Former President Donald Ramotar is saying `Guyanese of all political views must join the fight to promote integrity in public life’ (SN, 2nd November, 2017) yet he is unprepared to hold himself to the same standard he is asking of the society. At the click of a mouse or the picking up of the telephone he would have verified the information that GECOM Chairman Justice James Patterson served as Chief Justice in Grenada, and help bring sobriety and integrity to the public discourse. But the refusal to do so or decision to continue perpetuating a lie brings into question his commitment of what he is asking of us.
The initial contention with this appointment was that President Granger did so in contravention of the Guyana Constitution. The PPP/C, who is championing this view, has since taken the matter to court which is the right place to resolve an issue of this nature. However, as the days proceed society is being led to believe this is much more than the alleged concern for a violation of the constitution but more that of attempts to engage in defamation and character assassination of the appointee, to the extent where discriminatory thinking and lies are driving the narrative.
Whether Patterson was acting or confirmed as Chief Justice, he performed the duties, and has earned the right to place it in his résumé. The same principle applies for those who had or are acting as Chief Justice, Chancellor, or any position in this society. Further, according to paragraph two of Article 161 (2), used to appoint this Chairman, the requirement is that of a Judge. Were this requirement not met then there would have been justifiable reason to question qualifications as required in this instance.
The PPP and others are engaging in destructive and divisive politics in the effort to condition the society to think Local Government, General and Regional Elections under the Patterson’s chairmanship will be rigged, and for this reason democracy comes under threat. Society needs to recall though the PPP claimed that the 2015 Elections were rigged and called for the removal of Chairman Steve Surujbally whom they implicitly accused of the act. The same party when it secured the majority of neighbourhood democratic councils at the Local Government Elections did not damn him.
Accepting selective recall and screaming of rigged elections should the PPP win any seat or majority/plurality in the local, general and regional elections those who are crying wolf should expect society not to accept these results. This is how asinine the discourse has now become. There is no God-given right to any political party, race, or individual to govern this country. Each has equal chance under the Constitution and the privilege to be elected and serve must be earned and respected.
Let me too address the matter of Minister Joe Harmon who in responding to Christopher Ram’s resignation from government positions claimed that he held no significant position. Ram is significant and anything he does he would bring significance to it. You may not agree with him all the time but it cannot be denied that he has played a significant role in society. Whether right or wrong, accurate or inaccurate, he has made a contribution to an understanding of the social, economic and political reality in Guyana over decades.
Further, it cannot be said that Ram is not significant to government, when this is a man influencing public opinion and causing people to see and perceive and therefore act, and has struggled against successive administrations. One can disagree with or fault an argument he may make from time to time, but that does not deny his contribution to society in so far as he has been able to influence public opinion, and also his perspective in bringing about good governance.
All labour is significant, including the garbage collector that keeps the environment clean and the gravedigger who is tasked with the responsibility of properly disposing of man’s earthly remains.
Our political leadership is letting us down. Too much time is being spent on seeking to defame or insult others, engage in non-cooperation, un-necessary pomp and ceremony, and doing little or nothing constructive to weld this nation together by treating every individual and group with respect and dignity that should such be applied would see the enabling environment created for equal opportunities, protection of rights and freedoms, growth and development. Constitutional commissions are yet to be established, groups are being alienated from the management and decision-making processes on matters that affect their well-being, the National Assembly (nation’s highest decision-making forum) is almost comatose, as hopelessness and despair as to a bright future continue to overwhelm the ordinary man and woman.
Sanity and integrity must be restored to public discourse.