PRESS STATEMENT By Mr. H. D. Hoyte, S.C., M.P. Leader of the People’s National Congress Leader of the Opposition To the Press Conference on Thursday, April 18, 2002 Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown
PPP’S REFUSAL TO BRING SHAKA BLAIR’S KILLERS TO JUSTICE
On Tuesday 9th April, 2002 the People's National Congress Reform organised a protest through the streets of Georgetown to register public outrage at the murder of Shaka Blair of Buxton Village, East Coast, Demerara, by ranks of the notorious Target Special Squad, popularly known as the “Black Clothes Police”. In some brief remarks by the Party Leader at the end of the protest, the PNCR demanded that the PPP/C regime should take appropriate action on this most recent atrocity. It gave the regime until midnight Thursday 11th to do so.
The background to this demand was as follows:
The General Council of the Party had dispatched a delegation to the Acting Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs to insist that the killers of Shaka Blair should be arrested and charged for murder; that the Black Clothes Police should be stood down for the time being; and that there should be a public inquiry into the activities of this unit and, generally, into the operational efficiency of the Police Force. The demand for a public inquiry into the functioning of the Force was not new. Indeed, in view of the palpable weaknesses of the Force, its increasing inability to give service and protection to the citizens, and its inadequacy in coping with the policing demands of modern society, PNCR members had submitted to the National Assembly for debate Motions on this topic. The PPP/C, however, for reasons best known to itself, has stubbornly refused to bring them up for debate.
Moreover, prominent on the agenda for the Dialogue between the PNCR Leader and President Jagdeo was the issue of a Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the Black Clothes Police and into the functioning of the Force, generally. Mr. Jagdeo kept evading the issue. Soon it became quite clear that the regime intended to do nothing to improve the performance of the Force. It is also clear that it intends to do nothing to bring Shaka Blair’s murderers to justice.
PNCR’s INSTITUTION OF A POLICY OF ACTIVE NON-COOPERATION
Having regard to the PPP/C’s cynicism and obduracy, and in view of the position taken by the PNC/R on Tuesday 9th April, 2002, PNC/R will now formally adopt a policy of active non-cooperation with the PPP/C. As from today, the Party will have no form of cooperation with the regime in any new areas (other than to facilitate constitutional mandates and outstanding constitutional reforms) until existing grievances have been fully redressed. Since the PPP/C regime has marginalised the Parliament and reduced it to a state of virtual inconsequence, PNCR’s activism will therefore, involve various non-Parliamentary and extra-Parliamentary forms. The Party will intensify its work to oppose the regime’s bad policies and relentlessly expose its corruption, incompetence and general mis-government. We will robustly exercise our constitutional rights, as well as those democratic prerogatives enshrined in the Caricom Charter of Civil Liberties, to bring this recalcitrant regime to a proper understanding of its obligation to administer the affairs of this country in a fair, honest and just way.
PNCR, secure in its principled position, is not perturbed by the obscenity, vulgar abuse and threats, both covert and overt, with which the PPP/C has reacted through Dr. Roger Luncheon, its principal barker, and other Party hacks, including its talk-show flunkeys. PNCR dismisses with contempt the whole sorry claque and their ridiculous huffing and puffing. The PPP/C knows quite well that the PNCR cannot and will not be cowed or intimidated by threats and will not be deterred from discharging its responsibility to the people of this country. PNCR repeats what it has said time and again: the Party has no obligation to the governing regime; its sole duty is to its members and to the Guyanese citizenry as a whole. And it will always fulfil that duty.
THE PPP AND TERRORISM
The PPP/C has had the gall to accuse the PNC/R of terrorism. It has conveniently forgotten its own foul, vicious and bloody history; for that Party has been the most murderous and terroristic organisation ever spawned by the political process in this country. It is the only Party that has, in the name of politics, indulged in multiple mass murders; in instigating nationwide communal violence; in promoting widespread mayhem and arson; in damaging, by major acts of sabotages, on a sustained and calculated basis, the vital economic and security interests of this country.
The mass murder of the seven members of the Abraham family; the mass murder of Reginald Blake and others in the Mahaicony Creek; the mass murder of Leonard Cummings and others in the Buxton backlands; the mass murder of some 40 passengers - men, women, children, babes in arms - on the “Son Chapman”: these are merely a few of PPP/C atrocities against the Guyanese people. The list is long and continuing; but let us recall that in 1963 (April to July) and 1964 (February to July) PPP-sponsored political strikes by GAWU resulted in the following harrowing statistics:
• Number of murders committed • 11 • 126
• Number of civilian casualties • 651 • 928
• Number of Policemen injured • 28 • 7
• Number of houses destroyed or damaged by
arson • 40 • 1,485
• Number of buildings dynamited or bombed • 46 • 74
These statistics are only partial; they do not include the wider damage to property, personal injuries and loss of life that resulted from the reign of terror that the PPP/C unleashed upon the country, under the slogan “No PR or Death”, in its rage to prevent the introduction of the electoral system of Proportional Representation.
