July 26, 2016

Expired goods being sold at Port Mourant Market

Dear Editor,
It is now becoming epidemic and frustrating to see the high volume of expired goods that are being circulated and sold to consumers at the Port Mourant Market in Berbice.
The prevalence of expired goods at the market has increased rapidly over the past few weeks. It was observed that retailers at the market removed the expiry dates printed on the items by the manufacturers and stamped a later date.
Consumers are conned into believing that the products sold have not expired as yet and due to the reduced costs, they are purchasing in large quantities. Some of these items are Butter, bottled juices, Ovaltine, biscuits and other confectioneries, carbonated stuff, etc.
Editor, these practices are illegal and unhealthy to the nation’s population and economy. This incessant practice will in the immediate future cause widespread food-related poisoning.
To date, the Environmental and Health Inspection units have made no attempt to get these expired goods off the market’s stalls. With each passing week the volume of expired goods keeps increasing so is the number of victims susceptible to food poisoning.
The public needs to be educated on these illegal practices and its dire consequences so as to make healthier decisions before purchasing these items.
It will be most grateful if the Government’s Environmental and Health units do something as soon as possible so as to get these items off the stalls of the Port Mourant Market.

Sincerely,
David Brigbhukan

Guyanese must stand in solidarity against abhorrent criminal acts

Dear Editor,
On behalf of the International Centre for Democracy – Youth Empowerment, we wish to express our sincerest commiserations and sympathies to the families and friends of the three victims who were gruesomely murdered in Black Bush Polder, Berbice, Guyana.
We strongly believe these heinous crimes must be stopped immediately. Crimes of this magnitude have continued to plague us and haunt the lives of innocent Guyanese.
We are of the firm view that these horrific crimes must be addressed with great urgency.
We call on the Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan and President David Granger to combat these crimes with full commitment! Let the people of Guyana, and the international arena, know how the government is going to tackle and reduce these crimes.
We also feel the international community on human rights must know of the troubling times hinging on the livelihood of so many innocent people. The tally of repugnant murders and crimes against our brothers and sisters is beyond out of control.
If these crimes continue to plague our country, it will send the wrong message to investors, visitors and the world at large. It will have an adverse impact on our image as a country and cripple our economy.
Moreover, as a nation and Guyanese, we must stand united and in solidarity against these abhorrent criminal acts!

Yours sincerely,
Mahendra Hariraj
ICD Youth
Empowerment
Co-Chairman

Guyana stands in solidarity with the people of Germany

Dear Editor,
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana stands in solidarity with the people of Germany and expresses sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives and those who were injured in a horrific attack in the city of Munichlast Friday.
Guyana joins with the rest of the world in condemning this attack, which resulted in the deaths of nine people and left 27 others injured, 10 of them critically.
Though not linked to international terrorism, the attack, which was conducted by troubled teenager, Ali David Sonboly, comes at a time when the world is on edge as innocent civilians continue to be targeted in violent attacks such as this.
Guyana reiterates its repudiation of the use of violence and empathises with the victims and other affected persons in Germany.

