Transparency International has condemned an entire nation by an inscrutable process

Dear Editor,

I wish to reply to a letter published by your newspaper on December 11, 2012, authored by Mr L C Ram.  This letter purports to respond to some views I expressed in the Stabroek News, on December 8, 2012, on certain disclosures made by Transparency International.

I must first confess that was I overwhelmed by the vile language and viperous tone in which this letter was written.  It is clear that Mr Ram has shifted his personal vendetta from Dr Ashni Singh and his wife to me and my colleague, Cde Gail Teixeira.

In an exchange of letters in the press some time ago in respect of a different matter, Mr Ram launched a similarly diabolical and vengeful tirade against me. What I said then remains most apt: “to these ad hominem remarks I shall not respond and to those venomous levels I refuse to descend.  I prefer to predicate my public exchanges on more rational, civil and mature foundations.”  I now turn to the issues raised by Mr Ram in his letter.

A distillation of the circumlocutory argumentation of Mr Ram, stripped of its vitriolic content, yields the following propositions:

1. that the Transparency International Report is grounded upon some empirical data; and
2. that corruption is defined by Transparency  International  lexicon as a misuse of public office for private gains, and presumably, their assessment is therefore confined to public office and public office holders.

These assertions are, at best, palpably wrong and at worst, hopelessly tenuous.

Firstly, it is an axiomatic truth that Transparency International’s methodology is a perception-driven process and not one premised upon empirical evidence.  The report itself, by its own title, unwittingly admits to this reality, as it is styled a Perception Index Report.   No amount of clumsy ranting and raving can change that methodological fact.

Secondly, a process which seeks to diagnose the level of corruption in a society but confines its assessment only to the public sector, is one that is both woefully myopic and deeply flawed. Using the definition coined by Transparency International, the reality is that in any society, the other half of a corrupt transaction is, invariably, extrinsic to the public sector.  In other words, the private gain which flows from the misuse of the public office, largely emanates from outside of and not within the public sector.

Therefore, when Transparency Internation-al ranks Guyana as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, it condemns the entire state apparatus, including the executive, the judiciary and the legislature, the private sector and the entire citizenry, as corrupt.  It does so, not upon empirical verifiable evidence, but upon the perception of people who neither work nor reside in Guyana and who are virtually unknown to us; and via a process which offers none an opportunity to utter a single word in our defence.

It is this unjust damnation of an entire nation by an inscrutable process with which I take severe umbrage.  No amount of invective will shift me from this position of principle.

Yours faithfully,
Mohabir Anil Nandlall MP
Attorney General and Minister of Legal

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