I know that I have had cause to express my curious appreciation of those columnists and dedicated letter writers – based in Georgetown and overseas – who, virtually, daily, lambaste Bharrat Jagdeo, his heirs and wannabes, most relentlessly with a view to regime change.
(I wouldn’t know how to do it with such pointed frequency, even though I have nothing against those gentlemen’s ultimate success.)
Incidentally “when yuh own louse bite yuh…” Research how many of today’s harshest, most strident critics were once in the same room with the matured Donald and young Bharrat. And silly me! Why do I keep wondering what would have been happening today if Moses or Ralph Hari Narayen had secured the PPP/C vote for Presidential nominee?
Perhaps my latter personal puzzle is the motivation for returning to what was, by around 1995, the Bharrat Jagdeo enigma. Along with the phenomenon of how, with electric swiftness, to the chagrin of his comradely seniors, the relative enigma became profound reality! With indelible consequences for his own party and our own country. (Recall too my sustained wonderment with regard to normally upright persons of ability, values and integrity, serving a regime who stole the people’s will for years.)
Young Bright Burnham returned to British Guiana just in time to be embraced by Young Cheddi Jagan, only to swiftly become Jagan’s relentless nemesis. Old PPP knowledgeables still around would recall Burnham’s political acumen, inclusive of the “race-card” dealt to him, between ’53, ’55 and ’57. Fast-forward to ’92, ’95, ’97.
Out of the political blue arrived a young Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) East Coast Demerara member; briefly a school teacher who went to Moscow to become an economist, returned to work with the PNC’s Haslyn Parris at the State Planning Secretariat, then emerged after the PPP/C returned to government near the end of 1992.
Like Cheddi his mentor, he had a rustic charm, deceptive smile and, privately, vast ambition. The latter fuelled by the Jagans – especially Comrade Janet.
Travelling with Cheddi and Senior Finance Minister Asgar Ally, young Soviet-trained Bharrat enjoyed a relatively brief apprenticeship before becoming full Finance Minister after the 1997 elections. Cheddi had passed on months before in ’97. But young Bharrat was moving forward. Like lightning!
I could not agree with the nastiness on the streets when Comrade Joe Hamilton, Aubrey and other PNC “militants” demonized Janet Jagan after the 1997 Elections. Say what you like she was a political Amazon.
Like Comrade Carberry I didn’t care about her being my President. She succumbed to the pressure of the streets and law courts and failing health.
Recall, then the unprecedented, governmental musical chairs organized by Comrade Janet: Young Jagdeo was made Prime Minister, President Jagan resigned. Prime Minister Jagdeo became President and re-appointed Samuel Hinds as P.M. all in four or five days! All politically vulgar, but constitutionally acceptable.
President Jagdeo, role and legacies
Manufactured and Readymade! Made in Janetland! My Guyana had her Bharrat as President of our Republic. I understood the hurt of such loyal “Cheddi Children” as Reepu, Moses, Navin, Clement, Ralph, even Roger and Robeson.
Look, even I, who had grown weary of my erstwhile PNC strategies and excesses, looked forward to what this baggage-less new Kid-on-the Political Block (literally a “kid”!) would offer.
I wrote about the “new Bharrat” as, mistakenly, many thought Cheddi was “a Bharrat” once. I did a whole newspaper supplement on his first 100 days. Such hope as he posed with Linden’s Afro-Girl students! Swiftly, President Jagdeo shed his masks and, Putin-like, even did some Forbes Burnham-like things. He seemingly made his Party secondary. He grasped Presidential and Constitutional authority. At his swearing-in he said Cde Janet would “always be (his) President”. Later he would describe her as “an ordinary citizen sharing her views”. There was venomous aggression against both Party and external critics. Old Cheddi stalwarts were immobilized, co-opted, hushed or evicted.
Enter the Real Jagdeo!
Unlike other more hostile commentators and political analysts, I can’t ignore the strengths and positives of leaders. However temporary, strategic or meant to deceive.
Mr Jagdeo did steady and sustain an erratic exchange rate – – even if his parallel market had something to do with that; he did seek out a more robust continental foreign initiative with Venezuela (Chavez), Brazil (Lula) and Suriname (the Doubtful Desi); Jagdeo did attempt massive infrastructural works – – even if many contractors never built dreams before; he withstood a five-year crime wave, eventually getting the murderous gang; he catapulted Guyana onto the Global Climate Change/Forest Preservation Map and he was a Master of Showpieces – ICC World Cup at new Stadium, Carifesta 10 and Jamzones many.
