July 22, 2014

Religious schools in Trinidad and Guyana do better than public schools

Dear Editor,

By their excellence, schools administered by religious groups, both in Guyana and Trinidad, have increasingly been outperforming Government-run public schools. Arguably the pros and cons surrounding such higher academic achievement in parochial schools are not hidden.

Recently, Shivanna Chatoor of Trinidad’s Avocat Vedic School scored 99 per cent, the highest to top 18,229 students. Cameel Juman from the Presbyterian School came in second, with Arielle Rambharose from ASJA Muslims Primary School coming in third. All three girls who sat the SEA exams won placements in higher secondary schools.

The Saraswati Veda Niketan, founded and administered by Guyanese Swami Ashkaranana, has consistently been producing a batch of students with higher scores. One year, the school had the top student both in Guyana and the Caribbean. Why are Guyanese and Trinidadian students at the Hindu, Vedic Arya Samaj, and Muslim schools outperforming with higher scores?

In order to counter the bulldozing Christian crusaders who were determined to convert the children of Indian indentured servants’ from their alleged paganism, such schools came into existence. The early pioneers were ridiculed because of their humble endeavour. Most significantly, they achieved incredible academic successes.

Trinidad’s first Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams boldly condemned his Indo-Trinidadian citizens as a “recalcitrant minority” who would rather send their children to “cow pen” schools. Those same “cow pen” schools have already produced some of Trinidad’s best doctors, lawyers, judges, scientists, teachers, and engineers and by far, they excel up to this day.

The first non-Christian religious high school in Guyana was established on April 9, 1937 and located in Georgetown as the Dayananda Anglo Vedic College (DAV). It was founded by the reforming Arya Samaj Missionary Professor Bhaskarananda at Durban Street and Vlissingen Road. Students were trained in Hindi, equality of women’s rights, eradication of the caste system, and simplification of the Hindu rituals. Both the social and physical sciences and other subjects prepared students for London’s Senior Cambridge exams.

The institution also served as the Arya Samaj headquarters. It was later rebuilt at Prashad Nagar minus the school when the PNC Government took over all remaining religious schools. Eventually, the Muslim Education Trust College on Brickdam and the Hindu College founded by Hindu monks at Cove and John came into existence. Former President Bharrat Jagdeo and GuySuCo Chief Executive Officer, Dr Rajendra Singh are graduates of the Hindu College.

Schools run by Indo-Trinidadians engender pride in Indian customs, traditions, Indian values of modesty, celibacy before marriage, dress, music, behaviour, etc. In contrast, in the Guyanese case, the schools, for the most part, became extinct because Indo-Guyanese did not jointly affirm their fundamental human rights and freedom of education and religion. Some religious administrations refused to bow to PNC Government requirements, some lost their missionary zeal, and some owners left Guyana. The Indian Education Trust College was renamed Richard Ishmael Secondary School after its founder, which the Hindu College was completely downgraded to Cove and John Primary School when it was always a high school.

PPP’s policies got Indian votes but completely ignored those problems, while in Opposition and in Government.

Should those religious schools be re-established in Guyana based on their inspirational history and legacy? Trinidad’s religious schools of all denominations have always been funded by the Trinidadian Government. Guyana should not be different. Both the PPP and PNC were hostile to religious schools, but they were not embarrassed. While their respective supports were dismayed, their critics were delighted.

Change will only occur when adherents boldly make their demands. All Guyanese political parties take their supporters for granted, with the Hindu, Christian and Muslim leaders still in deep sleep unable to reclaim what is theirs. May I be so bold as to remind civil society what Rabindranath Tagore, an early Indian Nobel prize winner for literature, actually wrote?

Let my country awake by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Respectfully,

Vassan Ramracha

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Why are Red Thread and the GHRA silent on Vanessa Kissoon’s claims of assault at Congress Place? 

Dear Editor,

I wish to add my few cents concerning the incident involving APNU Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon and her party. I first wish to ask; where are the human rights and pro-women activists of Guyana when we need them? There is a grave injustice staring Guyana in the face and I was expecting a few strong women and especially the Red Thread to speak up. I really feel for Vanessa Kissoon and I hope that she will learn a good lesson and make better choices.

Here is her plight: victim of an alleged assault by a leading member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR); lack of a proper hearing to give her side of the alleged assault; suspension handed down without a legitimate hearing; and now the possibility of not being able to attend her party’s 18th biennial Congress at its headquarters, Congress Place, Georgetown. All of these insults and injustices have been meted out to this woman and yet no one is really rallying behind her, apart from her constituents in Region 10.

