October 23, 2014

Lall offers to pay off taxes – sources

…threatens to blackmail other tax cheats

Embattled Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall has reportedly offered to pay off some of the taxes on the two luxury vehicles he allegedly fraudulently had imported here under the remigrant scheme.

He has also reportedly threatened to blackmail other businessmen whom he claims benefited from similar scams.

This is according to well-placed sources within the Administration who said that Lall, using a “backdoor contact”, has reportedly approached the Government with an offer to pay some of the taxes he evaded if the charges are dropped.

The sources said that Lall promised that as a part of his plea bargain, he will release the names of some other prominent businessmen who have also used the remigrant scheme as an opportunity to own luxury vehicles, effectively defrauding the Government of millions of dollars.

Lall and his wife were arraigned in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts on multiple tax evasion charges earlier this month.

They were also slapped with two counts of aiding and abetting in a conspiracy to defraud the Government of due taxes totalling $102 million.

The court action initiated by Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur was taken after a probe was launched into alleged tax fraud involving the importation of two vehicles by a remigrant couple who are now reportedly overseas, but are due to join the Lalls in their next court appearance, as they are also charged in the same matter.

Prior to the court action, Lall had strenuosuly tried to evade prosecution, claiming that his newspaper was being muzzled.

A self-proclaimed campaigner against corruption, it has been a torried few weeks for Lall, as one startling revelation after another has surfaced about his alleged illegal criminal activity.

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No-Confidence Motion not a priority for APNU – Granger

Opposition Leader David Granger

Opposition Leader David Granger

Opposition Leader, David Granger said the Alliance For Change (AFC) sponsored No-Confidence Motion against the Government is not a priority for his coalition, although insisting that they were committed to the motion.

The Granger-led A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) has been forced on several occasions to explain its position on the No-Confidence Motion and on each occasion it has said that it was committed to it. However, on Tuesday when Guyana Times asked Granger specifically if the motion was a priority for his 26-seat coalition, he said no.

Granger’s position is that the outstanding matters from the last sitting should be dealt with when the next sitting of the National Assembly is held. He explained that the No-Confidence Motion was put to the House by AFC and whenever the matter arises, it will be debated.

Earlier in a press statement, APNU said it remains committed to the No-Confidence Motion, while refuting claims that Granger and President Donald Ramotar are discussing a compromise to avoid passage of the motion. “APNU remains committed to supporting the No-Confidence Motion when it is brought to the floor of the National Assembly of Guyana. Any suggestions to the contrary are malicious, scandalous and mendacious,” the party said.

The AFC however, remains bent on its position that the No-Confidence Motion should be placed high on the agenda.

AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan had told Guyana Times that his party will be proceeding with the motion during the first sitting. “It will be the first and only sitting,” he posited, noting that the Opposition would be moving ahead “full force”.

AFC Leader  Khemraj Ramjattan

AFC Leader
Khemraj Ramjattan

He said though the PPP/C would want the 65 members of the National Assembly to debate the historic motion, this would not be permitted, explaining that only a percentage of the members would debate.

The mover of the motion, Moses Nagamootoo will be debating the motion, Ramjattan said, in addition to Cathy Hughes for the AFC.

“We will prove that the Opposition is united on this motion,” the AFC Leader declared.

“They (People’s Progressive Party/Civic) would have uncontrollable tears running down their faces,” he opined.

But although recess ended on October 10, the Government has not decided on a date for the next sitting of the National Assembly.

Last Wednesday, a high level meeting was held but the Parliamentary Management Committee could not decide on a date for the reconvening of the 10th Parliament.

According to Standing Order 8 (2) “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 a day earlier than to which it stands adjourned, the Speaker may give notice accordingly and the Assembly shall meet at the time stated in such notice”.

However, it was explained by the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs that if a date had already been fixed for the next sitting and Government wanted an earlier sitting, representation would have to be made to the Speaker to do just that.

He stressed that the Speaker could not on his own fix a date for the reconvening of Parliament.

