Dear Editor,

The government is in a bad place.  It sends people to do sensitive jobs and it comes up short.  The government’s cause is not helped that those sensitive jobs are almost always brimming with controversy, and never well-received by the objects of scrutiny.  Too many vulnerabilities are at stake and on the table, and too much exposures are sure to follow.  That is why there has been so much agitation over the activities of the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU).

Now that would be-and should be-in the normal course of events, where men and women are entrusted with crucial assignments and who deliver what is robust and stands crucial tests of substance and strength before the tribunals that count.  The key word is trust, as in trusted professionals.  For I believe that when such is the case, where men of calibre and ethical prowess are challenged to go out, dig deep, and dig efficiently and honestly, then results follow where there is something.  Those results usually speak for themselves.  Professional accreditation, continuing education, association and other group memberships are all worthy and meaningful elements; but when diligence of character, that intrinsic, inbred quality of a personal value chain is missing, then the consequences are swift and telling.  A mockery and shambles are made of diligence, there is collapse of moral sinew.  That is, if such were present in the first instance.  That is where SOCU finds itself today.  At least, some of its people.

The political people have already dived into the action and fallout from that overdue and now troubling audit.  Sharp words such as “damning” and “devastating” have flown fast and furious on the one side; from the other, there is that strident clamour (again) to disband the unit.  It is ironic that the introducers are now among the chief accusers.  I see them as eyewitness to history and historical wrongdoing of enormous depth and consequence.  Whatever the rationales behind the flow of rhetoric and postures, both sides of the political coffin are on to something.

For some time now, there have been credible accounts of some SOCU people being anything but trustworthy.  In view of the nature of the businesses that pass through the agency’s hands and those entrusted (there is that word again) to investigate and interrogate, there was no place for either profligates or reprobates.  I think that many are already aware where I am going to end up with this, and what this could mean.  For where integrity and money are concerned and in conflict, there is never a thick plot, no enduring mystery.  Because money always wins in this country.  It is simply the nature of the kind of beast that the supposedly professional man and woman has become: pawing, seizing, devouring.

There was one official on tape negotiating and extracting a sweet money deal from those that came before for numerous alleged felonies of the white-collar variety.  It was not the only such deal.  Prior powerful political figures made that one go away.  The political equivalents of today took a while, but that official had to go away.  Too toxic for the good of anyone, including self and any still existent protector(s).

Now there is another situation that I wish the Guyanese public would take a careful hold of and then chew on slowly.  There is a court case in session.  People are charged with serious offences against the taxpayers.  The defence counsel is absent.  There is nothing out of the ordinary so far.  That is, until an officer of the now troubled and attacked SOCU stands up before the court and announces to the presiding jurist, and before one and all, that defence counsel would not be in attendance that day.  Say what?  What the hell!  Could it be that in the adversarial proceedings in the arena of jurisprudence, there are those on the side of the State, who are so helpful, so intertwined, and so uncaring as to think nothing of, what I shall limit myself to describing as, mixing matters up? And a sleuth to boot?

From my limited perspective, there is professional courtesy; and then there are those lines that no right thinking, hard charging, clean standing professional would think of crossing, of even giving the appearance of violating. Things are too tense and judgmental in this society; too warped also.  Accurately so, to a large degree, I must add.  These are but two circumstances where people from SOCU did not display the cleanest pair of heels.  There are others no less troubling.  After all, and as is well established, it is a sellers’ market.

When government sends men out to check on serious issues, and then has to turn around and send others to check on them, relative to integrity, then there are only exercises in chronic frustration and foregone futility.  Auditors suddenly lack scope and sight; law enforcement claims dead ends; and men in wigs and gowns develop an instinct for technicalities.  Looks like a heavily listing ship to me.  I don’t think that any government can get very far to ascertain the (underhanded) business of the state when the deck is so treacherous.  Anticrime efforts against any variety, but especially that of the suit and tie segment, amount to one losing proposition after another. 

In the United States and elsewhere organized crime is about Mafialike compartmentalization and operations.  I would argue that, given what has happened, SOCU is most properly named.  As I keep insisting: only untouchables will make things happen and stand the test of time and environment.  And deliver the goods.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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