October 22, 2014

Interpretation of Standing Order No 8(2)

Dear Editor,

On October 14, I was asked by Speaker Trotman whether he has the power, in accordance with the Standing Orders, to convene the next sitting of the National Assembly.

I advised the Speaker that, in my opinion, the answer is no and that he can only fix a date for a sitting when the Assembly is adjourned to a specified date. Standing Order No 8(2) is clear.

If a date was fixed at the last sitting before the Parliamentary recess, only then Mr Trotman could have fixed a date for the next sitting.

When matters are not provided for in our rules, we refer to practice and precedents. The practice is that sittings are requested by the Government.

In the Parliament of Guyana we have two precedents, one involving Frank A Narain, former Clerk of the National Assembly, and the other involving Elwyn Viapree, former Clerk of the Legislature.

In Mr Viapree’s case, on June 8, 1963, he was given the following instructions by Speaker Rahman B Gajraj:

“Mr Clerk, the business of the Legislative Assembly must proceed. It was because I was of the impression that several matters were ripe for putting before the Assembly that I wrote you on June 5 asking for the list.

“This reached me by my own messenger only at about 16:00h yesterday – too late for these instructions to be prepared before today, which is a Public Holiday. As a result, this will be sent to you on Monday morning, June 10.

“In accordance with SO 6(6), please give notice to Members in good standing (NOT those under suspension) that there will be a meeting of the Assembly on June 12, 1963. Prepare Notice Paper and let it be delivered to Members (at least those in the urban area) by Monday afternoon.”

 

Rahman B Gajraj

Speaker

Mr Viapree referred the instruction of the Speaker to the then Attorney General Mr Fenton Ramsahoye for advice as follows:

“Hon AG, I shall be grateful for your advice with reference to 1 and 3.

“I do not share His Honour’s view that notice can be given to Members ‘that there will be a meeting of the Assembly on June 12’.

“I am of the opinion that this is a matter for the Government to decide, that is, the date and time of the next sitting.”

 

E V Viapree

Clerk of the Legislature

Mr Fenton Ramsahoye, then Attorney General, gave the following advice to the Clerk of the Legislature:

“Clerk of the Legislature, under SO 1(9) (to which however, there was no reference in the Assembly), the Speaker could suspend the sitting for a time to be named by him. Alternatively, he could adjourn the Assembly without question put, but in the latter case the adjournment, unlike the suspension, is an adjournment simplicitor and not for a time to be named by the Speaker.

“Even, therefore, if it was competent for the Speaker to adjourn to a date to be notified’ (as he did), this formula did not vest him with the competence to notify the date, and the Clerk of the Legislature is under no duty to comply with the Speaker’s direction in that behalf.

“The competence in this matter resides where it normally rests, namely, with the Government of British Guiana.”

 

Fenton Ramsahoye

Attorney General

The second precedent occurred in 1972. On May 12, 1972, Dr Cheddi Jagan, Opposition Leader, wrote the Deputy Speaker, Derek Jagan, who was Acting Speaker in the absence of Speaker Frank Narine, who was out of the jurisdiction.

The following is a copy of Dr Jagan’s letter dated May 12, 1972 to the acting Speaker:

“Sir, there is widespread and growing concern in Guyana about the flood situation, so much as that many knowledgeable people expect that there may be a food shortage as a result.

“There is little doubt that the flooding has already assumed the proportions of a national disaster, with many thousands of acres of crops of every kind completely lost, and irreplaceable for many months. There will be a further rise in prices when shortages begin to be felt.

“In the circumstances, I feel that there should be a national effort towards overcoming the difficulties that have arisen, and that it would be in the best interest of the people for the National Assembly to discuss the situation.

“In view of the fact that the Speaker is out of the country, I am requesting that you take steps to convene Parliament as early as possible.”

 

Yours sincerely,

Cheddi Jagan

The Deputy Speaker (Acting Speaker), thereafter, wrote the Clerk the following letter on May 16, 1972:

“Dear Mr Narain, further to our conversation yesterday on the telephone, enclosed please find the letter which was sent to me by Dr Jagan, Leader of the Opposition, calling for a meeting of Parliament to discuss the flood situation. Since the receipt of this letter I have given this matter very serious consideration.

