By STABROEK STAFF | LETTERS | WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012
My colleagues have reminded me of my letter in your publication of December 19, 2011, imploring obedience to the law disqualifying persons with dual citizenship from sitting in the National Assembly (‘The new MPs should hold only Guyanese citizenship’). This law is Article 155 (1) of the Constitution which says “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.” Having said to them I think I did my part and hope the political leaders will do theirs, I am reminded this is not enough until an answer is received or corrective action taken. So here I go again and hope this time the politicians hear and give answers or execute actions.
The disqualification law is similar to the law forbidding a naturalised Guyanese from running for the presidency, and stipulating the period of absence from the country to be eligible to run for office. The positions of president and member of parliament are the two highest political offices. I attended some of the 1998-2000 Constitutional Reform meetings and heard that the reasons for having these included were to avoid persons holding office who are not fully committed to the country or jumping ship when the going gets tough. The feeling was you cannot serve two masters at the same time. The presenters and attendees cited examples of this practice in other countries in making their case.
It is said that there are cases of MPs holding dual citizenship in all three parties. The public officials involved should come out and clear their names with proof. If they don’t then the party leaders should. The disillusioned have resigned themselves to a fate that things will get worse because the members of this corps of politicians are birds of a feather.
My colleagues are convinced we are witnessing the death of public service and political decency. They think public servants no longer serve the public, are arrogant and a law unto themselves. A recent ‘Frankly Speaking‘ column referred to this being a badly kept secret. The columnist supplied a definition for ‘honourable,‘ hinting that the ‘honourable‘ in the members of the National Assembly has waned. There is genuine concern about the growing absence of integrity which was a prerequisite for public service in the not too distant past. Honour was worn with pride because it meant everything, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, living in the rural areas or the towns. Persons stepped aside until their names were cleared or proof was provided in defence of their name. The pessimists rejoin that the accused are from our generation.
Editor, the bone of contention here is the law and all being subject to it, but some think they aren’t. The point is not whether the law is outmoded; it is that it exists. The MPs took an oath to uphold the constitution and should respect the law because it is on the books. Our sister Caribbean countries had to deal with a similar matter. It was handled, and the accused made answerable. With a public outcry and the help of the media the accused and enablers no longer ignored the people. There is the feeling the same can be done here. I sincerely hope this time the MPs and party leaders take the time to respond or you use your publication to have them do so.
Written by Paul Sanders
My two cents: President Bharrat Jagdeo should have you worried again.
His so-called Appreciation Day last Friday assumed that somehow Guyana has been all hunky dory under his watch, and that is a classic trope of fascists.
His raw enthusiasm is enough to tire an elephant and his messianic intensity can only be tolerated in short doses. He is very much like a high-power fluorescent light; in other words, he gives you an instant headache.
Perhaps the godly Juan Edghill has it right. Against the background of a propaganda portrait of President Bharrat Jagdeo, magnificent in a red tie, Edghill asserted that he was “keeping with what the scripture says…”
The righteous man continued with the horoscope: “There is an energy and synergy developed around this appreciation that is quite healthy. Some of the persons who have contacted me as one of the organizers of this activity are not people who have voted for Bharrat Jagdeo for president.”
Wait a minute. Back that truck up. Who are they? What the? Are you kidding?
So that twinkle in the eyes of this pious man at the news conference a week earlier as he fretted, was the telling look of a huckster who knows he was pulling a fast one on Guyana. He was socking it up to the nation in the name of the Lord. Recall, the sorcerers of ancient Egypt were doing the same thing, too. Hallelujah.
An embattled chairman of the Ethnic Relations Committee who hobnobs with the “Friends of Jagdeo,” and the pro-government body called the Federation of Independent Trades Union, Edghill’s startling performance was nothing short of rank unorthodox concealment of motives.
Juan Edghill may be a rodeo and radio clown whose grasp of history is what you’d expect from a college dropout, but he is also smart enough to know that using such motives is how Hitler and the Nazis rose to power.
Guyanese need to thank God for Reverend Kwame Gilbert, too, who claims he makes official state visit on behalf of the Jagdeo administration. He shot off a nice ecclesiastical letter to the press hoping to clear up confusion about “attempts to deify” President Jagdeo. The wizard, skilled in wisdom, did exactly that while simultaneously apotheosizing the president and sanctifying the Appreciation Day event.
In normal times, false prophets and brown-nosers alike who use esoteric pitch might leave the public bemused, bewildered or just bored. But these aren’t normal times, and the boisterous crowd on-demand that was bused, trucked, chauffeured in at the Providence Stadium – just like the Babylonian folks who assembled before Nebuchadnezzar – roared its approval.
