October 1, 2016

Name local athletes with potential to medal in Tokyo 2020

Dear Editor,

Edison Jefford, one of Guyana’s most accomplished sports athlete, senior sports journalist of KN, recipient of many outstanding awards over the years, senior member of the current National Sports Commission etc has now made his appearance via the press in relation to the ongoing issue with KAJ Yassin (President of the Guyana Olympic Association) and his establishment to vacate the office of the GOA for many reasons. He seems to have chosen the side and in support of his colleague Rawle Welch of the KN who started this issue.

The general public’s response should be one of respect because Guyana is a democratic country and I repeat again, that it is everyone’s democratic right to challenge KAJ Yassin for his current chairmanship of the Goa and his establishment.

E Jefford, Minister Nicolette Henry just went on record via the press and announced that the government of the day has rolled out billions of dollars for sports development to date and will continue to do so towards ‘Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.’

I challenge you to publicly identify and name all the current athletes (locally) who you believe possess the abilities and potentials to make it on the medal podium in Tokyo 2020.

This is vital because the nurturing aspect has to get kick started immediately. Time is of the essence. Guyana would have attended IAAF World Championships meets over the years under the leadership of former Presidents of the AAG (Athletics Association of Guyana), Blackmore and C Boyce and never made it to the medal podium.

Can you say whether the media at large ever attacked those gentlemen for their chairmanship when Guyana failed to medal? If not, are we playing the race card with J Yassin?

Can you also furnish the general public with names of your choice who you believe will lead the GOA and make Guyana stand on the medal podium in Tokyo 2020?

Can you also educate the public what is it that you lack from challenging KAJ Yassin for his chairmanship during GOA’s 2016 elections?

Editor and the general public, I am not the enemy or taking sides with anyone. My independent position remains the same where I stand my ground firmly with the message that the current President of the GOA, KAJ Yassin) and his establishment is not solely responsible for Guyana’s failure to medal at the just-concluded RIO 2016 Olympic Games…We are all responsible.

Yours faithfully,

T Pemberton

 

Worshipping God as female

Dear Editor,

Hinduism accepts that from an absolute perspective, God is beyond gender or form or any of our human categories in which we apprehend reality. From our perspective then, God is all categories including male and female and even both simultaneously – Ardhanarishvara, which is a composite of Shiva and consort Parvati.

In the mother worship ceremony the Divine Mother is worshipped for nine days and nights. Although she is one, she is adored in the three aspects that is DURGA-LAKSHMI-SARSWATI.

In the plan of Devi worship, the first three days are focused on the worship of Devi as Durga the destroyer, the second three days are focused on Goddess Lakshmi the giver of prosperity and the last three days on Goddess Saraswati the giver of wisdom.

“If God is our father, why cannot God be our Mother? If we are the children of our heavenly Father, why cannot we be the children of our heavenly Mother?” This rhetorical question is the basis of why Hindus recognise and accept both male and female aspects of Nature and worship the Supreme Reality in the form of Mother, Father, Friend, Master, Guru, and Savior. Thus Lord Krishna declares in the Bhagawad Gita:

“I am the Father – of this universe. I am the Mother of this universe, and the Creator – of all. I am the Highest to be known, the Purifier, the holy OM, and the three Vedas.” (BG 9.17)

The worship of God in the form of Mother – is a unique feature of Hinduism. Through the ages, the doctrine of the Motherhood of God has established a firm root in Hinduism. Today Hindus worship the Divine Mother in many popular forms such as Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika, and Uma.

By worshipping God as the Divine Mother, a Hindu can more easily attribute Motherly traits to the Lord, such as tenderness and forgivingness. The natural love between a Mother – and her – child is the best expression of the Lord’s unconditional love for- us as children of God.

