In a letter in yesterday’s edition of this newspaper, Ravi Dev requested an apology over what he claims is a fiction attributed to him; that is he is an employee of the Office of the President in my column last Monday. I hardly expect someone who has written voluminously on me and penned some very unpleasant statements against me to take offence to what I consider an extremely innocuous observation in polemical exchanges.
When I heard that Dev was upset, I thought libel was committed so I immediately called Khemraj Ramjattan, my lawyer. His wife informed me that he was in Parliament. I was not concerned because as a commentator since 1988, I have a sense of detecting libel. It comes naturally.
Mr. Dev in his letter wants an apology. I thought the more normal thing to do was to state that he was not working at OP. There is an additional aspect. There is nothing in law that puts me in the wrong if I refuse to accept what Dev said. We are talking here of morals and not laws.
I am within my right to say to Dev that I don’t believe him. Three lawyers told me I am perfectly within my right to say to Dev; “I don’t believe you.” Moral conduct is another matter. On the moral level, do I owe Dev an apology? I would have no objection in extending a retraction and correction to Dev because I believe him when he wrote that he is not an employee of OP. Morally speaking then, there should be no difficulty. An apology is hereby forwarded to Dev. Now it is Mr. Dev’s turn to apologize after he would have read the reproduction of his statements on me below. Dev once told Donald Ramotar that he is a trained lawyer therefore he knows what libel is.
Before I show Dev what he has written about me, a little bit on libel for readers’ education. In a majority of cases, the plaintiff would argue that because of his standing in society, he has been brought down in the eyes of people. I have a defined status in Guyana. I honestly do not know what the defined status of Dev is. Let me use context here. By status I don’t mean perception. Most persons known in a society can claim to have status. That is why the adjective is defined is used. I am talking about the factual existence of the person in an established, official hierarchy. There are lawyers, doctors, priests, parliamentarians, owners of business, civil servants, Cabinet members, professional sporting people. In that hierarchy, I am an ensconced education official working in higher education with the State of Guyana for 42 years as a university lecturer
Thousands of students have passed through my hand. Within this context, I do not know what Dev’ status is therefore, I am more open to ridicule because of my standing as a teacher.
All quotes are taken from this newspaper. On Sep 14, 2008, Dev devoted his entire column to my mental health concluding that I am insane. He wrote; “One has to worry about Mr. Kissoon’s mental equilibrium. In his last paragraph he stated; “Mr. Kissoon ought to visit (psychiatrist) Dr, Bhiro Harry who deals with psychological issues. “On Sep 27, 09, he wrote that Kissoon and others “demand that ordinary people resort to violence, if necessary to remove the elected government.” On Nov 22, Dev observed that “Kissoon and Gibson’s new history is a narrative of hate…that justifies…marauding gangs murdering ordinary men, women and children.”
After that I should have sued Dev for libel because in court I could have proven that I wrote against such marauding gangs. I didn’t seek the court’s protection because that is not within my political culture. On Nov 29, the very next week, Dev continued with his libel. He wrote; “The narrative of Freddie Kissoon and Dr. Kean Gibson is polemically framed to bring down the government of the day.”
These are just a few samples of the dangerous writings of Dev on me that could endanger my life. In all his ramblings, not one quote was ever used to show my advocacy of violence. So we are left with two written statements by Dev on my character. I am insane and that I am advocating the violent overthrow of the Government. This is the very man that is offended when I wrote through the unfortunate juxtaposition of sentences that he works at the Office of the President. Not to forget that this is the very man who offended an entire section of Guyana by stating that if East Indians didn’t come, Guyana would have remained a mangrove.
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