“There seems to be no doubt that as a result of the flooding a number of persons have been affected and thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed. The Government itself has regarded the situation very serious and committees have been appointed to collect money, etc and/or to distribute assistance to the affected persons.

“In my view, it is in the public interest that Parliament should meet to discuss the matter which I think is of urgent public importance.

“In the premises, please summon a meeting of Parliament on May 22, 1972, at 14.00h.”

 

Yours sincerely,

D C Jagan

The Clerk of the National Assembly thereafter, wrote the Deputy Speaker (Acting Speaker) the following letter on May 18, 1972:

“Dear Mr Jagan, I hereby acknowledge receipt of you letter dated May 16, 1972, in which you requested me to summon a meeting of Parliament for May 22, 1972, at 14:00h.

“I wish most respectfully to advise you of the provisions of the Standing Orders which deal with Sittings of the National Assembly. Paragraph (2) of the Standing Order No 8 states as follows:”

‘If, during an adjournment of the Assembly, it is represented to the Speaker by the Government, or the Speaker is of the opinion that the public interest requires that the Assembly should meet on a day earlier than that to which it stands adjourned, the Speaker may give notice accordingly and the Assembly shall meet at the time stated in such notice. The Clerk shall as soon as possible inform each Member in writing, or if necessary by telegram of any such earlier meeting.’

“From this Standing Order, it will be seen that the extent of the Speaker’s power in the summoning of the National Assembly is limited, and although:

(i) It may be represented to the Speaker by the Government, or

(ii) The Speaker may be of the opinion that the Assembly should meet.

“Nevertheless, the Speaker can give notice for the Assembly to meet only when the Assembly stands adjourned to a specified date, and not when it is adjourned sine die.

“The Law Officers had confirmed the above interpretation of the Standing Orders and this was some time ago conveyed to the Leader of the Opposition by His Honour the Speaker.

“When the Assembly last met on the April 13, 1972, it was, on completion of its business, on a motion by the Minister of Housing and Reconstruction (Leader of the House), adjourned sine die and not to a specified date.

“In view of the above, I respectfully advise that I am not of the opinion that you are empowered to give notice for the Assembly to meet on May 22, 1972.”

 

Yours sincerely,

Frank Narain

It should be noted that there has been no significant changes to SO 8(2) over the years. In view of the foregoing, I stand by my interpretation of SO 8(2). Mr Frank Narain, former Clerk of the National Assembly, shares my opinion.

I also take this opportunity to state that Sir Michael Davies, Commonwealth Senior Parliamentary Staff Advisor to the National Assembly of Guyana, made the following statement in his February 18, 2005 Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly:

“Standing Orders are for Clerks, not for Members. One reason Clerks are employed is to provide advice to Members on the Standing Orders and on the procedure of an Assembly.”

In closing, I wish to quote from a report dated July 2013 by Mr Frank Narain on this matter:

“Did the National Assembly awake and take steps to simplify or clarify the procedures on this matter to avoid a further recurrence? I do not think that it did. A poor Clerk will continue to be involved.

“A Speaker will continue to feel that he has the power to call Parliament, if he wants the sitting.

“The present Opposition will feel that with its one-member majority, it has the power. Who really has the power under the Standing Orders? Who is the poor Clerk to take instructions from? Will members have to run to the Chief Justice for his opinion?

“MPs, please do not continue to involve and suffer my successor. Do something about this matter now. NOW! Something that will suit you if you become the Government and something that will also suit you if you become the Opposition.

“Is this not possible? Surely it is?”

 

F A Narain, CCH

Former Clerk of the National Assembly

Yours sincerely,

S E Isaacs

Clerk of the National Assembly

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So what if log exports double in 2014?

Dear Editor,

Once again I noticed the embattled Kaieteur News is in its usual ‘rumour mill’ mode to cast aspersions and paint a picture of rampant corruption and malpractice as was attempted in its October 19 edition with a prominent front page headline, “Log export doubles in 2014”.

As if this is the end of the world.  I have been engaged in the forestry sector for a number of years and have heard numerous calls from the Guyana Forestry Commission encouraging companies to increase their production as several companies are harvesting far below the allowable cut which is the threshold to ensure the sustainable exploitation of Guyana’s forest resources.