His loyalists of the current new PPP recently responded to a litany of his failed Presidency by presenting their own Super List of his Achievements – from the Law-of-the-Sea triumph over Suriname’s claim to his weathering the international financial meltdown. Good for them. But really, how will Bharrat be remembered? Not because of what people write and assess, but by the thousands of poverty-challenged citizens of this Blighted Land?
A powerful, petulant,
President’s (PPP) Legacy?
Jagdeo was masterful in having the selected Ramotar declare that, as President, he (Ramotar) would “continue” the policies of Jagdeo. Great for Bharrat, Catastrophe for our poor and powerless.
Frankly Speaking, to me, this lad from the fishing village of Unity, now known by the UN, Caricom, South America and the world, succumbed to the virus of unmitigated power, power that immobilised even successive bright intellectual opposition(s).
From Virgin Lands, Guysuco’s retired acreages; the so-called “Commanding Heights of the Economy”, the Private Sector, Investment Opportunities and Parliament, to even the electronic spectrum, Jagdeo channelled to his buddies. Using from nepotism, new legal entities, fronts, sleight-of-hand to retroactive legislation.
Frankly Speaking, young Bharrat made young Black Professional Persons seem like either an endangered species – or extinct. His is a powerful “legacy” of Indo-names in every sphere of authority, power, status and public life.
Sadly, even if not of his doing, under his watch sugar collapsed, crime and cocaine reigned, extra-judicial killings soared, greed submerged even sport, institutions were compromised and national morality plummeted as thousands fled and his own folks also suffered. And still suffer. Now add your List.
What is to be done?
The perennial question! What have been the Opposition responses to the Jagdeo legacy since he departed from Office but not from influence?
Unfortunately I’ll have to return to this as time and space shackle me here. (Just don’t ask Chris Ram that question). To me the Ramotar fellows – and Madame Gail – have done a fine job to stymie any effective measures the Brigadier’s Opposition have mounted. The Administration has used judicial challenges and delays to a fine art.
Budget challenges are by-passed, contracts are awarded like ice-cream and the PPP/C boys are rewarding themselves for any eventualities. Hail now the AFC’s No-Confidence motion! But wait! What’s in store for the Opposition? Stay connected.
*1) Old PPP fellows tell me they get Bharrat livid by telling him that – “is you mansion and pension mek we lose de majority. What America, Britain and de PNC fail at you manage to do!”
Til next week!
Some things have to be spelt out
March 6, 2014 · By Staff Writer
I still cannot believe that Guyanese are this slow and thick in the head. Do they really need Lear jets, car accidents, and police derelictin to drive home their status, or lack of any, in this society? Since some things have to be spelt out; I step up to do the honours.
If they did not realize and appreciate their lowly meaningless position before, now is the time for the great majority of citizens to get wise.
They are peasants, and peasants of the lowest sort in the eyes of the ruling aristocracy. Whether professional or poor, credentialled or illiterate, successful or struggling, Guyanese outside of the upper political echelon are mere peasants, part of the labouring class, and just plain working stiffs. They are non-existent mass coalesced at the bottom of the barrel, and they can like it or lump it.
Their lot is the Georgetown Hospital; it is why so much volume and ink are expended from the power brokers to enlighten the masses of its existence and stellar virtues. Peasants go to the ‘public hospital’ or private ones, if they can so afford. The political nobility go overseas to cool their fevers and deliver their babies, compliments of the longsuffering overburdened Guyanese taxpayers. I regret to say that these same taxpayers have more suffering and burdens on the way. Those who need details on the overseas babies can check with the sitting ministers.
Moving from health matters, ordinary citizens (peasants) are jailed, do not get bail, and get the book thrown at them for running afoul of the law.
On the other hand, minsters and their offspring enjoy near absolute immunity. They are above and beyond routine police and court procedures; or the police go through some hazy somnambulist motions to mislead the public. Before long issue and alleged perpetrator fade from view and memory. In fairness to the senior officials, the self-discovered eighth wonder of the Guyanese underworld had it right when he said: no invitation extended by the police. Thus, the high road is taken, literally and chemically.
