APRIL 4, 2013 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
There are three grave tragedies of the Guyanese condition created or magnified by our divisive politics since 1950. One is the scourge of racism and ethnic polarization. Another is moral and psychological degradation of the nation. The third is economic impoverishment.
The first and the last elements have always existed in this land since the events pre- and post-Emancipation reshaped this landscape. The moral and psychological degradation of the Guyanese people before the arrival of the bitter struggles of the PPP and the PNC was limited to the immoral domination by the bourgeoisie of the working class.
The working class majority itself was peaceful, hardworking and decent-minded people grounded in justice and fairness in a sharing and crime-free working class stratum despite their sufferings. That changed with the arrival of the PPP and the PNC. They introduced full-scale ethnic division and racial apartheid politics to Guyana.
They caused their constituencies who were 85% of the population to adopt morally fraudulent and catastrophic positions out of this racial division. It was no longer what was right, just or fair, but what was racially opportunistic.
Negative ethnic generalizations and stereotyping became full-blown diseases under their reigns. All Africans were the PNC and all Indians were the PPP.
Moral hypocrisy strutted supreme. A dictatorial PNC government was to be overthrown by a Stalinist PPP party that crushed democracy. PNC socialism injected with healthy communist action (see nationalization) was condemned by the PPP and its supporters who advocated in the same breath the replacement with a communist state. PNC supporters sinfully accepted the atrocities of the PNC government just like PPP supporters support the abominations of the PPP government today.
In the grand circle of irony, these two groups of supporters have become one and the same. This moral undermining of the nation that took place in the racial-political struggles of the fifties and sixties have left an indelible stain on this nation’s psyche and morality. Even today, there are calls for the repetition of these stereotypes as evidenced during the 2011 election campaign when Bharrat Jagdeo reminded those who endured the PNC struggles to recall those experiences for the youths of today.
The moral damage was not limited to the psychological operations of the PPP and PNC and their race-driven political orgy. It has to do with the economic woe the PPP and PNC left this nation. Both of these parties have been dismal economic managers. Despite its working class rhetoric, the PPP’s economic management from 1957 to 1964 was a failure that saw economic decline and hardship for the working class along with increasing corruption.
The PNC was handed an economy in gradual decline in 1964 and took it over the precipice with a reckless socialist policy accompanied by corruption and mismanagement. In 1992, the PPP got a destroyed economy that was beginning to grow again and has delivered modest growth in an era of the greatest worldwide economic growth. The modest gains the PPP achieved have been largely shifted by deliberative government policy into the hands of a new upper class who benefit from the largesse and corruption of the PPP.
All of this economic mismanagement has pushed the majority of this country to moral corruption in order to survive. Not only do they have to work for immoral government, they are constantly morally debasing themselves in order to obtain a basic modicum of decent living. Even worse, this is now instinctive and normal for many.
By allowing illegal activity like drug trafficking to flourish, the PPP has firmly destroyed the already wavering moral core of this country. Economic destitution leads to moral equivalency and Guyana since the fifties has been a prime example of this truism. We have people who condone or execute all manner of atrocity for fear of losing that laughable paycheque in a country of rampant unemployment.
In dictatorial governments, people become afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation and harm. The mind becomes Pavlovian, directed by the dictates of the regime. This is what has happened in Guyana since the fifties. Slavery was abolished some 175 years ago while Indentureship ended 96 years ago, yet this nation remains very much a plantation moved by race and economic survival. This gives us the constant moral massacre or the annihilation of the moral code of this nation.
Right and wrong is relative in this nation because there is no moral line left that cannot be crossed. Wrong is very right in Guyana and right is often wrong and illusory. We are a nation in a moral quagmire from which extraction requires sacrifice, which we lack.
In every country that has built itself from ruins, except Guyana, there is an unmissable connection between sacrifice and struggle and moral reclamation. In these countries, people struggle, scrimp, sacrifice and battle to improve their lot, but they also possess a powerful moral philosophy about it; that they will endorse those who will help them achieve their redemption and reject those who are morally abject.