With this in mind, I am confident that if not all, some companies are still harvesting way below the allowable cut.  Most naturally, if there is an increase in the production of logs, there will be an increase in log exports and other value added production as well, which I am sure will be reflected in the Forest Product Development and Marketing Council’s year-end report.

While Kaieteur News failed to highlight any significant malpractices or breaches resulting from the increase in log exports, those in the sector have welcomed this bit of news which will only serve to further increase the demand and prices for Guyana’s logs.

This will continue to produce further export earnings contributing to foreign exchange and development of Guyana as a whole.

Further, over the past few years, there has been much public debate over the exports of logs. However, the outcomes from those stakeholders’ meetings have remained unchanged, as the export of logs will continue but with a phased increase in royalties and taxes on exported logs. Stakeholders are against the ban on the log trade.

Additionally, the relevant agencies have maintained that deforestation is kept within the allowed margin. In fact, only recently it was announced that deforestation rates have dropped from 0.079 per cent as the annual rate for 2012, to 0.068 per cent as the reported rate for 2013.

Meanwhile, it is evident that Kaieteur News needs to distract the public from its own misdemeanour by once again misrepresenting the forest sector and efforts accrued to strengthen its sustainable exploitation and management.

Sincerely,

Samuel Singh

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Develop our own scenarios; come up with our own solutions

Dear Editor,

The current, apparently intractable wrangling in Guyana’s body politic presents a most disturbing hopelessness for us ordinary folks, regular citizens who are anxious to see our dear land of Guyana progress to its optimal level.

Where does one turn? Where do we look for the ‘promised land’? Perhaps our leaders can draw lessons from other societies, communities, countries that faced similar dead ends.

For example, Peter Senge, renowned MIT Professor, writing in the book titled Presence, described how the whole history of change in South Africa was a remarkable example of people creating a different future together by using scenario-building exercises, which involved people from all racial, ethnic, cultural, political and similar sub-groups thinking and talking about alternative futures.

They eventually came up with four scenarios:

* “Ostrich” was the one in which the then white South African Government put its head in the sand to avoid facing problems.

* “Lame Duck” was the other where the powers of the new black Government were so strictly limited by constitutional instruments that its power to act was crippled.

* “Icarus” was the third whereby the new government instituted economic reforms that were so radical that, like Icarus, it burned itself by flying too near to the sun.

* “Flamingo” which no one particularly liked because Flamingos typically take off very slowly. But Flamingos also take off together.

So, as the groups thought through these different scenarios, they became convinced that the only viable way forward was the Flamingo way.

Senge concluded that while no one can be certain about how much these “scenarios” influenced the changes in South Africa, he firmly believed that they had a major impact in shaping the thinking that allowed the new Government to hold the country together.

Can we develop our own scenarios and come up with our own solutions?

Respectfully,

Nowrang Persaud

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Justice is still far from us

Dear Editor,

We, the members of the Guyana Trans United (GTU), wish to publicly condemn the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for their continued discrimination against our community.

We have been attending court since June 3, trying to get justice for several of our members who were shot at from a vehicle as they stood peacefully on the streets of Georgetown in April.

From the beginning, the Police discriminated against us – calling us names when we attempted to report the matter at the Police station, and refusing to take a statement.

Additionally, even though we provided the Police with the licence plate of the vehicle involved, it took over a month, and us picketing in front of the Brickdam Police Station before one of the perpetrators of this violent attack was charged.

However, even though the matter is now before the court, it appears that justice is still far from us. Every time the matter is raised in court, we have heard the Police Prosecutor say that the file has been sent somewhere for additional information to be added, corrected, or for review.

At the last hearing, the Police said that they were unable to locate the file and the Magistrate declared that unless the file is produced, the case will be dismissed by October 27.

It has been seven months since we were shot at for no reason. We demand that the GPF do their job and help bring the perpetrators of this violent act to justice. There is no reason for the case file to still be incomplete at this point in time.

It is also unacceptable for the Force to have lost or misplaced the file. We believe that this shows further discriminatory behaviour against our community and is an attempt to simply make the matter go away and to allow the perpetrators to walk free without any punishment.

The GTU is calling on the Police Force to take violence against transgender individuals seriously and to properly investigate and respond to all attacks reported against us. We are Guyanese citizens just like everyone else, with the same human rights as all others and equally deserving of justice.

