March 23, 2017

Where is the change that I voted for?

Dear Editor,

I am writing in protest of action to be taken by the APNU/AFC Coalition Government that would, I believe, threaten my rights and freedoms as a Guyanese citizen, especially since this action is to be taken without any form of consultation.

When I voted in May 2015, it was clear in my mind that I wanted change: I wanted to see different people in charge of the Government, different people leading policies, and different people engaged in solving our problems. Now, nearly two years later, I must say that I am somewhat disappointed, because the coalition Government has taken a piece of legislation that was essentially drafted by the previous PPP government and has decided to bring it into law without public debate or sensitization. What arrogance!! The piece of legislation has far-reaching implications for everyone, smokers and non-smokers alike.

The Coalition Government is considering the passage of the Anti-Tobacco Legislation which, as it stands now, proposes a ban on smoking in public places, including one’s home. Nothing is wrong with a ban on smoking in public spaces, but as I understand it, the legislation defines my private home as public space if persons are employed by me as general help, gardener, babysitter, or household help. If any one of these persons is employed in your private home, it is subject to the full force of the new legislation.

Therefore, if you are a smoker like me, and you happen to employ one of those persons listed above, under the new legislation you are not allowed to smoke in the your own home because of the presence of your employee(s). This renders/renders your home a “public space” subject to the vagaries of the legislation.

The ban on smoking in public places also prevents you from smoking in your private vehicle, if the said vehicle is being used to transport others.

Declaring what is public places and private spaces is already a controversial topic. However, when one’s home and private vehicle are added into the mix, it becomes an issue about which every Guyanese should be concerned.

This legislation proposes to trespass upon our constitutional rights and freedoms, and the Government doesn’t see it appropriate to have an open debate on its implication for the entire society. One of the many disappointments taken from this situation thus far, as it unfolds in the days or weeks ahead, is that I really don’t see the change I voted for in the way the Coalition Government has so far approached the pending Anti-tobacco legislation.

Sincerely,

Concerned citizen

 

Public Health Ministry has failed to build on improvements made by previous government

Dear Editor,

It is clear to everyone that this Government has officially conducted more questionable purchases of Drugs than they had accused the PPP of. For nearly two years now the MOPH has failed to build on the improvements made by the previous Government in strengthening the Supply Chain System of medicines and supplies nationwide.

What makes it more glaring, is the fact that they have established a Procurement Commission while the actions with regards to drug purchases has gotten worst. The recent so-called emergency purchase of drugs for GPHC at a whopping G$605 Million, plus an additional G$900 Million for other hospitals are only recent events of gross misconduct in the Procurement System.

We had the infamous bottom house bond being paid over G$12 Million per month to store condoms and a few other items. It is still unsure whether the items stored in that bond are even valued more than the rent itself.

Some say that Minister Lawrence is new to the role and she should be given some slack on this matter, but I say that’s a very expensive price for the tax payers. I would like to remind you that Minister Lawrence was the Chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee for several years while the PPP was in power and she led an overly aggressive fight against the PPP led Ministry of Health for what they called gross violations in the health procurement system. Now the violations she chastised the PPP for is nothing compare to what’s happening now.

But more interestingly, is the fact that this Minister has chosen to take lower level procurement staff and throw them to the fire that APNU started.

We must also take note of the large sums of tax payer’s money that is now being paid to foreign companies like AnsaMcal, while Guyana is drained of foreign currencies. The people must realize sooner than later, that APNU is not a Government for the people but more a Government for foreign companies.

Sincerely,

Malcolm Watkins

 

SARU has succeeded in politically polarising the Guyanese society

Dear Editor,

The recent outburst of Major (Rtd) Aubrey Heath-Retemeyer, CEO of the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), is the latest example of the constant denouncing of groups and individuals who have expressed reservations about aspects of the SARU Bill. This behaviour reinforces an impression that the agency is not overly concerned about putting in place the impartial, broad-based national anti-corruption programme that Guyana so urgently requires.

Indeed, SARU’s constant and excessive allegations are fragmenting the broad national consensus on anti-corruption which contributed significantly to the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition electoral victory. From what ought to be the easiest issue on which to generate formidable national support, SARU has succeeded in politically polarising the society, as reflected in the heavy list of speakers that forced consideration of the SARU Bill to be postponed in the last session of Parliament.

