Mr. President, here are some stark reminders Jagdeo was a ‘law unto himself’
SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
In your news item, “President Ramotar will not stop any of Jagdeo’s projects,” (KN, September 23), wasn’t President Donald Ramotar being egregiously disingenuous in his characterization of former President Bharrat Jagdeo not ‘being a law unto himself’?
In response to questions whether Guyana is likely to see him ‘charting his own course’ instead of being in the shadow of Jagdeo, President Ramotar reportedly said, “I don’t think you understand how we (the PPP) operate… That is why you probably ask a question like that. Jagdeo was not a law unto himself. He has never been a law unto himself. Those were programmes of the PPP. Those were policies of the PPP/C.”
Well, here are some stark reminders for the President.
When the Jagdeo administration ordered the withdrawal of state ads from Stabroek News in February 2007, PPP matriarch, Janet Jagan joined with others in condemning the move. Jagdeo openly derided her as ‘just another citizen’. Was he not being a law unto himself?
In the May 01, 2012 letter to Stabroek News captioned, “The PPP called on the government to restore state advertisements to Stabroek News but was ignored,” former PPP executive, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran wrote, “The PPP did not consider the withdrawal of the advertisements to be a trifling matter. It was extensively discussed both at the Executive Committee and later, the Central Committee, of the PPP which called on the Government to restore the advertisements to the Stabroek News. The Government ignored the decision and since the PPP did not practise ”party paramountcy” there was no way of enforcing it.”
Was Mr. Ramkarran being disingenuous? Was the late Janet Jagan really speaking as ‘just another citizen’ or the matriarch of the party?
On the eve of President Ramotar’s address to the 10th Parliament earlier this year, GTUC General Secretary, Mr. Lincoln Lewis said the “GTUC (is) confident Ramotar will depart from Jagdeo’s autocratic rule,”(KN, February 10, 2012). Was Mr. Lewis wrong in his description of the Jagdeo presidency as ‘autocratic’ or a law unto itself?
In December 2009, Jagdeo fired Presidential Advisor, Mr. Navin Chandarpal, for gross incompetence, but Mr. Chandarpal, a PPP executive, retorted that he was fired for being openly critical of Jagdeo over the issue of secret ballots to choose the party’s presidential candidate. ”Every Guyanese knows who is the most vindictive of all,” he said at the time. Being labeled vindictive as a leader is not far from being a law unto one’s self!
When PPP Leader Mr. Ramotar was then asked why the PPP was not doing anything to rein in the excesses of President Jagdeo, he reportedly said that the PPP will not interfere with the decisions made by Jagdeo as President. Does Mr. Ramotar not remember saying words to that effect in the wake of Mr. Chandarpal’s firing?
Then there is the highly contentious state-owned NICIL issue. The law says NICIL must submit its audited accounts to Parliament every year, yet for eight years, NICIL did not comply with the law. And President Jagdeo did nothing about it? And although NICIL’s CEO, Mr. Winston Brassington promised earlier this year to have the audited accounts tabled by July 31, last, the nation is still waiting.
Clico (Guyana) broke the local insurance laws by investing 53% of its local funds overseas at the time of its collapse, and instead of the Jagdeo administration applying the punitive measures prescribed by law against Clico (Guyana), it rushed to place the company under Bank of Guyana supervision. Why was the law skirted here, Mr. Ramotar?
In closing, the collective leadership concept President Ramotar also seems to be advocating may have been good for the PPP, but it is no good for government. His abysmal failure to arrest corruption and paint a bold vision for Guyana away from the Jagdeo scam projects will not absolve him of direct responsibility, even if he tries to claim that he was doing what the PPP wants or decides. No wonder the PPP government is such a mess!
And while he regrets the PPP does not have a parliamentary majority, someone needs to tell him that it was his job as PPP General Secretary to keep the party’s support base intact so the PPP could win the presidency and have a parliamentary majority. That a significant number of PPP supporters voted AFC was evidence of his failure, on top of his failure on GuySuCo’s board. He started out with a failed record and is refusing to buck the trend.
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.
was this the payoff for Ralph Ramkarran to step aside to pave the way for Donald Ramotar(was also on the GuySuCo Board of Directors)? This is a wake up call for all those who thought Ramkarran was a stand up guy.
GuySuCo reneges on commitment to divulge fees paid to US lawyers
…conservative estimate pegs figure at $350M
One day after committing to provide this publication with the amount of money paid to overseas lawyers for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Chief Executive Officer, Paul Bhim, has reneged.
Bhim on Tuesday told this publication that he would yesterday provide the amount of money paid but when contacted yesterday he was mum save only to say, “Let’s just say a fair amount.”
When pressed further, Bhim reiterated that he would only say that the amount paid to the overseas lawyers in the court case against Bedesse Imports Ltd is a “fair amount”, adding that he could divulge no more information.
In pointing out his hesitation to say anything further in relation to fees paid by the sugar entity, Bhim drew reference to an article that this publication carried in its Wednesday edition.
In that article it quoted Ralph Ramkarran, who is with the law firm Cameron and Shepherd that was hired to defend the matter, as saying that the fees paid to the overseas lawyers was a private matter.
Conservative estimates of the amount paid thus far for the lawyers in the court battle which is over two years old is some $350M. Confronted with this figure Bhim would only say, “I can only say it’s a fair amount.”
Ramkarran told media operatives during a press briefing at Freedom House on Tuesday that as attorney for the clients, which includes GuySuCo, he would need their permission to speak.
“As far as the fees for lawyers, that is an absurd question, that is people’s private business….it is GuySuCo’s private business.”
Ramkarran suggested that maybe a question should be formulated and posed in the National Assembly.
A spokesman in the local law firm of Cameron and Shepherd had told this publication that United States law firms do not operate like those in Guyana. Lawyers charge by the hour. The spokesman said that top lawyers charge US$1,500 per hour.
Foley Hoag and Company lawyers charge slightly less. Investigations have revealed that the lawyers on the GuySuCo case are charging about US$1,000 per hour. Two lawyers are working on the matter.
In the end, the cost could be very high but according to the spokesperson, this money could be recovered when the sugar company demands costs from Bedessee.
The issue began when GuySuCo decided to challenge a United States-based Guyanese man, Vernon Bedessee, over the use of the label Demerara Gold on sugar packages.
GuySuCo was already marketing a product, Demerara Gold, on the European market but the company discovered that Bedessee was marketing a product of the same name but instead of sugar made in Demerara, the product marketed by Bedessee was from Mauritius.
And Bedessee made it known on the label that his Demerara Gold was a product of Mauritius.
GuySuCo immediately challenged the apparent trademark infringement. Its Washington-based lawyers, Foley Hoag and Company, have already secured a qualified registration in the United States as part of the challenge to Bedessee’s apparent trademark infraction.
Following the discovery of the alleged breach, the Agriculture Minister made some statements critical of Bedessee’s action. These statements were published by the local media and reproduced in the overseas editions of some of the local newspapers. Immediately Bedessee sued for libel and slander.