Mr Norton voted in favour of the bill on Article 161

Discretion, if not wisdom, suggests to any public official who mis-cites himself, misrepresents the facts on which he makes false claims, accuses others of amnesia and of stupidity, that at the very least, he should just stay silent, if not apologise. Expressed another way is the rule that when you are in a hole, you stop digging. Mr. Aubrey Norton seems unfamiliar with these common sense principles.

In his letter in the Stabroek News of yesterday’s date, Mr. Norton describes as “the summit of stupidity”, the question by attorney-at-law, Mr. Kamal Ramkarran, on how he, Norton voted on the constitutional amendment to article 161 in 2000. Mr. Norton goes on to lecture Mr. Ramkarran that “you don’t vote in such circumstances—the Speaker merely notes that the ayes have it.” Continue reading Mr Norton voted in favour of the bill on Article 161

Mr Norton was wrong about the date of the GECOM proviso

The debate on the interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution has continued, with increased intensity, following the rejection of lists of eighteen persons named by the Leader of the Opposition and the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson by President Granger. Unfortunately some writers have made claims that are at best incomplete, or are otherwise unsupported by facts.

Mr. Tacuma Ogunseye, WPA executive member in another section of the print media refers to Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine’s advocacy at the level of the WPA Executive of the “need to revisit the Carter formula” and that Roopnaraine had reminded the Executive “that the Carter Model was never intended to be a permanent arrangement and it had outlived its usefulness.” Former General Secretary of the PNC and member of Parliament and now Government functionary, Mr. Aubrey Norton, seeking to justify the President’s unilateral decision, writes that “Jagdeo and PPP laid basis to move away from Carter Formula and it has come back to haunt them”, a claim challenged by Mr. Kamal Ramkarran in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek. Perhaps a little bit of history of the Constitution and the Elections Commission will help. Continue reading Mr Norton was wrong about the date of the GECOM proviso

What are the real curses?

Two statements reportedly made by President David Granger in a speech to an audience in New York while attending the United Nations General Assembly attracted my attention: one was an exhortation to members of the Guyanese diaspora to return home as the country needed brains, not barrels, and the other was a description of sugar, rice, bauxite, gold, diamonds and timber as the “curse of the six sisters”, perhaps a play on the Seven Sisters in oil.

Unfortunately, Mr Granger did not on that or any earlier occasion indicate the basis, logic and justification of the call for brains. Guyanese abroad respectfully attend presidential visits as a social event but have not been responding to President Granger’s several calls, in the absence of an industrial or investment policy, or a diaspora policy, or a crime policy. We not only need such policies but also a study to identify the skills set the President so much wants to attract.

In their adopted countries, the members of the Guyanese diaspora have worked hard to acquire their skills, operate in a functioning democracy (despite Trump), are employed in an organised and professional work environment, are reasonably well paid, are not subject to glaring discrimination, enjoy a decent standard of living and, very importantly, feel safe in the society in which they live. None of these can be taken for granted in Guyana. Continue reading What are the real curses?

President ought to have shown better judgement in appointment of Slowe commission of inquiry

A couple of days after Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan said some kind words to the media about Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum, the Prime Minister-controlled, state-owned Guyana Chronicle sought to discredit the Crime Chief. It did so by serialising extracts pulled from the confidential report to President Granger by his hand-picked Mr. Paul Slowe to carry out a one-man Commission of Inquiry (COI). Only the President, those very close to him, and Mr. Slowe himself would know the source of the leak. But make no mistake, if Prime Minister Nagamootoo wanted to shut down the drip, drip series by the Guyana Chronicle, all he needed to do was to pass on the instruction through one of his many mouthpieces.

With the extensive but selective disclosure by the State media, it would be irrational for the President to delay the tabling of the report in the National Assembly, and releasing it to the public. What the public will learn, and which explains why the Chronicle was so selective, is that Slowe himself found the allegation of a plot by an opportunistic and possibly unhinged complainant “unsubstantiated and therefore tenuous”. Mind you, these are the exact words used by Police Legal Adviser Justice Claudette Singh in her first note to the Police and repeated at the Commission of Inquiry, and by Blanhum at the COI. As the Americans would say, there was simply nothing there. Continue reading President ought to have shown better judgement in appointment of Slowe commission of inquiry

Companies may apply for information under the Access to Information Act

The public discussion on the Access to Information Act organised by the Guyana Bar Association was both useful and timely, particularly in the light of public calls for the disclosure of contracts entered into by the Government of Guyana.

However, the reported guidance in the media about the eligibility of persons to apply to the Commissioner of Information for disclosure is disturbing. The report states that an applicant must either be a Guyanese or a person domiciled in Guyana and adds that a company cannot be domiciled here, nor can an NGO. It is a matter of elementary law, not requiring the citing of any case authorities, that a company does indeed have a domicile. And in so far as persons are concerned, the Interpretation and General Clauses Act defines a ‘person’ inclusively as “any body of persons corporate or unincorporate …” (emphasis mine). Continue reading Companies may apply for information under the Access to Information Act