Dear Editor,

Today I step forward to advocate that some processes and situations be changed from what is known and practised.  I believe that the public would be better served.

First, I recommend that City Hall should privatize upcoming property revaluations and later rate collections.  Its role must be confined to managing processes, while trimming expenses.  Currently, the passport office is contemplating privatizing routine services; this should be the mindset of City Hall and some other public agencies.  Of course, there is the downside of lost patronage powers and the influence that comes with such powers.  Still, I think that this is the route for any public body focused on efficiencies.  If the Saudis can be moving to do the unthinkable through privatizing a small part of their oil industry, then some of that could be imitated here for the greater good.

Second, I learn that official national social cohesion outreach happened in a handful of places.  To be blunt, there is sharp disappointment (though no surprise) that so few citizens responded by attending.  I am interpreting the numbers in parentheses in the related SN news story as indicating the lack of interest in such an undertaking, and its powerful significance.  Since none of the three places ‒ well-populated centres ‒ recorded over two hundred attendees, then I suspect that this social cohesion vision is going to be one long tough haul, littered with apathy and distractions, if not stormy undercurrents.  I understand that citizens are firmly set in their political beliefs and 1960s allegiances, but they cannot afford and continue to live in a state as if the tensions and dissonance associated with sharp and close election results are due every day.

Although this necessary start has been a discouraging one, I recommend that the ministry stay the course.  It can do so by constantly marketing the vision and bringing it home to those places where they can count for something.  As examples, I offer billboards, the media, schools, churches, clubs, and other areas where the messages related to the vision can be shared, inculcated, and reinforced.  Citizens, be they supporters or adversaries, have been indoctrinated in one way only: race.  It is time to cease and desist from what has devastated and always incorporated the potential to destroy.  At least, social cohesion is worth the thought and the effort.  Now if it is genuine, then the same zeal and the same determination must be manifested to go in the direction that seeks to de-emphasize race and all the attendant viciousness that is part of what is an injurious strategy.

Third, I support amnesty for non-violent offenders, and in in those crimes not involving the presence and use of firearms.  I am against, however, any amnesty that is not accompanied by full disclosure as to those benefiting from such a programme.  This must not be a secret operation, for then all manner of misgivings surface as to the identity of those pardoned and the objectives behind the secrecy.  This opens the door to the worst possible political interpretations, and the associated mileage.  I recommend more openness.

Fourth and somewhat related, the President runs the serious risk that he is soft on crime, that he is ambivalent on this spiralling problem, and that he is out-of-touch with the lethal realities of the Guyanese crime situation.  Perpetrators have furnished repeated and grisly notice that they can, and will, be ruthless without hesitation or qualm. Pirates have manifested the same deadly intent and result on the high seas.  Elsewhere, citizens can be violently, sometimes fatally, ambushed for cellphone, foodstuff, tools, and things of measly value.  Given this context, I recommend that the President refrain from any verbal pronouncements that restrain the police in the performance of their dangerous duties against trigger-happy felons.  I think this sends the wrong message to a reeling fearful populace.  The greater public good is involved here, and I respectfully urge the President to be unequivocal as to where he stands on crime confrontation and combat.  There is a qualification that underlies all of this: the use of deadly force must be a last resort.  I have heard it said that the President seems more concerned about the welfare of bandits than that of the public and possibly imperilled ranks.  I think that that is a stretch and rather farfetched.  But there, it is shared.

Finally, I commend the students from Queen’s College for taking a public stand on a matter meaningful to them.  I heartily recommend that more youngsters and adults step forward and take a stand for anything that has significance to them, and for which improvements are actively pursued.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall