PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform At The Press Conference on Thursday November 7th, 2002 Hall Of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.





SUMMARY:

• No levels of security and maintenance of law and order by the Government towards the crime situation.
• More Incompetent Governance.
• Protecting corruption.
• Constitutional rights to freedom of expression threatened.
• Broadcasting and Paranoia.

RAMADAN GREETINGS:
The Holy and Glorious month of Ramadan is with us again and once more the People’s National Congress Reform embraces the opportunity to greet all Guyanese and more especially Members of our Muslim community as we strive to give meaning to the noble ideals of Ramadan – Struggle, Sacrifice, Abstinence and Forbearance.

In today’s Guyana, the need to struggle for these ideals is even more palpable as we seek to grapple with the multifarious difficulties which beset our country.

The need for continuous struggle against oppression and injustice and for social justice and peace should be emphasized by all as we together observe the Holy month of Ramadan.

MORE CRIME:
Citizens of Guyana have to ask themselves a stark and straightforward question:

Can we ever rely on this PPP/C government to provide us with reasonable and acceptable levels of security and the maintenance of law and order?

It is our right as Guyanese to expect to go about our business and recreational activity in the reasonable expectation that we would not be terrified by gang wars, and the terrible rattle of the sound of automatic weapons and assault rifles.

We are now saddled with a government that seems incapable of dealing with the madness that is engulfing us all. On Monday 2002 November 4, the peace of our Diwali festival was desecrated by the sounds of urban warfare and at the end of it all, more dead bodies and blood besmirched our city streets.

Since 2002 Monday October 28, it appears as if a bloodbath and senseless carnage has been unleashed upon us and law abiding and God fearing citizens cannot be sure that their neighborhood is not to be the next scene for this mayhem.

MORE INCOMPETENT GOVERNANCE:
What deepens all our anxieties is the by now quite obvious realization that the government is confused as to what to do to stem the tide of the already out-of-control crime and security situation that confronts our nation.

The PPP/C had rammed four (4) so-called anti-crime bills through parliament despite the knowledge that many respected members of the legal profession are convinced that they are unconstitutional, were ill advised and badly drafted. The PPP/C propaganda machine told us that these bills were the magic wand, the silver bullets that would deal with the crime problems and that all would be well. The facts are that since the crime bills, the crime situation has become decidedly and frighteningly worse and the regime’s posture has become even more clueless, helpless and absurd.

Nothing that Freedom House, the Jagdeo regime and their army of surrogate propagandists have said, gives any feeling of hope that they have the will and commitment to restore police morale, capacity and capability to stem the crime wave and restore public security and confidence.

The PNCR has always argued that the so-called crime bills were irrelevant and useless, being no more than a thinly guised attempt by the government to muzzle opposition and criticism of the PPP/C’s inept policies and disastrous record in office.

We have argued continually that the government’s policies are wrong and that a different and more consensual approach should be tried. The President and the Minister of Home Affairs have failed in their responsibilities to the people of Guyana. Therefore they should do the decent thing and resign before the situation in Guyana descends to even worse levels of mayhem and barbarism.

We have noted that the government is attempting by various subterfuges to proffer the position that the poor performance of the Minister of Home Affairs and of the President himself should somehow be immune from criticism. That position is but a legacy of the Stalinist orientation of the PPP/C.

We hold that it is our duty to the people to point out wrong doing and incompetence wherever and whenever they show their heads. We therefore repeat our opinion that the PPP/C should remove their inept President and failed Minister of Home Affairs and replace them with more competent and capable comrades, if they can find them.

We say this because we are patriots and cannot enjoy the current downward spiral of our beloved Guyana.

PROTECTING CORRUPTION:
We have had cause to comment in the past that there seems to be no level of incompetence and/or corruption which would cause the government of the PPP/C to give marching orders to one of their incumbent Ministers. They would rather be besmirched by their association with the unsavoury characters in their midst rather than rid themselves of that baggage. What is worse, we have heard feeble and laughable defences of failed Ministers by the President himself. This gives rise to the conclusion that as Head-of-Government, the President condones and protects irregularity, corruption and incompetence.

DOES THE PRESIDENT RECOGNISE CORRUPTION WHEN CONFRONTED BY THE EVIDENCE?
When the PPP added the Civic component many citizens hoped that they were bringing aboard honest citizens of integrity to give some veneer of honesty to the regime. We now know that some members of the Civic component are just as corrupt and incompetent as their PPP cohorts.

The Minister of Health is the notorious example who has recently erupted with transparently empty attempts to defend his corrupt acts.

