May 22, 2015

6% increase in serious crime

Dear Editor,

Statistics reveal that a six per cent increase in serious crime has been recorded for this year unto May 18, in comparison to the same period in 2014.

The serious crimes include murder, robbery under arms, robbery with violence, robbery with aggravation, larceny from the person, break and enter and larceny, burglary, rape and kidnapping.

Sixty murders have been recorded for this year unto May 18, in comparison to 56 for the similar period last year, an increase of seven per cent.

Unto May 18, robbery under arms overall has decreased by 15 per cent in comparison to the same period in 2014.

The statistics indicate an 18 per cent decrease in the number of armed robberies involving the use of firearms and an 11 per cent decrease in armed robbery where instruments other than firearms were used by the perpetrators.

The offence of rape has shown an increase of 70 per cent unto May 18 in comparison to the same period in 2014, while burglary has decreased by 11 per cent.

Investigations are continuing into the murder of Ramesh Puran who was shot and killed during and armed robbery at Belvedere Squatting Area, Berbice, on May 14.

Three men have been arrested and questioned by the Police. Two of them have since been released as the investigations continue.

Investigations are also continuing into the murder of Sean Anyes of “D” Field, Sophia, who was shot and killed during an armed robbery at his home on May 1.

A man had been arrested and questioned by the Police and later released. The investigations are continuing.

In relation to traffic, unto May 20, there have been 41 road fatalities from 32 accidents compared to 43 road fatalities from 40 accidents during the similar period in 2014.

Congnisant of the prevailing rains, the Guyana Police Force is urging motorists and other road users to exercise greater care and attention as they use the roadways.

Ivelaw Whittaker

Police Public Relations

and Press Officer

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The Constitution protects my right as an Indian in Guyana

Dear Editor,

UN Resident Coordinator Khadija Musa was evasive enough in her response regarding the statements she made to Kaieteur News for me to ask for further clarifications. However, I am going to accept her new statements as being sincere.

The issue of race and identity erupts in the press from time to time. The eruption always surrounds the issue of Indian identity. Africans can be proud Africans, as they should be.

And we all encourage Amerindians to honour and even preserve their customs and traditions. Not so with Indians.

If I say that I am Indian, this statement is seen by a significant number of Guyanese citizens as being assertive and the assertiveness is further perceived as an infringement on every other group’s identity.

I am then abused as a racist and supremacist who is creating divisiveness and disunity.

This idea has its roots perhaps in colonial times when our European masters tried their best to colonise the Indians into Christianity and into European ways and habits. Indian beliefs, traditions, names and foods, etc all made us pagan in their eyes.

However, Indians refused to become mimic men and women and, even as we have evolved in order to live comfortably in the West, we have maintained enough of our ancestral past to give us a definitive Indian identity.

This identity also offends self-hating Indians who are promoted by sections of our society as the politically correct Indian. To be politically correct and acceptable you must deny your Indian identity, a process that results in cultural loss on the part of the Indian.

The UN Declaration on Cultural Diversity, agreed on after 9/11, reaffirms the UN’s initial declaration on human rights and goes further. It begins with the statement: “The cultural wealth of the world is its diversity in dialogue.”

All of the 12 articles are beautifully written and I will share just part of the preamble: “The Universal Declaration makes it clear that each individual must acknowledge not only otherness in all its forms but also the plurality of his or her own identity, within societies that are themselves plural.”

The Guyana Constitution also protects my right as an Indian in Guyana. However, I would much prefer to live in a country where I do not have to remind my fellow citizens of my legal rights to my identity from time to time.

I would much prefer to live in a country where it is a matter of course, as for every other group, because we are all intelligent, gracious, and respectful of each other and each other’s otherness.

Ryhaan Shah

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What is the reason for appointing Greenidge Minister of Foreign Affairs?

Dear Editor,

One can understand that Mr Basil Williams, an attorney, is appointed Attorney General or that Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, an educator, is appointed as the new minister of education.

It should not be a “surprise” that the extremely powerful and newly created Ministry of the Presidency is now responsible for the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, and not Dr Roopnaraine.

But what is the reason for appointing Mr Carl Greenidge, a former Minister of Finance some 25 years ago, today’s minister of Foreign Affairs? Is not his expertise economics? And all of Guyana has no one else who is qualified for this post?

One seems to recall that this is the same nepotism that occurred under the previous administration when, for example, it took a former Minister of Health and appointed him a Minister of Agriculture.