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Rodney’s family was under extensive surveillance

Dr Patricia Rodney, wife of the late Dr Walter Rodney, going through the book Assassination cry of a failed Revolution allegedly co-authored by her husband’s accused murderer William Gregory Smith

Dr Patricia Rodney, wife of the late Dr Walter Rodney, going through the book Assassination cry of a failed Revolution allegedly co-authored by her husband’s accused murderer William Gregory Smith

CoI hears…

By Alexis Rodney

As the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the death of Dr Walter Rodney continued on Tuesday, the widow of the slain Historian, Dr Patricia Rodney, gave evidence suggesting that the Rodney family, upon its return to Guyana in May 1974, was under extensive surveillance by the state’s security forces.

The surveillance was so far-reaching that it had drawn a loop within the family circle, causing its members to be disrupted for some time. Dr Rodney spoke of she and her husband “safe housing” many nights at different homes. All this, she said, was done to ensure that the family remained safe. She admitted that the constant security threats and harassment of her family was upsetting; however, she noted that she could not allow them to prevent her from doing what had to be done.

Dr Rodney’s testimony corroborated evidence given by earlier witnesses, who had testified that they were constantly harassed and beaten up by agents of the State.

These included the Guyana Police Force and the religious cult group House of Israel, and the unending presence of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) at many Working People’s Alliance (WPA) activities.

It also spoke to the Commission’s Terms of Reference number four, which seeks to examine and report on the actions and activities of the State and those who were in command and superintendence of the state agencies, to determine whether they were tasked with the surveillance of, and carrying out of such actions against the political Opposition.

Harassment, threats

Under cross-examination by Trinidadian Attorney Keith Scotland, Rodney told the three- member Commission that her home had been subjected to constant searches by Police officers dressed in ordinary clothing.

The searches began and intensified during the months leading up to the death of her husband on June 13, 1980, occurring at least twice per week. She said the homes of her relatives were also frequented by the Police, while close friends of the family were habitually harassed by the said officers. Many persons locally were threatened with the loss of their jobs, while foreigners associating with the family were threatened with deportation.

She cited several incidents, including one where a Rastafarian man working for the family was arrested and had his hair cut off after he disclosed that he was employed by the Rodney family.

She related another incident where her husband had turned up at the Bishops’ High School with some things for one of his daughters’ birthday celebration and was suddenly prevented from entering the school’s compound by GDF officers who were present there. Dr Rodney could not say if it was a normal practice for the Army to be carrying out surveillance at the public schools.

But what was more devastating was the search carried out by the Police Force on the evening of Dr Rodney’s death: 10-15 heavily armed Police officers entered her home to carry out a search for arms and ammunition.

Dr Rodney’s widow said that visit was quite an unusual one, since Police officers had never come to her house in that number, neither did they carry any arms and were ever clad in their uniform. She was asked to draw an inference from that form of visit, but could not, except to presume that the officers wanted to drive some amount of fear into the family.

Asked if she or her husband had ever made an attempt to report their security concerns with the authority, Dr Rodney explained that they never thought it would serve any purpose as they were of the view that the state machinery was against the historian and his family.

MI-5 scrutiny

But the surveillance, she disclosed, did not begin in Guyana. In fact, while the family was living in England, Guyana’s Government had set up surveillance there as well. That was coupled with the scrutiny of the MI-5, the United Kingdom’s domestic counterintelligence and security agency .

Dr Rodney admitted that her husband was a “great academic” who had an innate interest in the working class. These are some of the things that had brought the pressure on the historian, who had continuously spoken against the undermining of those in the lowest bracket of the social strata. His efforts were also to remind the African community of their roots, and through discussions, provide ways through which they could embrace them.

She spoke of his time in Jamaica, lecturing at the University of the West Indies (UWI), and his efforts to mend the already broken society which was marred by constant protests by the people. She explained that his efforts there and his association with the “common people” including the mingling with Rastafarians, had driven the Government to declare her husband persona non grata, and the family was forced out of the country.

Non-violent

Meanwhile, while many of the searches carried out at the Rodney family home were to find “arms and ammunition”, Dr Rodney said she was not aware that her husband was ever involved in acquiring any arms, as suggested by former Police Constable Robert Gates and WPA Executive Member Tacuma Ogunseye. In fact, she said, as far as she was recently made aware, the WPA members were acquiring the weapons to protect themselves from the state, which had grown to become very abusive and raucous against them and their sympathisers.

Dr Rodney also discredited accounts given by her husband’s alleged killer Gregory Smith, who in his book The Assassination cry of a failed Revolution, had claimed that there was a plan by Dr Rodney to subtly attack the GDF and seize the weapons.

