December 20, 2014

Great move to have Naim on panel

Dear Editor,
I note that Naim Chan is resuming commentaries and I am asking myself how come he was not there for all the time. He made a few sporadic appearances and I was left to believe that he was taken up elsewhere.

Naim is the country’s premier cricket commentator and this was so noticeable. His very quality voice, simplicity (yet not lacking profundity) of presentation, very strong language use and deep discussions left those alongside him way behind-the man is not a prattler and he does not have to just fill the silence. He talks a good game.

It is sad that we have people, who are struggling with the basics of English, on the commentary panel. I hope that Naim will be more utilised and that he will be given the opportunity to groom some youngsters.

K Etwaroo

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The US and Cuba relationship

Dear Editor,
While Alan Gross is celebrating his return back home with his wife, children and close friends, the United States, Cuba and several countries in the world are debating whether or not US President Barak Obama has made the correct move in releasing three convicted spies in exchange for his release, as well as other compromises he made with his Cuban counterpart, Raoul Castro.

It seems to me that most persons agree with the historic move by President Obama, but a large number of Americans, both Republicans, and Democrats, as well as Cubans who live in Miami and the communist island feel that Obama gave too much and received very little.

The critics include a few Cuban born US lawmakers, including two, who are possible Republican candidates for the US Presidency.

Most of the dissatisfied Cubans are the older ones – there is a generation split on the move, arguing that Castro and the old brigade are still in power and who will continue to rule without holding free and fair elections, and will continue to imprison persons who spoke out against the regime without a fair trial.

However, on the brighter side both the Cubans and Americans will set up embassies in Washington and Havana. However, critics feel that now that the Republicans control the House and the Senate, it would be difficult for a US Ambassador to get the nod of the lawmakers who might also block funds for the Embassy in Havana.

Americans will now be able to travel to neighbouring Cuba, but with little restriction since they have to go through agencies who have licences to do so. This situation will improve after the embassies are established and banking and commercial relationships are established.

Both Presidents Obama and Castro made the announcement at noon last Wednesday and reports from Havana state that church bells were ringing during and after Castro’s speech, and there were tears of joys from thousands.

It was the first time in more than five decades that a Cuban President has offered good words for a US President when Castro praised Obama for his action. Both Presidents Obama and Castro also praised Pope Francis for his kind intervention.

Critics feel that the Cuban President did not have a choice to forge a good relationship with the United States because his country was facing serious economic problems, since most of their financial assistance was coming from Russia and Venezuela and both countries are now facing serious economic problems and will soon cut off all assistance.

Meanwhile, leaders in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) are extremely happy about the move.

Chairman of Caricom Gaston Browne, who is also the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, has lauded both Obama and Castro, while St Vincent Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, on hearing the news while in Parliament debating his country’s Budget, adjourned Parliament for the day describing the event as one “of earth proportions”.

In fact, at a meeting of Cuba/Caricom leaders in Havana earlier this month, the parties involved in the discussion were optimistic about a Cuba/US trade relationship, but there is still a long way to go before the embargo placed by the United States on January 21, 1962 will be completely removed.

The Organization of American States (OAS) set aside the trade barriers at its 39th General Assembly on June 8, 2009. I was present at that CONFAB which was held at San Pedro, Sula when the then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton walked out of the Assembly when she was questioned about US embargo.

She stated that the ban will not cease until there is free and fair elections in Cuba. There is still no freedom of speech, but US prisoners were released on Wednesday. I am optimistic that in the very near future there would be cordial relationship between the two countries.

Oscar Ramjeet

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NACTA exists, does Freddie?

Dear Editor,
Reference is made to a letter by discredited columnist Freddie Kissoon who expressed the opinion that readers should know the personal background of letter writers. People have a right to free press without the need of divulging their personal lifestyle to the public.

Kissoon claims M Maxwell and Sultan Mohammed don’t exist. How does he know that? Did he check with the register for births and deceased for confirmation? Some time ago, he also claimed that Dr Vishnu Bisram did not exist and was not a teacher.