In Guyana, we have a generally hardworking nation that somehow abandons that moral requirement that is vital to their ultimate advancement. If people refuse to attach moral expectations and demands to their struggles, they will inherit societies constantly derailed by the immoral leadership and political parties they refuse to change.
Convenient moral blindness produces no economic profit or advancement out of poverty. You cannot expect less choke-and-rob of your earnings when you allow more choke-and-rob of your taxes by the rulers of the state. Choke-and-robbers at the top lead to choke-and-robbers at the bottom.
Moral hypocrisy allows crooks to bully a populace. Moral convenience leads to an immoral society where vagabonds thrive and in such a society only a handful of the depraved are enough to demonize and crush the rest.
The PPP and PNC have destroyed the morale of this nation and wrecked its psyche. Too many are worried about how those of another race or class are voting or how their own race or class are voting and not focused on what is important to them. That self-focus, which is evident in wealthy nations, and which allowed a White-dominated society like the USA to elect a Black President, is grounded in that element of morality that is missing in Guyana.
The PPP and PNC are elitist political organizations. As race-based parties, they use their primarily Indian and African support and see these two ethnic groups as politically expedient. These parties have always acted in the interests of the few who dominate them. This elite is comprised of a handful of men and a few women who believe they own these parties.
There are no term limits and an incestuous system of cronyism and nepotism within these parties that ensure the elite remains firmly entrenched in power. The PPP and PNC may pretend to be working class parties but they are in fact bourgeoisie entities. Once in power, those who dominate the party situate themselves, their families and friends in plum positions where they benefit handsomely while the ordinary man and woman in the street who voted for them is left holding the empty end of the stick. A scan of the executives of both parties shows the majority have been there for decades. There is functional superiority galore. Decisions are made that offend the dignity and good sense of the membership but the leadership elite does not care. PPP supporters who are enraged that Kwame McCoy remains in the PPP upper hierarchy despite his recent conviction are ignored. PNCR supporters angry with APNU’s sloth and laziness on a legislative agenda since the last election are ignored.
The PPP and PNC are con artists. The AFC will head down that same road if it does not change its ways. Racial politics make it easier for a few members to accomplish control. The ordinary rank-and-file membership of the PPP and PNC is there simply to rubberstamp these individuals back into power congress after congress. The congresses are carefully controlled affairs, to ensure the old boys club is maintained. Where the party feels its elite will be threatened, it suspends the congress to prevent ordinary members from voting. This is what the Jagdeoites did with the PPP. Donald Ramotar was handpicked by the Jagdeoites and rammed down the throats of PPP supporters. What the Jagdeoites did by suspending a congress was to annul democracy within the PPP. Forbes Burnham is probably rolling in his grave wondering why PPP supporters and mainly Indians were so vehemently opposed to him then for disregarding democracy when PPP supporters approved and endorsed the candidacy of Donald Ramotar which was imposed on them, and delivered the sound of silence on the suspension of the party’s congressional election. It becomes profoundly difficult to argue that it is acceptable to condone authoritarian behaviour from your own but not from others. You are either for or against it in all its manifestations.
Elitism within the PPP and PNC leads to corruption, as these individuals believe they are un-touchable. They also assume delusions of grandeur. The PNC did not fix the debacle of the 1980 Burnham constitution, although it knew fully well it was going to lose power in 1992. The PNC wanted that exact same instrument in place if it regained power. It backfired on PNC supporters who felt the brunt of the PPP’s use of that constitution against them. Similarly, the PPP has gone from condemning corruption while in the wilderness to condoning it by implication.
Strong anti-corruption legislation will never be passed in Guyana because there are many skeletons in the closets. This is why the American political system allows for a John F Kennedy or a Barack Obama to emerge to shake the very foundations of power and redraft the social contract. That will never happen in Guyana.
Dynamic figures will be vilified by the elites in these parties and forced to toe the line. When an entire country is held to ransom by a handful of elites controlling political parties, and those elites have a deep-seated self-interest in preventing good, decent and virtuous laws to be enforced, that country cannot advance.