Sincerely,
Press and Publicity
Unit, Ministry of the
Presidency

Bishop George fought against racism and electoral fraud

Dear Editor,
Anglican Bishop Randolph George is remembered by freedom fighters for the role he played in the struggle for restoration of democracy in Guyana and in condemning the PNC for its practice of racism at a time – and the Bishop did so at time (during the 1970s and 1980s) when few Africans or religious figures had the courage to speak out against racial oppression and persecution of those ethnic groups (Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, and Amerindians) not supportive of the PNC dictatorship.
Bishop George was not a hypocrite like those who spoke out boldly against apartheid, racist minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia but mum on racism and minority rule in Guyana. He shamed those hypocrites who were not concerned about what their leaders were doing to people of other races.
Bishop George was known to condemn the electoral frauds and violence of the PNC against opponents. At sermons, he, as did some other religious figures like Catholic Bishop Benedict Singh, Father Joe Cheerah, Pandit Reepu, Meiji Yacoob Ally, etc lectured his people for giving support to a racist oppressive dictatorship. It is widely known that these figures were such important elements in the resistance against Burnhamism.
Bishop George led the Anglican Church at a most difficult time in the history of Guyana – when religious freedom, especially for Hindus and Muslims, was curtailed. The Burnham PNC dictatorship was at its most oppressive stage with priests and human rights workers being targeted for murder.
Father Bernard Darke and Dr Rodney were murdered and Bishop Benedict Singh and father Andrew Morrison were threatened with death, the latter beaten by PNC thugs. There was also a crackdown against other church figures like Father Malcolm Rodrigues and Father Cheerah.
As an aside, readers would note that Freddie Kissoon uses the proper honorific title for Bishop George, but refers to Swami Aksharananda as Mr Swami or Mr Aksharananda. Swami is an honorific title comparable to Bishop. So one would not say Mr (Bishop) George or Mr Swami.
Bishop George was one of a few church figures who embraced people of other faiths and ethnicities. It was an honour to meet the Bishop several times during (my visits) to Guyana exchanging thoughts with him on the struggle for free and fair elections in Guyana.
He was not shy about discussing political issues, race relations, and the PNC food ban. He believed in and advocated racial equality and the right of people to have access to their cultural diet. Food should not have been used as a political weapon by the PNC dictatorship of Burnham and Desmond Hoyte.
The Bishop spoke frankly on issues, not sugar-coating the ill-governance of the PNC; he took a principled stand that racism and election (rigging) were wrong and people had to oppose that wrong. He did not feel he had to automatically support the PNC out of racial loyalty, in contrast to a Bishop in Trinidad who said he had to support his race and party in the last general elections. The Bishop wanted racial equality for all and an end to racial dominance.
Bishop George was interested in healing from the decades of racial animosity that Guyana suffered under the dictatorship. One has to extol his advocacy of racial equality. He courageously spoke out (in public) and in some of his sermons against ethnic support for dictatorial rule.
The Bishop was a man of integrity who Indians recognised could be trusted for his words; he meant them, unlike others who condemned racism but who willingly worked with a racist government.
Not surprisingly, Bishop George became deeply admired by the Indian population who were pleading for an end to the racist apartheid-like practices of Burnham.
Indians trusted the Bishop for being among a few preachers who spoke out against oppressive rule and racial discrimination. Indians had faith in him and held him in high esteem.
Without the Bishop’s role, especially in GUARD, free and fair elections and political change would have been very difficult to achieve in Guyana in 1992. Through the Anglican Church, he helped to internationalise the struggle against human rights abuses.
While a handful of us were fighting the battle overseas for free and fair elections, Bishop George was in the thick of the struggle in Guyana to liberate the nation from PNC repression.
Dr Jagan admired him very much and even proposed Bishop George’s name as consensus Presidential candidate during PCD negotiations to contest the 1992 general elections when the WPA opposed Jagan’s nomination.
Unfortunately, the Bishop was also opposed for the Presidency because of concerns that Jagan nominated him. After Jagan became Guyana’s first democratically elected President, he appointed Bishop George on several commissions including one on racial equality.
Bishop George will be long remembered for his role in helping to liberate Guyana from the throes of that oppressive dictatorship, and for advocating racial equality.

Yours truly,
Vishnu Bisram

When will this cruelty stop!

Dear Editor,
The Guyana National Fisherfolk Organisation and the Suriname Fisherfolk Organisation have been the most affected by these pirate attacks.
Two months ago four fishermen from the Upper Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-op in Berbice were thrown overboard to die by pirates from the same Berbice area. One body was found and he was given a decent funeral; the other three bodies were not found. The loved ones and relatives of these men could not even do a proper funeral for them.
When the relatives of one of the men was asked if they had received any assistance from the NIS to which he had been making contributions, they said NIS required a death certificate. His body was not found so there is no death certificate.
Editor, fisherfolk from Guyana and Suriname are the only ones that are robbed, beaten and killed by pirates; it does not happen in other Caricom countries.
We do not know what to do or who to ask for help.
Many promises are made but nothing much is done.
On Monday 18 July a fisherman in Suriname was tied to a car battery and thrown overboard by pirates. When will this madness and cruelty stop?

