The lead letter in Monday’s edition of KN described a situation where a citizen by the name of Shyam Nokta (the son of a member of the executive committee of the PPP) has a private company that does environment and climate research. At the same time, he is a consultant with the Office of the President (OP) to which he applies for consultancies in the same area.
We don’t have to even mention for one second that this is a conflict of interest. But a conflict of interest can exist on paper only. Let me explain. Let us say that I work with the President and I have a printing company that tenders for Government printing jobs. Suppose I never received a successful tender, then it means that a conflict of interest never occurred.
So is Shyam Nokta in a conflict of interest? Only if he receives contracts from OP. It is for Nokta and President Ramotar to deny that any contracts were offered to Nokta. If there is silence the opposition should act; but not only the opposition, civil society too.
This Nokta conflict of interest thing surfaced two years ago and not even one citizen picked it up. Times like these my mind focuses on that defunct body called the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA).With a large office on Hadfield Street, I wonder who funds that outfit which a man and wife have headed for the past thirty years and to which no one goes to complain and from which we don’t hear about any investigation into human rights violation. More on the GHRA in future columns.
Now we have a new kid on the block, Transparency Institute (TI).
Does Transparency Institute see an impropriety in the Nokta connection with OP? If yes, it must publicly state so. I am now calling on Transparency Institute to make a statement on this issue. This column’s support for TI will stop in the future if TI does not see the wisdom of commenting on this intriguing situation. Guyanese cannot go on watching organizations telling them that they have their interest at heart, but choose to be diplomatic, evasive, subtle or even silent when wrongdoing is right in front of our eyes.
It may not only be Shyam Nokta who may be in a conflict of interest cocoon with OP, but also the son of another member of the PPP executive whom I am told has a private business and gets a lot of OP contracts for internet and other cyberspace work.
Not to mention, he is very wealthy, with the expensive purchase of prime real estate – not too far from the Guyana Police Force – from a foreign diplomatic mission in Guyana.
I keep telling individual members of the opposition parties that I associate with, that with each passing day, the enormity of wealth possessed by the PPP leaders, their second-tier cadres, their third level activists, their devout supporters and those generally associated with the PPP is going to be so widespread that it will be tantamount to buying out Guyana.
Let us move from Nokta’s noctiluca, to Anthony’s antonomasia. Mr. Ruel Johnson has publicly stated that there are indications that Minister Frank Anthony is planning libel action against him.
If this is so, then I hereby offer free legal advice to Frank Anthony. I hope Mr. Anthony takes it and refrains from seeking wisdom from one of his colleagues, a lawyer that rose from being an obscure attorney in landlord-tenant cases and then fell into infamy by publicly exclaiming that “I is a man that is do illegal things.”
Here are my wise words to Anthony. When a President, Prime Minister, Army Chief, Police Chief, or Cabinet Minister sues another citizen for libel, the defence lawyer automatically puts the plaintiff’s (the person who sued) integrity in the witness box
All kinds of past decisions, past mistakes, past controversies are aired in court, because office-holders like Presidents, Prime Minister and Ministers are powerful people whose policies and judgements may have twists and turns that the defence lawyers will want to highlight in court.
If Minister Anthony thinks that he is going to sue for libel and not be made to feel the heat in the kitchen, he is wrong. The first thing that will run through the mind of the defence lawyer is “I am going to deal with this guy, I have the evidence.”
It has been reported in the newspapers by Malcolm De Freitas, of the Theatre Guild that the Carifesta Secretariat still owes the Guild over a million dollars. Weren’t you the Minister in charge of Carifesta? Is the money paid as yet? Just asking!
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I have been doing columns since 1988. I have been a major columnist with the Catholic Standard, Stabroek News, Kaieteur... more