He has also been claiming that NACTA does not exist. Now, he states Dr Bisram is a real person. Is Kissoon the all powerful person who determines who exists and who doesn’t, similar to how he had arrogated unto himself some time ago whether a Turkeyn Polling and Research Institute (TRPI) or NACTA poll was conducted or not? Does this guy really exist? Does he have a brain?

It is simply unbelievable that Kissoon, a man who claims he did graduate studies in Toronto, can make assertions without supporting evidence – a basic tenet of academia. Should we be surprised?

No! There isn’t anything that should surprise us coming from the pen of Kissoon who makes outlandish claims and has a history of misinterpreting basic social theories.

Contrary to what Kissoon pens, NACTA does exist.

Dr Philip Thomas, who is organizing a conference on non-profit organization this week, stated there are 4,000 organizations in Guyana, but less than 20 per cent are active. The fact that they are not active does not mean they are not non-existent.

For the record NACTA was founded during the early 1990s by myself, Dr Latchman Narain, Dr Vishnu Bisram, Dr Baytoram Ramharack, Trevor Jagroo, Rennie Ramracha, Radica Singh, and a number of other educators.

Most of the members of NACTA were actively involved in the struggle for free and fair elections in Guyana. The idea of its launching was Dr Narain’s and mine that resulted from a meeting of leading thinkers and educator activists in the community.

The organization was very active during the early years of its formation. We sent countless shipments of educational materials and supplies to Guyana and Trinidad and other societies.

We donated money to organizations in Guyana and to individuals. We sponsored essay contests in Guyana. We organized symposiums and seminars at various American colleges and religious institutions (mandirs and churches) and conducted polls in several Caribbean societies.

We organized rallies and marches in New York and partook in various festivals, including the Phagwah parades and AIA parades in Manhattan. NACTA continued polling activities after the discontinuance of TRPI polls that were published in SN during the 1990s.

Myself and Ravi Dev, Ramharack, Bisram, Rennie Ramracha and others were involved in TRPI polling. We self-funded the polls with some assistance from supporters and enthusiasts who liked our activism and community work.

TRPI is credited with introducing polling in Guyana that was opposed by Kissoon in his writings and public utterances. The same Kissoon who claims we don’t exist came in front of UG’s library and mocked us when we recruited interviewers to help with the polling.

Rennie Ramracha and myself accompanied Dr Bisram to conduct polls in Tobago, Guyana, and Trinidad. The findings of the polls were released under NACTA because they were so authorized.

Currently, NACTA is not as active as it was during the early years of its formation. That does not make it “non-existent” or that Dr Bisram should not publish findings under NACTA as being demanded by Kissoon. Freddie is free to conduct polls under his name or under whatever organization.

Organizations come in various sizes and activism. For the record, CGID is viewed as a “one-man” (small) organization but it exists. Should it be called by the name of its principal owner?

CACCI has a handful of members (no Indians), but it exists. Should it be called by the names of the few members? The WPA is a five-man organization. Should it be called by the name of the organization?

And there are numerous other small or one-person organizations, but Kissoon dare not challenge their existence. In fact, many (polling) organizations were founded by one or a few individuals and Kissoon admires them.

Johnson Polling (Jamaica) is a one-man organization. Peter Wickham, Kissoon’s second most favored pollster after Dick Morris, founded Cadres, runs a one-man organization whose poll showed AFC would win the election of 2011, findings that were lauded by Kissoon. Further, Kissoon had no problem with it being called Cadres instead of Wickham Poll.

SARA Poll in Trinidad was founded by Prof Selyn Ryan and it still exists as a one-man poll even though it does not conduct polls as in earlier years. Solution by Simulation was founded by Nigel Henry and it exists as one-man poll.

Dick Morris Polling was founded by himself (a one-man poll) and conducted polls including the polls of 2006 showing the AFC winning the election, the findings of which were cheered by Kissoon as credible.

