Mayor Henry: Don’t get mad, get constructive
I refer to your front page news story titled, “Jagdeo calls Mayor Jackass, Mayor calls Jagdeo Gutter Rat”, and ask simply: Isn’t this a case of one person being abused publicly, and the “abusee” getting even?”
Getting even is a waste of emotions and energy and contributes nothing to change the things we need to change in our society. We need to build genuine democratic institutions. We need Rule of Law. We need a strong and independent press.
I would urge Mayor Claude Henry to channel his anger into doing something constructive for the Rule of Law in Guyana. I am referring, of course, to the fact that President Jagdeo has now acknowledged publicly that he did in fact receive a 29-ton container of building materials shipped to him by U.S.-Court indicted-businessman Edul Ahmad. (This shipment which had remained a top secret for over a year had been revealed by the FBI in a U.S. Court – and subsequently made public). The estimated value of the container is USD 100,000.
The Guyanese nation needs to know whether this shipment was a gift or President Jagdeo did in fact pay for the shipment? All public officials, including Mayor Henry and particularly Opposition Leader Robert Corbin, the independent press and courageous citizens of the Republic should and must call on President Jagdeo to provide proof of payment. A failure to provide proof of payment can only lead to the inevitable conclusion that President Jagdeo had in fact accepted an illegal gift. If this is true President Jagdeo broke the law.
In no democratic society anywhere in the world, can a public official accept a gift of USD$100,000 value. Such gifts are nothing but bribes. This nation of 700,000 people has a God-given right to wonder and demand to know what favors, if any, President Jagdeo granted in return for the gift.
When the independent press studiously avoids using its editorial columns to call on President Jagdeo to provide proof of payment, you know intuitively the press is fearful of being sued by an all-too powerful president. (There is an ongoing lawsuit engaging the High Court: President Jagdeo sued Kaiteur News for libel). Independent presses in small emerging societies are at the mercy of dictatorial-minded presidents. One such successful lawsuit can put them out of business.
So in summary, what have we got here: A weak independent press, an emasculated Leader of the Opposition and a frightful and cowed citizenry. This makes Guyana a banana republic – a state without a Rule of Law. Such a state of affairs can hardly be considered a democracy.
Every citizen arriving at the airport with a stereo or record player valued at USD100 must pay customs duties; yet President Jagdeo paid not a dime on this alleged gift from Ahmad valued at USD100,000. And, it was all legal. Presidents and Cabinet Ministers are entitled to have customs duties of this magnitude waived. What kind of a constitution have we got here that puts the president above the law of the land? These are the things we have got to change in this land called Guyana.
And, who has not heard of the pension-package bill that President Jagdeo signed into law, so he can retire and live a life style fit for Emperors? (Think: Emperors from the Middle Ages). The most outrageous thing about this law is that a retired President Jagdeo’s benefits would be on par with retired U.S. presidents. And, if that is not so bad, you have to know that Guyana’s per capita income is only USD2,500 compared to United States’ USD 45,000. You have to start wondering what kind of a parliament we have in Guyana that would pass a law that authorizes a plunder of the national treasury.
Elections come and go – and nothing changes. The more you have elections, the more things remain the same. The people of Egypt used to have elections regularly until one day they woke up and realized elections are a waste of time. They are now working for and demanding real change: Change in the basic Rule of Law – The Constitution.
My advice to Mayor Henry: Don’t get mad. Be calm. Get constructive.