advance its development agenda even though it was not always easy sailing as during the turbulent 1960s when the budget was used as a pretext to destabilize the PPP Government although the budget proposals came out of the recommendations of Nicholas Kaldor, a Cambridge University Economist and tax expert whose services were provided through the United Nations.
The budget sought among other things to prevent unnecessary outflow of capital, block loopholes in the tax system and prevent the evasion of payment of income and other taxes aimed at improving the country’s balance of payments position.
Today, fresh attempts were made by the combined Opposition to frustrate and possibly derail the government’s development agenda by using their one-seat majority in the last parliament which came about following the November 2011 elections.
The excuse given was lack of transparency and meaningful consultation. Carl Greenidge, who is now the opposition spokesman on economic and budgetary matters would do well to enlighten the Guyanese people on the extent of consultations that prevailed during the time he was Finance Minister and how involved the PPP/C was in the budget preparations during those days.
Instead of attacking the PPP/C Administration and blackmailing the country, the Opposition parties if they were truly interested in the future of this nation would have lent support to create an investor friendly climate and support projects that are intended to modernize the country and create jobs for our young people.
Instead, they opted for a confrontational stance with the Government which resulted in some setbacks to the economy and by extension the well – being of the Guyanese people.
Sadly, the opposition has taken their hatred of the PPP/C Administration to absurd levels, forcing Predident Donald Ramotar to take preemptive action to prorogue and possibly dissolve Parliament thereby paving the way for fresh elections set for May 11.
The only way forward for this beautiful country of ours is for the current Administration to get a fresh mandate from the Guyanese people which among other things would make a clear statement to the opposition parties that it wants peace, progress and prosperity to continue.
Regrettaby, our last Parliament as configured had become a burden and liability on the nation instead of facilitative to our national development.
I take this opportunity to urge all Guyanese to cast their ballots on May 11 in favour of our President Donald Ramotar and the PPP/C Administration and by so doing allowing for the growth and development momentum unleased by this current Administration to continue.
March 30, 2015 By
I recently wrote a letter challenging the many statements, comments and opinions made in the press comparing the lifestyles of the Jagans to that of Jagdeo. I was of the view that the comments lack relevance seeing the individuals concerned were from different time spans which makes it non sequitur.
I also remember associating the name Sadie Amin with the comment “Dr Jagan died rather than taking from the national treasury for his medical expenses”.
It has now been brought to my attention that the lady in question did not make such a comment hence, my apology to her. I believe that in my analysis of the messages I might have inadvertently misquoted or misaligned the message with the wrong messenger.
March 30, 2015 By
It is very sad that the important things in life like being kind to each other and showing compassion for example are not being practice too often nowhere at all.
Many of us believe that being a good person is someone who doesn’t cause any harm to anyone, but when I think about it; it’s actually more than that. For example it is a big part about what we can also do for other people. The thing is we might not be a bad people, but at the same time the question is, how good of a person we really are?
I understand how challenging life can be, but at the same time it is important for us to look at the bright side of things. This is a tough one to do, because sometimes we fight even with the close ones to us.
But we should accept everyone around us as our brothers and sisters regardless of what race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or culture they are. I am sure this is not the first time you hear me say this, but we have to realize that each and every one of us has feelings, and surely deserve to be treated with respect.
Many of us have the tendency to correct people when they are angry, but this is probably not the right approach, because in situation like this irrational answers can be given. In many cases it is best to stay quiet and not say anything. Sometimes just listening to someone is all that is required.
Another big problem is that we tend to compare ourselves with others. We have to realize that some people have a better life than us, but also many people have it much worse than us as well. When we are spending time comparing ourselves with others, we are basically not going anywhere. We’ll be better off to use our energy to build inner resources.
We can be a good person by respecting our elders. We have to realize that we all will become old one day and may need some sort of help as well. There are many opportunities to help out in this area.
If we were to see a senior person struggling with something at the mall, then it’s an opportunity to help them carrying their bags for example. Another important piece is with people who are mentally challenged.
Be compassionate towards them as well, because they are people with feelings too, and they are someone’s brothers and sisters too. It is important that we take the time to smile to them and show them love and compassion as we look at them.
And one of my most favourite is to listen more and talk less. In other words it’s very important for us to follow what people are saying. Though these are simple things, it can surely determine the kind of person we truly are.
For questions, comments or feedback, send them to email@example.com.
March 30, 2015 By