By STABROEK STAFF | LETTERS | MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2012
Freddie Kissoon is bang-on with his position that the PPP has and has always had an authoritarian culture. However, Mr Kissoon did not examine why. I must state that many features of the analysis below are applicable to that other political wrecker-in-chief, the PNC, now APNU. It starts with the fact that the PPP remains a communist party at heart. Communist parties are totalitarian in structure and practice. Nonsensical notions like democratic centralism are used only to hoodwink the followers. At the end of the day, a handful of men and women handpicked by the bigwigs have always controlled all the power within the PPP, excluding the rank and file. Ever since Balram Singh Rai challenged the Jagans, the PPP has centralised power in the hands of a few who make all the decisions for the hundreds of thousands who support the party. It is this travesty that saddled this nation with a neophyte like Mr Jagdeo who went on to rival Burnham for his authoritarian tendencies and currently Donald Ramotar, who had many questions surrounding his qualifications for the presidency. The autocracy started with the Jagans and has continued. Cheddi Jagan’s political skill and class made him an obvious choice for leader but there was nothing wrong in Cheddi being re-elected in a proper transparent democratic process.
Authoritarianism thrived in the PPP because of several factors. Firstly, the PPP inner circle fooled its membership into believing that internal dictatorship was necessary for the survival of the PPP in order to prevent Western intrusion. Secondly, this argument was extended to the claim that PPP’s internal dictatorship was necessary to fight the PNC dictatorship. Thirdly, the PPP inserted serious anti-dissent clauses in its communist constitution to keep the membership in line. Fourthly, totalitarian concepts like democratic centralism were masqueraded as democracy when they were nothing but rank autocracy. Fifthly, the PPP exploited the lack of education about democracy among its supporters. Sixthly, the PPP exploited ethnic insecurity and promoted the concept that democracy within the party was expendable in order to maintain the PPP’s standing as the provider of security for Indians. The PPP blurred the lines between ethnic affinity and party fairness. Ethnic security or insecurity is no barrier to internal party democracy. In fact, the PNC has just demonstrated that fact. Democratic elections within the PPP would have still delivered Cheddi and Janet Jagan as leaders, but likely not Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar.
Ninth, the PPP practised blame transference by focusing on the PNC’s dictatorship to deflect its own internal autocracy. Tenth, the PPP congresses were carefully managed, controlled and influenced events which led to the same set of people getting selected again and again to the prime positions within the PPP. Eleventh, the PPP centralised power to small groups such as its Executive Committee, a group of 15 that directs and controls the party. Twelfth, the PPP fosters functional superiority where an incompetent who is loyal must be put on a pedestal by the general membership simply because he has ingratiated himself with those who were handpicked for power. The incompetent serving as a minister or as a party executive must not be questioned and must be embraced at all costs. This is classic functional superiority and leads to party totalitarianism. Mr Jagdeo who could not hold a candle to men like Mr Nagamootoo and Mr Ramkarran within the PPP obtained functional superiority over these giants by an innately undemocratic selection process led by Janet Jagan. The same could be said for Donald Ramotar’s selection as the PPP’s presidential candidate. Thirteenth, the PPP has planted some fears in its supporters such as don’t-split-the-vote and unity-at-all-costs to detract PPP supporters from the real problem of internal dictatorship.
There is nothing wrong in the PPP having an internal revolution akin to what occurred in the PNC after its 2006 election debacle. Despite its continuing flaws, the PNC has become more democratic than the PPP and has elected its presidential candidate in a far more transparent process than the PPP. It is quite ironic that PPP supporters who complained bitterly about the PNC dictatorship had nothing to say about the PPP’s own internal dictatorship. The PPP supporters must demand democracy within the PPP before it wrecks itself. It is not only the loss of Indian support that internal authoritarianism brings, it is the loss of ethnic crossover voters who are necessary for the PPP to win a majority.
Written by realTalk
Saturday, 28 January 2012 11:03
In Guyana it often seems as if the more things seem to change the more they remain the same. In a time gone by when Guyana was once governed by the PNC, the PPP then in opposition, vigorously protested that which it believed were the excesses of the PNC government. Many of the harsh protests were felt in the sugar industry, where strikes were used as a crippling political weapon, while arson in the cane fields was reserved for the more dastardly acts of sabotage. Sadly the myopic vision of the PPP could not see that it would live to inherit an industry it systematically wounded.
