Every five years the people of Guyana hire a new chief executive to oversee the affairs of the nation. The chief executive in the form of the President, works for the people of Guyana, is hired by us through our votes, and is ultimately answerable to us.
Among the many deeply troubling issues in this year’s hiring process is the reluctance of one of the candidates for the job to be examined fully by the people. Mr. Donald Ramotar has refused to subject himself to the interview process, choosing instead to let posters, billboards and surrogates do the talking. Consistently, Mr. Ramotar has refused on numerous occasions to engage in debates with the other Presidential hopefuls.
Unlike Brigadier David Granger, Mr. Ramotar is not a published author, and he has no body of intellectual work or scholarship, so it is difficult for us to examine his intellectual fortitude or lack thereof. Apart form a few appearances on state media, Mr. Ramotar has not been examined by any serious journalists. All we know about this gentleman is that he was educated in the Soviet Union, has a first degree from the University of Guyana, has worked at GIMPEX, and in 1992 was appointed General Secretary of the PPP.
Regarding policies, Mr. Ramotar appears to be an empty suit, or should I say shirt jack. He has told us that he intends to continue the policies of President Jagdeo, in which case he is asking us to make these elections a referendum on the Jagdeo presidency, but that does not excuse him from being thoroughly examined.
So, what are Mr. Ramotar’s views on the current state of law enforcement in Guyana? Is he for or against changing the current constitution? What about the Judiciary, the private sector, the economy, separation of powers, education, racial unity, women’s rights, green energy? What are his views on the independent media? Does he share President Jagdeo’s view that they are vultures and carrion crows? Does he endorse the view point of Ministers Frank Anthony and Gail Texeira that APNU supporters – most of whom are African Guyanese – are “thugs and hooligans”? What about the value added tax and the investment tax, will these be reduced or will they remain the same?
It is well known that Mr. Ramotar sits on the board of GuySuCo. Currently, the sugar industry is in crisis, and a sizable percentage of sugar workers traditionally have previously supported the PPP. Might it therefore be prudent for Mr. Ramotar at least to have an honest discussion on the future of sugar in Guyana? Given the performance of GuySuCo board of which Mr. Ramotar has to be an influential member, it is disingenuous to say to the “sugar votes” that the industry will be turned around and made viable. In
fact, that was President Jagdeo’s promise; Mr. Ramotar has been mum on the subject.
Don’t sugar workers and the rest of the nation deserve to hear what Mr. Ramotar’s plans are, both short-term and long-term, and what strategies or economic models will be used to streamline the workforce and how will he make failing or underperforming estates profitable? Will expatriate management be brought in to turn Skeldon around, and what will the financial and human costs be? Will there be layoffs early in the new year in the Demerara estates, and what will happen when the last of the EU preferential arrangements expire in 2012? Regarding mechanization and diversification, what are Mr. Ramotar’s views if any? It would be wonderful if he could articulate all these positions so they can be examined by credible economists and industry analysts.
If elected president, will Mr. Ramotar commission an inquiry into the troubles that left over 400 Guyanese dead? Will there be an investigation into Minster Sawh’s execution? Will he recall our ambassadors to India and Brazil, two gentlemen with decidedly questionable reputations? And what about the current ethic imbalance in the diplomatic corps, and heads of government corporations and agencies?
Is he going to bring Mr. Kwame McCoy before the courts for his alleged crimes of vandalism, assault, child molestation etc.? Is he going to keep this scandalized person employed at public expense? Judging from Mr. Ramotar’s previous public utterances, we can expect a thorough continuance of President Jagdeo’s policies. That translates into, “No change!”
I have already decided who the best man for the job is, but there are others who are still undecided. Some “diehard’ PPP supporters are visibly questioning Mr. Ramotar’s candidacy, and many more want to know what he stands for. At this late stage, he continues to play second fiddle to President Jagdeo on the campaign trail, and is often lost in the onstage bacchanalia, ‘winding’ and ‘cuss downs’. But this is serious business, particularly for less fortunate Guyanese, and voters must see Mr. Ramotar’s lack of candour as a serious character flaw or worse. What has he to hide? What is he afraid of? Why is he reluctant to debate Brigadier Granger and Mr. Ramjattan?
What about a sit down interview with Mr. Adam Harris or Mr. Dale Andrews? Why not take up the challenge of Merundoi and participate in town hall style events where the public can ask questions?
The general impression of Mr. Donald Ramotar among most Guyanese is that he is not strong intellectually, is inarticulate, and afraid to go toe to toe with Mr. Granger or Mr. Ramjattan. This impression will persist for as long as Mr. Ramotar continues to hide behind President Jagdeo, PPP billboards and posters, and the Guyanese people will have no other choice but to hire Brigadier David Granger.
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