PRESS STATEMENT: CONGRATULATIONS TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA--Friday 23 January 2009




SUMMARY:
• The Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin, MP, on his own behalf, and on behalf of the executives, members and supporters of our Party, offered congratulations to President Barack H. Obama, as he assumed the Presidency of the United States of America;
• President Jagdeo has presided over a regime that, apart from the widespread and out-of-control corruption of its coterie of officials, has shown nothing but contempt for the Rule-of-Law and the fundamental rights and other provisions of the Guyana Constitution;
• The nation was informed, by senior officials of the PPP/C, that the unedited broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings is a premature step;
• The PNCR hopes that the interventions of the pensioners themselves will soften the hard heart of the Jagdeo Administration and persuade it to do something about the pensions paid to so many people who have served Guyana long and well;
• The People’s National Congress Reform has sent a message of congratulation to Judge Mohammed Shahabuddeen on his election to the International Criminal Court (ICC);
• The Party wishes to acknowledge the great service that Mr. Ayube Hamid gave in the field of broadcasting and his lasting impact on the community of broadcasters both here and in the region.

CONGRATULATIONS TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

On the historic occasion of his inauguration, as the 44th President of the United States, the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, on his own behalf, and on behalf of the executives, members and supporters of our Party, offered our congratulations to President Barack H. Obama, as he assumed the Presidency of the United States of America.

In President Obama’s Inaugural address, he demonstrated an impressive understanding of the problems, which confront the Unites States and what must be done to ensure that the United States, not only overcomes the existing challenges, but renews itself and reclaims the high moral ground among nations.

In particular, our Party was struck by his statement that, “To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.” This is encouraging to us, as it must also be to the peoples of all developing countries, especially those of us in the English speaking Caribbean, since it signals that, under a President Obama Administration, the United States would play an enlightened role for the development of less rich nations.

The Leader expressed the confidence that, given President Obama’s educational and intellectual attainments, commitment to the politics of inclusion, understanding of the problems and interests of other nations, and, most of all, his determination to renew and revitalise the American economy, would ensure that his tenure as President would mark the welcome development of a new era, driven by enlightened self interest and mutual respect.

THE INTEGRITY COMMISSION IMPROPERLY CONSTITUTED:

As expected, President Bharrat Jagdeo has railed against the call for a forensic audit into the assets acquired by senior Government officials and corrupt business people, which bear no relationship to their incomes and earnings. He questioned, according to the Kaieteur News of 20 January 2009, “Why the PNCR was calling for the forensic audit to be extended when there was already the requirement in the law”, meaning the Integrity Commission.

In his usual cavalier approach to important facts, President Jagdeo seems to have conveniently forgotten that the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform has mounted a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the Integrity Commission since May 2005.

President Jagdeo, contrary to the letter and spirit of the law and the Constitution, unilaterally appointed that body in violation of the requirement for meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, as well as not taking into account the requirements of the Integrity Commission Act with respect to the persons to be appointed to that position.

Contrary to the propaganda of the President and his PPP cohorts, the PNCR had initiated, prior to 1992, the drafting of an Integrity Commission Law and has always supported the purpose and principles underlying the establishment of an autonomous Integrity Commission, to ensure that there is probity, particularly, by Governmental and other public officials, at all levels.

The PNCR however has a fundamental objection to the manipulation of the Commission by the President and the violation of the Law in its appointment. The fact that the President can claim to have instructed the Commission, on what action should be taken against Opposition Members of Parliament, is testimony to his perception that the Commission is nothing but a convenient tool of the Executive to persecute members of the Opposition. President Jagdeo’s priorities are amazing. One would have expected that his penchant for interfering with the Judiciary would have led him to instigate the determination of the constitutionality of that body. The case was ripe for hearing, since 7 December 2005, but cannot see the light of day in our Judicial system. The PNCR, however, will not be intimidated. We would continue to resolutely pursue this matter in the Courts.

President Jagdeo has presided over a regime that, apart from the widespread and out-of-control corruption of its coterie of officials, has shown nothing but contempt for the Rule-of-Law and the fundamental rights and other provisions of the Guyana Constitution. Executive lawlessness continues to be the hallmark of his Administration.

In recent times, the President seems to have become intoxicated by the arbitrary and often vindictive exercise of state power. It does appear that the President is now even usurping the operational functions and responsibilities of the Commissioner of Police by instructing the Police to arrest Members of Parliament.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make them mad!

