Dear Editor,Having noted the most recent development of what appears to be a controversy over the ethnic composition of the staff and employment practices of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), I believe there should be an immediate public declaration of its list of employees and related information.I am of the opinion that given the sensitivity of this issue, the national importance of GECOM and the need for it to be fair and unbiased in all aspects of its operations, including employment practices, the onus is for it to make the information public immediately in an effort to prevent a potentially dangerous and divisive situation from escalating.While I believe that meritocracy must be of primary consideration, I reject any notion perpetuated by those who seem to be peddling a particular agenda for a desired outcome, that Indo-Guyanese are not interested in seeking employment with GECOM or lack the required competency.Further, I also believe that the issue which was raised by one of the Commissioners representing the Opposition, Robeson Benn, should have been supported by him presenting relevant information being mindful of the national sensitivities. If his assertions are not merely spurious, then his position would have been informed expectedly based upon related information which should have been presented.Similarly, the statement by Government represented Commissioner Vincent Alexander that the burden of proof lay with the Opposition, is utterly unacceptable and must be seen as a willful attempt to divert from a very serious accusation. With the allegation of influencing the employment process being levelled against at least one Commissioner representing the Government and the potential for it to aggravate racial tension, that burden cannot escape the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer of GECOM.Given that I, like many others, was not privy to what actually transpired at the meeting during which the issue was officially raised, the expectation would be for all views to be freely articulated with resolution being foremost and corrective mechanisms implements if deemed necessary without delay. GECOM cannot and must not be immune to democratic practices.This responsibility lies explicitly with the Chairman who must at all times ensure that the Commission remains professional despite disagreements and not appear as trying to suppress an issue, more especially this sensitive one in question. It is therefore extremely disappointing that GECOM has not yet presented to the public relevant employment information which could dispute Benn’s assertion. The apparent reluctance thus far opens interpretation for a worrying conclusion of credence to Benn’s statement.Many are extremely concern over this issue which alleges deliberate attempts to discriminate against Guyanese Indians and remain mindful of similar accusations levelled against the Administration after it assumed office in 2015. Many cases of firing allegedly because of their race were reported and to date it appears these have been brushed aside.Efforts to prevent any Guyanese, in this case Indians, from being considered for employment or have their information deliberately altered for the same purpose, is a transgression of their constitutional rights, a blatant attempt to marginalised, racial discrimination and a potent tool to sow the seeds of disharmony in an already fragile society.Given the triumphal and racially toned utterances of some who are associated with the current Government and who seem infatuated to impose one group over the others, this recent development at GECOM can further give credibility to the perception that Guyanese Indians are being targeted thereby imposing a belief that they may not necessarily belong.This action can serve to further frustrate Guyanese Indians, thereby forcing many more to continue to seek solace overseas bringing into question the deliberateness of the said action. Guyanese Indians, like all other groups, have and continue to make invaluable contributions to the building of this nation and any form of discrimination against them will undoubtedly have negative national impact. Beyond GECOM, the Government has a responsibility to intervene, not in piecemeal manner, to address issues such as these.I was pleased at President David Granger’s comment on the issue that his Government does not influence the employment practices at GECOM. While that is most heartening to know, in the interest of national unity and his commendable action of establishing the Social Cohesion Ministry, he must order an immediate investigation to reveal the truth in keeping with his proclivity for Commissions of Inquiry. Anything otherwise will convey a frightening message to Guyanese Indians and inflict further damage to the already flagging social cohesion efforts.In the interim, mechanisms must immediately be implemented to safeguard the interest of Guyanese Indians who have applied and those who are in the process of applying to GECOM.Sincerely,Rajendra Doodnauth
