Sunday October 28, 2012
The Acting appointment of the Freddie Kissoon’s historical... Chancellor and the Chief Justice DEAR EDITOR, I refer to the concern expressed by Attorney-atLaw, Mr. Nigel Hughes and reported in your newspaper over the prolonged acting appointments of their Honours Justices Carl Singh and Ian Chang in the judicial offices of Chancellor and Chief Justice, respectively. Mr. Hughes’ comment echoed a similar concern by Mr. Teni Housty, a former President of the Guyana Bar Association. I consider that it might be useful if I made a contribution on this matter. In the Constitutions of most of the CARICOM States and in some other Commonwealth countries, the Head of the Judiciary is appointed by the Head of State after consultation with the leader of the Opposition. This is the procedure specified in the Constitution of Guyana for the appointment of the Chancellor as the Head of the Judiciary in Guyana, and the Chief Justice as the most senior Judge of the High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature. During Mr. Burnham’s
tenure of office as Head of State, the legal personalities appointed to the Office of Chancellor and Head of the Judiciary, and the Office of Chief Justice as nominees of the Prime Minister (and later President) were acknowledged legal luminaries, in first Chancellor and President of the Court of Appeal being Sir Kenneth Stoby, and Sir Harold Bollers as the Chief Justice of the High Court. During the Constitutional review process which commenced after the PPP/C assumed office after the general elections in 1992, the proposal was made by the PNC/R (now in opposition) for a change in the procedure for the appointment of the Chancellor and the Chief Justice, respectively the requirement of agreement (not merely consultation) between the Head of State and the Leader of the Opposition was proposed by Mr. Robert Corbin the leader of the Opposition and was agreed by the National Assembly which had t u r n e d itself into a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of reforming the
Protest Action, the... From page 4 protest action is disrupted and become discredited and citizens suffer at the hands of criminals. Innocent citizens are violated and criminals move one step further into destroying their own lives and disgracing their families. The distressing thing is why, after so many instances of this happening, over so many years, there is no solution to this scenario. Why are there no countrywide community meetings to discuss this problem? Many persons have been affected over the years and live with the bitterness of being desecrated. Are these persons of no significance? Any legitimate protest action will dissociate itself from criminals. In order for the protest action to be effective it must confirm with the established standards of the rule of law. This is no ‘cowboy’ country although criminals would like to make it so. The police can and should be asked by those ‘voicing their rights’ to assist in
ensuring the deterrence of criminals. I am sure that the police will be glad to cooperate and assist. Even if the protest is against the police themselves why are innocent school children, pregnant women and other citizens, beaten, robbed and prevented from going about their daily business until late into the night. This is ruthless lawlessness that has been allowed to go on for some mysterious reason. This is no time to be quibbling over whom or what caused this situation to happen or who organized it. If it was organized at all we all know who did it – persons with evil intent. The criminals do not care about politics or protest action, this is clearly just plain hooliganism. People continue to be hurt and traumatized. What we want to know is what steps are taken to prevent this abominable situation from happening again when we have another protest action. B. Shivdas
We cannot determine our destiny, but we do have a choice of a philosophy that will influence the direction of our life.
Constitution. I am on record of having warned against the change in the procedure for the appointment of the Chancellor and the Chief Justice. I contended that if the requirement was agreement for the appointment of the Chancellor and the Chief Justice, the Constitution must contain provision for resolving the matter in the event of this being unattainable. I proposed that there should be a reference to the National Assembly and a decision being made by not less than a two-thirds majority vote. This proposal was not favoured the argument advanced being that it might not be possible to obtain a 2/ 3 majority vote in the National Assembly. In the end, the existing (revised) Constitution adopted in 2002 requires agreement to be reached by the President and the Leader of the Opposition for the substantive appointment of the Chancellor and the Chief Justice, respectively. It is to be noted that the revised Constitution of Guyana includes a provision (Article 232) which actually defines what is meant by “consultation” or “meaningful consultation”. This may have been inspired by the Constitution of Belize which contains a similar provision. Brynmor T.I. Pollard, C.C.H.; S.C.
From page 5 no justification from a nation building and a future-focused perspective for the PNC or PPP’s racially divisive and graphically violent politics of the sixties. That said, historical evidence reveals there was justification from a geopolitical axis for the Western powers (British and Americans) to encourage race politics in Guyana for their own aims. The West recognized it had a power-crazed politician in Burnham who was willing to do anything to secure power, even wreck the mood of national unity and racial tolerance that underlined the 1953 and to a lesser extent the 1957 elections. The heart of Guyana’s problems is Forbes Burnham and his power-drunk ways and Jagan and his ideological rigidity. A proper revisionist could argue that if Burnham remained in the PPP and restrained his megalomania, his charisma would have led to a different type of change that avoided the racial cleavage in Guyana. Burnham’s arrogance, impatience and ignorance caused him to attempt to hijack the PPP shortly after the successful 1953 election where national and racial unity was at its highest ever in Guyana’s history. This was a profound tactical blunder that exposed Burnham’s error and egomania in the 1957 election when Africans utterly rejected him and his party. My theory is that if Burnham remained in the
PPP and fought the Jagans ideologically from within the party, the Jagans would have cracked by the early sixties under the crescendo of American interference and pressure. The Jagans would have yielded and Burnham’s internal pressure and his sway could have forced the PPP to become more socialist and less communist on most of its positions. If that did not work and there was a split in the PPP at a later time such as the early to mid sixties, it would have occurred primarily on lines of ideology and not starkly on race as happened in the midfifties. A split on ideology would have seen substantial African and Indian voters breaking into two ideological camps supporting communism or proper socialism. What makes Burnham’s decision to pursue racial intolerance as a political strategy even more reprehensible is not only the fact that it evaporated the racial unity in Guyana up to 1957 but also the fact that Burnham adopted some of Jag a n ’s m o s t b i z a r r e communist policies like nationalization during his dictatorship. This begs the question why did Burnham go on a racial politics spree to oppose the PPP when he ruled in a manner the PPP would have generally ruled Guyana from 1964 to 1985? It was all about self and power for Burnham and the PNC was a mere accessory to his selfworship. Burnham was
blinded by his raw hunger for power and even worse, his instant gratification mentality. Jagan was blinded by ideology and power to feed that ideology. If Burnham, Jagan, the PPP and the PNC cared about nation, they would not have pursued the politics they did in the sixties. There is no justification from the PNC or PPP perspective for their politics of the sixties. No leader or party can justify fracturing and separating a nation and sending it to violent and murderous ethnic reprisals. Burnham knew the West was ultimately going to dictate the outcome in Guyana. He decided to position himself to gain power from that geopolitical chess move by going racial with his politics. Jagan’s head was in a cloud misguidedly believing from his communist baloney that power was going to be delivered by the people, not the West. Burnham read the end game far better than the Jagans because he was not ideologically blinded to reality. The PNC started on a road to race and remains on that road to race. The PPP started on the road of multiracialism and ended up on the road of race and remains there. There is nothing great or historic about the PNC or the PPP. Historical evidence and the power of nation-building do not justify the racial or the violent racial politics of the PNC. M. Maxwell