Dr Rodney read the accounts from the book allegedly co-authored by Smith’s sister Ann Wagner where it was disclosed that her husband had planned to move with the GDF dinner vehicle during the evening to seize the weapons.

But Dr Rodney said that could not be true and “doesn’t make sense”. She said the “Walter Rodney” that she knew would never be involved in such an activity as she maintained that her husband was not a violent man.

The Lawyer representing the affairs of the People’s National Congress (PNC), Basil Williams drew Dr Rodney’s attention to the public meeting held by the WPA, where her husband had declared that the then ruling PNC Government, led by Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, must “go and go by any means necessary”. But Dr Rodney said she was only made aware of that statement when it was made by a witness during a previous session of the current investigation. She said that even if those words were used by her husband, it could not be within the context that is being implied. She again maintained that he was not a person that would incite violence.

Commissioner Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, a Queen’s Counsel, had upbraided the Attorney, explaining that it was important that the entire speech be presented so as to avoid losing the framework.

Dr Rodney spoke of her first encounter with the man accused of giving her husband the explosive device hidden in a walkie-talkie. She said her husband had an appointment with Gregory Smith on the evening of his (Rodney’s) death, since she did hear her husband in conversation with Smith over the telephone.

She recalled Smith had visited the home on Thursday, June 12, to meet with her husband. She said he told her that he had an appointment with him, but did not find him when he arrived at the meeting place.

Dr Rodney said she reported the visit of Smith, who she did not know at the time, to her husband when he returned home.

While it was suggested that Smith was in constant contact with Dr Walter Rodney, particularly in relation to the setting up of communication devices, the widow said she could not say. Smith, an electronics expert, who was said to be employed by the GDF, was identified by Dr Walter Rodney’s youngest brother Donald as the person who handed over a brown paper bag with the bomb hidden in the walkie-talkie device on the evening of June 13, 1980.

That meeting with Donald, Dr Rodney and Smith was just a coincidence, his widow revealed.

She said that the original plan was for her husband to meet with Smith on his own. It was only by chance that her brother-in-law stopped by that evening, and given the fact that the family had one car only, he decided to allow his wife to do her errands and be transported by his brother.

The events of that evening changed the lives of the Rodney family forever. Donald Rodney, the only known witness to the incident which claimed the life of his brother is yet to appear before the Commission.

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Govt, APNU hold talks on governance

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

… but no progress on LGE, assent to Bills

In the absence of the Alliance for Change (AFC), the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) met with the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration in a quest to advance the national governance agenda.

In a statement, APNU said the meeting was convened in wake of the Opposition’s year-long demand and public protests for the long overdue Local Government Elections (LGE). During the meeting, President Donald Ramotar was urged to set a date for the holding of the LGE. But this was just was one the many petitions that were laid on the table when the parties met.

“APNU also committed to collaborate on a process by which the President would assent to the Local Government Bill, No 12 of 2012; the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2013; the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, Bill No 24 of 2012 and Bill No 5 of 2013 and the Former President’s (Benefits and other Facilities) Bill No 29 of 2012.”

Due to the absence of the Attorney General who is presently attending a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris, France, the PPP/C took a decision not to decide on the bills or LGE. Much to its dissatisfaction, the APNU in response reaffirmed its commitment to support the No-Confidence Motion in the National Assembly. “A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is committed to the formation of a Government of National Unity to rid Guyana of winner-takes-all politics. APNU is dedicated to ensuring that our multiethnic and multicultural society will succeed through respect for the diversity, hard work, thrift and sacrifice of all our citizens.”

APNU’s high profile delegation was led by David Granger and included parliamentarians, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Basil Williams, Carl Greenidge and Joseph Harmon. Government was represented by President Donald Ramotar; Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh; Housing Minister Irfaan Ali; Government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira and Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon.

Back in September President Ramotar had expressed his willingness to meet with Granger to discuss matters of national importance. Ramotar in a letter to Granger back then had reiterated his commitment to dialogue while inviting Granger to meet with him at a time convenient to the Opposition Leader. Nonetheless, at the time Ramotar expressed concern over the new communication posture and policy adopted by the Opposition Leader which sees him, as of late, utilising the media to send messages to the Executive.