The PNCR has since August of this year brought to public attention the sorry record of Minister Ramsammy’s financial improprieties. The Minister, on 2001 August 7, wrote a note to the CEO of GPHC, which we have in our possession, requesting him to pay over to him the sum of $120,000 (one hundred and twenty thousand dollars) to help him pay his son’s school fees as the Office of the President had not paid over his allowances to him on time.

The Minister knowingly lied since it is not the Office of the President that pays him his allowances but rather the Parliament Office. The Minister accepted the $120,000 paid over by the GPHC and never repaid it until a year had past when the PNCR started our investigations. His repayment does not make right the corrupt act that was committed. Mr. Ramsammy was wrong, he is guilty of misconduct and any attempt by Mr. Jagdeo to defend him is further proof of the PPP/C regime’s attitude to truth and honesty. Mr. Ramsammy does not have license to cheat, lie and steal!

As far as the scandals of his driver’s allowances are concerned, Mr. Ramsammy’s claims that his driver works more that 40 hours a week is irrelevant. That is true of every ministerial driver and has always been so. If this is so then the driver deserves overtime paid by his employer and not Mr. Ramsammy. Mr. Ramsammy’s allowance paid by Parliament is for a driver in his employ not that of the GPHC or any other agency. The various defences mounted by GINA and other propaganda mouthpieces are irrelevant red herrings designed to divert attention from the dishonest acts of the Minister.

We hope that the Speaker of the National Assembly ensures that monies disbursed by Parliament are properly accounted for.

Mr. Ramsammy took an Oath in the presence of Mr. Jagdeo. Is Mr. Jagdeo a party to these corrupt acts? His statement on TV on Friday night that he understood that the money was for an autopsy indicates that he sees nothing wrong with the demand made by the Minister. Even if it were for an autopsy, it could never be right that the Minister be paid for an autopsy. Is this complicity between Mr. Ramsammy and Mr. Jagdeo?

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION THREATENED:
The recent attempt by Mr. Ronald Gajraj to hide from public accountability for his miserable performance as Minister of Home Affairs by seeking shelter through the Judiciary would have been most amusing had this development not marked a most dangerous development in jurisprudence in Guyana.

That the Honorable Minister could obtain an Injunction preventing a citizen and a section of the media from expressing an opinion that inter alia the Minister, “has neglected to perform his duties and fulfill his responsibilities as Minister of Home Affairs” or that he is “irresponsible in the carrying out of his functions as Minister” and that he is “uncaring of the people of Guyana” is evidence of the extent of the contempt which this Government has for the people of Guyana.

This latest development provides us with more evidence that the Government and Mr Gajraj are either unaware or do not take seriously their obligation of accountability to the people of Guyana. It also explains their failure in the past to respond positively to adverse public sentiment or their non action in correcting their mistakes - among which must be the appointment of Gajraj as Minister - or redressing grievances of the people, one of which has been the murderous role of the “Black Clothes” police.

However, to involve the Courts of Guyana in their sinister programme to stifle adverse public reaction and opinion must be a matter of grave concern for all Guyanese.

Throughout the ages it has always been the right of citizens to comment on the performance of their public Officials. How else could public accountability be ensured?

It is for this and other reasons that Article 146 of the Constitution provides for the fundamental right of freedom of expression. The public would be interested to know how expressing a widely held public opinion on the performance of a Public Official in the performance of his official duties could constitute libel. Therefore the pending legal proceedings will be of extreme importance to all freedom loving Guyanese.

There is no doubt that some of the terms of the Court Order obtained by the Minister of Home Affairs infringe or threatens to infringe certain fundamental rights of the citizen. The PNCR will be following these developments closely.

It is also evident that the Government is now moving to silence all mass media that do not express pro Government views. How else could one explain the partisan and discriminatory manner in which certain TV stations and talk-show hosts are singled out for sanctions?

The PNCR considers any attempt by the Government to interfere with the operations of the NBTV Channel 9 TV Station as Political discrimination and a most dangerous development. We will resolutely defend the rights of its owners to exist and operate in Guyana.

BROADCASTING AND PARANOIA:
The paranoia of the government has not only been manifested in its assault on the courts but also in its assault on the Interim Broadcast Committee. The announcement that the government intends to use the interim committee to protect the Minister of Home Affairs is one more step in the direction of state control of information and the muzzling of public opinion.

Whilst the government has failed signally to implement the provisions of the Joint Committee on Government Monopoly of Broadcasting, the regime has systematically tried to use the Interim Broadcast Committee as a means of muzzling journalists and broadcast stations which allow criticism of the government, in conformity with true democratic norm and practices in any functioning Democracy.

PNCR WELCOMES BOXERS HOME
The PNCR takes this opportunity to welcome home our reigning world boxing champions, Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite and “Vicious” Vivian Harris. They have indeed made us proud. We salute them and wish them well in their careers.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia.
Thursday November 07. 2002