Libel is a tricky business in Guyana. You can get sued for libel for the stupidest thing that in almost all other countries, a judge would get mad and throw it out. People threaten you for voicing your opinion over matters that in no other country, a libel would be sought. Guyana has the most outdated libel laws in the world. They are not only primitive but downright asinine.
I wrote that Dr. Sheik Amir should not hold the position of Medical Superintendent of the Georgetown Hospital. An apology was demanded. I know what would have followed if I didn’t apologize. What is wrong with a commentator saying that John Jones should not be the cricket captain of Guyana? What is wrong if I say Michael Jones should not head the Bank of Guyana? What is wrong if I say Commander Hicken should not head the ‘A’ Division of the Police Force after his conduct in Linden?
That is my opinion and I have a right to express it. I am saying now that Mr. Hicken should not have been promoted to that position, and the opposition parties should not have let that pass without vehement protest. Where is the libel in that? You write that a police officer should not be promoted and you libel him?
Is this country real? In relation to Dr. Amir, my editor told me I should have used the words, “in my opinion.” Well I am using them now. In my opinion after my experience with the office of Dr. Amir, I do not believe he should be retained as the Medical Superintendent.
How is that libelous? If a bank teller spoke to me in ways that I didn’t like, why can’t I say that the bank should not retain her? It is my opinion that after my frustration with Dr. Amir’s office, I believe he should not continue in that capacity. No way in the words just gone by, did I comment on the character of Dr. Amir or was any mischief intended. If as a response to this, Dr. Amir writes again, I will not apologize. I will take my chance with the courts.
I am not going to be silent in this country over issues, situations, dramas, investigations, scandals, stories, violations, controversies which I feel the Guyanese people are entitled to be enlightened on. The role of a public intellectual, commentator, columnist, or opinion-maker is to put interpretative analyses on events. In so doing, we bring out dimensions of phenomena that people can ponder on and either reject or accept.
In the identical context with Dr. Amir, I now say that given what I have just read in the Ombudsman’s report on the NBS situation involving Mr. Arjoon, its CEO who was charged and freed by the courts, I think the society should demand the resignation of the DPP, Shalimar Hack. This is the conclusion I have come to. I may have the wrong conclusion but I am entitled to make it.
I am not a citizen who accepts that Mrs. Hack is the right person for the job of the DPP at all. I believe Dr. Arif Bulkan was far a better brain and his application was rejected for political reasons. I believe there are too many questions about her legal role that she has not answered and for which this society should have demanded responses a long time ago.
It came out in court documents that a police officer who gave the decision to have the luggage of Mr. and Mrs. Hack searched at the airport ended up being charged for drug trafficking. This was after it was revealed during his trial that Mrs. Hack had written his superiors requesting his dismissal.
Can you imagine such conduct never generated indignation by the society?
The evidence against the three treason accused -Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Munroe and Mr. Wharton – was atrociously poor and the DPP should have thrown it in the waste basket. In the Ombudsman’s report there is a reference to the DPP not being answerable to anyone. Indeed she is not. The report made clear that there were no bodies of evidence from which a charge against Mr. Arjoon and his two co-defendants could have been drawn up. But Shalimar Hack went ahead.
But the Ombudsman’s report says more about Mrs. Hack. It seems at last that Mrs. Hack will now be under the radar of the people of Guyana. The Ombudsman’s findings also spoke about the role of her husband and the CIOG in the NBS case. Both Mr. and Mrs. Hack are devout Muslims. Allah is watching.
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