SARU by these and related actions is succeeding in creating the impression that it seriously lacks the political judgment and skills needed to assure the success of the technical and legal aspects of its mandate. The price of the evangelical animosity towards the major Opposition party employed by the head of SARU since its inception and taken up recently by its CEO will be counted in terms of constitutional reform, electoral issues and all matters that require cooperation of the major Opposition.

Major Heath-Retemeyer’s criticism of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) in questioning “where the GHRA was when hundreds of young men lost their lives with no steadfast commitment to pursue justice…” is a trite and quite misplaced response to the GHRA’s comments and criticisms of sections of the SARU Bill.

For his information, while acknowledging the need for the nation to confront those deaths, the GHRA is at least on record at the time as having denounced them. Which prompts the question as to where the zealous Major and his military organisation were at that time. This new-found sensitivity to “the tears of parents and wives and children” stands in marked contrast to its silence when the deaths were generating the tears.

The GHRA collaborated closely in the early stages of setting up the SARU. This civil society organisation continues to fully support a vigorous anti-corruption programme, incorporating preventative measures as well as asset recovery and criminal action.

However, the anti-corruption drive is contaminated when corruption is effectively interpreted as beginning and ending with the last Administration. Rehabilitating the impartiality of SARU will be an up-hill task, notwithstanding Major Heath-Retemeyer’s belated assurance that members of the current Administration suspected of corrupt acts would also be pursued.

There are many imaginative and indeed successful anti-corruption programmes in existence around the world. Guyana does not have to re-invent the wheel. The common feature running through them is that while anti-corruption is a crowd-pleaser, it requires shrewd political skills to achieve.

Sincerely,

Executive Committee

Guyana HumanRights Association

 

Organisers of Phagwah celebrations in New York should be commended

Dear Editor,

The presence of large numbers of Indo-Guyanese and other Indo-Caribbean Hindus in selected locations in America and the organising skills of community leaders have made it possible for Phagwah to be celebrated with the same traditions as brought to the West by their ancestors from Mother India to the Caribbean (Guyana, etc) and from there to America. The spirit of Holi has truly traversed a great distance. Phagwah or Holi is the most popular Hindu festival observed in New York City attracting the largest crowd of revellers with Guyanese in the thick of things – as organisers and celebrants. This weekend, NY Hindus celebrated Holi with a mela on Saturday evening at various mandirs, including AryaSamaj, Tulsi, Trimurthi, Lakshmi, etc. Parades in Queens, the Bronx and Jersey City were scheduled for Sunday. Hindus in Florida will also celebrate the festival in the Orlando area. It is because large numbers of Hindus are settled in these areas that Phagwah and other popular Indo-Caribbean festivals are celebrated there.

The organisers of Holi celebrations across the USA need to be applauded for their hard work in making the Phagwah festivities possible. They put a lot of time and effort and their personal money to ensure the success of the planned events. They have helped to institutionalise traditional Indo-Caribbean customs and traditions in this new land. It is through their vision that Indo-Caribbeans are able to celebrate this and other festivals just like they did or do back in Guyana.

For Phagwah, unlike in the Caribbean, it is not possible to go house to house to celebrate Phagwah. It is not a public holiday. Instead, people come together in one central location (as in Florida or Richmond Hill or Bronx, or Jersey City) to observe the festival. Hence the focus on a parade and a mela in a public park. The parade has always been observed on the Sunday (Phagwah falls on Sunday this year) after its official observance and is usually a time of extreme excitement and revelry (singing, dancing, etc.).

These central celebrations bring together tens of thousands to observe the colourful festival with people splashing colours on each other. It fosters unity among various groups of people promoting a common feeling of togetherness. As in Guyana or Trinidad, Hindus, Muslims and Christians all partake in the celebrations in a true show of strength of the Indo-Caribbean community in the city. There are also many non-Indians at the celebrations which help to promote harmonious ethnic relations. It also gives non-Indians an opportunity to understand one aspect of Indian culture.

For the last 19 years, Holi has been celebrated in grand style with the annual parade which takes on a carnival-like atmosphere. The parade was launched in 1990, thanks to the work of Kali, PanditRamlall, PanditSatish, etc) and it has now become institutionalised as part of the celebration of the Phagwah festival attracting politicians and community leaders. Thus, the initiators of the Liberty Avenue parade deserve the highest praises for conceiving the parade, which showcases the community’s numbers and gives political recognition to the community. An aura of Holi is in the air.

