The Alliance For Change (AFC) has called on Housing Minister, Irfaan Ali, to explain statements that suggest conversations were being recorded by one telephone company.
According to the seven-seat Opposition faction in a statement yesterday, it is deeply disturbed by the comments of Minister Ali and now wants answers.
During a press conference at his Brickdam office Friday, Ali said he will be requesting the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) to provide a recording of a conversation that was held between his secretary and AFC’s Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan.
Ali had requested his secretary to invite the Member of Parliament to the press conference on Friday to ask questions on housing developments on the East Bank of Demerara. On Christmas Day, an article in Kaieteur News raised questions about the allocations of large swathes of lands to private developers. Ramjattan had expressed concerns.
However, according to the Minister, Ramjattan reportedly told his secretary that the Minister should “haul his ass”. Ramjattan allegedly repeated his statements in an email invitation that the Ministry sent the same day.
According to Ali, Ramjattan “was loud and abusive to my secretary and slammed the phone down. We are hoping that we can request of GT&T to have a recording…”
But AFC yesterday said it took the Minister’s statements on the GT&T recordings as serious.
“It is obvious, from his definitive remark, that Minister Ali is aware that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company records telephone conversations either of the Ministry of Housing or Mr. Ramjattan’s phone.”
AFC pointed out that Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, had admitted to the nation that the authorities have recorded telephone conversations but he explained that these were exclusively related to criminal activity.
“The AFC reminds the nation that based on the wiretapping legislation passed in the National Assembly, the security services may seek the formal legal permission of a judge to have the telephone of a company or person tapped upon provision of compelling reasons to do so.”
AFC, in its statement, stressed that by his own “bold admission”, Minister Ali has told the nation that either his ministry’s phones are tapped or “Mr. Ramjattan’s phone is tapped (or both)”.
“The AFC demands that Minister Ali provide to the nation full disclosure of all information he is privy to in this regard. Further the AFC demands of the PPP government to disclose to the nation a full list of all political officials whose phones are tapped, the reasons proffered for such, who requested such tapping, who ordered such tapping and what period such phones have been tapped.”
AFC also expressed worry that “this ominous admission” would suggest that the phones of any member of the public could be tapped without the prescribed legal permission to do so.
“The AFC warns the public to take necessary precautions until there is full disclosure from the PPP government on this sinister development. The AFC advises the public to be especially cautious in telephone
engagements with the Ministry of Housing since, by the admission of the Minister, that ministry’s phones could be tapped and all conversations recorded.”
Yesterday, GT&T’s Chief Executive Officer, Radha Krishna Sharma, made it clear that as a matter of policy and protocol, “we do not record conversations.”
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