Yeah, the people came, and stood before the king; they came with great readiness and willingness, esteeming it a great honor done them to be sent by the king; they sang and danced awaiting his will and pleasure.
George Orwell would have felt at home here. He would have recognized the rewriting of history. The event was so suffused with awareness that President Jagdeo has lost the public’s confidence long ago. And yes, the cyber world of bloggers gingerly await the Indian essay from lousy poet at the poll station; he likes to speak like Charles Manson.
Of course. At the NCN, Guyana Chronicle and the Guyana Times, one can find a people in denial and suffering delusions as they continue to deceive themselves into believing the world is buying that kind of turd.
All religions have a magical aspect. And in the tabernacle of the PPP, magical knowledge and power emanates from the gods and is bestowed upon the king and his substitutes: the religious spokesmen – the less exalted, who do not deal with life and death but with more mundane issues like good luck charms, enchantments, astrology, and serious propaganda.
The significance of Edghill and Gilbert was to interpret the Divine communication through the magic formulas, or incantations and the secret sciences of political occultism, and to extol the Guyanese fascist to blissful eminence. These scribes have brought to the altar the sacrifice of their conscience to make favorable before their Highness, and by their arts endeavored to avert the threatened misfortune of a bad election year.
What else can be made of the tribute to President Bharrat Jagdeo’s “contribution to the economic, social and political transformation of Guyana?”
It’s just a sad, dark day for intelligence and common sense in this country. The exponents of “transformation” are eager to keep people in the dark. The constant blackouts have cast a shadow on the country’s new heights of economic achievement.
Factories grind to a halt; essential services are immobilized and basic existence becomes a burden. No one needs that story from the snow cone man. And just when you think it’s as dark as it can get, you realize that there are men of God who can make it even darker.
Celebrate Guyana, celebrate. Stop in awe and begin to think how Guyana has morphed from Burnham’s era of “kick down the door” bandits to present day gun battles playing fiercely out on the streets; gun runnings linked to the military and police; massacres like the ones at Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek; daily murders, good enough for a movie script; spectacular Hollywood style hold ups, daring sea pirates; government sponsored killing machines such as the “Phantom Squads;” and a host of anti-life orchestration all happening in an equal opportunity manner.
That’s the transformation Guyana celebrates. Moving from bad to worse. And it’s getting dangerously worse. Nothing is sacred. Under the PPP, Guyana has drifted from a pathetic Co-operative Socialist Republic (of the Burnham kind) steadily to the invidious position of a failed state and into a narco-state.
Drugs and money laundering that accompany; killings and sleek trafficking that associate with the industry are all ubiquitously synonymous with the Jagdeo Adminstration. So synonymous that the president is pointedly referred to as“Drugdeo” in bloggersphere.
In this democracy, there is a premium for being a jerk; just listen to the caustic forcefulness of folks like Clement Rohee, Kellawan Lall, OP’s poster boy Kwame McKoy and the rising superstar Minister Irfan Ali.
And while the president and his associates continue to appreciate themselves, the rest of Guyana must make a judgment on how their lives measure up against the lives of the Guyanese rulers or their children. Case in point: the issue of Minister Manniram Prashad’s son vehicular homicide of a UG student; and the attitudes of the ruling class in the aftermath.
And what about the scams, too numerous and too fast to keep apace with? What does it say about transformation? It speaks eloquently about the conspiracy of family and best friends; the tangled tale of criminality and massive corruption, of politicians, government officials in thrall to the power of unsavory businessmen of the underworld. It is the quotidian existence.
Corruption is not only rampant; it is an epidemic. It is the new normal; another catharsis for “transformation” attributed by President Jagdeo. Shrewd business activity requires an ear to the vicissitudes of the administration; a razor sharp knowledge of the extent of the inherent venality in the system, and ruthless street smarts to equalize the equation.
That sounds like Ed Ahmad- an aficionado of alleged political gangsta-ism; the haughtiness and a personal friend of President Jagdeo. Ed is the quintessential example of how big money allegedly courts big corruption with the big boys at the top. Even as more details unfold about his $50 million alleged fraud in the U.S., and as prosecutors move for more indictments against him, Ed Ahmad provides the best example of how much accessibility money can buy, with the right moves.
It is the pace of commerce in Guyana. Getting “in” practically means ripping a page out of the “Who ya know” handbook; and guaranteed prosperity and success demands a kind of obsequiousness that graduates into an entitlement of the government franchise. But it requires a repudiation of self esteem and integrity supplemented by a stomach for violence – literally or metaphorically.