The Police have a responsibility to all Guyanese and should not be discriminating against anybody on any basis. Also, when other segments of the population see that we are not being served by the authorities who are supposed to protect us, it sends a message that abuse of transgendered persons is acceptable. It is not.

The discrimination and disrespect that we face on a regular basis simply for being ourselves must stop. We demand and deserve justice and accountability from all individuals and systems of Guyana in this and all instances.

We are also still calling for justice to be done regarding the role of staff of a private company (name of company given) in the murders of our friends and colleagues Jason John and Carlyle Sinclair.

Respectfully,

Quincy McEwan

Guyana Trans United

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Constant attacks on GRA Commissioner General disgraceful

Dear Editor,

The current and constant personal attacks on Mr Khurshid Sattaur, Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority for doing his job by the Kaieteur Newspaper owner and publisher are malicious, vile, disgraceful, and libellous and must have made the famous doyen of print journalism, the late Dr Vic Forsythe turn in his grave.

Mr Sattaur’s career at the GRA has been founded on the gift of a formidable brain, which has moved the Revenue Authority from strength to strength with the massive increases in revenue collection year after year as well as staff morale, and what I mostly admire about him is that he has not been afraid in going after those delinquent taxpayers who feel that they are above the law.

Through every medium he has unreservedly made some breathtaking breakthrough to capture and to bring in the revenue owing to the Government and he should be commended for the hard work he has been doing despite the many challenges facing him.

This has irritated those who do not like to part with their money but usually like to portray themselves with publicity that they are doing so much good for those who cannot afford to pay to further their education.

In Guyana, some people are so gullible to those with money that even when they are breaking the income tax law, they have followers who are backing and representing them in order to make them feel important.

The Government has given this son of the soil a national award for his dedicated service to his job, and I do hope that the University of the West Indies will see it fit at some stage to honour him with a Doctorate in recognition of his contribution to and hard work on taxation in Guyana.

The benefits enjoyed by citizens of any country are derived from taxes, and Mr Sattaur has made that bold step in making us proud as we travel around the country and see what the tax dollars are doing for all of us, including those who like to condemn and criticise, and that is all that they can do.

Those who are now writing to the professional accounting body of which Mr Sattaur is a member should try to understand and read the Tax Act and stick to the issues rather than trying to bring “a good man down”.

This is the election season and perhaps the GRA has been infiltrated by some representatives of political parties who are on the campaign trail. My advice to all the staff at the GRA is to focus on your work and stop bringing the boss down: he has set a good platform for us to continue to do well in our various areas of work.

To all the taxpayers, you have an obligation to yourself, country and future generation, just divorce your mind from reading and listening to trash, and try at all times to think well of people, since we all have a short life on this earth, so pay your taxes for the betterment of all of us.

Peter Fraser,

Taxpayer

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The GPF still has some hardworking, decent Policemen

Dear Editor,

On October 9, at approximately 12:00h, I called a Commander (name given) on the Essequibo Coast to report the constant threatening behaviour towards my family by a man who lives on my premises.

This kind of belligerence and terrorisation is nothing uncommon or even sporadic by this man towards my family. We have been forced to endure constant attacks which are reported to the Police at Anna Regina without any investigation been done by the ranks and the previous commander.

There were reports of corruption at this police station. Whenever the new commander gives an instruction to his ranks to arrest the individual, these ranks will ignore his instructions while he is away in a meeting with the Commissioner of Police.

Four ranks, including the commander, came to arrest the man, but he was hiding in the house and never opened the door. He blatantly defied the members of the Police Force and continued to make a mockery of them.

This man can be seen driving on the road with his vehicle, although the commander has instructed the patrol Policemen to arrest him for threatening behaviour towards my family. One detective of the station was seen talking to the wanted man, but never used the opportunity to arrest him.

While these Policemen seem to be doing their duty, I have lost confidence in them.

What is noteworthy is that several ranks immediately arrived on the scene as soon as I telephoned him about another attack by this man towards my family. I never had the honour and privilege before to meet and talk with the commander before he came in the region.

I was deeply touched by the sincere way in which he expressed himself towards me about the need for effectiveness in the Guyana Police Force (GPF). He stressed that for trust to be had in the Police Force by members of the public, the “desk attitude” of the officers must change.