In addition to the parade, there are also Phagwah festivities at various clubs, temples, mandirs, and catering halls. There are glittering cultural variety shows, pageants with modelling of latest Indian designs and other festivities during the weekends preceding and following the official observance of the festival. Temple members have been engaging in chowtal singing over the last several Sundays. Some temples held celebrations to coincide with the holiday on Wednesday evening. The melas and the parades help to advance a sense of togetherness that enhances pride and admiration for the rich cultural heritage that was handed down by the indentured servants from India.

On Sunday, the celebration culminated with the parade. Delicacies (bara, gulgula, phulourie, bigany, mango or tamarind chutney, potato ball, prasad, channa, ghoja, mahambhoog, kheer or sweet rice, among others) and beverages were served.

Yours truly,

Vishnu Bisram

 

Toronto-based Guyanese doctor awarded Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal

Dr. Narendra Singh (left) receiving congratulations from Governor General David Johnston following the Meritorious Service Decoration presentation (CNW Group/Humber River Hospital)

Dr. Narendra Singh (left) receiving congratulations from Governor General David Johnston following the Meritorious Service Decoration presentation (CNW Group/Humber River Hospital)

Toronto-based Guyanese Dr Narendra Singh, Humber River Hospital’s Chief of Staff, was on  March 9, awarded Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) by Governor General of Canada, David Johnston.

According to a press release from Canada NewsWire, Hospital President & CEO Barb Collins congratulated Singh, noting “we are all proud of the amazing work Dr Singh, and many of his colleagues at Humber, do, not just in our hospital every day but beyond into the local and global communities. In Dr Singh’s case, his leadership has seen the neonatal and infant mortality in his birth country of Guyana drop dramatically, saving the lives of hundreds of babies every year.”

“I’m honoured to share this with them: this is a true team effort from people determined to make a difference for these kids. I also want to thank my colleagues at Humber River Hospital for their support and encouragement at every step,” the release quoted Singh as saying as he thanked his partners in Guyana Help the Kids.

The Toronto-based paediatrician founded Guyana Help the Kids [www. guyanahelpthekids.com] in 2009 to address neonatal and infant mortality rates in his country of birth.  He raised funds to procure essential equipment, then went on to establish a residency programme in collaboration with Canadian universities to train Guyanese paediatricians and nurses.

 

Cabinet’s role should be removed completely from procurement process

Dear Editor,

Once more, the situation with the setting up of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and its functioning has come to the fore and is prominent in the news. Since the author had quite a bit to do with this, it is therefore important to once more set the record straight.

When the PPP/C government placed the PPC Bill before the National Assembly, the ‘no objection’ role of Cabinet was part of that Bill. The then opposition railed against this, and suggested strongly that Cabinet’s role be removed. It was on the floor that this was done. The then Attorney General, Doodnauth Singh, Khemraj Ramjattan and lawyers from the Opposition, including Winston Murray, had a sidebar and removed the role of Cabinet.

Therefore, the intention of the framers should not be in doubt.

I also recall that when the PPP/C moved in the National Assembly to establish that body, it was hindered by the then opposition, which tried to manipulate the process to get majority representation on the Board. At one stage, they even demanded to have the chairmanship of the PPC.

At the level of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), where these manoeuvres were taking place, the PPP/C was having none of that.

The PNC/R stuck to its position, refusing to compromise; and that prevented the setting up of the PPC.

After the 2011 elections, the issue was raised again. This time, the joint opposition had a one-seat majority in the National Assembly. They were demanding that the PPC be established, and this time their bargaining position had improved. They appeared not to want any recommendation from the PPP/C.

They used their one-seat majority in the Assembly to frustrate all of the then government’s developmental projects: They railed against the Marriott Hotel; they frustrated the beginning of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project; they voted in the National Assembly to cut the budget of the Ministry of Works, stymieing the establishment of new airstrips in the interior; and they even voted against the establishment of a Specialty Hospital, which was aimed at advancing our health services by leaps and bounds.

The APNU/AFC was not only being anti-developmental, but also deliberately putting our country in harm’s way; they seemed to have wanted to make the economy grind to a halt. Their refusal to pass the Anti-Money Laundering Bill was aimed at damaging the financial sector and the economy as a whole. Further, the APNU/AFC members of the National Assembly voted against the Amendments to the Environmental Tax Act, which would have allowed a level playing field for local and regional companies. This was fulfilling Guyana’s commitment to CARICOM. That would have settled the case brought by the Rudisa Company, which claimed that the tax was discriminatory.