I see Vanessa Kissoon’s plight as a kind of punishment for challenging and questioning the leadership of the PNCR. I think that she wanted transparency and accountability, but was met with rebuke and scorn. What I see playing out here is the real nature of the PNCR leadership. I see high-handedness and a lust for power.

What is so laughable is the fact that a brazen David Granger is saying that “…until Kissoon’s suspension is lifted by the recently-formed Disciplinary Committee or otherwise, her participation in the upcoming Congress is unconfirmed.”  This is so dictatorial: disciplined by an ad hoc committee; disciplined without a fair hearing; disciplined for exposing follies in the PNCR. The PNCR may have changed names and personnel, but its nature and intent are the same.

I am thinking to myself that if Guyana, for a second time, is to fall into the hands of these people, then this nation may be doomed. I come now to these organisations and people, proclaiming one thing but acting most selectively. I recall in February of this year, when a woman was sentenced for slapping a baby. Red Thread, the GHRA, and all the others were quick to rally to the cause. Of course, the woman’s plight was used to take pot shots at the PPP and the PPP/C Government. The issue affecting Kissoon does not, however, give them an opportunity to take hits at the Government so they have remained very quiet.  For the PNCR, Ms Kissoon represents danger. She is challenging her fast-tracked suspension and she wants to show that the whole thing is unconstitutional. She is also declaring that Granger does not have the constitutional authority to suspend her.

Personally, I want to know what prevails in the PNCR hierarchy. I want to know how the party handles issues of this nature. I also want those who are claiming that they are against women’s victimisation to speak up for this woman. Or will PNCR get off scot-free as it has already condemned this woman.

 

Yours sincerely,

Ibrahim Bin Jabbar

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A question of decency, maturity and academics

Dear Editor,

The writer of a recent letter wants respect and he calls himself a philosopher, historian, and analyst and truly speaking, in a nut shell, he is always saying that he is an ‘academic par excellence’. I have a simple question here, and it is about decency and maturity of serious academics – this man just used a local newspaper to do a lot of public cussing. He is the epitome of the very things he calls people.

Let me now make a point here about General Elections as regards snap polls. The two Opposition parties made their bluff and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) stood its ground. If A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) want, they can go ahead with their ‘no confidence’ thing and see where it lands them.

I think by now, most people know what kind of people reside in these two parties. I offer my observation here.

The internal war for leadership within the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) speaks of a lust for power; the treatment Vanessa Kissoon is getting tells a tale of abuse from leaders in this same party; and what transpired in Essequibo shows that AFC is bent on mayhem, when it cannot get its way. I am glad that the people of Guyana and those of the Diaspora are aware of this.

Getting back to the ranting of this man, I see that he is now shifting his analysis. He is now saying that “… the PPP is the biggest electoral enemy of the PPP (and that) the PPP cannot win back a majority because it continues to produce the venalities that caused them to lose the 2011 elections in the first place”.

Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch and avoidance of over-stimulating situations – This man thinks people want to kill him (maybe he craves martyrdom). Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events – readers laugh at how he mangles the English Language and how he writes what he himself cannot explain; and lastly, uncharacteristic and peculiar behaviour.

 

Sincerely,

Attiya Baksh

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Crime has not increased by 9%

Dear Editor,

With reference to the article published in the Guyana Times on July 21, under the headline, “Rohee pleased with pace of Police reform”, please be informed that the opening paragraph has an incorrect statement.

The article states “despite a nine per cent increase in serious crimes”, which is not so. I recognise that this information is from the acting Commissioner’s address at our last Anniversary Awards Ceremony.

What the acting Commissioner Seelall Persaud said was that our serious crime statistics at this time is showing that we are nine per cent down (decrease) relative to the same period last year. However, we have a nine per cent increase in murders and a 25 per cent increase in gun-related robberies.

I shall be grateful if you can cause the correct information to be published.

Sincerely,

Ivelaw Whittaker,

Public Relations and

Press Officer

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Cricket in nation building

There is the cliché, “Sports: it’s not just a game!” The three games played by the Guyana Amazon Warriors during the last week proved in so many ways, that like all clichés, it expresses an almost universal truth. That is why expressions become clichéd.

For such a small nation as ours, commentators of all persuasions have been forced to remark on the deleterious impact of our “divisiveness”. Of recent, there has been greater openness in accepting that our salient cleavage, as far as negative outcomes are concerned, is “ethnicity”. Even those who cleave to ideologies such as Marxism, which denies the “reality” of such divisions and once dubbed it “false consciousness”, have been forced to grapple with its salience.

