Recently, KN Columnist Freddie Kissoon wrote a piece in which he leveled certain accusations against TIGI. The basis of this attack was a conversation which he overheard between our director Alfred Bhulai and Mr. Donald Rodney. He drew certain conclusions from what he thought he heard.
Mr. Bhulai responded and explained that (a) Mr. Rodney was not accusing TIGI of not helping him and that to the contrary (b) TIGI and Mr. Rodney had explored options the latest of which had not been agreed. This meant that Columnist Freddie Kissoon had a) jumped to a false conclusion from the little he had overheard of the discussion, and b) he had not even sought to establish the accuracy of what he was about to write.
Instead of apologising, Mr Kissoon decided to embark upon the floating of a Trumpian distraction in which he was going to make TIGI the villain. It should be apparent, from his studious avoidance of the original claim he made in his subsequent letter, what his aim was.
However, in his follow-up letter he made certain claims which we need to address. The target of this statement is therefore the reading public – not Mr Kissoon as we will not continue to help him in his fake urgency to discredit Dr. Troy Thomas whom he had seen it fit to praise previously.
In the simple world of Freddie Kissoon, TIGI does investigations. Transparency International of which we are an affiliate does not do investigations. TIGI would enquire into a matter. That is different. This requires a person making a claim of corruption to produce evidence and be willing to stand by their claim. Investigations are generally the purview of investigative journalists.
For example, in a case a few years ago, a complaint was made to TIGI against a government official by an ex-associate of his who wanted the matter exposed and who felt that the press was unwilling to take up the matter. Through the agency of TIGI, the matter was finally exposed in the media and projects in which he was involved brought to an end.
In the simple world of Freddie Kissoon, TIGI’s duty is to investigate UG. More specifically “rampant opaque governance” and “financial recklessness” that took place under the tenure of Dr. Ivelaw Griffith. In this simple world of Freddie Kissoon, recklessness on the part of the UG administration, such as he perceives, must be matched by equal recklessness, that is by a self-appointment by TIGI to the role of Commission of Enquiry. And this must be championed and seen to be championed by none other than Dr. Troy Thomas who is now Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences himself.
In the simple world of Freddie Kissoon, there is no conflict of interest, no need for persons whose roles are likely to conflict to recuse themselves in such matters. We need not insult the intelligence of the reading public by further dwelling on this absurdity.
We are glad that Freddie Kissoon, as he says, recognises the work we are doing. He hopefully can excuse us if we say that we regard highly the efforts of our fellow Guyanese and successive administrations at the University of Guyana. We believe that managing such a large institution over the decades and latterly in the face of growing competition cannot be easy. We have our own challenges in a small organisation such as TIGI.
We are aware of the challenges of getting competence to prevail in every organisation especially against loyalty. We are also aware that there is never agreement between levels of staff on the allocation of scarce resources. The fact that a backward political culture has insisted on stamping its authority on every institution in Guyana does not help in the least. In fact, the Donald Rodney vigil traces its roots to this same problem when Dr. Walter Rodney was barred by the government of those days from working at UG.
However, we (that is, the directors other than Dr. Troy Thomas, who has recused himself from this statement) are quite satisfied that there are mechanisms available to a vibrant university community which are fully utilised including demonstrations and strikes that would be more appropriate to deliver redress, long before a problem is brought to an organisation like TIGI.
So we wish to make clear that we do not act on innuendos made by trigger-happy columnists.
In the simple world of Freddie Kissoon, there is no line to cross between an employee who is part of the administration acknowledging, whether on TV or otherwise, that there are problems in his workplace and the outright pursuit of a campaign to expose his own team. In the simple world of Freddie Kissoon, confidentiality requirements of good human resource practice and protection of the rights of every employee including those he deems miscreants does not exist. Perhaps he is able to distinguish between the quite proper protection imposed by such legal requirements and “rampant opaque governance”. We cannot and do not have the resources for that even if we were likely to succeed in such an endeavor.
As for moral authority, we wish to let the public know that at Transparency International’s last Annual Members Meeting held in Berlin last month, the organisation addressed frontally and openly certain accusations made against its board and management.
This is how an organisation addresses problems within order to have the moral basis to accuse others. It is not a member airing grievances to the public while still being part of the organisation.
We end this statement by putting the issue back where it belongs – in the domain of a blunder made by a columnist in not taking the trouble to ensure that he had heard correctly before expounding and by the obvious resort to a distraction.
We do not expect him to keel over and acknowledge his embarrassment but instead to keep digging. He must be allowed to heap more material that can only result in further discredit and lack of trust in what he reports.
He must be allowed to engulf himself in the quicksand he has created for himself unimpeded by TIGI. As for us, this is the first and last comment by the board on his distraction. We have bigger fish to fry.
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