Another July 26 has come to celebrate our Independence Day, a day on which we recall how eleven men representing three commonwealth counties (Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Sinoe) signed the Declaration of Independence in 1847 and thus leading Liberia to becoming the first African independent state.No female was among the eleven signers of independence, although we know from history that women played key supportive roles in the drive to independence amongst which was the design of what is known today as the Liberian flag made up of eleven stripes representing the 11 signers of the Declaration of Independence.As the nation looks back today reflecting from whence we have come as a people and what we have so far achieved in terms of the quest for dignity and justice and equality as enshrined in the Preamble of the 1847 Declaration of Independence. It reads thus: “We the people of the Republic of Liberia were originally the inhabitants of the United States of America. In some parts of that country, we were debarred by law from all the rights and privileges of men-in other parts, public sentiment more powerful than law frowned us down. We were everywhere shut out from all civil office. We were excluded from all participation in the government. We were taxed without our consent. We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a country which gave us no protection. We were made a separate and distinct class and against us every avenue to improvement was officially closed. Strangers from all lands of a different color from ours were preferred before us. We uttered our complaints but they were unattended to, or only met by alleging the peculiar institutions of the country. All hope of a favorable change in our country was thus wholly extinguished in our bosoms, and we looked with anxiety abroad for some asylum from the deep degradation. The Western coast of Africa was the place selected by American benevolence and philanthropy for our future home. Removed beyond those influences, it was hoped we would be enabled to enjoy those rights and privileges and exercise and improve those faculties, which the God of nature has given us in common with the rest of mankind”. These words written 171 years ago, basically a litany of complaints, in effect constitute perhaps what is the longest duration anywhere of unlitigated complaints against the Government of the United States of America. Those unlitigated complaints notwithstanding, after nearly two centuries of existence as a nation, what can we as a nation truly celebrate aside from the fact of our independence declared 171 years ago?Truly speaking the quest to establish an independent nation was in fact a quest for equality, justice and the freedom to enjoy all those rights denied the founding fathers in the land of their birth that propelled them to seek succor on this piece of land now otherwise referred to as the Republic of Liberia.In establishing the Republic, the founding fathers established a form of government akin to that of the United States of America with a government made up of three separate independent but coequal branches, namely the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative. Indeed the founding fathers had a lofty vision of a future Liberia built on the foundations of justice and equality.But nation building, being a human endeavor, is prone to mistakes and even failure. In this vein we acknowledge that successive leaders of this Republic have betrayed the vision of the founding fathers. And they have done so by creating a hydra-headed monster of an Executive branch that is very corrupt, dominates and even emasculates the others.Through the influence of the Executive for example, over 60 bogus concession agreements have been midwifed into existence through corrupt means. For its part, the Legislative branch has willy-nilly accommodated the hunger of the Executive to bend the rules for personal gain, and passing into legal existence concession agreements in violation of the laws of Liberia.For much of its history, it (the Legislature) has been nothing more than a rubber stamp body approving and indulging the Executive in its breach of the laws of the Republic. For its part the Judiciary rather than being a guardian of the People’s trust have also over the years accommodated the Executive in abusing the rights of the people leaving the mass of the citizenry completely bereft of trust in the Judiciary.Bribery and other forms of corruption have taken hold and threaten the very independence of the Republic. Courts of law, rather than being Holy Altars of Justice have been instead desecrated and presided over by mean, vile and corrupt men and women thus placing Justice far out of reach of the ordinary Liberian today.As if by Providence, what remains of the Republic after encroachment by colonial powers, is a land mass not as large as before but richly endowed with a wide variety of natural resources. But as if by Satanical intervention, citizens of the Republic remain mired in abject poverty with virtual predators manning its machinery of government and for personal gain, selling for few pennies any and everything they can lay hands on including their own birth rights.So after 171 years of existence, the Republic finds itself at a crossroads of history, where every step forward has to be carefully measured. But we must also ask the question what is there to celebrate against the backdrop of dismal national statistics such as 85 percent illiteracy, very high infant and maternal mortality rates, 1,072 deaths per 100,000 live births (2013 DHS), a broken and dysfunctional education system, over 80 percent unemployment, a very corrupt judiciary, a compromised Legislature and an overbearing and corrupt executive.This 171st Independence anniversary should be a time of deep national reflection. Liberia is in crisis — very deep crises and uncertainty appears to have gripped the nation amidst mounting economic hardships, to which real solutions appear elusive.Rather than merry-making and basking in the fantasy of promised but false Hopes, Liberians should instead engage in deep reflection on the future. And we must ask ourselves the all-important question What is there to show after 171 years of existence as an independent nation?Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