Here is the bottom line: domestic political lawbreakers answer to no law and no one, save themselves. Citizens are encouraged to embrace second class (or third class) status, and grin and bear.
The latest polls and propaganda reports indicate that they are most delighted to comply, and are thankful for where they are. In the meantime, peasants struggle with their house lots and mortgages in regular housing schemes, while the political royalty reside in Johannesburg. That is better known locally as Pradoville 2, the latest representation of economic and social apartheid, Guyanese style. The cradle of crooked luxury it is, conceived in perversity. This is la dolce vita for the top dogs; regular ‘common breed’ dogs have to fend for themselves amidst heavy competition, and a scarcity of opportunity and essentials.
The lords of the manor call this democracy; I call it criminality.
Clearly, in nearly every aspect of Guyanese life, the yawning dismal disparity grows into an ecstasy of sullenness. Rarely have so few done so much wrong to so many, and gotten away with it. There is more in store.
The PPP on trial
OCTOBER 8, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
Some in the PPP like to claim how effective the government is, even when little or no evidence of such exists. Moreover, when challenged to provide proof, they create the context, and in some instances turn to propaganda and distortions to justify their self-assessed effectiveness with a view to persuade the masses about how hard they have been toiling on their behalf.
And even when the Jagdeo/Ramotar regime is drowning in their own manufactured hogwash, they become so immune to it that they are not bothered or shaken by the views of the opposition or by the sentiments and perceptions of the people.
This kind of stubbornness and narcissistic behaviour by the PPP regime is bordering on being insensitive to the needs of the youths and the poor and the working class.
The Jagdeo/Ramotar PPP regime is on trial because they have displayed a sense of heartlessness toward the youths and the poor and the working class in Guyana. Based on their actions, we are convinced that the PPP cabal is completely removed from the reality that exists beyond the glass casing that separates them from the masses they pretend to serve.
The truth is that even on their best days their pretence is so obnoxious that they drive away their own supporters in droves. It is indisputable that this type of behaviour by the Jagdeo/ Ramotar regime is predictable and reactive as if they are at a Grand Opera.
The PPP regime has shown total contempt for Parliament and the combined opposition in that the Attorney General Anil Nadalall has not only challenged the no-confidence motion against the Minister of Home Affairs Mr. Rohee in the courts but he and the PPP cabal have also distorted the decision of the Chief Justice Ian Chang in the budget case to mislead the public.
The opposition is aware of this but they have done nothing to prevent the Minister of Finance Ashni Singh from using the Contingency Funds to pay the contract workers at the Office of the President.
The majority opposition must end their lackadaisical posture and stand up and represent the people as Sharma Solomon and Vanessa Kissoon did at Linden. We believe that if the people of Linden had waited for APNU to represent them in the manner Solomon and Kissoon did, they would have waited in vain because it was the leaders of APNU who in April cut backroom deals with the PPP to increase the electricity rates at Linden that led to the protest and the subsequent murders of three unarmed young men.
For one reason, the opposition parties need plenipotentiaries to coordinate their policies and to maintain the same or similar line of argument/criticism against the PPP. For another, both the AFC and APNU should start the process of developing a shadow budget in order to have an estimated amount of the cost of next year’s budget.
It is our understanding that the PPP intends to bloat the budget in excess of $40 billion with the expectation that the opposition will cut part of that amount and still leave them with the required amount needed for fiscal year 2013. And the leader of the Parliamentary opposition who prides himself as a security Czar is yet to present a security plan/bill to Parliament.
The minority PPP-led government has had enough time to improve the standard of living in Guyana but they have failed to demonstrate to the masses that they are the stewards who are worthy of their trust. The regime has had enough time to formulate an economic development plan to create employment for the youths and those willing to work, a crime prevention program, an Anti-Corruption Agency to reduce corruption, and an educational curriculum to shrink the failures at examinations. But so far, the Jagdeo/Ramotar regime has not even come close of achieving any of the above. In fact, the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand should stop masquerading over inconsequential issues such as the flogging of students and focus on the bigger issue of reducing failures to a minimum.
It may appear to Mr. Ramotar and his government that things are hunky-dory, but nothing could be further from the truth—times are extremely hard for the youths and the poor and the working class who are at their wits end to put food on the table. The Jagdeo/Ramotar regime should know by now that the clock is ticking, the tension is building and the poor and the working class are about to explode under the enormous pressure.