Gallup Polling was founded by George Gallup and it exists even after his death. Roper Polling was founded by Elmo Roper and it still exists even after his passing. So why can’t NACTA exist even if it is not very active and why can’t its name be used by one of its founders to so label its polls?

Should the folks at Roper and Gallup Institutes stop using those names because of the death of the founders? What idiocy is that? Does Kissoon prefer a large organization that does nothing meaningful to society or a small organization like NACTA that engages in important social analysis like polling and in helping the poor?

When will Freddie conduct his poll or give a donation to the poor? The work of organizations continues way after their founders leave the scene or even when they become less active. And the fact that Kissoon never met someone does not mean the person does not exist.
I applaud the media for publishing the findings of NACTA polls that keep us informed about the nation’s views on various issues.

Vassan Ramracha
Co-founder, NACTA

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Lethem will soon attain status of township

Dear Editor,
I read Carl Parker’s letter under the headline, “Not impressed with Lethem’s development”. The letter is in response to Hydar Ally’s letter under the headline, “Impressed with Lethem’s development”.

Carl Parker, a PNC/APNU activist and Regional Councilor for the Rupununi region simply does not understand the different between “development” and “developments”, hence his ignorance in the proper interpretation of Hydar Ally’s letter.

But I am in agreement with Ally’s letter that with on-going developments currently taking place, Lethem will soon attain the status of being a township. This is absolutely indisputable.

Carl Parker is often times absent from the Rupununi since it is alleged that he drives a hire car in Georgetown. So his ignorance about Lethem’s development process is not surprising and being an incompetent Regional Councilor.

He is not involved Rupununi’s development at the level of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC). But it is known that an empty barrel makes the most noise. Residents at Lethem know this well.

Bearing in mind that Lethem continues to be in the development process, did Carl Parker do an objective study on why young people are employed as counter clerks and why original business owners have rented out their businesses to the Brazilians and Chinese as he claims?

Having done this and if he is honest he would find the correct answers to these questions and desist from making unqualified claims. But is Parker capable to undertake such studies?

The fact that Parker is a PNC/APNU lackey makes him myopic to developments taking place at Lethem where the purpose of his existence is only to criticize, which qualifies him for entry into “Lethem’s big washing machine” to cleanse him from the PNC/APNU dirt which is currently responsible for his nomadic and imbecilic status.

Hydar Ally is an education expert and his observations in relation to Lethem’s developments are based on his expertise. In this regard who is Carl Parker to question the observations of an expert?

Peter Persaud

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Motor cyclists and pillion riders flout the law

Dear Editor,
The Guyana Police Force would like to take this opportunity to appeal to motor cyclists, who are considered to be in another “vulnerable” category of road users, to use the roadways with greater care and caution.

So far for this year a total of 26 motor cyclists have lost their lives due to fatal accidents, compared to 16 for the same period last year. In some instances the victims were not wearing safety helmets which may have saved their lives.

The Motor Cycles (Protective Helmets) Regulations Section 3 (1) of the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act Cap. 51:02 states that:
“The driver of, and every person carried on, a motor cycle on a road shall wear a safety helmet capable of affording protection to the head of the wearer from injury in the event of an accident.”

In keeping with the Regulations, the legal requirement for the driver, and any other person carried on the motor cycle, to wear a safety helmet does not apply in cases where the engine of the motor cycle is not more that 50 cubic centimetres (50cc).

While there are specific types of safety helmets prescribed to be used while driving a motor cycle, motor cyclists can be observed using safety helmets that are for use by cyclists, which is against the law.

Motor cyclists and pillion riders flout the law and do not wear the safety helmets which are intended for their own protection and safety. Some can be seen with the helmets on the handles of the motor cycles.

In enforcing the laws in this regard, the Police have for this year so far charged a total of 380 motor cyclists for failing to wear safety helmets and these efforts will be intensified.

The Guyana Police Force also wishes to express its concern about the practice of motor cyclists with children as pillion riders, without safety helmets and their feet dangling dangerously close to the spokes of the rear wheel of the motor cycle.

