Kaieteur News – This column does not usually respond to criticisms since it is aimed at encouraging differences of opinion. The exception to the no-response rule concerns where there is a need to offer clarification or to address statements that were misrepresented.
If this column expresses an opinion and someone else does not agree, there is no reason to try to respond. The other person is entitled to his or her viewpoint.
But if there is a charge that false or inaccurate information was provided, then this column has duty to either correct any falsehood or to respond and justify what was said. We cannot always be right and when we are wrong we must be prepared to say we are wrong.
The recent response by former General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Clement Rohee, to comments in a previous column justifies a response of only to disabuse him and readers that there was misrepresentation of the truth when it came to Cheddi Jagan’s failure to take swift and condign action against one of his close lieutenants in the early days of his government.
The issue at hand was the case in which a contractor signed over a motor vehicle to the son of a Government Minister. The contractor did business with the Ministry headed by the Minister. It was claimed that the transfer was part of the legitimate sale of the car. This column alleged that Cheddi did not take swift and condign action in this matter.
The former General Secretary of the PPP has replied to indicate that swift and condign action was indeed taken. According to Rohee, there was a reshuffling of portfolios and the Minister in question was said to have been removed to another Ministry.
The PPP, however, never represented to the public that this reshuffling was part of any response to the car issue. Nor did the former General Secretary, in his response, indicate how soon after the scandal broke that this reshuffle took place. Surely, had he provided this information, the public would have been in a better position to determine whether the action was swift. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt and concede that the action was swift.
What is clear is the action could not have been condign – punishment appropriate to the offence. If there was no offence or wrongdoing or negligence, then Cheddi should not have had justifiable reason to make any reshuffle. No wrong, no warrant! But if grounds were found that the transaction was improper or worse corrupt, then a Cabinet reshuffle represents a slap on the wrist and a poor example.
Mr. Rohee has taken the time to share with us his wide and long political experience within the PPP and the government. But interestingly in his latest book he made no mention of this incident, but did refer to a case in which he was summoned to explain the source of the funds for the construction of his home – an explanation which he provides in the book and which is believable.
Interestingly also in both his recent letter to this newspaper and in his book, he does not make mention of what action Cheddi took in relation to the controversies of alleged import of stone (referred to as the Stone Scam) and the problems surrounding a PPP and financier supplying skim milk to SIMAP ( referred to as the Milk Scam). Did Cheddi also act swiftly and condignly when dealing these matters or was public exposure and pressure responsible for any action taken?
Permit me to segue to some other issues of interest. Mr. Rohee did not reveal much in his recent semi-autobiography. The juicy details about the machinations at Freedom House over the selection of the party’s Presidential candidate for the 2020 elections are missing. Also absent are the full details about how Janet Jagan came to be selected as her party’s Presidential candidate? Did she impose herself on the party or was she their unanimous choice?
And what methods did Bharrat Jagdeo use to successfully manoeuvre the Central Committee to support the candidacy of Irfaan Ali? Nor do we learn much about what happened in the Executive Committee which accepted the resignation of Moses Nagamootoo even though there was no written resignation, or the alleged hostility in that body to Ralph Ramkarran.
Perhaps the answers to those questions will have to await the authoritative memoirs of Mr. Rohee. And if and when he gets down to writing them, this column would plead that he either confirm or deny whether his United States visa was ever revoked or was it simply delayed in processing, and if so what he thinks could be the reason or reasons for that.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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