Political Activist, Dr. David Hinds, is raising questions about policy as it regards retaining the
services of experienced retired persons, following news that Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, (PCA) Justice Cecil Kennard has been asked to step down from the post because of his age.
The matter has become a source of concern since the APNU/AFC administration has been retaining the services of a number of experienced people as advisors to the Government following their retirement.
These persons include Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green, who is Chairman of the Central Housing and Planning Authority. Green is over 80 years old.
Last month the Government via State -owned Guyana Chronicle newspapers announced that both the Chairmen of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Justice Prem Persaud are expected to retire by the end of March.
The article outlined that the administration had considered the age of both men who have already attained age 80 as the basis of the retirement.
The distinguished retired jurists have been employed by the State for years, with Kennard a retired Chancellor of the Judiciary being at the helm of the PCA since 2001.
In a subsequent statement to the press, Dr Hinds a political activist questioned Government’s stance on the issue. He said that it is a clear case of ambiguity.
Hinds said, “If the government has a policy whereby people past a certain age should not occupy certain posts, then it should formally announce it and explain to the public the basis behind it.”
Underlining what he believes is a clear case of discrimination, Hinds said that the failure by the Government to clarify its stance on the issue opens the administration to the charge of selective targeting of officials as appears to be the case with Justice Cecil Kennard.
“But even if there is a policy to remove people from some positions because they are too old, I would have a serious problem with it.”
“Since when does age determine competence?” Hinds asked.
“When I read the news story about Justice Kennard’s removal because of old age, I thought he was physically and mentally challenged.”
“But, from all indications, despite his so-called old age the man has been quite competent at what he does. If indeed he is being removed because of his age, then it is a clear case of age discrimination.”
Hinds said that that the country is woefully short of competent people to staff its expanding bureaucracy; we should not be in the business of firing people simply because they are getting old.
“If an official is competent to do his or her job and is in good health, that is all that should matter. I am afraid that we are setting an unhealthy precedence,” he added.
Hinds added that if the government is removing Kennard for some other reason, as could well be the case, then it should be honest enough and say so, rather than hiding behind age.
“I know of many people in government service who are nearing 80 and doing good work.”
“There are also some Ministers who are not too far away from 80 years old—Should they be removed from Cabinet because of their age? I think not.”
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