These are tough times. Crime and violence, narcotics trafficking and corruption are on the upswing, unemployment continues to rise to new heights, real wages have declined, frustration and misery are peaking, and yet the government seems clueless as to the seriousness and extensiveness of the plight of the poor and the working class. Still, some in the PPP and their wealthy friends appear to live so comfortable that one wonders which country they live in.
In conclusion, for those who continue to harbour doubts about which political party we support, one thing remains clear: we are not beholden to any party. We shall always be guided by truth and honesty. And while we do not aspire to assume any meaningful role, we remain grounded in our conviction and steadfast love for Guyana, sufficient to declare that any criticisms of the opposition are not that we love them less, but that we love Guyana and Guyanese more. Our conscious is our guide.
Dr. Asquith Rose and Harish S. Singh
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.
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.
Sexual fascism in Guyana: Maniacs in the corridors of power
BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER FEATURES / COLUMNISTS, FREDDIE KISSOON
The irony pierces your psyche and lacerates your soul as you read more and more of the condemnations of some perverted politicians in the corridors of power of sexual abuse. Surely, if God exists, he would strike down these hypocrites.
Times like these I ask God where is he. He doesn’t speak to me so I retain my faith in the philosophy. Sexual horrors permeate the corridors of power. I say in evanescent language, most emphatically and unambiguously no PNC Government, under Burnham and Hoyte, and no Caribbean country since self government right up to the present time would tolerate the level of sexual vulgarity, libidinous bestiality and sexual degeneracy that have taken place among high political elites in the power establishment as what we have seen in Guyana since Cheddi Jagan died.
I have made my judgements against the leadership qualities of Cheddi Jagan but I doubt he would have allowed some of his underlings to retain high offices after he found out about their sexual rapacity. I cannot discuss the CN Sharma court case because it is sub judice but some political elites should be investigated too. Here are a few episodes of sexual animalism that ought to galvanize you saving Guyana’s future.
There is this well known figure in the Hindu religion who did crazy things to his innocent secretary. I will live with the regret that I didn’t save that girl’s life. I see her image in front of me now – petite, small visage, long, flowing, curly hair and the look of innocence.
I met her the week before she committed suicide. I went to the government office where she worked for this man that Jagan nurtured for so long in Jagan’s career. She was depressed. She spoke to me of her status as a sexual servant to this man, all in the promise that he would get a visa for her. But the revelation had dawned that he wasn’t going to get her one. She submitted to all kinds of sexual unorthodoxies just to get her visa. But she was caught in a no-win game. She kept serving him to get her visa but he wasn’t going to let her go because she was a source of endless sex.
She told me he refused to return her passport after a relative agreed to attempt to get her a visa. He abused her, threatened to expose her and tore up the passport in front of her in his office. She went home the same day and committed suicide. If ever this government changes hands, I will walk this entire country demanding the prosecution of this aging religious hypocrite. Why talk about Sharma when this guy deserves to be in jail.
What about the little fourteen-year-old girl from the West Coast whose last name is that of a prominent opposition figure? You want to see fear in the eyes of someone, then, talk to her mother about the rape of her daughter. She is so scared that one day they will come and kill her.
This 14-year-old was raped at a known East Bank business place by three wealthy men who give money to a powerful political party with all-powerful politicians. As they were driving her out, a hugely powerful politician was driving in. He stopped to speak to the people inside the car that was leaving. The rape victim saw him, he saw her. The same day, their operatives went to kill her and they threatened her mother. A good man got her to Canada where on investigation by the Refugee Board, she was granted asylum. The Board did send down an agent here to collect evidence. Canada cannot deny this Mr. Big a visa because refugee cases are confidential.
What about the other mother who was given a house lot and one million dollars after one of Janet Jagan’s favourite cadres who holds an important portfolio ravished her fourteen-year-old daughter (seems that they pick on fourteen-year-old girls). Instead of taking her to her home as requested by the mother, he took her to Ogle when he denuded and penetrated her. The mother said to me” “Freddie, I am not going to talk to you about it; you should know nothing will come of it, so why shouldn’t I take the money and the land.” Her last words to me as I left the Ministry where she works was, “Freddie, please don’t write about it; I’m begging you.”
One last example. This other Mr. Big who functions in the legal sector, beat up his lover in his office (he’s married with grown up kids), then literally kicked her down the steps. These people make CN Sharma look like an angel.