Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Solutions
(Aired 12 January 2002)

   I was asked by several persons after doing the HIPC commentary to make some suggestions on what needs to be done in Guyana to put us back on some sort of recovery from the ills that ail us. I had decided not to do it since I have mostly stayed away from doing comments in which I have to render personal opinions.

    I finally decided to do it simply because I want to clarify some things which seem to be misunderstood even though I went to great pains from the very beginning to make it clear, what it was that I was trying to do.

   In doing these comments I never saw my function as a propagandist for anyone I categorically stated in a previous comment that I do not see the PNC coming into power and giving me a Ministerial or other position, I would not want such a position.

   So let's start with voting, it is not important to me who we vote for or who ends up in power, that is and will never be my agenda, what is important is that until ALL of us demand that those that we voted for give us a better life or we will vote for someone else, nothing will change. Once our political system is polarized along racial lines and we vote for our managers not because of what they do or do not do to make us prosper, we will remain in this sinking boat forever. So regardless of who gets into power some things have to change. The politicians don't want it to change; they enjoy the power it gives them too much, so we must force them to change it.

   Those that are elected to run our affairs must understand that they work for us the people, all of us, not only those who put them in power, especially since even those who put them in power do not benefit from their poor governance, any rice farmer or Indo Guyanese businessman in this country will tell you that. We have to demand that they manage our affairs honestly and transparently, for this to happen we must first establish a system of governance, which guarantees that those in power cannot abuse their positions.

   We must re-establish all of our institutions of accountability, every minister must understand that he works for the people for a salary and not for his own personal enrichment, so if we see him living in a house he clearly cannot afford, then he must answer to us.

   Ladies and gentlemen it is common knowledge that in this country members of Parliament are required to write their letters of resignation BEFORE they actually get into the Parliament and if any of them vote against the party that put them there, their resignation is accepted immediately. So members of parliament are in fact rubberstamps for the regimes that happens to be in power or share power on both sides of the floor. It is a recipe for disaster.

    For the Parliament to have true meaning in this country regardless of who is in power, some decisions MUST be made by a 2/3 majority vote in there, since we have established clearly that we are not sophisticated enough as a people to give anyone with a simple majority in Parliament the absolute right to rule us, they have, and do, abuse it.

   I am not saying that all decisions must be made by this 2/3 vote, that would be ridiculous but here are a few important examples.

   The present system of selecting our Judges is disastrous for our legal system and must change. ALL judges must be appointed after parliament examines the proposed list of candidates and decide by a 2/3 vote who will be appointed this will immediately de-politise our judicial system and remove the appointment of judges from the Executive to the Legislative branch of Government where it should be. Ladies and gentlemen no country can progress unless its legal system is intact and can dispense justice without a political agenda. And I don't care if the PNC or the PPP are in Government. Remember that more than half of us, on both sides, do not trust it.

    The Westminster model of government we have in this country evolved in Great Britain after 1000 years of trial and error. In this country it has evolved over the past 40 years to the West Indian Minister model. Our Ministers after assuming office, notwithstanding that most of them are uneducated and unqualified, begin making decisions which they are incompetent to do.

    I once asked my friend Dr. Fenton Ramsahoye why it was that after an election in the Untied States there is a period of some months before the new Government takes over the reigns of power, whilst in great Britain the day after the election the previous Prime Minister, if he loses, is unceremoniously dumped on the road outside NO. 10 Downing St., Fenton explained it to me in this way, our Westminster system visualizes a government which is run by well staffed institutions headed by competent PERMENENT SECRETARIES, even their designation tell us what they should be, these permanent secretaries are full time professionals who run the country according to the laws of the land, they can and must take political direction by their elected political ministers, BUT the Permanent Secretaries in Great Britain are required to be completely non political, they are not allowed, for example, to be members of any political party and are dissuaded from even attending political conferences. So here again all Permanent Secretaries must be appointed in some meaningful way by the Parliament. Since we have proved that we have not developed politically enough to appoint Permanent Secretaries who are not rubber stamps of the administration in power.

   Permanent Secretaries will always be subject to the direction of the political administration in power, but they should not be political putty in the hands of any administration and be bullied or coerced into wrongdoing by  Ministers who have assumed absolute administrative roles in our society, instead of the purely political role which was the intention in the first place. Permanent Secretaries are the accounting officers in all of our statutes they dispense the money so if they are honest and accountable in a meaningful way to the parliament they will not condone wrongdoing by any Minister who gives them a directive which is patently unlawful, unfair or illegal. And we must enforce the laws unscrupulously ladies and gentlemen, any PS who dispenses money or services wrongly must be charged and placed before the courts for misdemeanor in public office, and if his minister has to go down with him then so be it.

   This also applies to the Public Service Commission, the members of the PSC must be appointed in a manner, which guarantees that they are not politised. And will fill our civil service vacancies with the proper qualified persons of integrity and ability and not those who are poorly qualified puppets to the administration in power.

   Now we come to the police force, recently we have been informed that Mr. Kennard the former chancellor has been appointed as head of the police complaints authority, now I personally have nothing against Mr. Kennard, but in view of what has been going on shouldn't the members of the police Complaints authority be appointed by a 2/3 vote in the parliament. It is too important a matter for our ongoing well being and peace as a nation to be placed in the hands of a purely PPP appointee.

   All allegations of police abuse and indeed any unnatural death should be investigated by an inquest headed by a judge who was selected by this 2/3 vote in the parliament and only then we will be given at least some semblance of justice for the families of the persons affected by abuses and excesses in the police force.

    Ladies and gentlemen I do not usually get involved in these matters but I saw our Commissioner of Police on television promising a full investigation into the death of one Vincent Griffith, while at the same time telling us a very unlikely story that King was attacking the police officer with a cutlass and had to be shot. Now Mr. Commissioner how can there possibly be an impartial investigation when you have already decided to accept officer's Fraser's unlikely story that Griffith attacked him with a probably fictional cutlass. Ladies and gentlemen if Griffith was executed as claimed by on lookers and we had a proper system of justice in this country the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs in trying to cover up this matter, can and should be charged as accessories after the fact to this murder, if indeed murder was done.

    As far as our Director of Public Prosecutions is concerned a claim by the opposition recently that the "DPP's office is where all matters go to be buried without benefit of clergy" hardly needs much further comment. The DPP should be appointed the same way as our judges, in the parliament by a 2/3 vote. Even our President in telling us that the police are out there daily facing an angry mob armed with sophisticated weaponry, gives them the right to shoot a man armed with a cutlass in the mouth also hardly needs comment.

    Our system of government has not broken down because of the problems with rice and sugar and bauxite and the economy and heavens knows what other excuses we are being fed daily, it has broken down because the institutions of government have been systematically destroyed over the past 22 years, the Burnham constitution guaranteed it, since it deliberately sought to destroy the power of the Legislative part of our system of Government and entrench far too much power in the Executive branch, and this has been what has destroyed our sugar, rice, bauxite industries and our economy NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. If we are to have any semblance of a proper future, we the citizens regardless of political affiliation must demand that they be built back. I visualize a Guyana where If the PNC is in power and an Afro Guyanese sees an injustice being perpetuated against his Indo Guyanese brothers he must speak out and condemn it, if the PPP are in power and an Indo Guyanese see injustice being done against their Afro Guyanese brothers they should do exactly the same thing, that is how we build a nation of one people, and THAT is how we will prosper.