This kind of attitude displayed by this commander will certainly boost the morale of the Police Force which remains low at all time. He will bring back public confidence and cooperation by members of the public, the lack of which significantly hamper the complaints process.

Poor training severely limits the effectiveness of the GPF. Commander Tyndall appealed to all ranks to pull their weight in ensuring the delivery of a quick response whenever they receive a complaint at the desk.

What I appreciate about this new commander is that he quickly mobilised his ranks who were in the station and brought them with him to my place; other commanders should take an example from him and I urge other Policemen to uphold the deeds and oath they took to serve and protect the citizens and respected tradition of the GPF.

You have committed yourself to the people impartially in choosing this profession.

I wish to thank the commander and his ranks for their quick action. The GPF still has some hardworking and decent Policemen.

Yours faithfully,

Mohamed Khan

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Why would someone need so many lawyers for a simple case?

Dear Editor,

I am following the recent drama of the court Matter involving the publisher of Kaieteur News which I note has gained a lot of attention and media publicity.

I noticed that even persons in the public domain were following the newspaper owner and his wife, the defendants.

I decided to put pen to paper as it appears the Guyanese people love drama and some even follow and defend the rich and wanna-be celebrities, lending support to growing lawlessness in the country.

I was curious too (after reading about the barrage of high-profile lawyers hired by the newspaper owner) as to why someone would need so many lawyers to defend what was described as a simple case that would not see the light of day.

It is interesting as to how these high-profile lawyers will defend the perpetrators, because, so far as I have seen, the angle the newspaper owner has publicly adopted as his defence is a joke and laughable at best.

The newspaper owner and his letter writers – fake ones I assume – have chosen to use the newspaper to publish letters, with these petty defence positions.

One writer says that because the newspaper owner and his wife have been charged for tax evasion, then children of officials in Guyana, including the GRA Head, should also be charged for the same thing. There is no way that the two situations can be equated.

Any level-minded Guyanese would be aware that if someone benefits from a duty-free concession on a vehicle and he is a public official with children that, at some point, the children may drive the vehicle, especially if they all reside at the same premises and the vehicle is usually parked there.

This cannot be compared to a man and his wife with ‘seemingly’ lots of money (shoe store, newspaper company, etc) driving two very expensive vehicles belonging to two elderly strangers who are poor persons and who live as far away as “Timbuktu” from the everyday ‘borrowers’.

One would want to ask the obvious: why would someone do that? In fact, why would the elderly folks go to such lengths to apply for duty-free concessions for expensive vehicles if they wanted to relax as old folks at home and had no intention of driving them? Were they employing the newspaper owner and his wife as their drivers? Come on, Guyana! There has to be more to this case.

When I first read the details of this case, the first thing that came to mind was a clear case of money laundering.

This process involves persons with lots of money at their disposal and who cannot account publicly for it, especially if the funds were acquired by not-so honest means.

They would give other persons who had nothing some money to put things in their names when they (the money launderers) were the true beneficiaries and what happens in the end? The persons who accept and utilise these funds are always indebted to the money launderers, in many cases – drug dealers.

Yours truly,

Ramrattan Singh

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Keep the light of knowledge and virtue burning brightly

Dear Editor,

“Do not let the candle of wisdom die out in the darkness of lust and error. For the wise man approaches with his torch to light up the path of mankind” –   Kahlil Gibran

Deepavali (or Diwali), the “Festival of Lights”, is one of the most enchanting and beautiful festivals that adorn the Hindu calendar. It commemorates the beginning of the Hindu New Year and there is an unmistakable element of fun, laughter, excitement, reunion, and heartfelt felicity associated with the celebration.

And why not enjoy and have some fun when the harvest season has ended and the financial books are closed. Diwali originated in rural India as primarily a harvest festival, a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Diwali is observed in many countries outside of India, and in Guyana and Trinidad, the Hindu community joyfully anticipates the coming of Diwali.

The inside and outside of homes are beautifully decorated with diyas (earthen lamps) or candles, and with every passing year, we are literally mesmerised by the spectacularly dazzling display of exquisitely and artistically designed illuminations on motorcades, houses and business premises that seem to outshine the glitter and glamour of Manhattan’s Times Square.