Ramotar’s letter had come days after Granger had threatened to take action if a date for LGE was not announced. The President then wrote Granger seeking clarity, while stating that the contents of the letter, which contained the ultimatum, were “ambiguous and contradictory” to the utterances made by the APNU in relation to a menu of related issues.“While awaiting your response, Office of the President has noted your resort to the media, where you have been reported to have agreed to commence protests in support of your demands for Local Government Elections,” the President said.

He noted too the media reports which called for meetings with Government on other critical issues affecting Guyana while protesting the use of the media to make these demands. “I must, for the record, express my deep reservation about this media-based communication style you have recently adopted in dealing with my Office. There is nothing that my team and I have done to prompt you to disregard our usual format,” the Head of State said.

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Widow says husband “never wanted reins of power”

By Alexis Rodney

Dr Patricia Rodney on the stand at the inquiry into the death of her husband Dr Walter Rodney

Dr Patricia Rodney on the stand at the inquiry into the death of her husband Dr Walter Rodney

The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry swung into its sixth session on Monday with Dr Patricia Rodney, wife of the slain historian informing the three-member tribunal that her husband was never interested in taking the reins of power during the period leading up to his death.

In fact, though known to be one of the founders of the now political party Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr Rodney was a “grass roots” individual who was more concerned about the working class in and out of Guyana.

Led into evidence by the family’s attorney, Queens Counsel Andrew Pilgrim, the sixth round of the investigation was opened with the mother of three, recounting the life she had with a man who was bent on changing the world, one day at a time.

Her testimony came in light of allegations made by an earlier witness, that the WPA had crafted a plan to overthrow the 1980 People’s National Congress (PNC) Government, whose leadership is believed to have assassinated Dr Rodney.

Former Police Constable Alan Robert Gates had told the commission in April thatDr Walter Rodney and the current leader of the WPA, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine were at the forefront seeking to topple the Government of Forbes Burnham and were acquiring arms and ammunition to achieve their objective.

But the widow said her husband, whom she was married to for some 15 years at the time of his death, was a “kind and thoughtful person” who was able to relate to a wide cross section of people, and was not carried away by his level of education.

“He was interested in the youth and working people. Walter always saw the working class as the vibrant class, the production class and so his focus was on the working people. Whether they were in a community, a church or anywhere”, Mrs Rodney told the Commission.

Dr Rodney in conversation with some WPA members on Monday

Dr Rodney in conversation with some WPA members on Monday

Asked about his political ambitions and interest in governance, Dr Rodney related that her husband had remained the humblest person she had ever known. She reiterated that as far as she knew, he was not interested in the political ambit, but was rather focused on reaching out to, educating, and mobilising the masses.

She recalled her husband was, however, very concerned about the political division which existed during the time of their return to Guyana in 1974, pointing out that the “inclusive” Guyana she knew when she left was not the same one she and her family had returned to.

The divisions in race and political parties were obvious, she related, and her husband was centrally interested in weaving the social strands back together.

But there came a time when the family had made a decision to leave the shores of Guyana and go to Zimbabwe where he accepted a job offer there. However, that plan was short lived as her husband was killed not too long after.

Dr Rodney said while her husband had an innate interest in the social and economical landscape of Guyana and had a drive to see change happen, he was equally concerned about the welfare of his family and had made the decision to leave, based on that growing concern.

She told the Commission that the situation had become very scary after their return from Tanzania, when Dr Walter Rodney was offered a teaching position at the University of Guyana (UG).

The historian, Dr Rodney recalled, had received a confirmation letter from the institution, informing him that he was accepted.

However she noted that she had an indication, since she returned before him, that her husband “would not be getting the job”.

However, that did not deter him from coming back. He had maintained that even if he had to “drive a taxi” to support his family, he would be returning to Guyana.

Patricia Rodney said there was harassment for the family, which she explained started out in a “subtle” way, as persons were warned to stay away from the “Rodney family”.

She said it became less “subtle” when her home was constantly searched and her husband was frequently arrested, though for a few hours.

It became even “scarier”, Patricia said, after the murder of Father Bernard Darke in July 1979 and worsened after the death of WPA member Ohene Koama.

Dr Rodney said her husband was somewhat conscious of the threatening atmosphere around him. She recalled that he had even hinted to friends in Barbados that should anything happen to him, they should make sure that his family was safe.

She said that was one of the reasons the family was able to leave Guyana some 17 days after her husband’s death.

