I once had a debate with a fellow Kaieteur News columnist, Stella Ramsaroop, over the question whether Raphael Trotman (then PNC parliamentarian), Khemraj Ramjattan (then PPP parliamentarian) and Sheila Holder (then WPA parliamentarian) should resign their seats seeing that they left their respective parties and were sitting as individual, independent members of the House (see my column, “What is Moral Judgement”, November 6, 2005).
Stella passed moral judgement on the trio pontificating on the moral obligation to resign from their respective parties from which they were made parliamentarians. For Stella, it was the morally right thing to do.
In my response I wrote, “One of the great debates in philosophy is the triangular disagreement on what is morally right and morally wrong between Hume on the one hand, Kant on the other… and Jeremy Betham.”
Using the texts of those three philosophers, I asked Stella to define what is morally right and morally wrong in life. It is outside the scope of this column to regurgitate the thinking of these three philosophers on the subject.
Suffice it to say, my point in that column fourteen years ago, was and still is that is it virtually impossible to delineate neatly, finely and persuasively what constitutes moral values or ethical standards. When you talk about morality, doesn’t context automatically come into the picture?
There is a court case that should be described as one of the most mysterious writs ever filed in the history of Guyanese litigation. Two private citizens want the court to compel the Opposition Leader and GECOM to request the first degree qualification of presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali.
The writ was filed by the special assistant to Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, Dianne Rajkumar, and another person, so obviously there is a political angle clearly present in the decision to litigate. The writ is bizarre for three reasons.
First, it should originate with someone who has more substantial locus standi –either one or all of Ali’s election opponents or the Chief Election Officer. Why two private individuals?
Secondly, why must the court compel the Opposition Leader to see Ali’s first degree and for what purpose? Why can’t the Opposition tell the court that he is not interested in seeing the paper?
Thirdly, the controversy is dead and gone because Ali now has a doctorate from a top university recognised by the world. There can no longer be any legal process anywhere in the world that can be resorted to abrogate his doctorate. He is now a qualified person.
I know a former media personality in 1996 got into UG without the required five CXCs through the initiative of David De Caires.
As a member of the Board of the Faculty of Social Sciences, I demanded to see her entry requirement but the then Dean, Bradley Soloman (deceased), refused. She did her economics degree and went on to do her Master’s.
Her UG entry requirement controversy is dead and gone. She has a Master’s from a recognised British University that will get her a job right here in Guyana.
The court case by the personal assistant to Minister Ramjattan is designed to invoke in people the question of moral propriety of Irfaan Ali, which Ali should laugh about and continue laughing until he grows old.
Which person in Guyana with authority, with power, with status, with money, has moral propriety? What is moral propriety? How do you define it? How do you measure it?
The rest of this column will end with questions, which I leave with my readers. I am not going to answer them. If Ali’s moral standing is open to questioning, what about those who sign contracts involving Guyana’s future and the contracts were horrendously lop-sided? Are they fit to be in government?
A substantial number of people feel Burnham was a dictator. Should people elect politicians to rule the nation when those politicians were close to Burnham and see him as a hero?
Do Indian and African politicians possess moral propriety to qualify them to be in government when they openly preach race hate? Racism is an uncivilised instinct. A person lacks moral propriety if he/she fills the atmosphere with race hate.
Since 1957, almost 99 percent of our top politicians have been preaching the rhetoric of race. Should we accept in society persons who have no moral character in how they treat their employees and these mistreatments are openly published?
For example, the workers have to buy their own toilet paper and hand soap. But these perpetrators are always seen at the cocktail circuit of the embassies. My advice to Ali is to tell his detractors to debate these questions.
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