A German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemöller wrote the following poem:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The government seemed in a hurry to get rid of David Ramnarine. The consultation with the Leader of the Opposition to select a Commissioner of Police was held yesterday and on the very day, the President not only decided on his choice but swore in the new Commissioner of Police.
One therefore has to question whether the President gave much thought to what the Leader of the Opposition said and whether in fact Cabinet had any say in the decision of the Commissioner of Police.
The Alliance for Change is allocated with the portfolio of public security within the government. At the minimum, therefore the AFC should have been consulted on this appointment. And that consultation should include considering the views of the Leader of the Opposition on the appointment.
Given the timeline between yesterday’s consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and the taking of the oath of office of the Commissioner of Police designate, it seems hardly likely that the AFC or Cabinet could have been consulted.
The AFC, if it were not consulted on this appointment, should do the right thing and withdraw from the government. It is unthinkable for the AFC to consider itself as a partner with government if on such an important appointment, and one involving a portfolio held by the AFC, the President acted unilaterally behind the backs of the AFC or Cabinet.
If on the other hand, the AFC and Cabinet were consulted, then the AFC should make known its position on this matter. It should publicly declare where its support lay and whether it supported the sidelining of David Ramnarine, who did not even make it as a Deputy Commissioner of Police.
There are many persons who are silent about the treatment of Ramnarine. But as old people say, “What goes around comes around.”
Many of those who turn a blind eye to the injustice meted out to Ramnarine may one day end up being treated in the same way by the government. Today, it is David Ramnarine, tomorrow it can be you.
What is interesting is that every time the President wishes to make a controversial appointment, he comes up with this nonsense about looking for someone with integrity and intelligence. He rejected three sets of list submitted by the Leader of the Opposition for the position of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission and ended up making a unilateral appointment. In that whole process, the criteria of intelligence integrity and impartiality emerged.
However, in relation to the appointment of a Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, two of which have been appointed under Granger’s watch, there is no mention of intelligence, impartiality or integrity. Seniority is allowed to prevail when it comes to the appointment of a Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, but when it comes to the Police the criteria of intelligence and integrity are championed. One therefore has to ask whether these criteria are being selectively employed and have become a cue to bypass the leading candidates.
Guyanese may never know the ‘specific’ reasons why Ramnarine was bypassed. Perhaps those reasons are unprintable.
In the days to come, Guyanese will forget all about David Ramnarine. They will keep silent and say very little about how he was treated. They will not be concerned as to how this will affect his family.
Ramnarine, having been denied both the position of Commissioner and of a Deputy Commissioner, has effectively been given marching orders. No one expects him to serve under those to whom he had supervised prior to yesterday.
For whom will the bells toll next? Yesterday, it was Ramnarine. Who’s next?
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