Kissoon’s attack on the WPA lacks objectivity

Dear Editor,

I write this letter in response to one of Freddie Kissoon’s expressed opinions that was published in the Friday, August 24, 2018 edition of the Kaieteur News (KN), under the caption, “Clive Thomas can damage his credibility”. In sending my response to KN, I am doing so fully aware that the present editorial policy of KN of not publishing letters from me will very likely result in this letter not seeing the light of day in KN. It is important to note that KN has no problem in facilitating Kissoon’s character assassination of certain members of the public, while at the same time refusing those who have been maligned by him the right to respond to his wild accusations in KN. If this is not duplicitous behaviour, what is?

It has become a habit of Kissoon to use every opportunity to display his dislike of the WPA and more, his personal animosity and, I dare say, envy, of the achievements of Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine. This behaviour of Kissoon has its genesis in the period of his early activism in the WPA. In the period referred to, Kissoon was appointed a member of the WPA’s delegation in the early days of the formation of the Patriotic Coalition for Democracy (PCD). At one of the PCD’s meetings, Kissoon made a critical remark about the PPP which offended its representatives. Subsequently, the PPP’s leadership informed WPA’s executive that they were not prepared to continue meeting while Kissoon remained a member of the WPA team.

Unfortunately, the WPA’s executive, in an attempt to prevent the demise of the PCD, took a decision to withdraw Kissoon from its delegation. I opposed that decision in the WPA executive. To all appearances, Kissoon learned of Roopnaraine’s advocacy on the matter and from that point, he turned against both the party and Dr. Roopnaraine, subjecting them in the process to the most vicious attacks imaginable. That narrative represents the historic beginning of Kissoon’s uncontrollable lack of objectivity in his references to both Dr. Roopnaraine and the WPA. 

I wish now to address some of the issues he raised in his column. He said that Thomas’ credibility hangs on two things, “…one is political, the other is cultural.” He cited a recent WPA letter dealing with responses to Professor Thomas and the party’s proposal that cash transfers of US $5,000 be paid to each Guyanese household annually from the oil revenues. Kissoon is no ordinary reader, he boasts of his intellectual superiority, he is a political scientist and historian by training and a political activist of long standing. Therefore, he is more than capable of understanding context, literally and politically. Yet he chooses to do a disservice to his own credibility by demonstrating ignorance and his political opportunism. He sees in the WPA’s letter “ .. tones of abuse and crass political opportunism.” He continues, “I will ignore those sections that throw scorn on those that rejected Thomas advocacy”.  “Parts of this letter are so nasty in its propaganda that it constitutes increasing evidence that the WPA has seriously degenerated ……..”. Readers of the WPA ‘s letter will note that contrary to Kissoon’s deliberate misrepresentation, the letter said both Dr. Thomas and the WPA welcomed critics of the proposal and demonstrated no hostility to views which were/are in contradiction to theirs.                                                             

To the extent that the letter was combative and harsh, had to do with its response to Minister Jaipaul Sharma’s attack on the WPA, Thomas, and Roopnaraine. Not surprisingly,  Kissoon the self-proclaimed,  political analyst and disciple of “political objectivity”  sees no nastiness or political opportunism in the minister’s missive against Thomas, Roopnaraine and the WPA. Why? Any reputable, fairminded and objective observer would have recognized Sharma’s uncomradely behaviour in his letter and would have said so. However, those traits are not located in Kissoon’s persona. By any standards, WPA’s response to Jaipaul Sharma was reasonable, given the context.

Again readers should note that Kissoon premised his self-serving observation on the part of the statement that reads, “We wish to express our unswerving support for the way Roopnaraine and Thomas have discharged their duties in pursuit of implementing government policy in the areas of the state which fall under their watch.” Without dealing with the merits or demerits of the WPA’s contention stated above, I wish to point out that Kissoon is so poisoned by hate that he failed to pretend objectivity. For him, Jaipaul Shama’s declaration that the two  WPA leaders in the government have been failures is true and appropriate and is stupid enough to believe WPA  would have agreed to Sharma’s pronouncement. If we did not defend ourselves against the minister, Freddie, and our detractors would have rejoiced and proclaimed that we are incapable of defending ourselves.

It is interesting that the only public statement Kissoon knows of that was made by Dr. Roopnaraine since his removal from the Ministry of Education is his speech on V.S Naipaul, to quote Kissoon,  “…at a PPP – sponsored talk at the Cheddi Jagan Research Institute this week“. His claim that this is the only public speech by the minister is not factual, but my point is that he is attempting to exploit, by highlighting, the minister’s relative public inactivity since his illness. This is mean-spirited politics devoid of human considerations.

On GuySuCo and the sugar workers who lost their jobs, Kissoon joins Minister Sharma by placing the responsibility solely on Clive Thomas – he states, “ Now even if the loss was unavoidable,  there had to be a replacement income. But even the workers’ severance pay was not forthcoming”. Kissoon is well aware that the GuySuCo Board did not have the resources to provide alternative income for all severed workers and the matter of severance was in the hands of the cabinet and not Thomas and the board. More important, it is public knowledge that the cabinet only accepted parts of the GuySuCo Board’s proposals for resizing the industry and diverting its production base. In light of all these factors, which Thomas and the GuySuCo Board had no control over, he was expected to do miracles.

In closing, Mr. Frederick Kissoon wrote this column solely in defense of Minister Jaipaul Sharma‘s nasty missive against Thomas, Roopnaraine and the WPA. Kissoon is well aware that much of what that appeared in the minister’s letter was extracted word for word from a column published on Facebook by a former WPA member, now detractor. There is something common to most Indian comrades that broke with the WPA, that is their early glorification of Rupert and their later ultra dislike of him. For the Indian political aspirants at the national level, many have seen Rupert Roopnaraine as a stumbling block to their political ambitions. They could not match him politically in the struggle, but now that he is not in the best of health, they are united in going for the “kill”. And in the case of Kissoon, he is mad that the WPA  is not prepared to facilitate Roopnaraine’s political demise.

Yours faithfully,

Tacuma Ogunseye

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