While being cognisant of difficulty with transportation at times, the Police are also expressing concern over the towing of too many persons on a motor cycle by motor cyclists. Under such circumstances control of the vehicle will be difficult and can result in accidents and even death.

During enforcement operations aimed at road safety over the period December 7 to 13, the Police Traffic Department made a number of cases against motorists and other persons for breaching the traffic laws.

These include speeding (296), driving under the influence (42), breach of condition of Road Service Licence (73), careless driving (21), dangerous driving (38), failure to wear safety helmet (8), failure to wear seat belt (50), and prohibition of the use of hand held mobile phones (27).

Ivelaw Whittaker
Public Relations and Press Officer

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The easing of US-Cuba relations

Dear Editor,
We believe that the decisions and concrete steps taken by the US and Cuba to normalise bilateral relations meet the interests of both countries and global security in general.

Washington’s decisions to stop groundless accusations against Havana of alleged support of terrorism, to restore diplomatic relations, to abandon at least some limits on US citizens’ trips to the island and the swap of sentenced persons are long overdue.

We have repeatedly called on the United States to move forward and abandon all political prejudices of the past century.

We are glad to note that the elimination of obstacles for bank transfers are going under the UN General Assembly’s resolution: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” which the General Assembly adopts every year with Russia’s active support.

We hope for a total abolition of the US trade embargo against Cuba, which was introduced in 1961.

It is notable that the US president has acknowledged the ineffectiveness of the many-year attempts to isolate Cuba. We hope that Washington will soon realise the futility of using similar sanctions method to put pressure on other countries as well.

Denis Kopyl
Press Attaché
Russian Embassy

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Cyber bullying in high school

Dear Editor,
To all my fellow teenagers and those old folks who are young at heart, I would like to highlight a prominent issue in high school life: cyber bullying.

The evolution of technology and the internet has benefitted humanity in many ways but it has also contributed to the degradation of its mental state. Cyber bullying affects many adolescents on a daily basis.

Cyber bullying can take many forms, such as: sending threats to a person’s email or cellular phone, spreading rumours online or through texts, “sexting” or circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person.

Cyber bullying can be very damaging to adolescents. It can lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide. Also, once things are circulated on the internet, chances are, they may never disappear.

They can resurface at later times to renew the pain of once faced from cyber bullying. Many cyber bullies think that it is funny to bullying others online. Cyber bullies may not realize the consequences of their action.

Cyber bullies and their parents may face charges for cyber bullying, and if cyber bullying was sexual in nature, it can result in being registered as a sexual offence.

Teenagers may think that by disguising under a fake account, they won’t be caught, but there are many ways to track someone who is cyber bullying. Most of the time, when parents discover their child is cyber bullying, they revoke their child’s internet networking privileges such as Facebook and/or may remove his/her computer privileges or confiscate his/her mobile phone.

In a worst case scenario, a cyber bully may be charged with misdemeanor, cyber harassment, and sent to a juvenile delinquency programme. It is very difficult to address teen bullying.

However, there are some things that can help prevent bullying-situations. Teenagers should be encouraged to seek friends who are supportive and kind, particularly in person. They should try to socialize in groups since bullies most often single out those who are alone.

Also, it is important to have teachers and other adult authorities present when possible to discourage bullying behaviour. In the end, it is difficult to totally prevent cyber bullying. However, good efforts should be encouraged to reduce bullying and let victims know that persons are involved in such efforts.

The best thing you can do is to encouraging victims of cyber bullying and try to help them get through their rough times as unscathed as possible. Teenagers do not ever become entangled in cyber bullying.

Whether you are the bully or being bullied, neither results in anything beneficial to your state of being.

Remember, when caught in the act of cyber bullying you can be placed in a juvenile correction facility, tainting your records as an offender of the law. Those individuals who are being cyber bullied can enter into a state of depression and this may eventually result in suicide.
Do you readers want your future to be tainted? I should think not! Enjoy your holiday everyone!