In addition to these criminal acts, the PPP/C organised the burning of thousands of acres of sugarcane and hundreds of major acts of sabotage on sugar estates. All of these crimes were carried out by criminal gangs coordinated by the infamous Dougla Alfred, the notorious PPP/C assassin and bodyguard to members of the PPP/C hierarchy. Even today he is still involved in criminal activities on behalf of the PPP/C.
These are matters that will not be readily forgotten. The PPP/C cannot wish them away. Since that Party seems anxious to demonise PNC/R while vainly seeking to promote itself as a band of angels, PNC/R might have no alternative, distasteful though it might be, than to publish full and detailed information about these horrendous crimes committed by the PPP/C so as to remind the Guyanese people of the real nature of the PPP/C beast, lest they make a terrible error of forgetting.
PPP/C’s HIT LIST
The PPP/C is still pursuing its violent, murderous ways as the assassination of Mr. Mohan of Bushlot Village, Essequibo Coast has clearly shown Mohan’s crime was that he and his son, Rabindranauth had defected from the PPP/C to ROAR Party in the year 2000. From our contacts in the PPP/C we have learnt that the lunatic fringe of that Party’s hierarchy has prepared a hit list of PNCR leaders for what they call a possible pre-emptive strike. The leaders of PNC/R are amused. We are supremely confident in the Party’s ability to survive and await, undismayed the threatened assault.
REJECTION OF PPP/C’s PROPAGANDA THAT PNC/R IS ANTI-POLICE: RENEWAL OF CALL FOR COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
PNCR firmly rejects the idle propaganda of PPP/C that PNC/R is anti-police and is promoting hostility to the Force. The Party has always maintained that the overwhelming majority of policemen and women are decent, honourable people who would like to do a professional job; but sometimes their best efforts are frustrated by gross and unlawful political interference. PNCR has never attacked them. The Party has however criticized severely the operations of the infamous and brutal Target Special Squad, known as the “Black Clothes Police”. It would continue to do so. Since there can be no doubt that the Police Force needs to be reformed to meet the challenges of modern society, the Party has repeatedly called on the government to review the structure, methodology, functioning and conditions of service of the Force with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness and equipping it to discharge its mandate successfully in a changed and rapidly changing milieu. Today, the PNCR renews its call for the Government to undertake this task with urgency and seriousness. In any new dispensation, extra-judicial killings and brutality can be no part of professional policing. PNCR has always co-operated with the honest, professional members of the Force. It will continue to support them and urges them to resist being manipulated to serve political ends. PNC/R also urges its members and supporters to fully co-operate with these ranks.
Dr. Roger Luncheon’s recent statement that the disbanding of the Black Clothes Police will interfere with the Police’s ability to stop the escalation of crime is comical. It is also an insult to the other Police ranks that make up the bulk of the Force. The “Black Clothes” gang comprises less that 3% of the Force and the suggestion that they alone can effectively deal with crime is nothing short of deception. If this were so, what then has become of the Criminal Investigation Department? What is the role of the Tactical Service Unit or of the other members of the Force deployed at the Police Stations throughout the country? For Luncheon to imply that these policemen are all impotent to deal with crime must frighten the wits out of all law-abiding citizens.
PNCR CONDEMNS CRIME AND ASSOCIATED VIOLENCE
The PNCR condemns crime and criminal violence. It has already expressed its abhorrence at the recent shooting to death of the Police Sergeant on the East Coast of Demerara. We have also conveyed our sympathy to his bereaved wife, children and other members of his family. We repeat, however, that this dastardly act must not be used as an excuse for the Black clothes to go on a rampage in the villages on the East Coast of Demerara and ill-treat, criminalise and kill citizens. We have learnt that they have uplifted a detailed plan of Buxton from the Lands and Surveys Department. We caution these elements against any ill-advised action against the people of Buxton. If the PPP/C continues to trample on the rights of innocent persons and unleashes the Black Clothes Squad to perpetrate their unlawful acts, then chaos will reign and there can be no hope of any progress in the country.
SOME CAUSES OF ESCALATING CRIME: THE DRUG TRAFFIC AND THE PROLIFERATION OF FIREARMS
The PPP/C regime continues to ignore a main source of the seemingly uncontrollable crime situation in Guyana. This is the flourishing drug trade that threatens to overwhelm an already weakened and economically depressed people and the violence stemming from the drug wars the trade inevitably entails. Additionally, the indiscriminate and irresponsible issuance of firearm licences by Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, has come back to haunt the PPP/C administration which continues to turn a blind eye to the smuggling of arms into Guyana by its supporters.
Too many guns, both legal and illegal, are in the system; and political interference has prevented the Police from pursuing and bringing to justice those who ply the illegal gun trade. In December 1997 some regular Police ranks raided the home of a prominent PPP/C activist, Mohamed Salim aka “Beast”, and seized an arsenal of weapons which included, among other weapons, self-loading rifles, pump action shotguns, handguns and grenades. Immediately, the PPP/C apparatus swung into gear to organise a massive cover-up. “Beast” was released from custody and not charged; the arms were never taken to the Police Armoury; they simply disappeared. Since neither the Director of Public Prosecutions nor the Police attempted to prosecute “Beast”, a private citizen filed criminal proceedings against him. As the Magistrates’ Court proceedings commenced, the Police records vanished into thin air; possible Police witnesses were banished to remote locations and were never available to turn up in Court; and
the case was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence! And the rank and file of the Police Force were demoralised and aggrieved The cover-up succeeded – a cover-up that still stinks the high heavens. Counsel for “Beast” in this
unsavoury affair was Mr. Ronald Gajraj, now PPP/C Minister of Home Affairs with responsibility for the Police!