Amid the jubilation and display, we must not lose sight of the strong spiritual current that runs deep in the proper observance of Diwali. Diwali signifies the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance.

This is the light of spiritual knowledge that comes from the long and arduous journey towards self-realisation and not intellectual grasp of the sastras (scriptures) or the ability to perfectly recite Sanskrit slokas like a thundering river in full flow. Even a meagre store of this knowledge is enough to cut deep at the bonds of karma and to bring us closer to our essential spiritual nature as Sat, Chit, Anand (Truth, Consciousness and Bliss).

The longest journey begins with a first step, and this Diwali is another reminder for us to take that crucial first step towards self-realisation.

We do not have to go out of the way and put on a special show or display; one piece of cotton soaked in oil or ghee in an earthen lamp and lit with humility and a deep yearning to be free from ignorance is far “brighter” than thousands of dazzling illuminations lit for mere revelry and enjoyment.

In all the great religious and spiritual traditions of the world, “light” itself is symbolic of knowledge, joy, purity, vitality, life-sustaining power, as darkness is symbolic of ignorance, destruction, and death.

As Shri Krishna sang in Gita: “I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance”. [Bhagavad Gita 10:11].

As conditioned beings, we are all caught in this cosmic drama of light and darkness, joy and sorrow, gain and loss, victory and defeat, etc, and the experience of these dualities seems to be a necessary element in our spiritual evolution.

This is beautifully expressed by the mystic poet Rumi, who wrote: “God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites that you will have two wings to fly, not one”. It is not surprising, therefore, that Diwali is celebrated on the fifteen day in the dark half of Kartic (October – November).

It is but fitting that we celebrate this Festival of Lights on the darkest night of the darkest period – indicating that just as the emergence from darkness makes the sunlight even more dazzling and splendid, so God’s Grace and the ensuing spiritual knowledge and awareness (the light of the diya) is most manifest and revealing as we emerge from the depths of spiritual slumber induced by the dense darkness of ignorance and error (the darkest night [Amavasya] of the soul).

Throughout the ages, our rishis and sages have sought for this Light as is evident in the famous Gayatri prayer:

Aum/Bhuh Bhuvah Svah/Tat Savitur Varenyam/Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi/Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat ~ The Rig Veda (10:16:3)

Meaning: “We meditate on that most adorable, desirable and enchanting lustre and brilliance of our Supreme Being ….who is our creator, inspirer and source of eternal Joy.  May this warm and loving Light inspire and guide our mind and open our hearts.”

And in the Brihad – Aranyaka Upanishad there is the invocation: “Lead us from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality”.

The spiritual dimension of Diwali is heightened by the fact that around this time at different periods in the history of the universe and the world, certain events occurred that brought forth great joy and spiritual effulgence and obliterated the forces of darkness and evil.

Lord Vishnu in his fifth avatar appeared as Lord Vamanadev (The Dwarf Incarnation) and vanquished King Bali. Another avatar of Lord Vishnu, Lord Dhanvantari appeared around Diwali time and delivered the Ayurvedic science of medicine to mankind.

The Pandavas of the Mahabharata returned from their exile at the time of Diwali and Bhagwan Shri Krishna killed the wicked king Narakasura and liberated 16,000 princes from captivity. Bhagwan Shri Rama returned to Ayodhya

In his famous book, “The Lost City of Dwaraka”, Dr Rao wrote, “The discovery of the legendary city of Dwaraka which is said to have been founded by Shri Krishna set to rest the doubts expressed by historians about the historicity of Mahabharata and the very existence of Dwaraka City. We would say that Shri Krishna definitely existed”.

On a more recent time scale, Diwali is celebrated by the Sikhs because on this day in 1619, Guru Hargobind (the Sixth Guru), was released from captivity at Gwalior Fort by the mogul emperor Jahangir (the same tyrant who tortured and martyred the Fifth Guru, Arjan Dev, in Lahore).

The Jains also celebrate Diwali because Mahavira (the last Jain Tirthankar) attained nirvana or salvation on Diwali night in 527 BC, over 2500 years ago in Pavapuri province in Bihar. The Harivamsa Purana (a supplement to the Mahabharata) provides one of the oldest references to Diwali by mentioning dipalikaya as a festival marking the nirvana of Lord Mahavira.