The question posed is: “What is it that can make us see past our ethnic divisions and begin to act and work as a nation that accepts its fate as the fruits of a collective endeavour?” There have been several proposals – not the least being the said ideologies undergirding the programmes of most of the political parties in the post WWII era and operationalised in their activities in and out of Government. Most kindly, they can all be said to have “failed”.

Like most human behavioural patterns, ethnic salience is not the result of any one factor, and as a corollary, it cannot be addressed through any one “silver bullet”. But what we do know is that ethnicity is an affective orientation – much of its salience is not due to the “rational choice” premise of the social sciences, but also on emotions and feelings. And one of the ways to move past its gravitational pull, without necessarily invalidating its relevance for identity, is to cultivate positive emotions in the populace as a whole, around events that are not tied to ethnicity.

And this is where sport, in general, and cricket, in particular, comes in. Cricket is not a game tied to any one group in Guyana, or even in the wider Caribbean. It is the game of all our people. In that remarkable book of his, “Beyond the Boundary”, CLR James exposed us to the deep and wide wellsprings of the game in our psyches. And during the aforementioned three games at the National Stadium,Providence by the Warriors, the truth of James’ epiphany came alive.

Guyanese of all ethnicities became as one when they cheered, fretted, screamed and waved their flags for THEIR team. They wore the Warriors colours to identify with their talisman. Strangers hugged and gave high fives when victory came; and consoled each other (“they did their best”) when victory was finally denied.

Cricket demonstrated that we can be united. What we would like to suggest is that the Government must design a national sport policy, with cricket at its centre, as an integral part of our overall thrust to create “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”.

While it may be claimed that we do, in fact, have a “sports policy”, in our estimation, as executed in practice, it does not demonstrate adequate acceptance of the vital importance of sport in the holistic development of the individual, the community and the nation. And, especially of its importance in transcending cleavages, of all types. The Football World Cup in Brazil recently demonstrated the effect of another “national sport” in bringing together a nation of 200 million. Imagine what a focused, national programme in cricket can do for us.

One immediate action by a Government pushing cricket in a national sports programme is to make the game part of the school curriculum from nursery to university. As shown by the success of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL), modern cricket is big business and can be significant contributors to the GDP, as any of the “traditional” industries.

In the language of the economists, the transcendence of ethnic boundaries can eventually become merely a positive “externality”.

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BSL forest permit will not affect titled village lands

Dear Editor,

Permit me to refer to an article in another section of the press on July 17 under the headline, “Amerindian Leaders demand freeze on Bai Shan Lin’s permit”.

After reading the article, my first reaction was to have consultations with the Guyana Forestry Commission(GFC) which I did, since the Bai Shan Lin (BSL) State Forest Permit in Region Nine “may affect the traditional lands and natural resources within proposed land title areas for the Wapishiana people” according to the letter sent to the GFC.

The maps shown to me by the GFC clearly revealed that the BSL State Forest Permit in Region Nine will, in no way, affect village titled lands and proposed land extensions officially applied for under the Amerindian Act 2006 by the South and South Central Amerindian villages in the Rupununi.

I received information from the Rupununi that the GFC on July 12 at Lethem took the opportunity of officially informing concerned village leaders, with the display and examination of maps, that the BSL forest permit will, in no way, affect village titled lands and resources, including areas of extensions.

But, unfortunately, a few of the village Toshaos have been misled as usual by the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA). This is simply an example of the APA’s poor leadership to Amerindians.

Instead of finding out the truth about the BSL’s forest permit in Region Nine from the relevant authorities, it prefers to send a mischievous letter to the anti-government sections of the media.

But this is not strange since the APA supports the PNC/APNU, the party, which when in Government, neglected and abandoned the Amerindian people prior to 1992. What a Shame!

A village Toshao showed me a copy of the letter on Bai Shan Lin. The letter was dated July 7 and carbon copied to the European Union FLEGT Programme, Kingdom of Norway, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples. These carbon copied letters, however, will be ignored since they are not credible, or are factually designed to mislead the international community.

Further, at a recent meeting in Georgetown with the National Toshaos Council (NTC), the GFC explained to the Toshaos the matter of the BSL forest permit in Region Nine with the aid of maps showing that the BSL forest permit will not affect titled village lands and proposed land extensions. The NTC was satisfied with the explanations and clarifications by the GFC.

