Errol Arthur: IN one of his recent columns Freddie Kissoon asks, “Where does the PPP get these people from?”
In the case of Dr. Randy Persaud the short answer is – from the American University in Washington, DC where he is a tenured Professor. He took a year’s sabbatical which he could have used to accept offers to serve in Korea or Japan. He chose, rather, to serve his country. At the end of his assignment he left the country as he entered it – without the fanfare of the less than self assured.
This evidently does not meet the approval of Mr. Kissoon who claims that he was not informed of Dr. Persaud’s duties, but just knows that Dr. Persaud left under questionable circumstances. He claims that he will inform us of the true reasons at some time in the future when he can muster the “delicacy and sensitivity” to do so. One can only hope that he will muster the professional integrity to tell the truth based on facts.
The article raises some disturbing questions about the role of a free press as well as of the premier institution of higher learning in the development and growth of the emergent democracy that is Guyana.
As regards the former, critical scrutiny of the government of the day must be protected at all cost if the transition to transparent and ethical governance, political pluralism and free markets are to be effected.
While it is true that reporters should have the freedom to practice their trade, when they publish lies, half truths, innuendoes, scurrilous and undocumented information they lose some very precious assets – credibility and trust. This result in the negation of precisely what they are trying to achieve. The government then gets away with things it should not get away with because of the shepherd boy and the wolf syndrome. Kissoon’s writings epitomize this state of affairs.
He attempted to disparage the integrity of three men two of whom are long dead and not here to defend themselves. In the case of Mr. Denny he provided no information that is useful to the public so long after the man’s death. It was all malicious gossip that even our rum shop denizens would be embarrassed to be associated with. If Kissoon was trying to show that the man was a failure as Minister of Labour, then he failed miserably to do so.
Titillating tidbits about his personal life serve no useful purpose but to disparage and demean. But then, that was his intent to begin with.
The nation’s university is the training ground for the leaders of the transformation as well as the maintenance of the collective historical gains of the society. A small part of its mission should be to ensure the highest levels of quality, integrity and ethics in all its educational and research functions and to create a climate that is forward looking and conducive to the development and growth of scholarship and research.
The role of a head of a department, which Kissoon is, should be to epitomise the ideals of the university and to create and exploit new opportunities for knowledge transfer. His daily musings show no evidence that he is even vaguely conversant with the basics of scholarship and research. He meanders mindlessly and turns research on its head by starting with a conclusion and then looks for “facts” to support his conclusion. He is never inconvenienced when “facts” do not exist, he simply makes them up.
He is yet to disclose what peer reviewed works of scholarship and research he has published. He chooses to fume childishly that Dr. Persaud has a curriculum vitae that is as long as the Essequibo River. He did not say that there was anything dishonest in any of Dr. Persaud’s work, as indeed he cannot for good reason.
Much of Dr. Persaud’s work was peer reviewed and published in reputable industry journals.
The point is certainly lost on Kissoon but that is a necessary condition for employment in academia.
Those who are charged with the responsibility to educate and train the next generation of leaders must demonstrate the capacity and the temperament to do so.
I would not expect Kissoon to disclose a CV that is as long as the much shorter Abary Creek – one as short as a “four foot” in Hague back dam would suffice, just so long as he discloses it.
His latest foray into this arena was a one page “paper” at the recently concluded historical conference at the Carnegie Library, at which he thoroughly embarrassed himself.