PRESS STATEMENT BY THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE, THURSDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2004 HALL OF HEROES, CONGRESS PLACE, SOPHIA



SUMMARY:
• PNCR pays tribute to the late Mr. Justice Rudolph Harper, CCH
• Urge the Government and the ruling party to get about tackling the root causes of crime.
• The PPP/C is merely conceding that it was wrong to have denied the need for change in election legislation in the first place and is now trying to pass this admission as a great concession
• On Sun, October 31, 2004, yet another batch of youth were inducted to Georgetown District of the PNCR inaugurated an Award and Mentorship Scheme

PNCR PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE LATE MR. JUSTICE RUDOLPH HARPER, CCH

The People's National Congress Reform pays tribute to an outstanding son of the soil, the late Justice Rudolph Harper who died under such tragic circumstances a few days ago. His sudden death brought to an end his lifelong and distinguished service to Guyana in the field of law and sports.

The name Rudolph Harper will forever be etched in the memory of sports loving Guyanese everywhere because of the multifarious roles that he played in the sporting arenas of this country. Whatever the sporting discipline Rudy Harper was fully involved and dedicated to its development. His tremendous contribution to sports development in Guyana as an active sports organizer and administrator and his past role in the work of the Guyana Olympic Association should never be forgotten.

It was however in his chosen profession, law, that he exemplified himself in service to his country. He rose to the lofty position of Chief Justice and served the nation with distinction. In 1989, he was awarded the Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH) “For Service of an exceptionally high quality and beyond the normal call of duty in the Administration of Justice”

Above all else Rudolph Harper was a true Guyanese patriot and a gentleman. Quiet and unassuming, Rudy Harper was always approachable and a keen listener. He exemplified to the fullest extent the lofty traits of loyalty to country, dedication to duty, fidelity in relationships and love of the common people. Truly, it can be said of him that he dedicated his life to the service of people.

Our country will be the poorer for his passing but his rich contribution to Guyana can never be forgotten.

The People's National Congress Reform wishes to convey its profound sympathy to the wife, family and relatives of the late Chief Justice Rudolph Harper.

May Almighty God grant him eternal rest.

PPP/C ELECTION REFORM TANGO

The PPP/C has continued its expansive propaganda campaign on important national matters, choosing to spend public funds on full page advertisements rather than engage in serious discussion. The recent statements from the PPP/C demonstrate that the occupants of Freedom House are confused. First President Jagdeo`s outburst that the PPP/C will not legislate itself out of government; then the Ramotar and Luncheon claims that there was no agreement to review the electoral formula and now, Ramotar’s most recent statement that the PPP/C is prepared to amend the electoral formula to include more constituencies as well as a larger number of constituency seats.

We need to repeat certain important points for the benefit of citizens. The PNCR has repeatedly called for the implementation of the agreement to review the electoral formula, coming out of the constitutional reform process as reflected in the report of the Oversight Committee. We have also called for the Constitution Review Committee to be convened to look into this and other matters referred to it by the Oversight Committee as well as matters which relate to the Committee’s Terms of Reference. At least Mr Ramotar has had the grace to concede that there was an agreement for legislative amendments to the Representations of the People’s Act in order to facilitate the review and finalisation of the electoral formula for the 2006 elections and beyond.

Citizens should, however, not be deceived. The PPP/C is merely conceding that it was wrong to have denied the need for change in the first place and is now trying to disguise this admission as a great concession. There is no question of compromise in the PPP/C`s latest position. All that Ramotar has done is to wake up to the realization that the issue of reviewing the electoral formula had been agreed upon and that there can be no denying that fact since the records of the Oversight Committee confirm this position.

It should be noted that in our last Press Statement we stated as follows, “the PNCR`s position on the electoral system is the official position of the Constitutional Review process …. it was agreed during the constitution reform process that the electoral system used for the 2001 General and Regional Elections was to be reviewed for subsequent elections including the 2006 elections. For example, it was never intended that the regions would be the permanent constituencies and 25 would be the final number of constituency seats. There is therefore no alternative to the convening of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform so that the agreed review could be expeditiously undertaken.”

The PNCR hopes that the new publicly stated position of the PPP/C will be accompanied by diligent work by its members of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform.

THE GEORGETOWN DISTRICT MENTORSHIP SCHEME

Three years ago the Georgetown District of the PNCR inaugurated an Award and Mentorship Scheme under the theme: Promoting, Nurturing and Caring for Our Youth. On Sunday October 31, 2004, yet another batch of youth were inducted at an impressive ceremony at which the feature address was presented by Ms. Dwyennette Eversley, Senior Programme Director of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, Caribbean Centre. Also making brief remarks to the newly inducted mentors was Ms. Cathy Hughes, a mentor from the inception of the Scheme and Ms. Debbie Backer, Vice-Chairperson of the PNCR, who delivered the Charge.

The Scheme seeks to augment what is done in the school system and in the home. Interactive sessions are held with the children and with their parents at which issues of parenting, adolescence, personal development, the individual and the community, etiquette and morality, among many others, are dealt with. They are also afforded tours to interesting and historical sites as well as camps during the August school break.

There were 45 applicants to the Scheme this year and they are all beginners at the secondary school level and will remain in the Scheme throughout their period of secondary education. Certificates of induction and nominal gifts of school material were presented to all new participants of the programme. The best achievers at the recent SSEE were also given special prizes.

The PNCR and the Georgetown District also take this opportunity to express appreciation to the donors, resource persons, mentors and the Directors of the Scheme for their generous support to this worthy cause.

CRIME AND THE STATE OF THE NATION

On several previous occasions, the PNCR has stated that while the Guyana Police Force must be fully supported in its fight against crime, it is only by addressing the root causes of crime its the incidence will be reduced.

It should also be obvious that the high incidence of crime in Guyana is not restricted to violent crime. State lawlessness which manifests itself in the non compliance with the law and with recognized principles of Good Governance that lead to the loss of millions of dollars, are also criminal in character. The Stone Scam, the Duty Free Remigrant Scam and the ongoing Lotto Fund Scam are further examples.

The PNCR is of the firm view that the root causes of crime in Guyana include State Lawlessness, the decline of moral values and standards, poverty, the high level of unemployment, underemployment, the discriminatory practices of the Government, marginalisation and the polarisation of our society. In our presentation to the Disciplined Forces Commission , the PNCR had elaborated on this issue. The Guyana Trades Union Congress in their presentation to the said Commission stated that the societal causes of crime should be addressed. According to the GTUC, “Considerations such as retarded economic growth, unemployment and the level of consensus and cohesion in the Society…….must also be taken into account.”. The PNCR endorses this position.

The PNCR is particularly alarmed at the growing number of young persons under 18 years who are committing serious crimes, not only individually but more dangerously as members of gangs. On the 18th October 2004 fifteen year old Jeremy Peters was killed by the police in Buxton during a raid of a suspected criminal hideout. At the time of his death Jeremy Peters was on trial for attempted murder. On the 23rd October 2004 a Kwakwani gang of five was involved in a spate of robberies. This gang included a 16 year old boy. More horrifically on Sunday 24th October 2004 Teddy Smith was murdered at Beterverwagting E.C.D. Five teenage boys including one under 16 years have since been charged with his murder.

We urge the Government and the ruling party to address the issue of crime in a holistic way. We of the PNCR stand ready to play our part.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown
November 4, 2004