Jan 24, 2021 Letters
Something has gone terribly wrong here, and not with me. Throughout our public service machinery, there are these baleful and defiant positions that boggle the mind, and incentivize the sharpest angers at what is placed on the table for consideration; it is of the contemptuous and insulting. By my thinking, it is how the stewards entrusted with our welfare, think of, participate in, and react to charges of, costly wrongdoing while in office. I share some familiar high-profile instances from the dark side of real-life Guyana that repulse and unleash the worst misgivings.
It may involve the once secret personal award to senior public officers of thousands of acres of prime state lands, while involving the questionable and suspected corrupt at work. Almost unfailingly, the nation gets what sounds like this: nothing wrong was done. The rules were followed. Standing practices obeyed in complete cooperation. The claims are of innocence and cleanliness in what does not add up, is not deserving of a clean bill of health. On the heels of thousands of acres of land, there came news of hundreds of thousands of dollars (American) for what was initially denied in some peculiar business partnership on the East Bank and political people benefiting.
Then, as recently exposed, expensive jewellery took center stage; first for almost a million for a senior executive, then just over a half million for a former minister. The rebuttals followed the same time-honoured Guyanese tradition: clean hands only, no basis for, no truth to, allegations that upend. That is, until the roof fell in, and the walls of specious defences crumbled. Somebody did wrong; somebody did not confess; all credibility was lost irretrievably. Not unexpectedly, a short time before, that same kind of ‘Nancy’ story surfaced with two of Guyana’s oil blocks representing billions of barrels of oil that were mysteriously handled, through backdoor arrangement in deep darkness. The defence for that rich one was even richer: no laws were broken; no corruption was involved. And that assertion came from a former president.
Repeatedly, it is the same broken record played in this country, in revelations of costly depredations by its trusted, even beloved, elected and selected officials; there is that broad, deep strain of denial placed before a public that mostly doesn’t know better, doesn’t care at all. I had to dig deep to exhume the equivalent of what our vacuously dissembling, hairsplitting, and misleading leaders put before us, which required going back 75 years, and back to postwar Germany.
It was at Nuremberg that U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Robert H. Jackson, was compelled to articulate his scornful disbelief at defences placed before that historic tribunal, compliments of the arrayed parade of Nazi war criminals. Justice Jackson noted that ‘as the bloodstained Gloucester stood by his slain king, he still denies – say I slew them not.’ I think that Justice Jackson’s Shakespearean reference, his cry, applies to Guyana: its politicians and its public servants, its citizens, too. For, despite the bloody and mutilated body of misdeeds, of lives tarnished and damaged before all, there are still the denials of senior political operators and well-placed public officers: no knowledge, no association, no failure, no damage, no foul. While citizens’ manifest a scarcity of interest, an overabundance of indifference and shameless partisanship. Like the Germans before, Guyanese citizens don’t hear, don’t see, and they don’t want to know. Men were hanged over there; over here, the involved hang us, and not content with that barbarism, they then mock an entire nation with the verbal corruptions they construct and pile upon a naïve and nonchalant population. We did not wrong. We broke no laws. We breached no rules. We were not involved. If those howlers are not the height of comical absurdity, then all Guyana suffers from neurological paroxysms, and delight in its plight.
These absurdities stand, as the byproducts of bizarre political and bureaucratic endeavours that rest in open caskets and in state; and verbal perfumed bouquets do not remove the stench of dishonourable death. This piteous state that Guyana is reduced to speaks volumes. It is the predominant norm in this society, where leaders invent a special cure to suit every atrocious situation. It explains why Guyana is so sick, despite being so rich. It begins with those we put in charge; it continues with those many citizens who could care less. As someone said: Guyana ain’t gat battam nah moh.
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