The regime had also promised an Inquiry to ascertain how Police weapons found their way into the weapons cache which Linden “Blackie” London was alleged to have had in his possession at the time he was gunned down on February 9th, 2000. It appears that no investigation was ever made and to this date there has been no Report.
The PPP/C regime refuses to acknowledge the enormity of the problems facing our country at the moment. Instead of brainstorming nationally to come up with policies to rid Guyana of the scourge of drugs, poverty and crime, it is busily concentrating on weaving a web of lies to distract the nation from its ineptitude and failures. Instead of taking action to ensure that the Guyana Police Force becomes a modern and highly professional entity, capable of serving and protecting all citizens, it has resorted, through warped thinking, to defending the activities of the notorious, out-of-control Black Clothes Police who operate outside of the law. This gang has brought disrepute to the main Police Force and is being fostered and protected by the PPP/C for its own sinister and narrow political purposes.
The PPP/C regime should no longer be clutching at straws. It must act responsibly and administer the affairs of our country in an honest, equitable and just manner. It has failed miserably to do so and the result is the quagmire in which Guyana now finds itself.
We once again urge the PP/C regime to let good sense prevail before it is too late.
BK and The Cane Grove Dam
The PNCR has noted that the PPP/C regime has finally come around to accepting the need to apply sanctions to BK International for shoddy work done by the company on the East Demerara Water Conservancy Dam. The resulting breach seriously disrupted the lives of the residents of the adjoining communities and caused them immense economic harm. There was never any question that the regime would have to apply sanctions. It would have been impossible for it, however much it might have wanted to protect BK, not to act in accordance with the categorical and damning indictment of BK in the Report of the Commission of Inquiry.
What the public anxiously awaits is the nature and scope of the sanctions to be applied against BK. Will it be a mere slap on the wrist, a token concession to the Report’s findings, a mere sop to an aroused public opinion? Or will it be significant enough to send a clear message to BK and other similarly inclined contractors that professional immorality and corrupt practices in executing government projects will not be countenanced but will be subjected to the severest penalties? If the principle that the penalty should fit the crime is applied in this instance, then BK should be blacklisted and a huge monetary penalty be levied. There may even be a case for criminal action against the company – and this should be explored. It is quite alarming that, even before the Attorney General has tendered his advice to the government on possible sanctions, Dr. Roger Luncheon should have publicly ruled out “black-listing”. Alarming, but not surprising.
Not only did the company fail to meet its contractual obligations in critical areas of the project, but it and its principal, Mr. Brian Tiwarie, displayed unforgivable bombast, incivility and arrogance in refusing to co-operate with both the Commission and Cabinet on this matter. One wonders what prompted Mr. Tiwarie to act so brazenly towards a regime which unashamedly facilitated his rise from rags to riches? Could it be his belief that the regime would never meaningfully discipline one of its cronies? Or is he about to cash in the many IOU’s which we know he is holding against influential members of the regime? We and all Guyanese taxpayers await the demonstration of the President’s widely publicized resolve to punish the guilty!
B.K. AND THE HAGUE SEA DEFENCE CONTRACT
BK strikes again! Another sweetheart IDB funded contract?
BK International won the IDB funded contract (IDB Loan No. 877/SF-GY) for the construction of approximately 310 metres of sea defences at Hague, West Coast Demerara. The original contract value was G$179Mn.
However, BK was granted an additional contract for the construction of approximately 330 metres of sea defence works at Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo valued G$189Mn. This contract was issued under the guise of Variation Order No.1 to the original contract.
The works at Vergenoegen were not subject to normal Tender Board procedures. Therefore, other contractors were not given the opportunity to bid for the contract. As a consequence the total contract value to BK was G$368Mn.
In accordance with IDB rules the maximum value of a variation should not be more than 20% of the original contract value.
All information available suggests that this is another irregular transaction with BK International as the beneficiary. In fact, there must be questions raised about a possible conflict of interest on the part of the supervisory consultant, SRKN’GINEERING/DCSL.
Isn’t this amazing, a variation has been added to the original contract which exceeds the value of that contract! What is the explanation? PNCR therefore calls upon Mr. Robert Kestell, the IDB Resident Representative, to explain this extraordinary happening. There have been far too many allegations and publicly uttered suspicions that IDB functionaries are aiding and abetting corrupt practices in this country in relation to IDB-funded projects. He should consider that he has a moral duty to the Guyanese taxpayers who will ultimately have to repay the IDB loan. Will there be a Variation Order N0.2? This is anybody’s guess!
Congress Place, Sophia
April 18th, 2002
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