The widow spoke too about the events on June 13, 1980, the day of the historian’s death and the difficulties her family endured in trying to gain possession of his body from the Police.

According to her, it took 10 days after his death before his body was released. Dr Rodney noted the interest shown by the United States Ambassador, who visited her home the morning after her husband’s death, offering his condolences and an opportunity to enter the United States.

She said he also, on behalf of the Embassy, had offered to assist with funeral arrangements. She said she refused all the offers. When questioned by the Commission, Dr Rodney said she could not draw an inference from the visit from an official she had never seen or known before.

Dr Walter Anthony Rodney was killed on June 13, 1980 when a bomb exploded on his lap. His younger brother, Donald, who was with him at the time of his death, was also injured in the explosion.

Donald had reported that a former army sergeant and electronics expert William Gregory Smith had handed over the bomb, hidden in a communication device that killed his brother.

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Autopsy on headless corpse undetermined

Mohamed F Khan

Mohamed F Khan

Days after the headless corpse found at Cumming Lodge Old Road was reportedly identified by elatives as that of missing MFK Trading boss, Mohamed Khan a post mortem conducted on the remains on Monday was undetermined.

The post mortem was performed by Dr. Nehaul Singh at the Georgetown Public Hospital Mortuary who took samples to be sent for further analysis. Now that the results were not too clear, the other alternative is to send samples of the headless corpse to perform a DNA test to verify whether the remains are that of Khan. As of now the remains, are still with the police.

The headless corpse was discovered on September 22 at the Cummings Lodge Old Road, East Coast Demerara. Relative had identified the body as Khan, but police have insisted that a DNA test must be done. The corpse was reportedly identified as that of Khan by the underwear and a belt that was discovered amongst the remains. The businessman, who was residing in Venezuela after selling off his Hadfield Street business, left that country on August 21 to visit his Guyanese attorney here. He was expected to spend five days in Guyana. After his disappearance, his family members had contacted several of his friends, but, unfortunately, they claimed that they had not seen him.

He was last seen by his close associates about a few months ago. The 54-year-old businessman was shot to his abdomen by a gunman at La Grange, West Bank Demerara in a failed execution attempt on July 9. It was reported that Khan may have entered a business deal that turned sour. At that time, he claimed that he had sold a property, but the buyer wanted to rob him of millions and thought that the execution attempt may have been orchestrated by him. The businessman left the business world about six years ago after he has received death threats.

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Guyanese topping entire Caribbean simply unbelievable! – students

BY TAJERAM MOHABIR

Elisa Hamilton

Elisa Hamilton

Being among the top students in Guyana was their aim but ending up as the top students in the Caribbean was a wild dream come true, one which their families, teachers and all Guyanese are proud of.

This was the general view of the Guyanese students who brought home four of the eight annual awards offered at CSEC by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). Speaking to Guyana Times, Guyana’s and the region’s top student at the 2014 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Elisa Hamilton said she was elated on receiving the news from her mom.

Elisa’s mom, Paula Hamilton, who is the Headteacher of St Rose’s High, received the good news from one of her daughter’s teachers. The joy, the Headteacher said was overwhelming but she was always confident that Elisa would have done well as she was always a high-flyer.

Elisa, who enjoys listening to music and going to church, said when she was writing the examinations, her goal was to score distinctions in every one of the 20 subjects she was sitting.

However, she managed to gain 19 Grade Ones, including 16 distinctions and a Grade Two. The soft spoken Queen’s College student said topping the Caribbean was a big plus for her as from early she had her eyes set on acquiring a scholarship to further her studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Kishan Critchlow

Kishan Critchlow

The young lady is now pursuing studies at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) at Queen’s College, which is a requirement for her to gain admission into UWI. Elisa, who wants to become a doctor, but has not yet decided on what area she wants to specialise in, said though she was excited about her performance, and was flooded with congratulatory messages from her colleges, teachers and friends, an occurrence made her feel a bit slighted.

She noted that not a single Education Ministry official called her to recognise her performance. The young lady said it was not something she was really looking forward to, but feels odd at the abandonment of the customary tradition.

The Ministry congratulated the top students in a release to the media, but the students said this was not enough, as a simply phone call would have been highly appreciated.

Love Guyana

Nevertheless, Elisa, like her other colleagues, said they love their country, and no matter which part of the planet they study, they will return to Guyana to aid in its development.

