I refer to two letters in the Friday, August 16 edition of the Stabroek News: Annan Boodram’s ‘Politics has become a zero sum game in Guyana,’ and Mahamood Shaw’s ‘Boodoo was not given due process.’ Mr Boodram wrote, “One cannot help but conclude that politics has become a zero sum game in Guyana,” while Mr Shaw, one of Gecom’s Commissioners observed; “Boodoo was never given due process – not even a hearing.”
When I read those letters I thought of my own contract termination at UG after serving UG for twenty-six years. In Mr Boodoo’s situation his contract had ended. In my case, it had five more months. It is clear from Mr Shaw’s letter, you have discrimination in Guyana.
Mr Boodoo should have been given a hearing over his contract renewal but Frederick Kissoon was a lesser human being not entitled to the rights that Mr Boodoo has.
In my case I didn’t even know my contract termination was up for discussion. There were absolutely no complaints from any section of the university ‒ not even one person that I worked with, not even one student. Most obnoxiously, I was a legal member of the University Council that made that decision and was not invited to the meeting.
Friday afternoon, I had a personal conversation with the Minister of Education the contents of which cannot be repeated. But I am at liberty to say that I did ask her to watch me in the eyes and tell me as someone who taught her at UG if Evan Persaud is more eligible to teach at UG than me.
Even although Mr Persaud was accused of an offensive violation, he was given a hearing and allowed to have legal representation. I woke up one morning and got a call from my dean saying that my contract had been terminated. How can any country accept this kind of illegal, reckless and depraved behaviour from its government?
I did offer Minister Manickchand an apology for anything that may have caused her distress in any of my columns, because I did say to her that as a mother of two young children I would not be comfortable with children reading what people have to say about their parents. I did promise her that I would be careful in the future.
But the Minister must know that I have a duty to the newspaper I write for and to my country to offer constructive comments. When you have written for as long as I have, and as often, you do slip up from time to time; here is an opportunity to apologize to anyone who thinks some angles have been personal. If those people can point out to me areas that appear personal, then I would say forthrightly that I am sorry.
Minister Manickchand did say that she thought I should not have mentioned the name of the little girl who played Simba in the recent Lion King presentation because I may have discouraged her. I honestly thought this is the stuff you find from reviewers whether it is film or literature or Broadway plays or sports. Look how many commentators thought that Darren Sammy should not command a place in the West Indies team, much less be the captain.
I admit the girl is at a tender age but all I suggested was a course in voice modulation. I never wrote that her acting was bad. In fact, it was good. If I could meet her I would tell her that nothing ill conceived was meant. I hope she goes on to act and I will be glad to participate in her encouragement. If her parents were browned off, I regret that. I didn’t mean any harm.
A few persons told me I was too harsh on David Casavis’ book on Thomas Carroll, including my buddy pal, Leonard Craig. I think, all, I repeat all, the persons who read and praised the book are not as familiar with the Thomas Carroll affair as those of us in the media. So for them the book was a revelation.
They found something exciting. But we in the media, especially my editor, Adam Harris know much more than what Casavis brought out.
For the love of me I cannot understand up to this day why Casavis did not research Carroll’s cooperation statement to the district attorney so the Guyanese people could know what Laurie Lewis did and those rich business places which helped Carroll could be exposed.
Casavis did not name them. What readers didn’t know was that I had no idea that Mark Benschop was a friend of Casavis. So when Mark Benschop wrote bitterly about me after my review, I thought out of respect for my friendship with him I would call him. I did, and he told me he was on the air and couldn’t talk. If he had spoken to me, maybe another set of events could have been released.
Looking back, I understand that Casavis did provide Guyanese with information on the US Embassy style of doing things that they would not have known about if it wasn’t for his book. But Mr Casavis should understand a reviewer has to do his/her work.
He should not take my review personally. I acknowledge to him that the evaluation was too harsh.
But I do think from what I know of the Carroll adventure in Guyana, his contents could have been more informative. We all make mistakes, Mr Casavis.