 

Yours sincerely,

Peter Persaud

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Privileges Committee a sham

Dear Editor,

The Opposition political parties in the National Assembly have in their public utterances, through several members, pronounced that Dr Ashni Singh has acted illegally in restoring budgetary allocations which had been disapproved by the Opposition in the National Assembly. In fact, Mr Khemraj Ramjattan claims that Dr Singh has committed criminal acts and he wants the Police to charge him.

I am aware that the Opposition members of the National Assembly elected themselves as a majority in all of the committees. I have no doubt that when the Privileges Committee is selected, the composition will be the same. Therefore, this Committee will consist of a majority of Opposition members whose mandate will be to hear and determine the privileges motion against the Minister. This Committee is empowered to impose sanctions on the Minister which can be of a penal nature.

My concern is that the two Opposition parties – from whom the majority of members of this Committee will be drawn – have already, by their public utterances, anointed themselves as Investigator, Judge, Jury, and Executioner and have already found the Minister guilty and condemned him.

Therefore, how can the Minister of Finance ever have a fair hearing before this Committee? The principles of natural justice which dictate that a man must not be a judge in his own cause and that everyone is entitled to a fair hearing have been slaughtered.

So, for all intents and purposes that Privileges Committee hearing will be nothing but a sham Court.

 

Yours faithfully,

Reaaz Holladar

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Rum Jhaat gon never visit Jamaica

De Guvament in Jamaica decide that dem gon put a stop to alcohol abuse. All de rum drinkin and bad behaviour must done, is basically whah de Guvament want. In fact, according to de news, de Jamaica Guvament want to stop de abuse of hard liquor especially, because dem seh it not good fuh people health and safety.

Well, if that news was true, then de Jamaica Guvament need to teach de Guyana Guvament how to handle tings like these. It gotta lotta alcohol abuse goin on right hey in Guyana and de Guvament ain’t doin nutten bout any ting.

Taxi drivers drivin drunk. Mini bus drivers driving drunk. Even de pullice and ex-pullice drivin drunk, knockin down people and killin dem. Then dem does drive away, throw out all de beer bottles from the car, and come back to de scene. At least one get he share of licks from people in Mahaicony de other day fuh de same nonsense.

Plus MPs drivin drunk and admittin publicly that dem does give pullice men bribes to keep dem quiet. Some MPs even goin to Parliament drunk. So imagine any law to stop alcohol abuse in Guyana gon have to happen wid a debate among a setta drunk men who abusin hard liquor and hardly a day does past dem.

As fuh Rum Jhaat, he read de article and decide that he ain’t ever goin to Jamaica, even if is billion dollar client he get to represent in court. Now he gettin worried because he was wonderin whether or not de entire Caricom might decide to do de same ting in all de Caricom countries.

Right away Rum Jhaat seh if that ever happen, he gon tek Caricom to court and then move a no-confidence motion against Caricom in Parliament. That is how hard Rum Jhaat gon fight to stop de abuse of hard liquor in Guyana.

Ting-a-ling-a-ling…friend tell friend…mattie tell mattie! After all, Rum Jhaat does tek a lotta hard liquor very hard and it gon be hard ting now fuh he to stop!

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Playing dead…

…to see who’ll be at AFC funeral

You know the kind of fellas who want to be seen as “big and bad” – but all they have are big mouths and bad breath, don’t you, Dear Readers?? So they flail away from the target of their rage – from a three feet away, at least! – while yelling to their friends, “Hold me back, before Ah kill ‘e!!! Hold me back!!” The friends, meanwhile, having been through this rigmarole many times before, know they don’t even have to touch him. But they go through the motions!!

So here we have the AFC and its leaders Ramjattan and Nagamootoo trying to be “big and bad” against the PPP/C Government by threatening a “no-confidence” motion. (Not so incidentally, what does this do to the AFC’s claim to fame that they’re “multiracial” – when the two leaders are both Indians – and ex-PPP Indians to boot??! Where have you gone Nigel Hughes??)

Now a “no-confidence” motion is very simple. All you do is wait for the Government to introduce ANY Bill. Say, the Supplementary Spending Bill. When it’s time to vote on the Bill, you announce a “no-confidence” motion – and if you have the majority to carry the vote – the Government falls!!! By our Constitution, the President has to prorogue Parliament and call elections in three months. Can’t get more simple than that, can it??

This, Dear Readers, is the source of the “power” the Opposition boast they have, after they won a majority of seats to the National Assembly. The power to bring down the Government. The thing is, however, the Opposition – especially the AFC – don’t have the testicular fortitude to make this move. They are scared sh*tless that if they go to the polls, they’d be wiped out. Annihilated. Skinned alive.

