Ungodly, unbearable, uncompromisingly unconscionable, unmodern, and maybe uncivilised
Freddie Kissoon column
Kaieteur News
March 26, 2007

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When President Jagdeo addressed the Guyana Defence Force recently, he said something that was unbelievably unwise and maybe unwittingly unjustified. He may come to regret it. He told the soldiers that when Transparency International came to Guyana to investigate corruption, one of the source documents it relied on was written by Professor Clive Thomas.

He sought to undermine the study by telling his listeners that Professor Thomas is an opposition figure.

This is an unmanageable position that the President has taken. If the media do their work competently, he could find himself in an uncomfortable position. The President is saying that Thomas had a vested interest in telling Transparency International that corruption exists in the government because he is an opposition activist.

But the logic here can be extended to the President himself. Don't the President and his Ministers have vested interests too? So if we should not believe Professor Thomas on the existence of corruption, then why should we believe the leaders of the government when they say there is no corruption?

Let's assume there is plausibility in the President's position, then, what kind of protection can he seek about the displacement of his Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of CWC by the ICC own team? Just before I proceed with the declaration of incompetence (my choice of words) by the ICC of the LOC, a word about the value of the independent press.

As Peeping Tom put it in his column yesterday, he is deeply disappointed that Kaieteur News did not develop this story. I wish that too. But maybe some of us are to be blamed.

I know that there was this letter from the ICC to the LOC. So many people in the media and in the society knew about it so it was rational to think that it circulated all over. Why then rush to Kaieteur News with a news item that was all over Guyana?

As it turned out, Kaieteur News was not in receipt of it. But Stabroek News did and so the Guyanese people were able to know that those who boast about the wonderful performance of the Guyana Government are now facing humiliation.

This ICC indictment of the LOC should demonstrate to all Guyanese that we will never be a free nation unless there is a free press in Guyana. At the time of writing, I have been reliably informed that the state media knew about the ICC letter.

Anyway back to the substantial issue. Who did the ICC talk to in the opposition before it dismissed the President's men? Before we answer that question, it should be noted that the LOC is a government-created body. Only the Guyana Government selected the LOC team, not the ICC, not the local cricket authority, not the West Indies cricket bosses, but the Guyana Government.

Knowing President Jagdeo's modus operandi, then I doubt he would not have participated in the selection process. Later last year, former Minister, Tony Xavier joined the LOC. Another choice of the Guyana Government, of course.

Peeping Tom has introduced an interesting angle to the imbroglio (for want of a better word. Maybe disaster is more relevant an adjective) in his column yesterday. He opines that the President may suffer a credibility dent because he has taken a personal interest in the work of the LOC. I want to go beyond the single issue of the President's image and situate this catastrophe within the context of political theory, thus the caption of this essay.

If the ruling elites of a country that has a low human resource base, a fragile economy and a politically divided environment use political patronage and comradely incestuousness to administer the state, then there will not be development. There cannot be development because the skills are not there to be used by the government.

Even though Singapore and Malaysia achieved economic greatness through an authoritarian system, the management of the country was not left to party officials. Technical people were relied upon. This is a lesson that no leader of the PPP (including Cheddi Jagan when he was alive) has any respect for. Freedom House and the presidency are both contemptuous of this cardinal rule in the governance of a country.

Freedom House puts its own people in the bureaucracy. The President does the same. Sometimes Freedom House and the President clash over appointments but personnel, not principles, are the bone of convention. At the end of the day, the intention is to put people who can produce political loyalty, not administrative brilliance.

It is not only ungodly and unmodern but within the context of poverty and the desperate need to get out of it; this policy of “job for the boys” can be described as uncivilised.

So many persons in this society say to me that I have made my point about the University of Guyana and that I must not cite the mess created at that Government-owned institution as often as I do because they have accepted my evidence.

I show extreme patience in explaining to them that the university is a microcosm of the larger society and that if they understand how it is treated by Freedom House and the presidency, they will easily understand the evil facing this country.

I honestly and sincerely ask you to bear up with me once more as I use an example from UG to show you how the LOC failed and many more like it will fail and the Guyana Government, too, under its present leadership unless Freedom House and the presidency recognise that Guyana has to rely on trained minds to see it progress.

A team of top class UG lecturers met Foreign Minister, Rudy Insanally, and advised him that all over the world, foreign ministries, including in the US and Venezuela, make use of the university teachers to help research for the government and advise the foreign policy-makers.

He received the UG delegation for almost three hours and requested that it produce a substantial working document which was done. The Minister never replied.

Given the porous nature of this country's economy, the prodigious absence of highly educated citizens, the government is courting disintegration if it continues to put all types of party comrades and party supporters in sensitive positions where they cannot perform. The Government put its own party sympathisers into the LOC.

Look what has happened. I end with a question I asked above. Who did the ICC talk to before they castigated the LOC for failing to complete valuable tasks for CWC? I got one for you. The ICC was guided by what the PNC, the AFC and the WPA told them. Only a fool would believe that. But you bet that is what Berbicians will be told.