Yours sincerely,
Pamashwar Jainarine

Views of CCJ in Guyana, Trinidad and Caribbean

Dear Editor,
Oscar Ramjeet reminded us (July 11, 2016) that “After ten years only four countries accept the CCJ” – Guyana, Barbados, Belize, and Dominica. He has not explained why more countries don’t want to be under the jurisdiction of the CCJ.
Guyanese don’t have a choice but to accept the CCJ because Dr Jagan did not want to return to judicial oversight under the neutral British Lords.
If a vote were held, the Privy Council would have been accepted by a landslide. Dr Fenton Ramsahoye had suggested how Guyana could have fallen under the jurisdiction of the Privy Council, but Jagan was not interested. Dr Jagan and the PPP did not take necessary institutionalised measures to protect their supporters from poor racialised judgments. They learned nothing from the judicial abuses that occurred after independence under the PNC.
The PPP left their supporters overexposed to a biased court.
In Trinidad, unlike in Guyana, Indian politicians have been opposed to replacing the Privy Council with the CCJ because they don’t trust any Caribbean Court. They learned that the Privy Council is the only court they can depend on for fair justice. The PPP did not learn that lesson failing to understand and accept political reality.
As an aside, it is noted that no nation held a referendum on the CCJ, as the UK did for Brexit last month. All the territories should have allowed a referendum for people to decide on such a critical issue relating to justice, especially that people don’t trust Caribbean judges who tend to be influenced by self-serving corrupt politicians; judges tend to do the bidding of some politicians. Some judges even have politicians and lawyers write judgements. The PPP/C should have given voters a voice on which court to accept.
In my travels in the region, I have found that Caricom nationals feel justice has not improved under the CCJ, as compared with the Privy Council. Dissatisfaction with CCJ’s rulings is very high and growing.
Caribbean justice has and will not be fair because of politicisation of the judicial system especially in multiethnic nations like Guyana and Trinidad.
Lawyers complained that judges in the region have been making decisions since independence to please political bosses and/or on ethnic loyalty; it is noted there are no Indian judges in the court.
Lawyers also note that very little jurisprudence and legal traditions go into decision-making; thus, lawyers have greater faith in the English Privy Council, the final court of appeal for the UK and several Commonwealth countries.
The law lords are not subject to outside political pressure or bribery as judges in the Caribbean are. In addition, the Lords do thorough research and use legal precedents from rulings in advanced democracies.
Although the CCJ is located in Trinidad, the people have been resisting its jurisdiction. Judicial rulings, according to lawyers, are politicised in T&T as they are in Guyana with race playing a major role in rulings.
Lawyers also complain about judicial and clerical incompetence in the CCJ and point out that standards of adjudication are different in the CCJ from what prevails in the Privy Council.
Not surprisingly, most Trini lawyers are adamantly opposed to replacing the Privy Council with CCJ because they feel they get fair rulings from London and not from CCJ.
Unlike the PPP in Guyana, the opposition UNC in Trinidad has not and will never support the CCJ because its Indian base is opposed to it, complaining about the history of biased or racialised rulings in Trinidad.
Jagan and the PPP should have learned a lesson from the UNC and find a way to return to the Privy Council or some neutral court.
In Jamaica, a majority is opposed to the CCJ. There, when in government, parties call for the replacement of the Privy Council with the CCJ and the Queen with a President. But when in opposition, they advocate the reverse, fearing the government’s influence on jurisprudence that would affect rights.
Lawyers throughout the region, particularly in Belize and Barbados, are unhappy with CCJ’s rulings because opinions lack depth, logic and rationality. They don’t follow established precedents and are not race neutral.
Lawyers throughout the Caribbean lack faith in the CCJ for fair justice.

Yours truly,
Vishnu Bisram

Cost effective vacancy advertisements

Dear Editor,

Many vacancy advertisements in the local media seem to ignore some basic criteria of cost effective advertising such as the need to catch the attention of potential candidates and to attract a sufficient number of applicants to facilitate a competitive selection process.

Newspaper advertising is undoubtedly the most popular but is not the only method for achieving such objectives; trade journals, radio, TV, in-house and word-of-mouth come readily to mind; and, in today’s fast-paced, ubiquitous, electronic communication, we cannot ignore the cost-free Social Media as perhaps the best means of getting our messages across. Newspaper ads are expensive and must therefore be properly used to achieve cost-benefit effectiveness.

A review of all the Vacancy ads appearing in all the local newspapers last Sunday reveals many ‘malpractices’.

For example: using the routine ‘clerical’ or ‘defensive’ approach by replicating details from the Job Descriptions and regurgitating the Job Specifications instead of studiously internalising and smartly projecting the essential aspects of the job and applying some ‘marketing’ techniques/approaches to sell it.