One of the core principles of Jainism is the adoption of compassion and non-violence as a way of life itself and the concept of aparigraha or non-possessiveness to protect the environment from human greed.

For Buddhists, Diwali mark the anniversary of the third Mauryan Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism. Ashoka is still the only emperor who renounced war after victory.

In still more recent times, the great reformer, guru, and storehouse of Vedic knowledge, Maharishi Saraswati Dayanand, attained nirvana on Diwali night.

He fiercely fought against superstitions and hypocrisy and his core mission was to re-establish the glories of the Vedas. On that moonless night of Amavasya, Maharishi ushered in a new dispensation for mankind based on truth, justice and equality and a new society – the Arya Samaj.

Diwali is also the worship of Maha Lakshmi. Maha Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Among the four goals of man, purusharthas (dharma, artha, kama, moksha), artha is associated with the attainment of wealth and material prosperity.

The ancient rishis never neglected any aspect of human life; so, Hinduism can never be described as “other worldly”. No good can come out of false renunciation. Active involvement in the world has to be the way for most of us.

The human dimension of our existence has to flourish, but every aspect of our life must be guided by dharma (righteous conduct). Wealth must be acquired by ethical means and even then we have to banish greed and covetousness from our lives.

Maha Lakshmi rides on an owl, a creature that sees only in the dark; reminding us that when we become carried away by wealth, we quickly become enveloped in the darkness of ignorance.

But as we light our diyas tonight, we have to realise that it is God’s presence in our lives that can make us truly prosperous and illuminate our lives in the midst of the darkest pain and suffering.

I know many people who are normally referred to as “poor people” who have a light shining in their eyes, a glow on their faces, and a song in their hearts. These are the blessings we need on this Diwali day.

We have to keep the light of knowledge and virtue burning brightly within and bring it forth to the world in good actions and deeds, working vigorously and selflessly to eradicate poverty, violence, exploitation, injustice, hatred and cruelty; fiercely resisting all forms of discrimination; forging friendship and goodwill; and in humble and little ways, bringing warmth and joy to the lives we touch.

Happy Diwali!

Submitted by

Cecil Ramkirath

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Can West Indies survive the silly and embarrassing action in Dharamsala?

Dear Editor,

Cricketing nations the world over as well as the diehard fans in the Caribbean and the wider world are at a loss of the silly action by the cricketers to return home in the midst of a tour because of a financial dispute with the WICB and are now wondering what will be future of the game as far as the West Indies is concerned.

At the moment it seems to be grim.

As I have said before blame must be attributed not only to the players, and the WIPA, but should also be placed on the WICB for not intervening and preventing the stand off between the cricketers and their bargaining agent.

I also wish to cast blame on Clive Lloyd, former Captain, who was and maybe still is in India at the time of the walk off. Clive, although is merely Chairman of the Selection Committee, and not President of the WICB, is well respected by the players since he was the most successful Captain who led the West Indies more than any other Captain.

I am certain if he had strong words with Bravo and his team mates they would have backed down from their plan. Another Captain Richie Richardson, another official was there also and one wonders if he did not try to dissuade the cricketers from their foolish action.

Clive apologised and in a report from New Delhi apologised for the walk out and said that the players have made a mistake and went further to express the hope that he hoped the players’ action would not damage the outstanding great relationship between the two cricketing nations.

I am not certain about this since the BCCI is hopping mad since they have lost tens of millions of dollars and their fans were deprived of seeing the Windies in action, and as a result, threatened legal action and moreso seeking intervention by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the world’s governing body for cricket and plans to scrap India’s tour to the West Indies in 2016.

Of course it will interfere with Windies participation in the upcoming World Cup. What would be detrimental to most of the players is to ban them from playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

Former captain Courtney Walsh criticized the players and said that they should have never walked out in the midst of a tour while world renowned commentator, Barbadian-born Tony Cozier like me blames the WIPA, WICB and the players. He said all three clearly failed to appreciate the damaging consequences such drastic decision was bound to have on them all.

It seems to me that the players had planned their embarrassing action. Why didn’t they inform the Board that they would not play unless their demands were met, before they departed for India.

Maybe the WICB would have selected a second string squad as they did during the Kerry Packer debacle when Alvin Kalicharran replaced Lloyd as Captain and several “A” team players would have been drafted in the team.