In the most representative Hindu view, the universe is the manifestation of the creative power (shakti) of Brahman, whose essence is absolute existence, consciousness, and bliss (or in Sanskrit, sat-chit-ananda). Since all created forms proceed from the womb of the mother, the creative power shakti) of God is recognised by Hindus as the female principle or the motherly aspect of nature. In this sense we are all children of the Divine Mother. We are contained by her before our – manifestation and nourished by her throughout our existence.

To a Hindu, the motherly aspect of God in nature is full of beauty, gentleness, kindness, and tenderness. When we look upon all the glorious and beautiful things in nature and experience a feeling of tenderness within us, we feel the motherly instinct of God. The worship of God in the form of Mother is a unique contribution of the Hindu child. When a devotee worships God as Divine Mother, he or – she appeals to her tenderness and unconditional love.

Such love unites the devotee with God, like a child with its mother.

Just as a child feels safe and secure in the lap of its mother, a devotee feels safe and secure in the presence of the Divine Mother. Paramahamsa Sri Ramakrishna, one of the greatest Indians of modern times, worshipped the Divine Mother Kali during his entire life. He established a personal relationship with her and was always conscious of her presence by his side.

In Hinduism, Divine Mother is the first manifestation of Divine Energy. Thus with the name of Divine Mother comes the idea of energy, omnipotence, omnipresence, love, intelligence, and wisdom. Just as a child believes its mother to be all-powerful, and capable of doing anything for the child, a devotee believes the Divine Mother to be all merciful, all-powerful and eternally guiding and protecting him/her with her invisible arms.

The worship of God as Mother has had a significant impact on Hinduism. The position of women in the Hindu religion is dignified because each woman is considered a manifestation of the Divine Mother. Hindus view man and woman as the two wings of the same bird. Thus, a man is considered incomplete without a woman, since “it is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing”–Swami Vivekananda. Through the worship of God in the form of Mother, Hinduism offers a unique reverence to womanhood.

See the hands of the divine mother, behind the process of destruction and difficult circumstances and do not grieve, see the hands behind the expression of success and fulfilment and do not become proud.

See the divine hands behind insight and inspiration and do not become deluded by vanity.

OM DUM – DURAGA – YAI NAMA is the mantra for pleasing the Universal Mother during the period of nuratri. Recite this powerful mantra, with the feelings and devotion every day and feel the all-loving Mother besides you at all times.

Pray to the Mother who is destroyer of all impurities and the bestower of blessings and the supreme destination of all souls that wander through the world process; let your life flow as a stream of prayer to the feet of the divine Mother and attain self-realisation.

Sincerely,

Pt Surendra Tiwari

Patentia Mandir

 

Dear US Embassy

Dear Editor,

The US Embassy in Guyana Wednesday on its official social media page, shared a vintage photography of late President Jagan exchanging with Kennedy during his visit to New York in 1961. The photograph was captioned “Celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations”.

Ironically, Jagan’s visit was barely tolerated and he even suffered Spivak’s character assassination, who presented him to the American population as evasive and a potential communist threat. If anything during that visit, Jagan was diplomatically mocked, and development funds were declined to a meagre US$5 million, as opposed to the US$12.5 million later released for the commencement of another US installed South American dictatorship under Burnham.

The late Kennedy might be a hero in his country, but for this Guyanese woman he was an instigator of dictatorial oppression and ethnic cleavages in a land which was never his. The Embassy should think twice before boasting of diplomatic relations when the only thing the US has done in this part of the world, is overthrow Governments, install dictatorships, and then parasite us for our resources while trapping and buying us with “aid” that has proven to be useless for lifting populations out of poverty.

So I say to the US Embassy, if you want to make a valuable contribution to Guyanese, start by being honest (as incredible as it sounds) and share information which enlightens us. For instance, declassifying State documents on CIA covert operations and how you supported the Jagans being thrown in jail, might be a good start.

Sincerely,

Anna Correia

 

Why are there no Bartician working on the Green Town?