Say it ain’t so. For decades there have been two main forces in Guyanese politics: the Indo and Afro world outlook, alternately holding power and seeking it – by whatever means. Which means the exploitation of the race card.
How far (or close) has President Jagdeo brought the two races harmoniously together? No need to think; it’s not a tricky question. There is nothing too highbrow in his utterances when he seeks the audience in the East Indian strongholds.
It is almost a paradox that many East Indians who are traditional supporters of the PPP, and who have maintained a sense of self worth had to choose to escape – legally and illegally – to North American and, more recently, into the Caribbean islands to pursue their economic survival. These skilled men have had the sad realization that their ” Apaan Jhaat” votes did not translate into prosperity, but effectively transformed them into “runaways.”
What the Appreciation Day was intended to achieve, at a cost of more than $100 million – some of it “protection” money paid by business entities, in terms of election propaganda was to turn the tide against the revelations of Wiki leaks. Appreciation Day was meant to prop the mighty leader in order to outshine the damage of the cables.
Instead, it turned out to be a fiasco. Wiki leaks did not go away. The cables were a wicked deluge of a mess. Day after day Wiki leaks provides another confirmation of what the public already know about the inner workings of the PPP and the disgraceful Jagdeo cabal. And the responses by Donald Ramotar and President Jagdeo are further confirmation that these are indeed arrogant men.
So what are the lessons of the “transformation” of the Jagdeo kind? It tells us of a dangerous regional development: of all theCaribbean leaders, President Jagdeo’s tenure as a politician is not a catalog of triumphs.
And the Manchurian candidate, Donald Ramotar, whose image is built on the stellar combination of whims and idiosyncrasies of a fascist leader, is aiming at the presidency. He is a unique affliction that plagues Guyanese politics.
Where is everybody?
TIMEHRI AIRPORT IS BACKWARD
Many Guyanese have a torrid time at regional airports. And our President has been consistent in condemning the treatment of his nationals by regional immigration authorities.
But his latest jab, this time targeting the in-transit service at Piarco International Airport, is bound to lead to questions about the standards at his country’s own Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
For any Guyanese to criticize the in-transit facilities at Trinidad’s major airport without recognizing the flaws at Timehri is being disingenuous. To use security checks as the basis for criticizing other airports is inexplicable.
Ever since the attacks of September 11, detailed and rigorous security checks have become the norm at all airports. Except if you are a Head of State traveling on diplomatic privileges, no one is exempt from these checks. And as we learnt recently, even ministers of the government traveling on diplomatic passports can now be delayed at foreign airports while detailed checks are run on them.
Body searches are part of the security drill. These are now mandatory. Passengers are forced to take off their belts, their shoes, have their carry-on items scanned, be patted down by a guard, and may even be subject to questioning.
Even in-transit passengers are now required to undergo security checks, whether it is at a major airport in the developed world or at Piarco in Trinidad. It is unreasonable to expect that the authorities in Trinidad are going to allow a passenger deplaning from another country, but with onward connections, to simply board an aircraft on their soil without being subject to security checks.
So for example, a passenger from New York who is in-transit through Piarco to Georgetown, is required to go to an in-transit area and be subject to the normal security checks as any other passenger. This has been the norm for quite sometime.
It does seem however as if someone is suggesting that in-transit passengers should be shuttled straight to an in-transit lounge and not be subject to such checks.
No country is going to follow this line. They are not a party to the security checks done in the foreign country and therefore they are within their rights to ensure that even in-transit passengers are subject to searches. The country through which the passenger is in-transit can be penalized should something be missed by their security officials.
But if Guyana is going to criticize another regional airport about security checks and having in-transit passengers use the departure area, then Guyana needs to get its own house in order.
Guyana does not have an in-transit lounge. So how can Guyana be criticizing another country for having in-transit passengers use the departure area when the same thing happens in Guyana?
A foreign passenger in-transit through Guyana has to not only go through the same security checks as any normal departing passenger, but also has to clear immigration, something that does not happen at Piarco. So in this regard, the Guyanese system is far more arduous than what exists in Trinidad.
There are other areas that would qualify Timehri as being ranked as one of the poorest airports in the region. In the incoming area for instance, trolleys are provided, but passengers can only use these trolleys to move about twenty-five feet, because by the time you get to the door to exit the area, you have to use the designated Red Cap service. There is nothing more comical than this. Why provide baggage trolleys when passengers can only use it from the conveyor belt to the door, then have to utilize the Red Cap service to haul their luggage to their vehicles?
The Timehri International Airport is also the only airport in the Caribbean where when a passenger is finished checking in, his freedom is constrained. The passenger is not allowed to go back out through the doors. He has to say goodbye at the door to the check-in area. What a joke!