This anti-nationalist act by the APNU/AFC cost our country more than one billion dollars.

Even in such hostile circumstances, the PPP/C Administration tried to make compromises in relation to enacting the PPC. It was proposed that we establish the PPC but, however, allow cabinet to retain its ‘no objection.’ This was proposed because of the hostile attitude of the APNU/AFC towards the government’s projects.

The then opposition parties refused, and adamantly demanded that Cabinet’s role be completely removed.

Therefore, all the talk about things not being clear is just a mere roost for the APNU regime to renege on that position now.

There should be no doubt of the intent.

Cabinet’s role should be removed completely.

 

Sincerely,

Donald Ramotar

 

Kumar’s fabrications have been exposed

Dear Editor,

The retirement of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the public announcement in this regard has occasioned another flurry about the Commission in the media. Joining that flurry was one Mr Neil Kumar, who made three assertions among others.

He asserted that: (1) “the election results were by law supposed to be verified by the Information Technology tabulation and the corresponding manual tabulation. However, none of this was done”. (2) “Guyanese must now demand that GECOM tell us how many fake SOPs were discovered. This information must come forward so that we could know the specific areas and the Presiding Officers that were involved in the rigging of the 2015 elections”; and (3) “The former Chairman and the Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Election Commission should be held responsible for their actions in allowing fake SOPs to infiltrate the system”.

The first observation I wish to make is that whoever attempted to corrupt the system with fake Statements of Poll did so on the heels of Mr Boodhoo and the Commission’s misappropriation of a Linden Constituency seat in 2006. An Alliance For Change (AFC) seat was appropriated to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), and Mr Boodhoo attempted to pass off a fictitious result in 2011 (he sought to allocate the one-seat majority to the PPP/C rather than to the Opposition, to which it rightfully belonged). The fake Statements of Poll in 2015 continued the corrupt trend of 2006 and 2011.

Of interest is that the now vocal Kumar and his comrades-in-arms were deafening in their silence in 2006 and 2011. That attitude defies any claim that their interest is in free and fair elections. It clearly shows that their singular concern is being declared the winner at all cost. That contention is further fortified by Kumar’s three concerns. The fact of the matter is that GECOM’s IT Division, which was fully operational in 2006 and 2011 when electoral fraud was perpetrated and attempted on the respective occasions, was shut down in 2015 when it was discovered that fake statements had found their way into the system and into the IT unit for the tabulation of the results. What nails Kumar’s fabrication is that in addition to the manual calculations, the CEO resorted to other computers for the purpose of computing the results, as required by law; and in so doing, met the legal requirement which Kumar falsely or maliciously claims was not met.

By requesting information on which Statements of Poll were faked as the basis for identifying the “specific areas and the Presiding Officers that were involved in the rigging of the 2015 elections”, it is logical to conclude that Kumar knows at which stage in the process the fakes had entered the system, although his party would have collected statements at every polling station and did not challenge any of the statements used for tabulating the results at the district counting centres; yet he concludes that they were from specific polling stations.

If the statements entered the system at the points that Kumar contended that they did, how could he accuse Surujbally and Lowenfield of actions that allowed the infiltration; which by his contention took place at polling places where neither Surujbally nor Lowenfield was present, and where neither was in direct control.

Let it be known that the discovery of fakes was done at the Central Command Centre after the statements would have been included in the tabulation of the IT unit.

Kumar has successfully spun his own web, which in turn has entrapped him and exposed his fabrications which he purports to be the truth. He, however, seems to be a stranger to the truth.

Yours truly,

Vincent Alexander

GECOM

Commissioner

 

Hate speeches should have no place in Guyana

Dear Editor,

Marking the centenary of the end of the Indian indentureship programme has become a most interesting exercise and more so for the Indian Guyanese community.

Myself, Ravi Dev and Swami Aksharananda were the objects of the usual spewing of hate – originating from Freddie Kissoon’s pathology of self-hatred – in a column published on March 7, 2017.

Whether Kissoon should be given a column to direct personal attacks in the name of responsible journalism is a consideration for his publishers, the Guyana Press Association, and for the Government, which is currently engaged in a nationwide programme to build social cohesion.