This is not change, but more of the same, as the slang goes. Perhaps this was done to groom the gentleman for a potential role as a future PNC party leader.

If this is so, then we have the interest of the people (or government), being used to promote the interest of a party. Quite refreshing.

Rakesh Rampertab

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Hold Flag Raising celebrations at National Park

Dear Editor,

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has noted with deep concern attempts by the fraudulently-imposed APNU-AFC administration led by David Granger to downgrade the significance of our independence struggle by shifting the Independence Day celebrations from the National Park to the Independence Arc, Brickdam to coincide with the inauguration ceremony of David Granger.

This is not only a retrogressive step but also an affront to all those who struggled for the independence of our country from the yoke of colonial rule.

The PPP/C as the Party that played the lead role in the independence struggle under the then leadership of Dr Cheddi Jagan calls on the Granger-led administration to reconsider that decision and hold the Flag Raising celebrations at the National Park in keeping with time honoured custom and practice as it relates to the celebration.

Independence Day is the single most important day in our national political life and therefore ought to be full prominence and recognition befitting of the occasion.

Indeed, it was the PPP/C out of recognition of the significance of the day and the yeoman struggles of our leaders who valiantly fought for our independence that declared May 26 as a National holiday.

The PPP/C wishes to serve notice to the current administration that it will not sit idly by and allow the true meaning and significance of independence to be reduced to a national circus with lots of meaningless fanfare and extravagance as during the days of the previous PNC regime when independence day was pushed into the background in favour of Republic Day.

PPP/C

Freedom House

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Authoritarianism has begun

Dear Editor,

While they were in opposition, the APNU/AFC everyday spoke publicly about nepotism, cronyism, corruption and the necessity for people’s participation in government.

They sang these mantras to every media house. Just a few days into government and the nation is witnessing nepotism, cronyism, corruption and the failure to consult.

The government itself has assumed office through corrupt practices at GECOM, including, failure to recount votes, which is a legal entitlement of any political party which participated in the elections, refusal to furnish us with the Statements of Poll used by GECOM to tabulate the results of the elections, and admissions from GECOM that they have in their possession fake Statements of Poll.

In the face of these glaring corrupt and illegal practices, those who claimed they waged a relentless war against corruption and corrupt practices are now deafeningly silent.

The nation has witnessed the renaming of Ministries and the International Convention Centre without any consultation whatsoever with the citizens of this country.

Indeed, the citizens were not even offered the courtesy of an explanation for these changes. Ministers are appointed but their credentials remain a secret to the people whom they are appointed to serve.

The cronyism and nepotism has begun from the very top. David Granger has appointed his son-in-law as Minister of Investment and Business.

The nation has no clue what this portfolio entails. So once again, like Forbes Burnham we witness another President making his son-in-law a Minister.

Noel Holder, an unknown political quantity, but the husband of AFC Founding Member Sheila Holder, now deceased, is slated to be appointed Minister of Agriculture.

We now await the voices of those members of civil society who proclaim themselves the watch dogs of democracy.

We say to them and indeed to the world authoritarianism has begun.

PPP/C

Freedom House

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Anglican Church ready to work with new Govt

Dear Editor,

On May 11, just under a half million Guyanese exercised their constitutional right during our general elections.

While there were a few reports of disquietude, the people of this country behaved in an exemplary manner. It was noteworthy to external observers to note this, and equally as important, it was a self-affirmation that the vast majority of Guyanese are honourable, decent and orderly people.

In the aftermath of the election, we salute the outstanding service and efforts of those who have served and will no longer serve in government. The people have spoken and have indicated whom they have reposed their trust in to manage our national affairs.

The new government is the government of our country. In congratulating, His Excellency, Brigadier David Granger and his colleagues on their victory, we commend them to our prayers and pledge our collective support for the further building and strengthening of Guyana.

This is the time for all Guyanese, and persons who desire what is best for Guyana, to unite.

The campaigning must cease. The election is over. There must be no voices of partisanship. The collaborative work of continued development in a true spirit of national pride under the supremacy of God must be the national agenda.

Like I stated after the elections of 2011, I reiterate, that the Anglican Church stands ready to work with the government in advancing the cause of Jesus Christ, and in spiritually, morally, socially and materially assisting all and sundry in improving the quality of life for all who call this dear land of Guyana, home.

May God bless you, and may He bless the Corporative Republic of Guyana.

