I thank Mr AA Fenty for his comments in his ‘Frankly speaking’ column in SN on September 20. In that same article titled: ‘Admired and accepted, but corrupt and crooked’ he raised two reasonable and very relevant questions. They are: how come Lall (and others) feel upright and righteous enough to condemn? And are they that honest and clean? Speaking for myself, I share what follows, and encourage my compatriots (ethical ones) to stand as judges.
First, in my decades as a student and worker, and as employer and borrower, I have never (repeat, never) cheated anyone or on anything. Anyone who differs can step forward.
Second, for any meagre dollar to my name, or any other assets, I can account via an ironclad paper trail as to source and quantum. One penny at a time –it is boring and small change stuff. There has been neither grandfather nor godfather ‒ real or invented ‒ to lend a convenient helping hand. None, save for God’s grace. Thus, I can speak and write.
Third, the work on national corruption that I shared was as it happened to me. Nothing is imagined or exaggerated. Again, I challenge government bureaucrats, other agencies, and private individuals to confront or deny. Go ahead!
Fourth, there is nothing that I have to have at any cost; not at the expense of friendship, values, or honour. I have walked quietly away elsewhere from what the biggest men in this country steal from national projects and the public treasury; a certain notorious parliamentary pension fight (and grab) falls in this realm. I know what it is to live on bread and water; I can go back there, and without the former, if push comes to shove. Yes, I can represent what I say publicly. Those who know me should be able to attest to greed or lack of it.
For a certainty, I admit readily to personal frailties and faults. But I do not covet or take what is not mine. I do not cheat citizens. I do not mislead them. And I am a private citizen of no consequence.
Editor, I should stop here, but I also need to delve into the non-monetary aspects of corrupt ways, which have become the norm here in Guyana.
It is that I do not betray others; people know where they stand with me. I do not say one thing to a man’s face, and then something diametrically different when he is not there. The government and opposition know where I stand, what I think of them. This backstabbing and doubletalk are chronic ills in Guyana, especially for those who have an agenda, or are for sale. There are too many who are like this. They despise me because I have confronted and exposed them. The chips have fallen. They stand and speak for themselves. I move on.
Separately and last, Mr Fenty winced at the “National cesspool” in the title of my writing on local corruption. He is not alone in his cringing. In view of the appalling and uncontrollable nature of this domestic way of life, I think it fits perfectly. Here is why. We know corruption is there in all of its untreated solid waste putrefying mass, even if out of sight (like a cesspool). We inhale its overpowering pungency, even when we pretend that it is the neighbour’s or the direction of the wind or it doesn’t exist (again, like a cesspool). We are sickened ‒ and retreating ‒ before an overflowing, unstoppable river of the miasmic, ugly, and contaminating (just like a cesspool). And we look at the army of fattened humans feeding on the abundance of lucre-coated filth (one more time, like a cesspool), and we know, in spite of our misgivings and distaste, that “National cesspool” is what it is.
Editor, I humbly submit that because of the foregoing facts and circumstances, I am equipped and qualified to write about corruption any time, any place, anyhow. And arguably more than most. I welcome any dissenting views.