Dear Editor,

In keeping with President David Granger’s promise to have Bartica become the first Green Town, the $31 million Green Space Park is taking shape in Constituency 6, West Indian Housing Scheme, Bartica, but not without mixed views from residents of Bartica.

The contract has been awarded to S Jagmohan Construction but what is most disappointing is that the $31 million contract is generating a heated debate among Barticians and immediate residents of Constituency 6, as it relates to the hiring of workers.

Why are there no Bartician working on the project? Where is the constituency representative to bring representation on behalf of residents to ensure they gain employment? Residents have been turning up at the construction site asking for employment and are turned away as allegations is being levelled against a top official in Bartica, who is alleged to have told the contractor not to employ any Bartician to work because Barticians are lazy.

Bartica now has township status and the leaders, movers and shakers of the town must now take steps to ensure, as a matter of policy, all contractors and investors employ at least 25% of their work force from Bartica.

The unemployment rate in Bartica is alarming and is a cause of concern and for a contract of this magnitude and not one single Bartician could gain employment is beyond sad, and an insult to the skilled human resources we possess in Bartica.

Are the leaders and representatives of Bartica implying that no Bartician is qualified or have the experience to work on the said project? I call on the leaders and representatives of the various constituencies to afford Barticians and their respective constituency the highest level of effective representation.

Sincerely,

Bartica resident,

Sherwyn Downer

 

Getting value for money

Dear Editor,
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson has made a valid and timely assessment when he stated that the people should hold all contractors responsible for shoddy and substandard work done and he hit the bull’s eye when he further contended that each citizen has a right to demand value for money.
The Minister’s statement came at an opportune time when there is massive corruption going on in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and I am profoundly gratified when I read Dr Ramayya’s exposé on the corrupt practices in this region. The substandard work done at Barakara is just the tip of the iceberg; more than 90 per cent of the capital works done are of a substandard nature or the costs are highly inflated so that again there is no value for money. In fact, with the capital works proposed in the 2017 Budget, it is my estimation that if proper budgetary planning was done then the people of Region Six would be accessing more value for money in 2017. This is where the Minister’s input is vitally necessary.
Moreover, the Minister should investigate the high volume of ‘emergency works’ done in the region. Here again, value for money is lost since these costs of these works are highly inflated and skewed in favour of the contractor and those receiving the ‘kickbacks’. For instance, during the El Nino period in March-April 2016, the Government awarded millions of dollars to do excavation works from Whim to Number 74 Village but nearly 60 per cent on these projects were already done by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) machines and these contracts were awarded to a close associate of a Region Six official.
I suggest that the Minister carry out an investigation since the records must indicate that these drainage canals were already done by NDIA machines deployed in the region.
In a letter to the press, I highlighted the substandard work done at Number 52 Middle Walk Access Road which began disintegrating just after three weeks of being constructed. I wish the Minister could investigate this but I want to implore him not to send the same team which went to Barakara.
Another issue affecting cost and standard of work is the fact that some of the contractors who were awarded works do not have the necessary machinery and equipment to do the work and have to sub-contract some aspects of the job. Why should these people be given contracts when they do not have the necessary machinery to successfully carry execute them?
Lastly, I wish to congratulate the Communities Minister and the Regional Chairman since there is now a new round of consultations with the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDC) and the works prioritised by them are now being fairly assessed and which hopefully will find its way into the Regional Estimate 2017. Never again should consultation be sacrificed so that corrupt practices can reign. However, I do hope also that NDCs are given a copy of the regional estimates so that they can make a proper assessment in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Lakram Singh
Vice Chairman Works
Committee
Number 52-74 NDC

Photography museum for National Park

Dear Editor,

It is my belief that the newly constructed venue at ‘Cuffy’s Square’ will now be the centre of attraction for many events to come in the near future. I also understand that a huge stadium will eventually be erected with a 400m synthetic track, along with many other facilities. Development is great, but sometimes we need to cherish and preserve some old wonders of Guyana.