BACKWARD POLITICAL CULTURE OF THE JAGDEO ADMINISTRATION IS A DRAG ON GUYANA’S DEVELOPMENT:

In most countries, especially those which are members of the Commonwealth, issues such as a Freedom of Information Act, the Broadcast of Parliamentary proceedings, and legislation for the issuing of Broadcast licenses are part of the democratic fabric of the nation. Indeed, these matters are regarded, in these states, as essential to providing citizens with the requisite knowledge to scrutinise public policy and take important decisions which could have important consequences for their lives.

Yet the Jagdeo Administration, which claims to be democratic, has demonstrated a disturbing tendency to be backward looking and narrow-minded regarding public information policy. The citizens of this nation were provided with the startling spectacle of the Prime Minister intoning that, if licenses were granted for radio stations, Guyana would rapidly descend into the kind of chaos and blood letting that is associated with Rwanda.

This utter disregard and disrespect for Guyanese citizens to act responsibly in carrying out their civic duties is truly breathtaking. The nation was informed, by senior officials of the PPP/C, that the unedited broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings is a premature step.

These responses, to the demands by the Opposition for an enlightened information policy, are a reflection of the PPP/C’s determination to maintain control of the mass media. There is no other logical explanation.

The machinations and manoeuvres, of the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration, to exercise total control over the mass media in Guyana, represent a drag on the overall development of this nation. It limits the sources of information available to citizens for the scrutiny and criticism of Government policies, the combating of corruption, and the promotion of ideas and programmes which can contribute positively for the development of this country.

COST OF LIVING: THE PLIGHT OF OLD AGE PENSIONERS:

The plight of the old age pensioners is now firmly in the public domain. By letters to the press and interviews with members of the media, old age pensioners have made it known that the pension of $6,300 is totally inadequate. The recent derisory increase of $300 moved one pensioner to write to the Stabroek News, of 7 January 2009, in the following terms: “This amount ($300) will now make it possible for me to purchase a small pawpaw, four fig bananas and perhaps two mints to improve my well-being.”

The PNCR hopes that the interventions of the pensioners themselves, especially the ironic statement just quoted, will soften the hard heart of the Jagdeo Administration and persuade it to do something about the pensions paid to so many people who have served Guyana long and well.

But the Jagdeo Administration must go beyond bringing relief to the pensioners and generally do something for the really poor and vulnerable. The public assistance paid out is a scandal and needs to be urgently revised. The Party supports this claim, bearing in mind, the rising cost of living, due primarily to the unconscionable 16% VAT, which ought to be revised downwards to no more than 8%.

The current financial and economical crisis will only cause further pain to the poor and vulnerable in our society. Therefore, the Party calls again upon the Jagdeo Administration to take urgent measures to enable vulnerable Guyanese to be cushioned against the devastating impact of the present economic environment and the coming economic storms.

We recommend the convening of a Think Tank, comprised of representatives from all relevant stakeholders, in the society, to study the implications of the crisis and make recommendations for solutions.

The Jagdeo Administration must stop fiddling while Rome, or more precisely, Guyana burns!

PNCR CONGRATULATES MOHAMMED SHAHABUDDEEN ON HIS ELECTION TO THE ICC:

The People’s National Congress Reform has sent a message of congratulation to Judge Mohammed Shahabuddeen on his election to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Party noted that he was elected on the first round with the highest number of votes. We are sure that the only reason for this recognition is Judge Shahabudden’s outstanding legal scholarship and the brilliance of his judgements.

The Party wishes to recall that Judge Shahabuddeen was a former Attorney General of Guyana and a Minister of Legal Affairs in the PNC Administration and a Judge on the International Court of Justice, from 1988 to 1997. It also recalls that, in 2002, he was recognised as one of the ten best lawyers in the world by the prestigious British newspapers, the Financial Times.

PNCR SENDS CONDOLENCES TO AYUBE HAMID’S FAMILY

The People’s National Congress Reform adds its voice to those other Guyanese who have expressed sadness at the passing of the well known and gifted broadcaster, Mr. Ayube Hamid.

In tendering its condolences to his family, the Party also wishes to acknowledge the great service that he gave in the field of broadcasting and his lasting impact on the community of broadcasters both here and in the region.

As a broadcaster, Mr. Ayube Hamid, was known for the excellent quality of his programmes, such as “The Ayube Hamid Show” and “Indian Memory Album”. Both programmes stood out for the excellent choice of music and the manner in which it was communicated. The hallmark of Mr. Ayube Hamid’s programmes was his clear enunciation and the valuable information he would impart about the artistes whom he featured, and their backgrounds. It is unlikely that his place in the national broadcasting community will be filled.

But Mr. Ayube Hamid was not merely the broadcaster. He seemed to have a vested interest in bringing on younger members of the profession and, it is well known that, he gave his time and energy freely to those who were prepared to learn their craft from him.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday, January 23, 2009.