Dec 05, 2020 Letters
It has been very frustrating to read and hear about massive corruption in Guyana by public officials who are entrusted to provide value for the people’s money. Over the last decade, governments did very little or nothing to stem corrupt practices or prosecute the alleged corrupt officials. The remedy instituted by past and present governments is to send the alleged offenders home on administrative leave in order to facilitate audits, but after the audits were completed no one was charged even though skullduggery was discovered. The word “corruption” should not be used to describe the massive stealing of state assets by kleptomaniacs in public office. In fact, we believe that the word “theft” should be used instead of corruption which is a very mild word for the colossal theft that has and continued to take place in almost every government department and state agencies. In 2015, an official was accused of stealing $28 million from GPL and fled Guyana to Canada and up to this day he has not been extradited, handcuffed and charged. If he was an ordinary, poor citizen, he would have been brought back to Guyana shackled in handcuffs, charged and imprisoned.
The fact that police have constantly break down the doors and arrest and handcuff poor citizens involved in petty crimes but have done nothing to senior government officials who are in the habit of stealing millions of state funds is not only a travesty of justice, but it also shows clearly that Guyana has a two-tier justice system—one for the poor and powerless and another for the rich and powerful. This kangaroo justice system favours the rich and punishes the poor. This type of blatant discrimination and disrespect of the poor by the heavy-handed police should not be tolerated by the government and human rights organizations in the country. Those in authority are fully aware that police officers have bullied and verbally and physically abused the poor in Guyana and have done absolutely nothing. It is shameful, reprehensible and appalling for governments to allow police officers to brutalize the poor.
The aforementioned two-tier justice system exists not only with the police but also the judiciary, where judges and magistrates have and continue to place alleged criminals on remand for years on petty charges and the rich who embezzle millions of public funds are allowed to walk free. Such astringent actions against the poor seem not to bother our politicians, leaders of the church, the so-called “men of the cloth” or civil and human rights organizations in the country. Such callous behaviour clearly shows that the rich and powerful do not care about the welfare of the poor and the powerless, whose dignity are stripped from them daily. Those in authority who ignore the evil acts or wrong doings perpetrated against the poor is an accomplice to them. The despicable behaviour by the rich and powerful is a clear indication that “massa” day still exists in Guyana after more than five decades of independence. It is time for the masses to take actions into their own hands and use any legal means necessary to enforce their right to be treated fairly and equally and be respected in society.
It is time for the rich and powerful to understand that the theft of public funds is analogous to robbing the poor by taking bread out their mouths and the mouths of their children. Most of us are aware that the United States, Canada and Europe became developed by slave labour and by trampling on the rights of the poor, but that was during an ancient and uncivilized period. However, the rich in Guyana should heed the advice that Guyana cannot replicate what happened over 400 years ago, and if it is to develop in the 21st century, then it must treat all of its citizens, rich and poor alike, equal under the law. Guyana should not have one set of laws for the rich and another set of laws for the poor. It must take very strong actions to end such wretched laws and against theft by public officials who put their interests ahead of those of the people and the country.
But it seems that governments past or present have not “bell the cat” against theft of public funds by party officials even though their actions of wrong doings are blatant. Not only have governments remained silent but they have completely ignored the corrupt practices of their party officials. It is clear that those who are in the hierarchy of the two main political parties in Guyana can commit crimes and not be punished because they are considered as being above the law. The recent transfer of US$1 million dollars into the bank account of a senior member of a party via illegal land sale is a case in point. And there are many other thefts of state assets and wrong doings by senior party members that are too numerous to mention. It is time for this government to expose the theft of state assets by public officials and put an end to such pilfering by politicians, party or non-party officials. The law should be applied across the board.
Dr. Asquith Rose
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