So this is why we’re having all this “hold me back!” manoeuvres like making up charges against the Finance Minister to the Police. But what takes the cake is writing to the President threatening to “do it”!! Who the hell ever heard of a politician, asking permission from their opponent to use his supposed “biggest weapon”?? Especially when weeks before, the said President had already said, rather nonchalantly, “Go right ahead!! Make my day!!”

Truth of the matter is that by calling their bluff, Prezzie has effectively emasculated Ramjattan and Nagamootoo.

They can’t even hold Larwah…since that’s been cut off!!!

…on being gay

The tragedy that’s befallen the gay sex-worker community – with two of their members murdered over the weekend – brings to the fore some issues that are routinely swept into the closet and under the rug. Take the case of the sex workers themselves. Why are there so many of them doing what they’re doing so openly?

From what we’ve been told, they have a vibrant “fraternity” – so sex among themselves is not the issue. Most of their clients are so-called “straight” men who live lives of quiet desperation, trying to bury their desires. Take the fella who confessed to committing the murders. From what his mother says, he was a “God fearing” individual who never revealed his preferences – so we can assume he was “passing”.

The question Guyana’s refusing to face is why should so many persons hide what is revealed eventually even though they desperately try to suppress their nature?? If they’re not harming anyone, shouldn’t they be allowed to express their desires in the privacy of their homes. And not be condemned by their communities so that they have to scout prospects – for pay – by the Cathedral??

…on sugar

Sugar is coming down to crunch time. Decisions will have to be made. We hear that the Board is thinking of moving GuySuCo’s headquarters from Ogle. But why to Enmore?? If the present problem – and the future salvation of sugar-is in Berbice, shouldn’t top management be there???

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PPP demands AFC put nation first over its self-interest

Dear Editor,

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has noted the recent 10-point demand on the President and the Government by the Alliance For Change (AFC). It appears as if the AFC is developing a penchant for such brazen demands on the Executive under the guise of having the interest of Guyana and Guyanese at heart.

Our Party remains cognisant of the terror that was unleashed on innocent Guyanese along part of the East Bank corridor following a previous demand/ultimatum by the AFC. During that fateful afternoon, many were beaten and robbed and denied their constitutional right to freedom of movement. Law enforcement officers were also subjected to the wanton abuse that ensued.

Such actions, and those that continue to be taken in the National Assembly, are demonstrative of the scant regard the AFC has shown for the welfare of Guyanese. Our Party must, therefore, remain concerned over what this new set of demands by the AFC may precipitate. If the AFC’s utterances were to be believed as having the interest of Guyanese at heart as it claims, then it must endeavour to unconditionally support Government’s policy and programme.

It is this context that the PPP demand of the AFC that if it is indeed genuinely concerned about improving the lives of Guyanese then it must forthrightly put national interest over its own blatant partisan self-interest in which it wallows. This self-interest was very evident with regard to the construction of the Marriott Hotel and the Specialty Hospital. It is no secret that the owner of a major hotel in Guyana is a lead financier of the AFC.

This was made public by the financier himself. There is, therefore, no ambiguity in comprehending the resulting natural propensity of the AFC to demonise the Marriott to save the interest of its financier. Their continuous opposition to this project remains unsurprising. Ironically, the AFC has been vehement in its support for competition in other areas, but is conveniently opposed to the same in the hospitality sector.

This ingrained proclivity for self-interest by the AFC and use of its parliamentary position to protect its self-interest was demonstrated with regard to the Specialty Hospital. Again, it is no secret that the Leader of the AFC was part of the team of a bidding company which was not awarded the contract.

The PPP, therefore, demands of the AFC that if it wants to remain truthful to the development of Guyana and Guyanese, then it must meaningfully use its parliamentary position to ensure the following are realised:

1. The Specialty Hospital

2. The Amaila Falls Hydro Project

3. The CJIA Expansion Project

4. The passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and the Countering of Financing of Terrorism Bill

5. The Customs Amendment Bill

6. The restoration of the budget cuts

7. The Amerindian Development Fund

8. Support for reforms in the Security Sector

9. Cabinet no-objection

10. Support for Government’s developmental policies

Our Party calls on the AFC to meet these demands in the interest of our country and its people since the benefits that would be derived are known to all. The AFC cannot escape being responsible for denying Guyanese such benefits. More so, the PPP demands that the AFC cease playing games with the welfare of our people and that of the nation and we reiterate our demand that if the AFC has the country and Guyanese at heart, then it must immediately put the nation first over it politics of self-interest.

Sincerely,

People’s Progressive Party/Civic

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