Aliyyah Abdul Kadir

Aliyyah Abdul Kadir

Ryhan Chand, also of Queen’s College, said she was getting ready for school at Nations University when Aliyyah Abdul Kadir, her classmate and the top student for Humanities in the Caribbean texted her saying “congratulations!”

Within a few minutes, Chand said several of her other friends began texting her saying the same thing, and this left her to wonder, congratulations for what. And when she enquired, she was told for topping the Caribbean in Business.

This, Chand said, made her laugh out loud, as she believed that the usual prank was being taken to a higher level. But when the congratulations began to pour in from other persons, she said she began to take the messages seriously and when she called her school, it was confirmed.

This, she said, made her feel as though she wanted to jump through the roof and in her loud celebration, she began to cry.

The aspiring Economist/Financial Expert, who is pursing Cambridge A Levels at Nations University, said she did not expect to top the Caribbean at Business, but wrote the examinations with high expectations of obtaining excellent grades. Chand wrote 13 subjects and secured 11 Grade Ones, including nine distinctions and Two Grade Twos.

Ryhan Chand

Ryhan Chand

She was offered a scholarship from CXC to pursue studies at UWI, but declined after she was told that she would have to have CAPE to matriculate. The young lady, who is Canada-born, said on completion of studies at Nations University, she will migrate to the land of her birth to further her studies there, in keeping with family tradition.

Chand is urging students sitting the upcoming examinations to focus on their studies, and love their country.

She too said she was not contacted by the Education Ministry, not even to say congratulations for the achievement, but said it does not matter. The scholar said her achievement triumphs, and wherever she goes, Guyana and service to her country will always remain in her heart.

Chand’s colleague Kadir said the news of being the leading student in Humanities in the Caribbean was somewhat of a shocker. “I was overwhelmed and extremely excited. It’s not that I didn’t expect to do well, but I didn’t expect to top the Caribbean,” she said.

Kadir, who wants to become a Lawyer, is currently doing CAPE at Bishops’ High, and on completion of her studies there, she will be heading to UWI to further her studies on the scholarship she was awarded by CXC. She too felt a bit strange that the Ministry did not call to congratulate her, but said, perhaps it will be done at a subsequent time.

“Wow, I never imagined this would happen!” was the reaction of Kishan Critchlow, who did New Amsterdam Multilateral, Berbice and Guyana as a whole proud. He was voted Most Outstanding Student in the Caribbean at Technical and Vocational Studies at CSEC 2014.Critchlow is currently studying at the Mahaicony Technical Institute, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), pursuing a course in Motor Vehicle Repairs.

From there, he said he intends to attend the Government Technical Institute (GTI) and the University of Guyana (UG). Critchlow told this publication that he wants to become a Mechanical Engineer and to one day own his own business. But he expressed some disquiet, contending that not enough is being done to promote Technical and Vocational Education in school and to change the perception of the area of study.

“I think it’s a very important and it should be offered at every school; it’s totally wrong that even to now some people still see the area as a dunce stream. I mean, those persons in science, they will have to use equipment that students in the tech stream will build, so I think more can be done to promote this field,” he said.

In fact, he said Technical and Vocational Education should be used as a means to keep male students in school.

“We boys, when we see engine and those stuff, we get excited and I think more of them will stay in school if we get more practical courses. I think we need to do more practical because you learn better and faster,” he said.

In recognition of the achievements of the top students, CXC will present them with awards at a ceremony to be held at the UWI Regional Headquarters, Mona Campus, Jamaica on December 4.

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Miner killed after ‘gun trap’ goes off

A miner met his demise in the most unfortunate way on Sunday morning after an alleged ‘gun trap’ went off at Toroparo Backdam, Cuyuni River.

Amsey Evans, 22, of Iquaime, Pomeroon River, Region Two was shot several times about the body and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Bartica Regional Hospital.

According to information received, the young man was conducting a survey in the vicinity of Toroparo Backdam, Cuyuni River when he reportedly tripped on the ‘gun trap’.

He was reportedly in the company of others, but they could not have done much due to the extent of the injuries he sustained. He died a few minutes later.

Guyana Times understands that the incident occurred about 09:00h, but the body arrived at the Bartica Hospital until 18:00h.