Today Guyana is faced with one of the most corrupt governments in the Anglophone Caribbean, but yet there is a deafening silence from those who once protested the naked abuse of power under the PNC.
In Guyanese politics, there exists a hypocrisy that reveals the blatantly dishonest sides of many politicians, as they pretend to function in the best interest of the Guyanese people. The most recent example of this is seen in the way the PPP led university council members dealt with popular anti-government columnist and political scientist, Mr. Freddie Kissoon.
Upon returning to Guyana from Tanzania in 1974, Dr. Walter Rodney applied to the University of Guyana (UG) to be employed as a lecturer. He was never employed. Many believed that because of his revolutionary political stance against the political leadership of the day, Dr. Rodney was blatantly refused employment. This son of the soil and academic extraordinaire was being refused gainful employment in his own country because the government of the day was not enamored by his vibrant revolutionary political thinking.
The opposition party in 1974 was the PPP. It engaged in very loud protests both at home in Guyana and in the international hallways of power, to register their disapproval of this obscene abuse. PPP leaders in 1974 thought that the PNC government was dictatorial in its handling of Dr. Rodney’s right to work in Guyana, and made sure that its displeasure was felt and understood by all.
Guyana is now governed by the PPP. In 2012, this same PPP that was in fierce opposition of the firing of Dr. Rodney under the PNC rule in the 70s, today can have its members collectively vote to terminate the employment of one of its harshest critics. Sadly there is no decent member of the PPP who would openly renounce this kind of vindictive action taken in this “democratic” Guyana.
Supporters of the PPP must justify their silence on this most vicious action taken against their Guyanese brother who once fought side by side with their leaders against the “tyranny” of the PNC era. In a society where most of its brightest minds migrate to more democratic, economic and politically stable jurisdictions, UG cannot afford to lose a healthy and fertile mind in Freddie Kissoon.
If the PPP leadership truly wants to demonstrate that it is serious about growth and development, ethics and good governance, then it should reinstate Mr. Kissoon immediately! The PPP must learn to identify and reside on moral high ground. It cannot allow itself to continue pursuing a confrontational political agenda which sees it as the big bad political bully.
Guyana truly needs a mature political society where politicians can agree to disagree and coexist without the fear of victimization. Citizens must be allowed to freely express their opinions and not worry about political retribution. The PPP likes to refer constantly to Guyana as a democracy. However, in a democracy dissenting voices are not penalized and victimized. They are encouraged and respected.
Today it is Freddie Kissoon. Tomorrow it could be you or a member of your family! Guyanese must stand up and demand an end to political victimization.
The Guyana PPP/C gov’t is like a mechanic who can polish the car, but is incapable of fixing the engine
After passing through a PPP/C political meeting at Industry held recently I came to the realization that quite a lot of persons are not aware what the true purpose of an Election is. In an Election campaign voters are supposed to listen to the parties and then decide which one of them would best solve the problems that are affecting them and their families.
I spent around ten minutes at that meeting where the first Speaker spoke then handed over to Minister Frank Anthony. The first Speaker proclaimed to the one hundred or so persons present at that time that if they walk around their village they will see development all around them. Now Industry has nine streets and except for the one where the meeting was kept which is the main access road all the others are in the most deplorable conditions you could imagine. These streets have drains that lead to nowhere and there is high unemployment and few opportunities for the youths in the village. I listened to the presentations of Anthony, Nandlall and Ramotar from a distance and they lamented the same thing about the twenty-eight years of the PNC.
I think all the meetings in PPP strongholds will follow the same trend. Speakers will not touch on the issues of crime, poverty, unemployment etc. What Guyanese have failed to realize is that in the political system a Government is elected to work for the people using taxes contributed by them. These moneys are not coming from the bank book of the President or Ministers so they cannot use it as an opportunity to boast and brag. It is time that the people demand that the Government perform the more difficult duties on their list like reducing poverty, solving crime, creating employment etc. Editor I hope that I am not disrespectful when I say that this Government is like a Mechanic who is contented in washing and polishing the car but when it is time to fix the engine he does not know or is unwilling to. My advice to potential voters is to listen to all the parties with an open mind and then decide which one will make the most positive changes to your country and vote accordingly.