I have always believed that the National Park, home to many historic events since Independence in 1966, is one of Guyana’s wonders. I just recently thought of the following and perhaps the Ministry of Education’s Department of Culture can table this suggestion to Cabinet and consideration be given towards funding during the 2017 National Budget.

A museum of photography should be erected within the confines of the National Park displaying photos of historic events over the years where visitors can take a few moments down memory lane. The said museum can be used to house photo exhibitions of the Emancipation Day Celebrations, among other exhibitions of similar nature. I envision such an educational institution which will attract tourists, school visits from all regions, etc.

Yes, a small entrance fee should be attached to assist in offsetting expenses with the up-keeping of the building, staff members, security, etc. One such historic event I would expect to be included is ‘mass games’  from the early 1980’s and I do possess such a collection of historic photos where the late LFS Burnham, former first lady, Viola Burnham, a daughter of theirs in participation, Morag Williams, daughter of anthropologist Denis Williams, government officials, etc, could be seen in the collection, along with that black beauty of a British made vintage vehicle which Queen Elizabeth once sat in during the 1966 Independence state visit. Another part of an exhibition which I believe will be a knock out is to witness the photo images of all the past Miss Diwali Beauty Queens who were crowned at the National Park.

Yours faithfully,

T Pemberton

 

Barefaced attempt at historical revisionism

Dear Editor,

The SN editorial of September 26, 2016 is a barefaced attempt at historical revisionism, seeking to excuse the obvious and blatant APNU/AFC corruption involved in the award of the fruit juice contract to a foreign company which was not the lowest bidder (and the still fresh scandal involving single sourcing of an unfinished building to serve as a drug bond) by seeking to misrepresent the PPP/C’s record in office in relation to procurement and using this misrepresentation as a smokescreen.

The following facts are relevant:

  1. It is the PPP/C that introduced public open tendering after assuming office in 1992, following decades of non-accountability and corruption by the PNC, including more than a decade of no auditor general’s reports and no public tendering whatsoever.

  2. It is under the leadership of the PPP/C that the Constitution was amended to establish a Public Procurement Commission (the inescapable fact is that this constitutional provision could not have been introduced and enacted without PPP/C support and advocacy).

  3. It is the PPP/C that took to Parliament the Procurement Act and secured its passage, and that established the National Procurement and Tenders Administration.

  4. It is the PPP/C that introduced public opening of tenders, including attendance by the media and public reporting of tender awards, including publication of the NPTAB minutes and awards on the NPTAB website.

  5. It is the APNU/AFC that has now discontinued the publication of this information on the NPTAB website, introducing a blackout on information regarding government procurement.

  6. It is the PNC and then APNU/AFC that chaired the Public Accounts Committee from 2001 to 2015, 15 years, and was unable to secure consensus on the names to the appointed to the Public Procurement Commission, even after they secured a parliamentary majority in 2011;

  7. It is under PPP/C’s chairmanship that the Public Accounts Committee was able to secure, after a mere 12 months, the same consensus that eluded the PNC/APNU/AFC for 15 years, and obtain a special majority of the National Assembly to approve the names of nominees to the Public Procurement Commission.

  8. It is the APNU/AFC President who is now dilly-dallying on appointing the nominated members of the Public Procurement Commission, at a time when his government is lurching from one procurement scandal to another (drug bond, fruit juice, city clean up, D’Urban Park construction, GWI jerrycans and consultancy services, etc,).

  9. It is the APNU/AFC that has just agreed to pay a legal award to the same Surinamese company under questionable circumstances, and now comes and awards the same company this juice contract under equally questionable circumstances.

  10. It is the APNU/AFC government that is reeling from embarrassment following one scandal after another almost on a daily basis, and from their abject failure to deliver on any of the manifesto promises they so dishonestly made to the Guyanese people when asking for their vote in May 2015 and are now refusing to honour.