In this context, it must be realised that people who are happy and challenged in their current positions do not normally ‘look out’ for vacancy ads, yet these are the very people who should be targeted in any serious ad; hence the need for the ‘marketing’ vs the ‘bureaucratic’ approach. (Notwithstanding, it must also be cautioned that the essential focus of an ad must not be lost in verbiage that is confusing; there is a clear example of such confusion in a lengthy ad appearing in last Sunday’s Chronicle where a major corporation confused the search for ‘a person’ to market an asset with ‘the asset’ itself!.

Another trend from the review of last Sunday’s ads is the insensitivity to ‘balance’ in that ads for routine clerical functions were given the high prominence and costly space typically reserved for relatively senior professionals heading up major organisational functions. Another major corporation, guilty of this remiss, has been repeating the said ad all of this week.

A rather offensive practice is to include at the bottom of ads a note to the effect that “only shortlisted applications will be acknowledged”! What is the purpose or value of such an insulting, off-putting, note? I can think of no better way to deter good applications. It cannot be that the cost or burden of acknowledging all applications is a factor in this e-mail age.

It is also worth noting that sometimes (for example for confidentiality/or to avoid undue speculations) it might be better to use a professional ‘head-hunter’ or for the HR Manager and other senior executives to assume the role of typical head hunters instead of always adopting the conventional recruitment processes.

Yours truly,

Nowrang Persaud

 

Commemoration of Centennial of end of Indentureship

Dear Editor,

This March 2017 marks the Centennial of the official abolition of Indian Indentureship, an era spanning 1834-1917.

Some four million Indians were sent overseas as indentured or girmitya labourers to various countries around the globe.

Their descendants, numbering almost ten million, have been spread out all over the globe. The history and consequences of Indian Indentureship are very important and meaningful to these millions of descendants living in many countries which were the recipients of Indian Indentured labourers — Mauritius (and other islands in the Indian Ocean), Fiji, South Africa and other African countries, Trinidad, Suriname, Guyana, Belize, Guadeloupe, and other territories of the Caribbean region, Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries — as well as on USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands, France, New Zealand, Australia, etc where the descendants of indentured laborers have settled over the last fifty years. The one hundredth anniversary of the abolition of indentureship, as indeed for any event, is historic and should be commemorated.

A group of individuals met last week in New York to plan the Commemoration of the Centennial of the end of Indentureship with Ashook Ramsaran, formerly of Whim, as Convener. The group met under the auspices of Indian Diaspora Council (IDC) which will plan and execute a series of events around the globe from September thru March.

There is also a plan for a book to be released entitled: Centennial of Abolition of Indian Indentureship: End of an Era of Indian Migration, its Challenges and Progress of the Community.

This book will be a compilation of relevant articles by prominent writers, historians and researchers selected from respective countries to commemorate the centennial of abolition of Indian Indentureship and to provide insights on challenges, progress and achievements during and after that historic era. This keepsake volume is intended to be a historical document for scholars, students, libraries, Indian diaspora researchers and the general public.

Some other planned events are:

Kick-off press conference and seminar: 12 September, 2016 in New York, USA

Recommended Kick-off press conferences and seminars in selected countries: Sep – Oct, 2016.

Release of publication: Centennial of Abolition of Indian Indenturedship: End of an Era of Indian Migration, followed by Challenges and Progress: 2 January, 2017

Conference session at Uttar Pradesh Divas 2017 (Lucknow, India): 4 January, 2017

Panel Session at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2017 (India): 8 January, 2017

Coordinated country commemoration conferences & cultural presentations in at selected (31) Indian Embassies & Consulates in countries impacted: 5 March, 2017. (Cities: Suva, Port Louis, Singapore, Kula Lumpur, Hong Kong, Naypidaw, Sydney, Auckland, Kolkata, Chennai, New Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Saint Denis, Durban, Amsterdam, Paris, London, Toronto, Orlando, Georgetown, Paramaribo, Port of Spain, Kingston (Jamaica), Kingston (St Vincent), Corozal (Belize), St Georges (Grenada), Castries (St Lucia), Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe), Fort-de-France (Martinique). Other cities would be added as needed.

Global Convention in Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago): 18 – 20 March, 2017. Activities to include: Conferences, Break-out sessions, workshops, resolutions, action items team, cultural entertainment, receptions and banquets; recognition awards for notable achievements.

Coordination Teams in every country are being set up. The IDC welcomes the community’s interest and seeks participation in the varied planned activities in this global Commemoration of Centennial of Abolition of Indian Indentureship (CCAII).

IndianDiasporaCouncil.org website is being developed and updated information will be posted on a regular basis.

More details can be obtained from IndianDiasporaCouncil@gmail.com

Yours truly,

Dr Vishnu Bisram

 

To hang or not to hang

Dear editor,

To hang or not to hang has been a topic in Guyana, the Caribbean and the entire free world for several decades. It became a hot debate in Guyana following the visiting of Navi Pillay of the International Commission Against Death Penalty and his discussions with government officials and workshop with Judges and Magistrates.

The Commission is calling on the Guyana government to remove the death penalty from the statute books, and President David Granger responded that he would be guided by the decision taken by lawmakers and if possible from all Guyanese by way of a referendum.

It is not an easy decision to make because there are strong arguments for and against the death penalty.

“Thou shall not kill” is the sixth commandment. “An eye for an eye” is in Genesis in the Old Testament, but Jesus said according to Matthew 5.37 “turn the other cheek”. In other words, no retaliation.

I am not in favour of the death penalty so much so that in the 1990s while I was Chief Prosecutor (Acting DPP) in St Vincent I prosecuted several murder cases. Three persons in two cases were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.

Although I won the cases I was not all happy that they were sentenced to death by hanging. The Judge had no choice but to impose the mandatory death sentence. I had a restless night when the first one – a 21-year-old – was sentenced. I later made recommendation to the Mercy Committee for the death sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. All three were spared the hangman’s noose.

As a matter of fact although the death penalty remains in the statute books in most Caribbean Community states, there was no execution for the past two decades in the region.

Barbados removed capital punishment a few years ago and there is no death penalty in the dependent states of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands, and Bermuda, but Jamaica recently passed legislation retaining the death penalty while the Co-operative Republic retained capital punishment only in certain cases.

Statistics show that 105 countries which are members of the United Nations have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, and six abolished but retain it for exceptional or special circumstances. Perhaps I should state that 47 countries which retained it have not used it for at least 10 years.

Muslim countries which abide by Sharia law prescribe various forms of capital punishment for certain offences, including decapitating, stoning, execution by firing squad.

China also imposes the death penalty and several states in the US.

If the Guyana Government decides to deal with the issue by way of a referendum which is a very expensive exercise, they should seek to amend the Constitution to deal with a few burning issues including the appointment of Chancellor and Chief Justice.

Yours faithfully,

Oscar Ramjeet

 

M&CC container blocking excuse is “sheer poppycock”

Dear Editor,

The bizarre, brutish and daft action by the Mayor and City Councillors (M&CC) of Georgetown against two Water Street shipping companies last Tuesday which saw them blocking the movement of container-laden trucks from the companies and city wharves over a $25,000 shipping container tax, shows the greed, disrespect for legal decisions and barbaric nature of the Town Clerk and the forces at City Hall.

This latest move by City Hall is clearly a vulgar reaction to what happened less than two weeks ago, after the proposed $25,000 Container parking fee was thrown out by the court. Royston King’s account that this move is merely aimed at commencing repair works to the roads is sheer poppycock. Evidently, this Council is anti-business.

Why would they send their City constables to place barricades outside the entrances of Muneshwers and John Fernandes Limited on Water Street, rather than inviting their officials for discussions, the same way the Town Clerk invites John Fernandes Limited to sponsor Environmental Community Health Organization (ECHO) initiatives or Muneshwar’s to sponsor other projects?

King, who is not a lawyer, clearly misunderstanding and misquoting Section 274/76 of the city by-laws to suggest that they are entitled to fees by those persons who use roadways, streets, parapets and space owned by all citizens of the city. It was the same twisted logic he used when he tried and failed to extract $25,000, and $36,000 for each additional day, from business owners in downtown Georgetown for the parking of containers in front of their premises for the purpose of offloading goods they shipped in.

King’s assertion that they are not getting at the containers really, but rather to do maintenance works, and critical works to the roadways in the city is laughable. Why then does he not charge the Bush Trucks and the Sand Trucks traversing the city? Why does he not block King Fish from parking 24/7 and selling at the corner of King and Regent Streets?

The problem is that every time legal action has to be taken against the Council, it costs the person who has to take them to court, it costs the citizens of Georgetown for mounting a defence but the Council could care less because the money is not coming out of their pockets but rather that of the citizens. But most of all it is a waste of the Court’s time.

Deodarie Putulall