The Right Reverend Cornell Jerome Moss

VII Diocesan of Guyana

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Ending ‘Surujballyism’

Dear Editor,

The 2015 General and Regional Elections, it would appear, are officially over and there is urgent need now to pay attention to commencing a process that would see the end of all forms of ‘Surujballyism’ at all levels of our society, especially at GECOM.

Surujballyism is an attitude of arrogance, haughtiness and a false sense of consciousness that results in individuals or entities showing a lack of regard for the concerns of others about a process or development which could have redounding negative impact on that (complaining) group, the wider body politic or country.

It could also be defined as an abuse of one’s position and power and a refusal to genuinely accept when one has erred in the execution of one’s constitutional remit.

It reaches its worst forms when the one displaying all of its qualities becomes unmoved and disinterested in the realities that exist in the society in which they dwell and the public perceptions about integrity.

The term was arrived at after a series of worrying events which occurred at GECOM and during the tabulation and declaration of the final and official results for the May 11 elections.

If any impartially minded Guyanese wanted to do a careful analysis of the term, they would find that GECOM’s Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally could be seen as chief aspirator and embodiment of its jest.

From the word go, this year, Dr Surujbally has been beating his chest and promising to deliver elections here with near perfect creditability because of the “almost perfect preparations” that were being undertaken by his professional and highly competent staff at the Commission.

Dr Surujbally even took on the then ruling Peoples Progressive Party /Civic on every single one of its complaints and concerns raised either directly or indirectly through the very accommodative mass media, his public relations aide and the opposition commissioners.

His posture suggested that the PPP/C was merely making a big fuss about nothing and was even deliberately seeking to undermine the integrity of the Commission.

The GECOM Chairman even took on the former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s contention that there was stuffing of ballot boxes and alarming percentages of voter turnout at certain polling stations during the 2011 elections which pointed to rigging and electoral fraud.

Before you know it, Dr Surujbally meet with all the observer missions and promoted his usual propaganda about the integrity of GECOM’s work, its staff and the ability to deliver credible elections. They bought it and stood by it even after the elections.

Surujballyism was at work and reached remarkable levels when one looks at the Chairman’s interaction with the media, concerned Guyanese voters and the political parties competing to become Guyana’s next Government.

Surujbally headed an entity that called press conferences that were always delayed and wasted the precious time of the entire country and electorate. These press conferences were unhelpful, marred with technical issues and highly politicized. The results displayed were not readable to the agony of the views hip and had glaring inaccuracies as far as tabulations were concerned.

Surujbally even dodged and ditched several questions posed by the media which had his Chief Elections Officer backed up against the wall. Subtle insults were hurled by the Chairman to the media as he and his staff failed miserably at communicating effectively why the process was taking so long and the difficulties with giving preliminary results.

Fake Statements of Polls were discovered, other electoral discrepancies were found, the PPP/C was being refused a legitimate call for a partial and then recount by GECOM under Surujbally’s watch but everything was fine and dandy.

Surujballyism was at work and the GECOM Chairman appeared to be losing no sleep over the thunderous calls and appeals from the PPP/C for recourse and a final count as rumors of elections fraud and rigging circulated.

If the he had entered the count and the final declaration of results by another day, today the PPP/C would not be mulling the filing of an elections petition and the nation (all Guyanese including the PPP/C’s supporters) would have new respect for GECOM, its staff and their competence to deliver 100 per cent accurate results but as history had it Surujballyism dictated otherwise.

Now in the face of resignation calls, the GECOM Chairman said he will “when he pleases”.

The status quo cannot continue as Guyanese deserve a Chairman and Commission which will do all that is necessary to appear more impartial, competence, efficient and concerned about the growing tension in our society.

GECOM needs to be reformed and those participating subtle and open forms of Surujballyism must be weeded out or bow out.

Annalisa Ally

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Guyanese will hold APNU+AFC accountable

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to the APNU+AFC in winning the 2015 General and Regional Elections that were riddled with fraud and widespread irregularities.

The coalition, which consists of several smaller political parties and the PNC/AFC/WPA, combined in an attempt to unseat the PPP/C which undoubtedly remains the strongest political party in Guyana. A task still it could not achieve.

The APNU+AFC coalition had predicted that they would have captured between 58-62 per cent of the votes, managed to secure just over 50 per cent under highly controversial circumstances.

The Kaieteur News, Stabroek News, Prime New, Capitol News and Nightly News all became the Opposition “mouth pieces” with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in its fold.

If the coalition is so convinced that it won the elections, then they should have readily agreed to a recount of the ballots – a process that would have taken just a few days more. GECOM’s anxiety to declare the results before a recount of the ballots placed the coalition’s new Government as an undemocratic administration bound to fail.