The body was escorted to the mortuary by Police ranks.

A Police source confirmed that investigators are trying to ascertain who might have installed the trap while noting that it is an illegal practice.

He also claimed that most times, traps as those are set in marijuana fields and in areas where illegal activities are conducted.

A hospital official told Guyana Times that the man’s body was riddled with gunshot wounds.

His body was subsequently transferred to the Lyken’s Funeral Home where a post-mortem examination is expected to be performed.

Police have launched an investigation into the matter.

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CIOG commissions $90M Masjid on WCD

CIOG representatives and government officials look on as the symbolic cutting of the ribbon to officially open the Masjid (Marceano Narine photo)

CIOG representatives and government officials look on as the symbolic cutting of the ribbon to officially open the Masjid (Marceano Narine photo)

The Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) on Sunday commissioned a newly-reconstructed Masjid and multi-complex at Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara.

The project was sponsored by the Zakat House of Kuwait, an international aid organisation which provided a whopping $90 million for the construction of the multi-complex. Zakat House was established in 2009 to support and work with new and growing charities to make the charity sector sustainable and efficient. This is done by offering affordable office space and office services and resources to support these charities.

The initiative at Meten-Meer-Zorg was undertaken to rebuild its Masjid after it was found that the previous structure could not accommodate the growing Muslim population in that community and its environs.

The facility will serve communities along the West Coast of Demerara and East Bank of Essequibo. It can accommodate approximately 500 worshippers. Additionally, it has facilities that can be used to host social and cultural events and offer training and other integral social services to the persons in those communities.

CIOG President Fazeel Ferouz said the building represents an integral step forward in community involvement. He said that “Masjid is a place for the community” as he extended gratitude to the Zakat House of Kuwait for its part in the construction of the Masjid.

CIOG Director of Education and advisor Sheikh Moen ul-Hack said that the project was more so possible through the support of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which would have introduced the two Islamic bodies.

Unveiling of the dedication plaque at the Meten-Meer-Zorg Masjid. In photo are Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Housing Minister Irfaan Ali, CIOG President Fazeel Ferouz and CIOG Director of Education and advisor Sheikh Moen ul-Hack

Unveiling of the dedication plaque at the Meten-Meer-Zorg Masjid. In photo are Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Housing Minister Irfaan Ali, CIOG President Fazeel Ferouz and CIOG Director of Education and advisor Sheikh Moen ul-Hack

He explained that the working relationship of CIOG and Zakat House commenced some years ago when the Kuwaiti organisation agreed to sponsor a programme for orphaned Muslim children in Guyana. Since then, he further elaborated, the organisation has been providing $700,000 on a monthly basis towards this programme. He underscored that it was important that the real message of Islam get out there and not what is being peddled by extremist groups such as a Boko Haram in Nigeria and Islamic State (IS) in Syria. He noted that seemingly theses forces infiltrated close to home, since there were reports of 50 Trinidad and Tobago nationals being involved with IS, noting that everything must be done to safeguard the minds of Guyana’s populace.

“We have a responsibility to educate the community of the true teaching of Islam; this is the only way we will be able to remove misunderstandings and misconceptions about Islam,” ul-Hack said.

Meanwhile, Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett noted that this country has an exceedingly high level of religious harmony. She contended, however, that at times this religious harmony is taken for granted.

Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett interacts with CIOG President Fazeel Ferouz

Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett interacts with CIOG President Fazeel Ferouz

On a global scale, she said, there was need for more harmony to be fostered in the religious areas. Housing Minister Irfaan Ali said that the CIOG plays an integral role in society and should be given due recognition. He pointed out that most times the executives work in the shadows and they should be commended for the tremendous work that they have done for the Guyanese public.

A section of the gathering at the commissioning of the Masjid

A section of the gathering at the commissioning of the Masjid

After the commissioning ceremony, persons in attendance were treated to a meal. Many persons at the event expressed gratitude that the complex was rebuilt. One man explained to Guyana Times that he was particularly grateful that the site would now be more than a Masjid and offer extensive community service.

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Divided Linden will hurt PNCR at poll – Party Coordinator

APNU Leader David Granger

APNU Leader David Granger

BY SVETLANA MARSHALL

The ongoing division within Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) can hurt the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) during the next elections, the party’s Linden Coordinator Sandra Adams said.