Personally I have dropped the PPP/C from my list of options due to their failure to address the bread and butter issues of the poor people and I now await the much anticipated debates among Ramjattan, Granger, Trotman and Roopnaraine to decide which party I would vote for.
I got mail
I was in the High Court in the proceedings of the libel President Jagdeo brought against me, when my phone vibrated. One of Adam Harris’ friends (she introduced herself to me at the supermarket as a good friend of Harris who later confirmed for me that he knows the lady very well from Eccles) instructed me that I failed to mention the name Neaz Subhan, the editor of GINA in my column of former PNC Government officials who are now intricately connected with both Mr. Jagdeo’s office and the wider government he leads.
To recap, the essay dealt with the President’s reminder to the PPP supporters who attended the rally at Albion two Sundays ago that they should be suspicious of the Kaieteur News because it is edited by Adam Harris, a man who once worked for the PNC Government. I enumerated the persons who once served the PNC government but now have intimately overlapping relations with the Jagdeo administration.
Apart from the telephone call from Adam’s friend, I received several others and a number of e-mails about omissions. The e-mails poured in. These people are so right. I left out prominent names in the PNC Government that Mr. Jagdeo has warmly welcomed in his network of both personal and political friendship. Here is an extension of my previous enumeration.
We start with Neaz Subhan. Adam Harris is someone I have known a long time when he was a public servant. For all the criticisms made of Harris when he served the PNC Government, I have never heard anyone accuse him of participation in PNC-related violence.
Neaz Subhan was part of the PNC’s post election confrontation with the PPP Government in 1997 and 2001. The PPP television channel has footage of Mr. Subhan in action not to mention all the stuff Channel 9 has of the activities of him in those days. Does the young Guyanese generation know that Attorney-General, Charles Ramson, literally grew up within the ambit of the PNC? Ramson’s father was the manager of the PNC’s Head Office, Congress Place for more than fifteen years. I assumed the younger Ramson would have known at a very personal level all the PNC leaders since the PNC was in power then.
Now that the second Ramson is with the PPP, his son works in the Office of the President where he knows the top PPP leaders.
Just before President Jagdeo announced to the Albion audience that Harris worked with the PNC Government, Joe Hamilton was introduced as an election supporter of the PPP and may very well be on the PPP’s election list of candidates. No one found it appropriate to tell the crowd that Hamilton was in the PNC leadership.
There was a repetition of Albion last Sunday in Kitty. All of a sudden, PPP leaders have been afflicted with amnesia about the PNC people that they have now embraced.
On stage last Sunday at Kitty was a friend of mine and UG colleague, Dr. Emmanuel Cummings. He participated in the PNC’s 2001 election campaign when his political party People’s United Party (PUP) led by Dr. Max Hanoman, merged with the PNC. In one of those e-mails, I was advised that Manniram Prashad was involved in PNC’s “Reelect President Hoyte bandwagon. To avoid getting into legal trouble, I went to the newspapers for that year and yes, I found out that he was. It is a public secret that the President and Mr. Prashad are very close.
I am still at a loss to understand why no journalist as yet hasn’t asked the President that if PPP supporters must be suspicious of the intentions of the Kaieteur News because of Harris’s past association with the PNC then why shouldn’t they be of the countless former PNC personnel who not only serve the Jagdeo regime but who have now climbed the PPP 2011 bandwagon?
Of course if the PPP supporters believe their President, that Kaieteur News must not be accepted because of its editor, then logically, they have a large moral obligation to vote against the PPP in the election because Joe Hamilton, Manniram Prashad, Dr. Cummings and others will be on the slate of candidates. This is going to be a headache for Donald Ramotar if and when he participates in the upcoming presidential debate.
If the question is put to him, how is he going to answer? In a forthcoming column I will expand on the electoral potential of the newly found friends of the PPP that were once in the PNC camp. Will they bring votes? I doubt it!
