If you examine the acidic or innocuous criticisms of me, going back decades, they read like this; he is crazy; he lies; he is a poor writer; he is a poor academic; he writes nonsense; people shouldn’t read him; he is always criticising others; he likes to attack people; he is full of himself. It followed those lines over the decades that I have attracted controversies and it continues like this.
Missing from the repertoire of my critics, however deep is their dislike for me, is that not one soul in this world has ever accused me of using my authority to favour them over others; denying them their rightful place; using my authority to deny them promotion, scholarship, financial rewards, their human rights, their industrial rights, their employment prospects, their opportunity to travel, etc.
One fundamental reason explains this – I have never in my life possessed authority in any organisation, be it a governmental, private or civic or political organisation. I can cite several of my detractors over my long years of social activism, academia and media practice that have faced accusations of wrongful use of authority in both private organisations and state institutions. As soon as I am engaged in a heated debate with someone, I get emails saying; “Freddie you know what this man did to me.”
In my entire life, I had three types of jurisdictions, which I will list in order of importance. I was a UG lecturer for 26 years. I had authority over my students. In those 26 years, I opposed the governments of Desmond Hoyte, Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar.
None of those governments could have used a student’s complaint against me, because there was none. I was engaged in a volcanic struggle against the Jagdeo hegemony and the Ramotar cabals, in which there were attacks on my life, but neither of those two presidents could have nationally embarrassed me for unbecoming conduct at UG. Eventually in January 2012, my contract was terminated, and the letter from UG did not offer a reason.
My students included powerful, prominent people. The list includes Donald Ramotar, Robert Corbin, Priya Manickchand, Anil Nandlall, Read Admiral Gary Best, dozens of top lawyers, dozens of top soldiers, dozens of top police officers, dozens of top public servants, and a few current High Court judges. The list also includes AFC big wigs like its General Secretary Marlon Williams, its former MP, Trevor Williams, Leonard Craig, etc. Never was there a complaint, and today none of these graduates can cite a problem they had with me as a lecturer. Robert Corbin’s encounter with me I will always remember.
He got a B grade for philosophy and approached me on the issue. I always remember Corbin’s words to me. He said, “If I cannot get an A grade in politics for all the experience I have, then why should I remain in politics?” I re-read his paper, the difference between an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ was marginal. In the final course grade and examination grade, he got an overall ‘A’ grade. Each year, lecturers were evaluated by students and my assessments were all excellent. Those records are there at UG for researchers to peruse.
My second possession of authority was part of a two-man panel to approve applications to teach law in the Department of Political Science and Law. It was me and Professor JOF Haynes. I never made an input. JOF, as we fondly called him, did all the selections by himself. I was terribly fond of him, and I didn’t get in his way. My one approval was given the nod by JOF, but was rejected by the Faculty of Social Sciences. He was Khemraj Ramjattan. At the time, Khemraj was chairman of the youth arm of the PPP, and I think that status may have been the factor for his rejection. I will not name the person who was adamant in his rejection of Ramjattan.
Finally, I was de facto head of the University of Guyana Workers’ Union (UGWU). When the academics said they wanted their own union to represent all academics and they formed their own union, Clive Thomas and I remained in the UGWU. I was in that leadership position when my contract was terminated. I never dished out any favours while I was in the union. There was none to dish out. I never used my position in the union to victimise any employee; there was no scope for that.
I am no angel, far from it. Nevertheless, in my life, I never had authority, the use of which has resulted in accusations. I don’t think many of my detractors can say the same for themselves.
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