Nevertheless, to the supporters of the PPP/C I implore you to remain cool, calm and collective and give the new Government a chance to govern in the interest of all Guyanese, and in the process cause their own demise.

To the coalition, I will be watching closely for all the promises that were made to the Guyanese people to be fulfilled. Guyanese will hold your administration accountable.

Cheated, not defeated!

J Baptiste

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What has happened to the JFAP?

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to the Justice For All Party for being part of the victorious change in our beautiful country.

The Justice For All Party played a significant role in the change of government in our country fighting for the poor and the voiceless since I could remember, and they did it with great opposition from the PPP/C government for over 20 years.

In light of this which Government ministry do you think the Justice For All Party should be suitable for?

Lakeraj Sharma

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The hypocrisy of those who seek power at the pain of others

Dear Editor,

This letter was sent to other media houses, but was not published. There were several violence related events (issues) that need to be addressed by the law and by GECOM on elections day; culprits must face the wrath of the law.

Two (involving law breaking) that starkly stand out need to be immediately addressed and compensation must be awarded by the state to the victims. In the interest of promoting professional conduct among our police and Fire Service and to guarantee public safety and freedom of movement, the state has a legal, not to mention moral, duty to act.

The perpetrators of the violence and those cheering them on must be hauled before the court. Acts of hooliganism by civilians and misbehavior by Police, Fire Service, and GECOM elements must be held accountable for their actions.

I read President David Granger has called for an investigation into the Sophia riot. I think all the violence related incidents should be investigated and actions taken to act as a deterrence to a recurrence of similar behavior.

As reported in the media, Kwame McCoy, an election candidate, was accosted and beaten by a mob. Photographs show this was done in the presence of Police Officers who simply looked on and did nothing.

As an election candidate, McCoy, like every other candidate, has a right to visit polling stations and in fact all the candidates of all the parties did; they did not break the law. Beating anyone of them or blocking their movement is violating the law.

As the media reported, McCoy owed his life to Granger and Joe Harmon protecting him from a mob. There were photographs and videos of the violence. Whoever perpetrated the acts must be hauled before the court.

The DPP should act with urgency. Also, since Police Officers swore to uphold the law and did nothing to intervene to protect McCoy, charges must be brought against them for dereliction of duty and inaction.

It is as if they perpetrated the acts of violence. Let the law decide on their behavior. What happened to McCoy could have happened to anyone, including polling agents or party supporters or observers.

Mob behavior cannot be tolerated. So the state needs to act to discourage, if not altogether, prevent its recurrence.

I also read reports that while McCoy was being beaten, some of GECOM polling agents and the agents of a party were laughing, having a fun time, and cheering. That is unacceptable behavior – to laugh at the pain and misfortune of others and not making an effort to seek assistance. They were accessories to a crime. GECOM must carry out on investigation and reprimand as well as sanction these staff members.

The other egregious act of violence was against Narine Khublall and family of Sophia. He did not break any law, and he did not violate any election rules. Yet hooligans went looking for him to give him the McCoy treatment – the hooligans did not go there on their own; they were sent.

The mob set his home on fire. Several homes and individuals were affected. As reported, there was Police presence and no action taken to protect the man’s property. Several cars were also set ablaze.

The fire brigade was called and did not render an effective response as was their lawful duty. An investigation (by the fire marshal, as well as a criminal investigation is needed and actions taken against the culprits).

Whoever (and not just the ones who lit the torch but also those who egged them on as well as the brains behind it) was involved in this act of arson (as well as other violent acts) must be brought to justice.

Everyone who lost property must be fully compensated by the state for its failure to protect the public. Whoever organized the mob must also be brought to justice.

The first official act of the new government should be to order an investigation of these and other violent acts and the arson of that day to give the nation an assurance that it will have zero tolerance for lawbreakers.

The government must show it will not close its eyes to injustice. In the meanwhile, since the state failed in its duty to give protection to the persons affected, the state must provide temporary relief to the victims until such time that fair compensation can be determined.

I am disappointed that none of the media, parties, members of the diplomatic community, the law body, religious figures, eminent persons, or observers has come out to condemn the disruptive behavior and or call for an inquiry, prosecution, of law breakers, and or to offer compensation to the aggrieved.

But such is the hypocrisy of many who only seek power for themselves at the pain of others.

Vishnu Bisram

 

Editor’s Note:

This letter was received after not being published by other local newspapers

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