At the event held at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) which attracted so much media attention the Social Cohesion Minister was present and heard our remarks, as did other Ministers of Government and heads of diplomatic missions in Guyana.

That none of these intelligent and reasoned personages raised any alarm about any of our speeches inciting uprisings or societal explosions in Guyana could be a good indicator that it was an occasion that offered few surprises, if any.

Neither Dev nor I said anything new. In fact, we have been addressing these same concerns for years – along with leaders like Swami Aksharananda – about Indian Guyanese marginalisation. Newer ones like the closure of sugar estates at an event that speaks to Indian indentureship is hardly a surprise either.

What arose from Kissoon’s diatribe, however, was a decided fear among some of our community. He succeeded in getting Indian Guyanese to pull back into their corners and to fall silent. It always comes as a surprise that there are people who view Kissoon as an intellectual and moral giant even though his columns amount to little beyond glib name-dropping and personal attacks on anyone he deems unacceptable.

His success in intimidating some in our community into silence, however, needs investigation on this historic centenary.

Are we still ‘bound coolies’ allowing others to define us or are we free to think, analyse and speak for ourselves and about ourselves?

In our divided country, there are agents with their various agendas who want us to retain our bound yard status and to live in fear and silence. These include self-loathers like Kissoon and others who feel that subsuming themselves to a national identity of oneness is the only future on offer.

The Government’s and Opposition’s continuous message of respect for diversity is set aside as political rhetoric by these Indian Guyanese who might well be correct about this assumption. They feel comfortable with their chosen status which opens doors for them in every area of national life.

Our insistence on national recognition and respect for our Indian heritage and experience, therefore, makes them vastly uncomfortable. The other section of the bound yard includes Indian Guyanese who do understand and agree with our positions fully but remain closeted for fear of reprisal and intimidation by Kissoon and those of his ilk.

So much for our legacy of courage and resistance inherited from the many Indian heroes who fell right here on the sugar plantations in the struggle for justice.

The question for all Guyana is: when will Indian Guyanese be able to live as Indian Guyanese and without fear to think, speak and voice an opinion from their perspective without being condemned as racists?

This branding never occurs when Africans, Amerindians or any other group speaks on behalf of their communities. This is not a cry of victimhood but an observation about the obvious racism directed at the Indian Guyanese population which is designed to keep us voiceless.

I wish to say to those Indian Guyanese who are fearful of embracing their ethnic identity: we left the bound yard one hundred years ago.

We are free to give voice in music, dance, literature, etc, and free to express ourselves. The next step would be the inclusion of these and other Indian Guyanese expressions on the national stage beyond the tokenism that now exist.

President David Granger in his address at Leonora last Sunday to mark the abolition centenary not only expressed his appreciation for the Indian contribution to Guyana’s development but assured us that we are very much part of a united Guyana.

This even as the State-owned “Guyana Chronicle” participates in the assault on myself, Dev, and People’s Progressive Party MP Adrian Anamayah who also spoke at the NCC on behalf of Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

While this assault directly contradicts the President’s own message of inclusion and respect for diversity, I want to believe that the President is sincere about his message to our community.

This should mean that all hate speeches and bigotry directed at any individual or group should be condemned and should have no place in Guyana.

Sincerely,

Ryhaan Shah

Mr Bulkan is uttering untruths in foolishly denying what he said

Dear Editor,

I wish to respond to a letter by Mr Ronald Bulkan, Communities Minister, in which he accused me of making baseless statements in relation to the Government’s payment to BK International of more than G$1 billion on a mere letter threatening litigation.

Let me say that my statement was based on an article published in the media on August 23, 2016. The front page headline read “Government pays BK US$5.7M on a simple threat”.

The article quotes Mr Bulkan as the source for the headline. It was an interview done with Mr Bulkan by the reporter. The article also carried MrBulkan’s photograph.

Mr Bulkan never denied the story, nor ever asked for it to be retracted. Naturally, one must presume that the article was accurate. After MrBulkan’s letter, I raised the matter with the editor of Kaieteur News and he assured me that the newspaper will hold steadfast to their story.

It is, therefore, clear that it is the Minister who is uttering untruths in foolishly denying what he said, when the same can be so easily confirmed or proven. I hope that the new Code of Conduct, which was promised for Ministers, will address the issue of Ministers, publically, peddling half-truths and even downright lies.