Andrea Balkissoon

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Lorries blocking entrance to Mandir

Dear Editor,
We the members of the Cotton Field, Essequibo Coast Vedic Mandir are calling on the relevant authorizes to remove two lorries which are blocking the entrance to our mandir during prayer time.

We have made several reports to the IMC at Anna Regina and the Police Station without any help. Our members are very disturbed at the attitude displayed by both of these entities.

A senior Police officer old us that is not the Police’s job to remove lorries, which are encumbering the roadway and entrance of people’s property. He said it’s the IMC which is mandated to remove obstructions.

These two lorries are parking side by side during the day and nights in front our mandir, taking over half of the roadway, which has become a traffic hazard to lives and limbs and most of all it is an obstruction to our church.
We know that previous Commanders who were stationed here removed parking vehicles from the roadway which were blocking people’s entrance.

We have lately built a concrete culvert which has cost the Mandir $2 million. The owner will park his lorries on our newly constructed culvert causing damages to it. We had appealed to him many times not to park his lorries and blocking our entrance, but he would still continue.

On many occasions our church members turned up for services and had to turn away because they could not enter the mandir. The owner of these lorries lives opposite our mandir, but instead of parking his vehicles on his side, he choses to block our entrance and Mandir.
We had planned also to construct the eastern side of the street running to the Caricom Rice Mills, which will beautify the township and save the IMC millions of dollars from cleaning the drains.

This project will cost the mandir an additional $2 million, but we will only do it if we get the cooperation from the Police and IMC to prevent vehicles from damaging the culvert. The owner of these vehicles has several businesses in his yard, but would never park his lorries to disturb his business.

School children and members of the public have to navigate between them during busy days of the traffic. At night its worse, because it’s a junction with a sharp turn leading to the Caricom Rice Mills.

We are calling on the Commissioner of Police and the Traffic Chief to do something urgently so we can pray in peace.

Cotton Field Vedic Mandir

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Police still in talks with GT&T on Suicide Hotline

Dear Editor
The Guyana Police Force is seeking to have corrected an article in the Guyana Times of December 18, in which the Commissioner of Police (acting) Seelall Persaud, DSM, was misquoted during his address at the Police Force’s Awards ceremony on December 17.

In speaking about the planned establishment of a Suicide Hotline in the Police Force, the Commissioner is misquoted in the article as having said that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) Company will be coming on board to facilitate this project, as much telecommunication equipment and skill will be needed to ensure its success.

I wish to clarify that what the Commissioner said was that the last action required to fully implement the Suicide Hotline is to receive equipment and services relating to the telephone calls.

There is no money in the Police budget to do this and (consequently) the Guyana Police Force has engaged GT&T and has asked them to partner with the Police Force and to provide the telephone equipment and services to fully operationalise the Suicide Hotline.
This engagement is still in process.

I shall be grateful if a correction can be made to the publication which was done under the article headlined, “Top Cop upbeat about success of strategic plan.”

Ivelaw Whittaker
Public Relations and Press Officer

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Patricia Rodney right to partake in inquiry surrounding murder of husband

Dear Editor,
Reference is made to Freddie Kissoon’s column (December 14) in another media assailing Dr Patricia Rodney for encouraging and participating in the long overdue inquiry surrounding the assassination of her husband, the brilliant historian Prof Walter Rodney.

Given the trauma suffered by the family and friends and those of us who were admirers of the brilliant historian, doesn’t Freddie think some kind of closure is required even if held 34 years later? Wasn’t Freddie chiding the PPP/C for not holding the inquiry? How come all of a sudden he is opposed to it?

Freddie contends the PPP/C has agreed to holding the Rodney murder hearing now for “ulterior motives”. Doesn’t Freddie say he is an academic who did graduate studies in Toronto – doesn’t he know that all Government sanctioned hearings in any part of the globe have ulterior motives but out of the self- interests are revealed some truths?

For example, when Democrats or Republicans call for hearings into an issue in the US, the goal is to embarrass the Republicans and vice versa – Republicans are demanding an inquiry into the Benghazi killings.