In fact, Guyana has a unique situation where the persons who accompany you to the airport to bid you goodbye have to be peering through a glass window because they are not allowed inside the terminal – the only airport in the world where this happens. The terminal is like a large prison with the passengers inside and everyone else outside peering in.
Yet there is enormous space available to make the check-in area larger and to allow friends and relatives to spend some time with their loved ones after checking-in.
Guyana has excellent physical facilities at its airport, facilities that are amongst the best in the Caribbean. The airport is also properly maintained. However, the systems of processing passengers are primitive and pale in comparison to what obtains in other Caribbean countries. To say that the system is arduous would be misleading. A better word to describe our airport system is backward.
Jagdeo thinks that since he took Guyanese tax payers money and give it to Buddy Shivraj to build a hotel and got rooms as payment, and is trying to do the same with the stalled Marriott project, all hotels are built using that model.
Caribbean Hotel Association, Guyana President Spar Over Tax Issue
The recent description of Caribbean hoteliers’ complaints of excessive government taxation as “absolute nonsense” by Bharrat Jagdeo, president of Guyana, reflects a political leadership that has “a narrow and limited perspective on the far-reaching positive effects of tourism on Caribbean economies,” said Josef Forstmayr, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. “CHTA is of the view that President Jagdeo speaks from a misinformed position on taxation in the islands [in] the region and with little or no knowledge of the tourism industry and the contribution it makes to Caribbean economies,” Forstmayr said.
In response to a question posed at a press conference at the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) summit held recently in St. Kitts, Jagdeo was quoted in local press reports as saying Caribbean governments invest in “one hundred things to support the industry,” including airports and roads. “Who do you think produces the fiscal incentives that make tourism work in these countries?” he asked.
Added Jagdeo, “All [hoteliers] are fussing about is the taxes and sometimes they do not look at their cost structure. When you look at how much a guest pays for a bottle of Coke in mini bar in one of the hotels, it is extraordinarily high. They have to look at the cost structure of the industry without constantly [blaming] the meager tax that governments have from these places.”
Forstmayr said Caribbean hoteliers already “bear too much of an increasing tax burden” as hotel workers, supplies, utilities and guests are taxed in several ways “including at the hotel, on the airline and at the airport sometimes with both arrival and departure taxes.” Forstmayr also lamented that CARICOM failed to include tourism as part of its conference agenda despite a 2010 CARICOM report that said Caribbean governments “have an important role to play in revitalizing the tourism sector” and governments must “ensure that taxation cost does not have too adverse an effect on international competitiveness.”
Said Forstmayr, “CHTA would like to extend an open invitation to President Jagdeo, and anyone else misinformed, to a discussion on tourism to explore the overwhelming, sometimes immeasurable but undeniable impact [it] has on Caribbean economies.” For more information, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.
By Stabroek staff
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
President Bharrat Jagdeo is of the view that crime in the region cannot be solved by crafting regional organizations and is suggesting that the place where there will be greater impact on crime is in the domestic jurisdiction.
After refusing free help from the UK to protect the nation, Jagdeo once again does not want foreigners to be able to examine the security apparatus his PPP government have in place, why is this?
Maybe if foreigners are involved people linked to the PPP would not get away with crimes against the nation and the Guyanese public. Cases like those involving Manniram Prashad’s son Navin Prashad will not disappear, proper police investigations would take place in the cases like those involving Donald Ramotar’s son Alexei Ramotar, or that of Office of the president Nanda Gopal, or Minister Kellawan Lall rum shop fiasco. The Phantom Squad murders, the Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan fiasco, the Minister Clement Rohee refugee scandal.
The case against Navin Prashad who is charged with causing the death of a University of Guyana student on Carifesta Avenue was put off until next month.
The case was called again before Magistrate Melissa Robertson-Ogle at Court Seven and the prosecutor indicated that she was not in possession of the file. She stated that she called her office and was told that the file would be sent over.
Prashad’s attorney K. Juman-Yassin asked for a date in April for statements.
It is alleged that on November 26 Prashad drove his motor pickup GJJ 6185 in a manner dangerous to the public, thereby causing the death of Rajendra Jailall. Jailall along with Thakoor Persaud were in another vehicle driven by their friend Talesh Yhuam when a dark coloured Ford 4×4 travelling in the opposite direction ran into them. Their vehicle flipped several times and crashed into a bridge outside the GT&T earth station. Jailall was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to his injuries. This was not the first time that the case was called and the court was told that the prosecution was not in possession of the file.
Prashad will return to court on April 19.
This case eventually disappeared, nothing ever became of it.