Mr Bulkan went on to point out what was the basis for the huge payment to BK International.That is not the issue at hand Mr Bulkan is attempting to obfuscate. While in Government, I was aware of those figures. The issue is that BK International breached the agreement several times. The PPP/C terminated the contract and requested BK International to vacate the site. The PPP/C Government felt that it was BK International that was liable and should pay the Government instead. We were ready to sue BK for compensation.

It was this APNU regime that quickly rolled over and gave BK International a huge payment. This settlement and many others which this Government has concluded are believed by many to be tainted with rampant corruption. Mr Bulkan took the opportunity to castigate me about GuySuCo’s difficulties. Here again, he is displaying a huge gap in his knowledge of what is happening at GuySuCo, or if he knows, he has chosen to be dishonest on the issue.

I mentioned before that GuySuCo’s problems began when the price of sugar received from the EU fell by 36 per cent in 2010. The PPP/C government was investing in the industry to deal with the new reality. Our plan was working as could be seen in the 2015 production.

Had the PPP/C not been cheated out of Office, Wales would not have been closed and Rose Hall would not be threatened with closure.The industry has huge potentials in value added products. This regime refuses to go in that direction and is closing the industry instead. This is a decision that will haunt this country for generations to come.

Mr Bulkan should be one of the last persons to speak or refer to anyone’s ability to manage. After all, he ran his own business into bankruptcy.His pique with the PPP/C administration was because the government did not accede to their request for a bail out of some G$300 million. The PPP/C government felt it could not use taxpayers’ money in that fashion. He is with the APNU now maybe because they don’t care how taxpayers’ dollars are squandered and used to give the elite huge salaries and allowances. As a gentleman, I expect MrBulkan to own up to his words and not seek to hide from them.

Sincerely,

Donald Ramotar

Former President

 

CCJ vigilant on appointment of Judges, independence of the Judiciary

Dear Editor,

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is vigilant as regards the method of the appointment of judges and the independence of the Judiciary in the Region. Last Tuesday, the regional court criticised the system how appellate court judges are appointed in Belize. Although the CCJ judges did not entertain the appeal filed by the Bar Association against the Attorney General of Belize, but expressed displeasure with the present arrangement for the appointment of Justice of Appeal.

At present, under section 94 of the Constitution of Belize Chapter 4, Appellant Court “Judges are appointed by the Governor General acting on advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the leader of the Opposition… is for such period as may be specified in the instrument of appointment.”

I should state that since there is no fixed time in the appointment, the judges’ tenure is at the whim and fancy of the Executive. This does not find favour with the CCJ which stated in its judgment that Justices of Appeal should be appointed in a similar position as Supreme Court Judges (first instant judges) with an independent appointing body and tenure until retirement age. The CCJ also recommended that shorter periods of tenure should be offered to appointees over the age of 75.

In Belize, Judges, Magistrates and legal officers are appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC). The composition of the JLSC – Chief Justice (Chairman), Solicitor General, President of the Public Service Commission and a representative from the Bar Association. Perhaps I should add that Belize is the only jurisdiction in the Region in which lawyers have a say in the appointment of Judges and legal officers.

The Guyana Government is expected to appoint a new Chancellor who will replace Carl Singh who has been acting as Chancellor for the past 13 years, but his appointment was not confirmed since the Leader of the Opposition did not agree to his confirmation. Ian Chang who acted as Chief Justice for more than 11 years was not confirmed either because there was also no agreement. In fact, Chang went into retirement a year ago without being confirmed and Yonette Cummings-Edwards has been appointed as acting Chief Justice.

Guyana is the only country in the region where there must be an agreement between the President and Leader of the Opposition. This was only changed in 2002. Previously it was merely consultation like other jurisdictions in the Region. It seems as if the Cooperative Republic has to be different from other countries. Guyana is the only country in the Commonwealth where the Judiciary is headed by a Chancellor and not the Chief Justice. In July 1966 when the Court of Appeal of Guyana was established, Forbes Burnham who was Prime Minister and Head of Government was not happy for the then Chief Justice, Sir Joseph “Bonnie” Luckhoo to continue to head the Judiciary. He then appointed Guyanese Sir Kenneth Stoby who was Chief Justice of Barbados to the top job and renaming the position as Chancellor of the Judiciary and President of the Court of Appeal.

However, Judges – except the Chancellor and the Chief Justice – in Guyana are appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission which is headed by the Chancellor.

Sincerely,

Oscar Ramjeet