Well there is now a dilemma and every effort should be made to resolve the matter in order to bring cricket back to where it was. We must always remember that cricket is our culture, and the best medium for Caribbean integration followed by the University of the West Indies.

Therefore, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) should be involved and that regional body should move as speedily as possible to salvage the desperate situation.

Sincerely,

Oscar Ramjeet

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Invidious elements are leaking information from GRA

Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to the Commissioner-General. We write on behalf of all staff of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) who feel highly offended by the content of a letter that appeared in the letter column of the Kaieteur News of October 17.

The letter writers who purport to represent the views of some members of disgruntled staff are known to all employees since recently a few managers and other staff who were investigated for grave misconduct, including soliciting and demanding bribes.

These persons strangely were given a proverbial ‘slap on the wrist’ rather than being subject to more severe disciplinary action such as suspension and dismissal for such acts of grave misdemeanour and misconduct.

It should be noted that these individuals were recently transferred to lower risk areas in GRA negating their potential for corrupt activities as a consequence of the investigations conducted.

It appears that this is the driving force behind their letter and the source of their evident discontent.

Commissioner General, we are now confirmed in our belief that these are the same invidious elements that are leaking information to Glenn Lall on personal matters concerning your overseas travel plans and also on matters for which you are being accused of providing confidential information on the tax affairs of other newspapers, which the owner of the newspaper maliciously inferred and engineered to make it appear to emanate from emails between yourself and prominent members of society.

Surprisingly, Commissioner General the information purporting to be from leaked emails never contained any information on the Kaieteur news business. Isn’t this fortuitous? The public should ask why was Kaieteur News excluded from this alleged disclosure.

We are pleading with you Commissioner General to take immediate and stern action to remove these individuals from the organisation since we are now very uncomfortable working in such an environment with such treacherous individuals in our midst as their presence is not conducive for professionalism and transparency which is the hallmark of the agency, but their very association with the owner of this newspaper an alleged murderer is making us very fearful of our lives.

It would seem from the rantings of these corrupt elements that only staff of a certain ethnic background and who are qualified are deserving of promotion and before others are considered they must first pass their test as to whether they are your relatives.

We can attest to the fact that the GRA is an equal opportunity employer and represents an example for all other organisations in Guyana to follow.

We who represent all ethnic groups of the country decry and denounce this dangerous development that has caused many good officers in recent times to leave.

Commissioner General we are aware who these individuals are and their recent revelation of their connection to the newspaper owner is clearly seen as an act of desperation on the part of Glenn Lall to utilize scare tactics since coming under the attention of the GRA, being investigated for conspicuous and blatant tax fraud.

We are convinced in our belief that this dishonuorable and reprehensible conduct is being resorted to by no doubt bribing disgruntled staff to peddle lies concerning the head of the GRA is nothing more than Lall running scared of having all his overseas properties and bank accounts that are generated through illegal means revealed in the impending investigation. All will be revealed in due time.

We are concerned Mr. Sattaur that the so called aggrieved staff members are leaking information on taxpayers affairs and are now allowing through letters published in the Kaieteur News to peddle false and inaccurate information concerning your personal matters as it is nothing more than mischievous and designed to disparage your character and that of your children who are true role models for all staff to follow.

It is mischievous, malicious and libellous for such wicked lies to be published, as these staff cannot be excused for associating a name with being a relative of yours.

All are well aware that you have no niece working at the Parika Branch. It is also inexcusable for these disgruntled and disgraced staff to mislead the public that your sons drive luxury cars.

These are not US$90,000 Lexus, that were driven by alleged tax cheats bur rather vehicles that are probably over 10 years old and cost a mere fraction of what the tax evaders drive.  Hundreds of Guyanese from all walks of life drive similar vehicles.

Mr Commissioner General, since it would appear to us that these bitter employees cannot depart from their old practice of being corrupt as they would appear to be well paid for leaking information to Glenn Lall.

We have serious intentions of exposing these persons to members of the Opposition, the foreign Embassies and the public as we feel that their continued presence will only serve to undermine revenue collection and staff morale.

As Commissioner General you duty bound to protect the agency against such unprofessional and unbecoming behaviour and we will continue to support you in discharging your duties.

 

Sincerely,

Concerned Staff

Members    

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