Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

Updates!

Receive email notices when a commentary is uploaded. Join our mailing list.

E-Mail Address:

View Article

Crime situation
(Aired 2 September 2002)

The crime situation in the country is completely out of control and everyone is, and rightly so, concerned about it, so this is a problem that has to be solved.

   Years ago I was taught by our wicked colonial masters [who don't seem so wicked to me at all now] that the way to solve a problem took four steps, first you identify the problem, secondly you define what is causing that problem, then, thirdly you look around for possible solutions and fourthly you decide to implement the best solution.

   Problem..... There is a current crime spree in this country unprecedented in our history.

   What is causing this problem? The answer lies in two directions, the first part of this problem has to do with poverty, exclusion, marginalization and anger in a particular segment of the population and the other has to do with the fact that the police force is totally incapable of discharging their mandate to protect and to serve this nation and its citizens.

    Arming the police and making them stronger to deal with the criminals is not, in itself, the answer and will yield nothing.

   We must first address the situation that is causing this poverty, marginalization, exclusion and anger in the population.

    To do this we have to ask ourselves a few simple questions, is the average Guyanese in this country especially the afro Guyanese earning a decent wage? Are there jobs that they can do,... to be had? Are these jobs capable of giving them an income that can support them in a manner which can at least allow them to enjoy some of the basic amenities of life? Is it true that since coming to power the PPP have not allowed their afro Guyanese brothers to share meaningfully in the national economic pie? Actually we are so poor as a nation that it is not a pie at all it is more like a Pattie...., have they been removed from the jobs that they normally occupied as civil servants, tradesmen, teachers, police officers, GDF soldiers, etc. to make way for Indo Guyanese who are perceived to be more loyal to the PPP or who in addition are given these jobs by family and friends who are functionaries within the hierarchy of the government, are they being displaced from the jobs they once occupied to make way for more subservient and loyal comrades in the civil service, additionally for example when contracts are awarded to PPP party comrades, do these contractors practice equal employment opportunities to all races, people who own stores and businesses do they employ on an equal opportunity basis, do the people affected by this sort of discrimination have any recourse whatsoever, since their leaders are powerless to help them because of a parliamentary system which excludes consultation and therefore representation, and finally has the rule of law broken down to the extent that there is no judicial system? If the answers to these questions are yes.... then we have identified the causes of the problem. So let us start here.

    Addressing these problems on an individual basis would take 50 years and we don't have 50 years, we don't have even one year to solve this problem, so we must start by ensuring that we have a system of government that affords equal opportunities to ALL.

     This means that the leaders of the nation, on both sides, will have to agree that the system of governance must change, that the legal system must be completely autonomous, merely saying that our judges are impartial does not make them so, the method of their appointment must guarantee it. Purely political appointments by the executive will inevitably make them creatures of their political masters, consciously or subconsciously.

    If.... our parliamentary system makes all opposition in our parliament rubberstamps, then we do not need a parliament. In fact IS it not true that the power and light deal was brokered without seeing the light of day in the parliament of this nation? This is the most glaring case I can recall but the list is endless. Is it not also true that the opposition has a large number of questions lodged in the parliament which have not been addressed?

  Is it true that the Wednesday sittings of parliament which were once set aside as a time which addressed opposition concerns, questions, motions etc., have been abandoned by the PPP? In denying the opposition representation of their constituents have we not left the concerns of our Afro Guyanese brothers as raised in the Parliament unanswered for 10 years? 

    So the Parliament as presently constituted gives no say whatsoever to the opposition in the decisions of running the country, and the result has been marginalization of their supporters.

    What can we do to change this? Well we have to take away some of the powers enshrined in the executive and give it to the parliament where it belongs in a democracy.

     WE have to do it, ladies and gentlemen, WE the citizens of this country all of us, have to demand it, it must be made part of out laws, and it must work equally for all of us, regardless of who is in power.

    In 1992 Mr. Jimmy Carter came to Guyana to put us on the path of free and fair elections and Mr. Hoyte under pressure agreed and did not demand the changes necessary to make our country a true democracy, so, did this free and fair election process ensure that we would become a free and fair democratic nation given our ridiculous constitution, the answer is no, and here again I have to remind all my afro Guyanese brothers that the 1980 constitution was not crafted by the PPP it was crafted by the PNC.

   Jimmy Carter did not take the time or maybe he did not have the intellect to ensure that the fundamental systems of governance after the elections would lead to a democratization of our system of governance.

   He certainly did not display any semblance of intellect during his stewardship of the American democracy as president of the US.

    I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that if the PPP had to rig an election they would. The evidence that came out in the course of the election petition trial made that clear to me. The judge ruled there were gross irregularities but enough evidence was not presented in the matter to establish that it affected the outcome but she nevertheless set aside the 1997 elections, so don't tell me about rigging for 28 years, the PPP must first remove the BEAM from their own eyes before that look for the BEAM in their opponents' eyes.

    I have concluded that this country needs an opposing force of "non partisan Guyanese patriots" in the parliament, whose stated mandate will be to take 6-7 seats in the parliament and FORCE these two groups the PPP and the PNC to work together in the interest of the nation, or no budget will be passed, and implement all of the modifications of the constitution I have been advocating over the past year or so. I am not offering myself as the leader of this group, as of this time I still have no political ambitions, but the next election is 4 years away and we must give the PPP and the PNC time to work this matter out between them but if they can't, then the alternative I suggest becomes a necessity.    

   For the purpose of finishing this comment let the parliament be empowered to give the opposition more say in the running of the country and let us restructure the police force to deal with the crime situation, we can ask the British for help, let them offer us a grant and let them send some Scotland Yarders to do this restructuring and retraining of the force, especially to decentralize it since I have seen that the commanders of the regional divisions are prevented from exercising many of their statutory powers, we must also depoliticize it and make it more effective.

    The Minister of Home Affairs is not an elected official ladies and gentlemen, his agenda is what freedom house tells him to do, that must stop or there will not be equity in the dispensation of justice to all races.

    This complete paranoia of the PPP who are apparently afraid of their own police force has to stem from the fact that the police are operating with a political agenda, in this country that means a racial agenda, if the PPP allows the force to operate in a manner where equal justice is meted out to all, there would be no fear of that. 

    You know ladies and gentlemen I find it hard to believe that in the middle of all of this madness, the PPP after 10 years in office have never grasped the fact that regardless of who voted for them they are mandated by our constitution to discharge their functions on behalf of ALL of us, equally, not just those who voted for them. And in the end it has led us, ALL OF US, including most of their own supporters, into this chasm of chaos and despair.