As head of Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU), James Singh made a major contribution to the fight against drug traffickers and drug crimes. It was under his watch that some of the major drug busts took place. Just recall the operation he headed in capturing the submarine used by drug smugglers in the Waini River. Recall the operation which resulted in the successful case against Dataram, just to name two.
Mr Singh was not just a crime fighter, a good ambassador for CANU and the country; he did a lot of work to promote cooperation with other drug-fighting bodies in the region and internationally. I am well aware too that he developed good relations with the US, anti-drug smuggling body, the DEA. I recall that when I invited the DEA to set up office in Guyana, I also told Mr Singh to give them maximum cooperation. I did not want any kind of professional jealousy to get in the way of capturing not just the mules, as important as that is, but to go for the “big ones.” Mr James Singh promised his full cooperation and he delivered.
In the few meetings I had with the DEA personnel here and more senior officers visiting from abroad, I felt proud because they assured me of the good work CANU, headed by Mr Singh was doing. They were happy with the cooperation and working relationship between the DEA and CANU.
It is my firm view that if we are to make a real impact on fighting the drug trade then cooperation with the DEA and regional anti-drug units is vital. The view is that this is a global problem, therefore, international cooperation is indispensable if we are to have a chance to succeed in this fight. Cooperation with the US is also important since the US is the biggest market for illicit drugs. Therefore, the connection with the supply side and transportation are all linked and are in fact one fight. The US government has put a lot of resources into fighting this scourge. They also help other drug-fighting agencies, like CANU, with training and technology.
The DEA assured me on the few encounters I had with them that the work Mr Singh was doing here helped them in breaking up rings and capturing highly placed drug traffickers in the US.
That is why, if my information is correct, I am surprised that the DEA personnel here were not invited by the Commission of Inquiry (CoI), to give evidence. Without that, the CoI report is very seriously deficient.
I never asked Mr Singh about his political views or those of his officers. I was satisfied that he was doing a very good job.
That was all that matters in his line of work. Instead of him being removed, his work should have been given greater recognition; he was completely professional, dedicated and hardworking.
I believe that there are only two sets of persons who would be happy with the removal of James Singh.
Those would be the PNC/APNU leadership who see this country as their personal property and think that only their ‘people’ must be employed; and the drug barons who must have felt unsafe with the work of CANU under James Singh’s leadership.
In the meantime, Mr Singh is left exposed and probably vulnerable. Something must be done to help those who serve our country well and consideration should be given to their security. The removal of James Singh is a sign of total ingratitude of a regime drunk with power at every level.
This issue is not just a defence of an individual but a defence of professionalism in public life. It is to give our people protection and service at every level.
This action is another blow to professionalism in the public service.