Sincerely,

Bishop Juan Edghill,

PPP/C MP

Guyana-Venezuela controversy is no joke

Dear Editor,

“Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, declared “I have to make an assessment by November” on the way forward with regard to the Venezuela border controversy with Guyana. This quote is taken from an article in the media, which had as its headline “Guyana/Venezuela Controversy-Decision in November – UN Chief.”

I am a bit confused by that headline since the Secretary General (SG) said “I have to make an assessment”. He did not say a decision. If an assessment on the way forward is in fact, or turns out to be a decision to, or not to refer this matter to the International Court of Justice, then the Secretary General would have fulfilled his responsibility. However, as I indicated in an earlier letter, I don’t expect the SG to rule on this matter prior to leaving office in December. So what will it mean for Guyana if there is no clear decision by the current SG?

Based on an English translation of the speech by Venezuela at the recent UN General Assembly, I see no reference in that speech to the controversy with Guyana. The omission of any reference to the controversy in the Venezuelan UN speech must be examined from a public communication/public diplomacy perspective, as Guyana seeks to have this matter solved via judicial settlement. The absence of reference to the controversy must be seen as a strategy on the part of Venezuela to give the SG some comfort. It sends a signal to the international community that one of the parties to the controversy; and in this case the “aggrieved “ party, is in no hurry to have the SG act and that it is quite “reasonable” for him to have this issue passed on to his successor.

Guyana has been pushing through various channels in as dignified and diplomatically correct a way as possible to have Ban Ki-moon make a decision before leaving office, utilising bilateral and multilateral meetings, speeches etc. However, in my view – and I have expressed this view many times in the past – our failure has been in employing an effective public diplomacy/outreach campaign designed to pressure the SG into making a decision. To use Guyanese parlance, “boat gone a falls” in terms of using such a strategy to have Ban Ki-moon make a decision before he leaves office. But we must embark now on this public diplomacy campaign so that his successor will be “obliged” to recognise that while Venezuela might not be urging resolution of its own claim, and while the international community may not be crying out for an end to this controversy, public opinion wants a resolution of this controversy so that a small, developing country could push ahead uninhibited with its development plans, including oil production in the area claimed by Venezuela.

To be able to have public opinion demonstrates its desire for the resolution of this matter and to influence a new SG accordingly, we need to have influential media in small and big countries devote attention to this issue ultimately, having editorials and columns written in favour of this matter being referred urgently to the international court; having reputable electronic media including radio and television air news and opinion pieces with documentary evidence as to how this controversy is thwarting investment in Guyana and negatively impacting our economic development; having international human rights, religious, indigenous peoples and other relevant organisations issue statements pointing to the need for resolution of the issue so that the people of Guyana, especially the poor, could aspire to a better quality of life.

If we are really serious about having a judicial settlement of the Venezuela claim, and I have no doubt we have, we should embark on such a campaign now as a matter of urgent national importance so as to have this referral to the world court early in the new SG’s tenure. It must be made to become an important issue on his/her agenda on the assumption of office.

And if, God forbid, a man becomes the next President of the United States, who knows what support Maduro might get, and how he might be emboldened if not empowered to act in violation of international law. This is no joke.

Regards,

Wesley Kirton

Ugly situation in Mazaruni River

Dear Editor,

I read with great humour the report published in another section of the media on September 23, 2016 quoting the Maritime Administration as saying that there are alternate routes for boats traversing the Piremap Falls. Amazing!

I acknowledge that one way is to unload all cargo and lug them from below the falls to the top and then haul your boat manually over the iron rails that are installed for that purpose to the top of falls, reload your boat and be on your way, adding eight hours to your travel time. Otherwise you wait for the rains and high water.

I would love to see the experts at MARAD take a boat and do a trip; do a video and let the Guyanese public see these alternate routes.