Observers say that the party’s support has been rapidly moving from active to passive due to the ongoing rift between the Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon and the leadership of the party.

Solomon, who is often backed by Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon and Trade Unionist Leslie Gonsalves, is forming an “army” of his own, even as Adams attempts to take control.

Only last week, Party Leader David Granger had a bitter sendoff when angry PNCR supporters voiced their dissatisfaction over his leadership style. At the time, Granger was addressing a select group of supporters at the Mackenzie High School when a decision was taken by Adams to lock out the angry supporters who were at the venue.

Speaking with Guyana Times on Sunday, Adams admitted that the ongoing rivalry within the region can negatively impact the PNCR during the next elections.

APNU MP Vanessa Kissoon

APNU MP Vanessa Kissoon

According to her, the Central Executive has returned to the drawing board to devise a plan that would mitigate the impacts of such a fallout.

Small support

Based on her observation and analysis, Adams said only a handful of persons are backing the Solomon faction.

“Every day more and more people are getting clarity on the issue,” she said in response to the general attitude of Lindeners towards the party since the rift began. Having served two terms in the National Assembly since 1998 as a PNCR Member of Parliament, Adams was forced to migrate in 2007 after being diagnosed with a thyroid disorder in 2002. However by January 2014, she had undergone surgery and treatment, resulting in her full recovery. Her doctor had granted permission for her to return home and so she did in February. Adams said being full of energy and experience in the political realm, she offered her support to the Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon, recognising that there was no PNCR party structure in the region.

But this offer, she said, was rejected from the onset. “He blatantly refused. He told me he was not interested,” she recalled.

Having served as the last Chairperson of the PNCR Linden arm in 2003 and the only PNCR Member in Region 10 to serve as a Mayor and Town Council (M&TC) Councillor, RDC Councillor and Member of Parliament, Adams with the determination to rebuild the party structure in Linden she paid a visit to the party’s Headquarters in Sophia, Georgetown to make her case.

Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon

Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon

She said subsequently, the Central Executives met with all the heads in Region 10, including the Regional Chairman, Vice Chairman, two Members of Parliament and the region’s Central Executive representative Mortimer Mingo.

Taking into consideration her track record, Adams was reportedly identified by the central body as the most suitable person to rebuild the party groups within the region since at the time there was no official group in place.

But this decision was met with stern objection by Solomon and Kissoon.

“They voiced their opinions which were negative,” the now appointed Party Coordinator recalled. Her appointment was followed by a series of conflicts. Despite the prevailing problems, Adams with the support of Granger and the Central Executive continues to hold small functions to muster up support. However, plans to stage a regional conference to facilitate the implementation of a party organ in the region have been put on pause given the current hiccups. Adams in the past had accused Solomon and Kissoon of factionalism and attempting to create rifts between the party and its Region 10 supporters. Adams said there are a few members who had openly raised objections about her appointment as Regional Coordinator. She said they were not completely cognisant of the party’s structure and her responsibilities in the post.

Solomon, Kissoon ignorant

“They were personally misled by the Regional Chairman and Vanessa Kissoon. They’re in ignorance of party structure and procedure. The RDC Chairman does not know his position. I was appointed by the Central Executive Committee of my party to serve as Regional Coordinator. Region 10 has been out of a party structure for the last eight years, whether interim or full structure.”

Kissoon, however, earlier this year had flayed the party for disregarding protocol in its appointment of Adams, saying that as a sitting Member of Parliament (MP) for the region, she was not consulted. Kissoon at the time had said that it was not for her to collaborate with Adams, but for the Central Executive to respect the elected party leadership of Region 10 and resist the urge, though tempting it may be, to disrespect the will of the people which is protected in the party’s Constitution.

Writing to Granger, she had said: “Cde Leader, it is unfortunate that the APNU [A Partnership for National Unity] and PNC want to be respected and consulted on the issues that impact their constituents, even as you seek to deny similar rights and respect to the people of Linden/Region 10. I am aware Region 10 representatives were called and informed of Central Committee’s decision to appoint Cde Adams and this was made without any consultation. Cde Leader, the demands of the party members at Linden are consistent with your demands of Central Government.”

Kissoon and current Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon had been credited with ensuring a landslide victory for APNU in the Upper Demerara District at the last election, with the coalition sweeping both of the geographic seats. (svetlanam@guyanatimesgy.com)

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