I almost vomited when I read the miasma and poison Rickey Singh wrote about the PNC Government under Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte. And to think that no one in Guyana is going to campaign against Rickey Singh’s journalistic evil is equally shameful. No one from Guyana is going to call for the Barbadian society to condemn this man’s abuse of the media. Rickey Singh is close to being a figure of hate.
History should not be distorted the way Singh has just done in the Chronicle last Sunday. We in Guyana need to set the record straight because Singh’s journalistic abomination might be internalized by younger minds. Singh is an editorial advisor to the editor of the Chronicle and does two editorials per week apart from his Sunday column (please read between the lines; hope you know what I am hinting at).
I am also told that Mr. Singh does two letters a week in the Chronicle’s letter pages and is a consultant along with Ravi Dev with the Guyana Times. Mr. Singh could be described as a big name at the Chronicle (though he lives in Barbados).
Writing in support of President Ramotar, Singh boldly stated that the PNC government from 1964 to 1992 never addressed corruption. It was a sickening distortion of the historical record. When I was growing up, I heard the older folks say that when people reach their seventies, they should do good things and make peace with their God. Singh is in his seventies and I urge him to have respect for his age and make peace with his God.
One thing one cannot deny about the two PNC Presidents – Burnham and Hoyte – was that they did not tolerate corruption. Both men were intolerant of corrupt behaviour among State officials and did not discriminate according to status when it came to discipline. The examples are numerous.
What I will do here is highlight the major personalities in the State sector that President Burnham and Hoyte confronted on the accusations of corruption or unbecoming behaviour. I have come up with these names for one particular reason – Burnham and Hoyte spared no one no matter how powerful they were.
Mr. Burnham did not intervene to stop the Ombudsman’s investigation into allegation by Eusi Kwayana that two Ministers were involved in corruption. After an inquiry, Hamilton Green was found not guilty but the Ombudsman ruled that David Singh was culpable. Singh had to resign. Mr. Burnham promptly removed Minister of Trade and Industry, George King, after a probe produced evidence of impropriety. Minister of Agriculture, Robert Jordan was disciplined after an investigation into a company named Global Agri found that Jordan had benefited from an unsavoury deal.
Claude Merriman did not survive complaints of unbecoming conduct. Green, Merriman and Jordan were stalwarts of the PNC who helped Burnham to come to power. There was the case of Vic Puran, who is now an attorney at law. Mr. Puran was Burnham’s Political Affairs Advisor. His day to day role at the Office of the President was to preside over re-migration concessions.
Along with Bernard Scantlebury, Mr. Burnham ordered their arrest on suspicion of improper conduct with duty free letters for vehicles. Both men spent days at Eve Leary facing questions.
Deputy Chief Education Officer, Claude Vieira, was jailed for fraud.
Mr. Hoyte has carved out a name for himself in the annals of Caribbean leaders. Hoyte became irascible and inflexible on the corruption issue. He ordered a probe into a consignment of shoes that the army chief, Godwin Mc Pherson, had allegedly confiscated. The importer saw his shoes being sold by vendors and went to Mr. Hoyte. Mr. Hoyte ordered Mc Pherson to compensate the businessman.
The most famous act of Hoyte was his order to have Mr. Robert Corbin charged and placed before the courts while Corbin was a Cabinet member.
In comparing the balance sheet of anti-corruption battles between the PNC presidencies and the PPP’s, it would be like comparing a village cricketer with Brian Lara. The PPP is a deeply corrupt party with a highly corrupted hierarchy. The PPP is not going to move against its venal sadists. It is not that Singh does not know these facts. He is well aware of the superb qualities of Hoyte.
But Singh is a spin doctor and propagandist for the PPP Government. He travels all over the Caribbean to observe elections in CARICOM States. But he didn’t come to Guyana for the November 2011 general polls here. He wrote that he was sick but at the same time my friends told me they saw him alive and well in Barbados.
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