Latest update May 31st, 2023 3:04 PM
May 02, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – More and more, it seems that there are two words that naturally belong together. The two words are criminal politicians, and as many Guyanese believe, we have our share of them. Though the locals may pretend to be above board and honorable men and women, there is no shaking the perceptions and convictions that many Guyanese politicians are low crooks. Independent minded and conscientious Guyanese, who prize ethics in government and principled leadership, are constantly on the lookout for a Guyanese politician that they can trust. It would be a cause for celebration, which has been all too rare.
In India, criminal politicians set their own standards, enjoy special standing. In India, “a third (34%) of 543 MPs elected faced criminal charges, up from 30% in 2009, and 24% in 2004” (“Why do Indians vote for ‘criminal’ politicians?”, BBC January 16, 2017). Because the numbers kept climbing over the years, it would be interesting as to where the percentage of ‘criminal’ politicians in India stand today. Considering what took place in the American capital on January 6, 2021, it reasonable to conclude that more than a handful of US politicians dabbled in the criminal, through aiding and abetting others.
Returning the focus on India, one in three parliamentarians (nearly 200 out of 543) with criminal taint hanging over their heads is an alarming reality. Most were of a negligible, sometimes questionable, kind, but tellingly “more than 20% of the new MPs faced serious charges, such as attempted murder, assaulting a public official, and theft”. What degree of clean governance can they ever preside over? What type of principled law making could emerge from those so tarnished?
As asserted by political scientist, Dr. Milan Vaishnav, who studied the situation in India for years, and wrote a book titled, ‘When Crime Pays’, almost all political parties in India field candidates with black marks. Though the comparison is limited, and the local system different, it can be said from the public record that we, over here in Guyana, have politicians who have had interactions with the law, and not for frivolous reasons. Some have passed through the hands of the Guyana Police Force, a few have actually had to face the courts, and still others stand before the court of public opinion because of heavy allegations made against them. These allegations are of sufficient seriousness to qualify as felonies anywhere in the world- among them have been bribery, corrupt practices involving both local and foreign participants, crimes against the young, and other perversions.
In India, some MPs have been accused of attempted murder, among other matters. In Guyana, prior to becoming part of the national governance apparatus, the names of MPs have been associated with murder at different times. Neither government nor opposition, over the years, could be said to be exempt from this kind of wounding and grievous taint. The irony, and it is a worrying one, is that among those making the law for citizens to follow, there could be those who may have actually broken the law, and got away with it. We ask ourselves whether it is this disregard for the constraints of the law, and the heavy restrictions that they apply at the individual level, that is a contributory factor to the ugly, deplorable state of Guyana’s parliament.
To put this another way, it is where men (and women) begin to see themselves as above whatever standards are in place, and become a law unto themselves. Guyanese have been eyewitnesses to the crude, the obscene, the raucous, and the totally unacceptable in their National Assembly. It causes shudders to think of what the fate of someone could be of someone with whom one of our criminally minded and unmanaged politicians have a beef. We have been privy to the brutal batteries inflicted on journalists found offensive via social media by political agents. If that can be done in plain view using the internet, then it does not leave much allowance about what could be tried using other less public means. Criminal Politicians should not be within the broad governance structure, because from there they can use the power and facilities in their hands to cause much mischief, commit great wrongs.
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