Ditto when hearings are held in Trinidad by PNM or UNC – each wants to embarrass the other for political mileage – UNC held a hearing into the attempted Islamic coup against the NAR government and is now holding an inquiry into a scandal pertaining to construction of public housing.

A side objective of an inquiry is to make your opponent look bad, building your support in the process. And so it is with regards to the inquiry regarding the murder of Walter. That is the nature of politics. But the truths and facts surrounding the conditions of life and why Rodney was killed are also being accurately revealed.

One should not forget Dr Patrica and her family and the WPA, the party founded by Walter, had long sought this inquiry right after his assassination in June 1980. They want closure and the perpetrators of this dastardly coward act to be brought to justice (public shame) since no one will be charged for the crime.

The family begged and pleaded that the inquiry be held as recent as a year ago. And the PPP/C, under pressure from the Opposition, has finally agreed to hold it now.

Freddie has conveniently left out the fact that it was not the PPP/C that brought up the issue of the inquiry in Parliament over a year ago. It was the Opposition WPA and the AFC that renewed a demand over a year ago that the inquiry be held.

The Opposition has a majority in Parliament and controlled the Speakership – they could have stopped the hearing. In fact, the Opposition threatened not to fund the hearing – they could have carried out their threat if they didn’t want the inquiry.

The hearings were extended several times with parliamentary approval and funding; Freddie’s party could have stopped the hearing.
The record would show when certain elements in the WPA realized that they won’t get their way in the hearings and that certain inconvenient truths would be exposed, they decided to boycott the inquiry.

Some of these individuals wanted the inquiry to be held according to their terms and conditions – that wasn’t political? Wasn’t there an ulterior motif behind such a demand?

Some of the individuals who decided not to partake in the inquiry, including Freddie, fear a fall out in the new alliance that the WPA has built with the PNC, which is the party accused of killing Walter.

Some of them did not want to lose their parliamentary positions – the many perks and privileges that come with being a MP, one has to applaud Ogunseye, Kwayana, Omowale, Rohit Kanhai, etc for their courage to come forward and tell the commission the truths – they did not manufacture information like Freddie and as towering figures of the WPA, they did not oppose the hearing.

Others should also have come forward to testify about how and why Walter was assassinated and the PONC Government’s efforts behind a cover up. If Freddie felt information revealed was not accurate, he can come forward and testify counter to the claims made thus far. But Freddie is all chaffe; he lacks substance like his writings.

I met Walter Rodney in 1977 in Port Mourant during the student strikes when I was a student leader of that protest movement. Walter, Kwayana, Omowale, Father Rodrigues, Fr Morrison, etc supported us in our noble cause to reverse the unjustified “firing” of our teacher mentors.

They traveled from Georgetown all the way to Port Mourant, village of Cheddi, to console us and offer encouragement and support in our struggle against the dictator for ordering the firing of our teachers, whose only crime was to serve as our mentors of a student organization.
Unlike Freddie, Walter was a brave, charming charismatic person, a champion of human dignity.

Unlike Freddie, Walter was against injustice meted out to Indians. He stood up for what he believed in unlike some who claim to be champions of just cause but refuse to partake in a hearing to bring out the truths of how and why Walter was murdered. The latter are as culpable as those who planned and executed the murder of that great figure.

Walter did not deserve to be cut down in the prime of his life at a time when we were struggling for our liberation against the ethnic dictatorship. Walter’s children did not deserve to be raised without a father and Pat without a husband just because a dictator felt threatened.

The hearing is justified and should be continued for as long as it takes to bring out all the truths of that era on political murders. Mrs Rodney, Kwayana, Omowale, Joe Hamilton and others were right to be participants – the nation deserves the bare facts of what happened around the time of the murder.

How come Freddie has not criticized Kwayana for participating in the hearing? Was he also duped – the charge he leveled against Dr Patricia? No Freddie you are wrong again! The truths about the ethnic dictatorship are coming out of the Rodney inquiry.

Vishnu Bisram

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