Harris’s harvest, Hamilton’s hambroline, history’s heaven
OCTOBER 6, 2011 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER FEATURES / COLUMNISTS, FREDDIE KISSOON
Next to Heaven, the most reassuring place is history. History tells us what we didn’t know. History opens our eyes. And history makes liars of those who try to fool us. Shall we look at history, Adam Harris, Joseph Hamilton, the former PNC leader now turned PPPite, then speak to the residents of Albion in Berbice and nearby districts? Yes we should!
For the second time in less than a year in addresses to Berbice audience, President Jagdeo, attempting to paint the Kaieteur News as an opposition newspaper affiliated to the PNC, told his listeners that the paper’s editor, Adam Harris, is a man who worked for the PNC Government. The latest of such an announcement was at the Albion election rally of the PPP last Sunday.
The ironic moments in the life of the present government are so oceanic or mountainous or simply countless that it is useless trying to measure which one is more shocking than the others. Just before President Jagdeo told the gathering at Albion that Adam Harris used to work for the PNC Government, Mr. Joseph Hamilton came up the platform and was introduced as a PNC convert to the PPP cause. Can you get a more blatant irony than this? The listeners are told to be suspicious of the Kaieteur News because Adam Harris edits it and he was once a part of the PNC Government. Joseph Hamilton worked for the PNC Government and remained with the PNC long after it lost power in 1992.
The PPP leaders were lucky that no drunken fool didn’t walk up on stage and reminded them that Mr. Hamilton was once part of the PNC.
Let us peep inside history’s heaven to see how beautiful are the flows of history. Mr. Donald Ramotar once pointedly asked me in a letter in this newspaper what did I mean by the words, “the poetic essence of history.” I didn’t reply but I will tell him in person when I visit one of the PPP meetings in South Georgetown where I have my roots.
So what is inside of history that is so instructive that PPP supporters and the goodly folks of Albion can be educated about the contents of past epochs in this country?
Kwame McCoy once worked with the PNC Government in a close capacity. He functioned in the office of the Prime Minister. When the PNC lost power in 1992, Mr. Mc Coy worked with Mayor Hamilton Green. Shall we remind Berbicians that the said gentleman is a powerful figure in the Office of the President working closely with the very man who reminded us last Sunday that Adam Harris was once a functionary with the PNC regime?
Mr. Odinga Lumumba and I have a little score to settle. I will not go into details. But when it comes to my family, I see red. When my wife occupied the post of a project officer in Guyana Office for Manufacturing and Industrial Development Agency (GUYMIDA) in the PNC presidency of Desmond Hoyte, Mr. Lumumba, a long-standing PNC official then, made a remark to her about her husband. Maybe when I speak on the platform of one or all of the opposition parties, I will describe what happened.
The entire Guyana knows that Mr. Lumumba was an employee under both Burnham and Hoyte. Mr. Lumumba is an advisor to the man who told us last Sunday that Adam Harris was once a PNC Government employee.
This writer saw Sir Shridath Ramphal on television delivering a panegyric on President Jagdeo in honour of the Day of Appreciation. The goodly knighted gentleman remains an admirer of Forbes Burnham and was one of President Burnham’s closest advisors. Under President Jagdeo, there was a diplomat who served under the presidencies of both Hoyte and Burnham. His name is Rudy Insanally. He was named Foreign Minister by President Jagdeo.
Shall we go on about the harvest years of Adam Harris? And return to Hamilton’s hambroline? Or continue to look inside history’s heaven?
Let’s recount the past before we conclude. Justice Prem Persaud was made a magistrate and judge under the PNC Government. Khurshid Sattaur was deputy to Edgar Heyligar at the tax department. But wait! Here is a salacious part. Do you know the owner of a certain television station who is extremely close to the President was once on a committee to re-elect Mr. Desmond Hoyte in the 1992 elections?
Finally, when Manzoor Nadir was in opposition to President Jagdeo, he threatened to write the US Government about Guyana’s trade with Cuba. Some people are too foolish to remember the past.