City’s garbage woes…Town Clerk opposes Govt’s bailoutBy Lakhram BhagiratGeorgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green has said the city is in a crisis all way round, especially when it comes to addressing the current garbage situation, since the two major contractors withdrew their services owing to nonpayment.At an Extraordinary Statutory Meeting last week, she bashed Solid Waste Director Walter Narine for allegedly misguiding her in relation to the current garbage situation. “I am looking at a bailout from the Government to bring this city back in order, because the garbage is killing me, and Mr. Narine can’t tell me they got ‘no red velvet’ out there because the place nasty. On Mandela Avenue it is laced with garbage…there is garbage everywhere,” she said.“We are in a crisis…with this garbage. I am not listening to Mr. Narine anymore, because he is not directing me right. He telling me one thing in here, and when I go out there, is something else; and I am believing everything I seeing with my own two eyes,” Chase-Green added.The embattled Mayor has said she is going to personally approach the Government for the over-$475-million bailout to settle the debt with Puran Brothers and Cevon’s Waste Management. She noted that the smaller contractors who were taken on to fill the gaps do not have the capacity to continue picking up the city’s garbage on a long-term basis.The M&CC had approached the Central Government, through the Ministry of Communities, for a bailout of four hundred and seventy-five million, six hundred and thirty-five thousand, two hundred and forty-five dollars ($475,635,245) to settle the city’s debt to both Puran Brothers, Cevons, and another company.“The garbage isn’t under control, and I got to get it in control. I going to the Government and beg for this bailout, because we got to get this place in order. We can look at small contractors to assist us, but they don’t have the capacity to do it; they don’t have the kind of trucks,” the Mayor said.“Look at the open-back trucks; we should not be allowing it, but we had to because it is the only thing we had at the time; but it’s not the right type of vehicles to carry garbage through the city. I will not sit here as Mayor and allow us to go down the drain,” she further stated.Town Clerk Royston King has opposed the bailout, stating that City Hall is an autonomous agency and accepting a Government bailout undermines its autonomy.“We should not depend on Government for any bailouts or handouts; and if Government supports us we are happy, but this Council is autonomous and we have all the provisions to raise our own revenues, and we can do it…we must not hope for bailouts, because when you get bailouts from Government you are diluting your own authority and autonomy,” King stated.Earlier last week, Solid Waste Director Narine had said the two contractors would come back with reduced responsibilities.“They will not come back with the same luxury they had when both of them had 5 groups each. They will not come back with that. What I am thinking of, going forward, is we have 15 constituency and let us do constituency clearance; and in that way all the small contractors get a bite with Cevons and Puran,” Narine posited.“The city will do some cleaning. Actually, the city would do four constituencies, and Puran, Cevons, Grandison (Waste), Sandeep (Waste) would have two each…,” he added.Narine said that the new arrangement would see each contractor being paid $10 million per month for their services, as compared to the previous range from $43million to $45million per month.On September 1, the M&CC implemented fees for commercial waste collection. Small business operators are required to pay $5000 per month, while medium sized businesses will contend with $8000 per month. However, large business operators across Georgetown are required to pay the most significant figure of $12,000 per month for their waste collection.The Solid Waste Director had told the Council that while the originally approved fees for commercial garbage collection were $5000, $10,000 and $15,000; the latter two were reduced to $8000 and $12,000 after consultations.Puran Brothers Disposal and Cevon’s Waste Management withdrew services on July 30, 2017, as City Hall’s debts had risen to the multi-million-dollar range. According to the companies, the issue of non-payment has been a longstanding one, with many debts going as far back as 2015.Many Councillors at Monday’s statutory meeting commended themselves for keeping the city clean despite the withdrawal of these waste disposal services. A Councillor, however, noted reports that a truck (registration number provided) was going around and charging some residents $500 to empty their barrels – a service which currently attracts no additional fees for homeowners.
