ILLNESS OF THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION--PRESS STATEMENT BY THE HON. ROBERT H. O. CORBIN Friday 29 May 2009




It is well known that on Saturday April 25, 2009, I was hospitalized at the Woodlands hospital after experiencing severe chest pains. Since then I was under the care and supervision of several doctors, surgeons and specialists in Georgetown and the USA who were able to provide the necessary care and attention and who have now pronounced me to be in good health. I returned to Guyana on Saturday May 23, 2007 but could not meet the Press before because of a sore throat due to a cold I appear to have contracted shortly before my return.

There was an initial belief by my Physicians that my chest pains were heart related. While a heart attack was very early ruled out, they considered it necessary to have urgent investigations done to evaluate the functioning of my heart. It was for this reason I was transferred to the Caribbean Heart Institute (CHI), which was under the ultimate control of Doctors in the United States. I have been advised that they requested my urgent travel to the USA because, although new facilities have been constructed here for angiography, such procedure could not be carried out without the relevant specialist surgeons on location to treat any abnormality that may be determined during the procedure.

On arrival in the United States, I was admitted to The Heart Center, St Francis Hospital in Long Island where I underwent cardiac catheterization. The angiography revealed normal LV Function and the coronary angiography revealed normal coronary arteries. In summary, they found me to be a person with chest pains, but with a perfect functioning heart. Consequently, they recommended further medical therapy to deal with my symptoms, the determination of which required several tests and evaluation.

After undergoing several medical tests, including a complete abdominal sonogram, a HIDA/Biliary scan and an endoscopy, it was diagnosed that my pains arose from the malfunctioning of my digestive system including a dysfunctional gallbladder. Surgery was determined necessary for the removal of the gallbladder to be followed by a course of medical treatment related to the stomach.

Surgery was successfully completed on Thursday May 7, and I am soon to complete the postoperative treatment. Let me state clearly, for the avoidance of any doubt, that, but for my bout of influenza, I am in good health. I am also feeling fine and energised.

Sincere Appreciation To All
I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all the Doctors, Nurses and other medical personnel who provided the necessary care and attention during my recent period of illness, and ensured my recovery. These include medical personnel at Woodlands Hospital, The Caribbean Heart Institute (CHI) at the Georgetown Hospital, the St Francis Hospital, North folk Radiology and the Peconic Bay Medical Center.

I wish to express my appreciation to the Government of Guyana for the assistance provided during my illness. I also wish to place on record my appreciation of the many expressions of concern and good wishes for a speedy recovery from friends, supporters and well-wishers. These messages, which were relayed to me during the period of my illness, provided the comfort essential to aid recovery.

Disclosure
I have noted in the media that there have been many views expressed about the nature of my illness, the need for full disclosure of the details of my complaint as well as the expenditure involved. I wish to clarify that I have no problems with full disclosure of my medical expenses paid by the Government whenever it becomes available or with disclosure of the general nature of my illness, which I have already done here today. However, I am convinced that the right of full disclosure on my medical condition is one to be exercised by me and no one else. I have read all the releases from the PNCR, my brother Charles and the reports in the local media during the period of my illness and am satisfied that there was always full disclosure. There is therefore absolutely no basis for some of the comments and criticisms made. Some of those observations were baseless, distasteful and unethical.

There are two other issues, which arose during my period of illness that I would like to comment on at this time. The Integrity Commission and the abandonment of Local Government Reform by the Jagdeo Administration.

INTEGRITY COMMISION

Two letters, signed by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat and dated May 7, 2009, were dispatched to the General Secretary, PNCR with respect to the desire of the President to conclude his engagement with the Leader of the Opposition on the three nominees for appointment to the reconstituted Integrity Commission and requesting “a possible time for an engagement” with the Leader of the Opposition to conclude discussions on Bills under review by the Bi-Partisan Local Government Task Force, respectively. The inference was that the illness of the Opposition Leader was in some way the cause for the delay in treating with these matters. I wish therefore to reject these inferences and set the record straight.

The sudden urgency by the President to constitute the Integrity Commission is at best illusory especially since he appeared content to have an unconstitutional Body remain in Office for nearly four years before attempting to rectify the error. The manner in which these new efforts were addressed is now a matter of public record.

The process of consultation commenced in January 2009 with President, (ag.), Samuel Hinds. A letter followed this from the Leader of the Opposition dated February 11, 2009, addressed to His Excellency, expressing some concerns and requesting information. To date, there has been no formal response to my letter of February 11, 2009. However, information on three nominees was eventually supplied and an undertaking was made to provide a new nominee for the Chairmanship of this body. To date the name of the new nominee has not been made available to me. It is therefore mindboggling that the President would declare his anxiety to complete the constitution of the Integrity Commission on May 7, 2009 when at the time that the Opposition Leader fell ill on April 25. 2009, more than two months had elapsed since my last communication with him and more significantly, the basis for its reconstitution, that is, a proposed Chairman has not yet been identified and made known to the Leader of the Opposition. The facts speak for themselves and the public can therefore draw their own conclusions.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM

The entire nation is also aware that the work of the Task Force on Local Government Reform was unilaterally terminated by the President on April 7, 2009 without any consultation or communication with the Leader of the Opposition or any other parliamentary opposition party. Since then, the Leader of the Opposition, like the other opposition parties in Guyana, has been treated with total disregard as the PPP Administration and President Jagdeo foisted on the public several untruthful and deceptive statements about this matter. Meanwhile, there was absolutely no interest or desire shown to consult the Leader of the Opposition up to the time he fell ill on April 25. The letter of May 7, 2009 was therefore no more than an exercise of political expediency as the President had publicly stated his intention of merely having a perfunctory meeting with the Opposition Leader before sending the proposed Local Government Reform Bills to Parliament. It is evident that the PPP objective after eight long years of study, discussion, and consultation with the people of Guyana, is to subvert the Local Government Reform process.
I wish to make it clear that I have no interest in superficial meetings, which are intended to satisfy the political agenda of the PPP. My interest, and that of the PNCR, however, is in the successful implementation of Local Government Reform. We will accept nothing less. It is evident, therefore, that no piecemeal approach will be accepted. All the Bills, which will give legal effect to the entire Local Government Reform process, must be simultaneously addressed and the consensus, as reflected in the Report of the Task Force, implemented.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 29 May 2009