The report go on to say that Crown Mining Supplies has “assiduously commenced efforts” to remove this obstruction. The fact is that Crown Mining Supplies have a camp some distance downstream and their workers are enjoying TV shows and relaxing. I reiterate, for the month of September absolutely nothing has been done to improve the situation, neither the Crown mining company nor the relevant authorities have been fully truthful or forthcoming on this issue.

This situation cannot continue much longer as a lot of miners, boaters, fuel suppliers, farmers, fishermen and school children are greatly affected by this ugly situation.

I am also willing to pay for a boat to take the media to the location to get a first-hand look at what are really the facts. Let us make it a trip; we can also take the experts from MARAD to show us their routes.

Regards,

Ralph Persaud

 

Protect our local industries!

Dear Editor,

The recent announcement by China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC) that it had signed a US$7.5 million contract with Suriname’s State-owned mining company, Grassalco, to supply some 300,000 tonnes of crushed stone over a 12-month period for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project – currently being executed by CHEC – has caused public outcry by local manufacturers/suppliers.

According to one local supplier, his company has been consistent with supplies of crushed stone for the CJIA project and has a more than adequate stockpile to ensure the timely completion of the project.

During a press conference last week, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, clearly stated that the Government is ‘powerless’ to stop the stone imports from Suriname by the contractor. He has since opted to blame the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration for this development, saying that it was the former Government that signed the original contract with CHEC.

Minister Gaskin’s argument is that the arrangement under which CHEC has begun importing stone is a private one and the Government cannot reverse or terminate that contract.

Really Minister Gaskin?

The coalition Government, after taking office in May 2015, proceeded to halt, then amend the US$150 million CJIA expansion project on the grounds that it was ‘unfavourable’ for Guyana.

Shouldn’t they have had the foresight to ensure that conditions were included to protect/support local suppliers of raw materials for this project?

The PPP/C Government had a fixed contract with CHEC. When the present Government amended the original contract, they in effect opened the proverbial doors for CHEC to have full autonomy to seek supplies from elsewhere, leaving our local suppliers unprotected.

It is fully understood that it was CHEC and not the Government that procured the stones from Suriname. Maybe this was done on the grounds of better pricing and regularity of supply.

If this was the case, why weren’t the local suppliers consulted before such action was taken?

Why were they not given an opportunity to adjust their prices and/or bring it to a level of the foreign supplier?

And how is it that barging 300,000 tonnes of stone all the way from Suriname could possibly be more cost effective than transporting local, better quality products from the quarry of one local supplier at St Mary’s, Essequibo?

President of the Guyana Manufacturers and Servicers Association (GMSA), Eon Caesar, stated that while CHEC is a private company that “makes it own decisions with regards to completing its timeframe and specifications, the project is being funded by taxpayers’ dollars and it is imperative for the government to do more to protect local content.”

Even if it is a case where one supplier could not meet the demand, both suppliers together could have met the quota.

The mere fact that these local suppliers are still adequately supplying CHEC with materials for the MovieTown project raises eyebrows.

As the subject Minister responsible for the monitoring of projects such as the CJIA expansion, Minister Gaskin has not justified his Government’s position on this disturbing situation.

Instead, his statement that the Government is ‘powerless’ to do anything about it is a glaring contradiction of the fact that it was the very present-day Government that amended the terms of the contract upon assumption to office in 2015.

The Guyanese people are supposed to be a priority when it comes to development of the nation. And every effort should be made by the government of the day to ensure this is a sustained endeavour.

The local businesses plug their earnings back into the economy, creating more jobs for Guyanese and to the benefit of the CJIA project itself, our local stone have a higher engineering specification than other territories in the Region.

Designing, implementing and enforcing measures to protect local businesses and jobs should be paramount to trying to justify the anti-nationalistic actions of foreign entities.

Protect and promote our local businesses. The Guyanese people expect this of you and your administration Mr Gaskin.

Trying to shift the blame to the former PPP/C Administration will not resolve the situation. You are the government of the day. We expect you to do the right thing in the best interests of the nation.

Sincerely,

Vanita Mahadeo