Canadian Police are investigating the death of 16-year-old Dianna Manan, a Guyanese who was found on Queen Street, Brampton, Canada, on Sunday.Dead: Dianna MananThe teen’s parents are said to be Guyanese who hail from Canal, West Bank Demerara, and Berbice.According to Canada’s CP 24 news, a passing motorist found the 16-year-old lying in the eastbound lanes of Queen Street, near Cherrycrest Drive in Brampton on January 5, 2020.Manan was rushed to hospital but succumbed to her injuries.Guyana Times understands that the teenager had left her grandmother’s home in Toronto on January 4 after being picked up by friends.However, Canada’s CP 24 news reported that on Monday the teen’s mother said that she had no idea why her daughter was in Brampton.Meanwhile, authorities said that they have since discovered that Manan had loose ties to Brampton and may had been at a house party on Saturday evening, prior to her death.
For more information, call (562) 695-1217, Ext. 102. City beautification contest starting LA MIRADA – Spring is nearly here – time again for the city’s annual spring beautification contest. From March 21 through April 9, judges will be canvassing La Mirada neighborhoods, looking for beautifully maintained properties. All homes, businesses, schools and houses of worship will be included. Awards will be presented to more than 270 residents and businesses at a reception ceremony June 25 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. For more information, call (562) 943-7277. Foster, adoptive families sought WHITTIER – The Children’s Bureau is looking for families interested in becoming foster or adoptive families. An orientation session will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 20 at the Whitwood Library, 10537 Santa Gertrudes Ave. Families can receive training, certification, funds and 24-hour support to aid in the care of their foster or adoptive children. For more information, call (800) 730-3933, Ext.0. Or visit www.all4kids.org. Free health tests for seniors planned WHITTIER – Health screenings for seniors will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. April 17 at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital’s Flo & Frank L. Scott Conference Center, 12401 Washington Blvd. The free carotid artery screenings are recommended for people 55 and older with a family history of stroke, hypertentsion, smoking, or heart disease. Space is limited; organizers asked residents to make reservations as soon as possible. For more information, call (562) 698-0811, Ext. 2444. Interactive book reading Friday LA MIRADA – Children 3 and older are invited to an interactive book reading at 7p.m. Friday a the La Mirada Activity Center, 13810 La Mirada Blvd. The free event will feature the talented young cast of the Phantom Projects Education Theatre Group, who will read various childrens stories. Parent attendance is required. For more information, call (562) 943-7277. Golf tourney to benefit veterans SANTA FE SPRINGS – Veterans in Community Service Inc. invites everyone to participate in its annual awards golf classic, a tribute to the troops and their families. Registration is being taken now for the event, which will be held May 3 at the Industry Hills Golf Club in Industry. This year’s event will honor Sgt. Jesse Acosta, a combat veteran wounded in Iraq. Preceeds will provide scholarships for veterans and their families. For more information call (562) 204-0529. Or visit www.vicsinc.org. Lecture to focus on help for aging WHITTIER – Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, 12401 Washington Blvd., will hold a free lecture, “How to help your aging parent stay home,” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 20. William Hernandez will discuss accident prevention and offer tips and devices that can help older people stay independent and safe at home. For reservations, or for more information, call (562)698-0811, Ext. 2444. – From staff reports160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ‘Living history’ event set at park WHITTIER – The next “living history” event at the Pio Pico State Historic Park, 6003 Pioneer Blvd., will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 24. The free event features old-fashioned games, guided tours of the historic home of Pio Pico, adobe brick-making demonstrations, bread-making demonstrations and more. “Living history” events are scheduled through the rest of the year.