Monday, February 28, 2011

Kissoon and Benschop's attempt to disrupt ERC's Media Workshop rejected.

The two-day media encounter facilitated by the Ethnic Relations Commission in collaboration with Guyana Press Association (GPA), University of Guyana Centre for Communication Studies, Guyana Media Proprietors and Owners Association, the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) and the Government Information Agency (GINA), concluded Saturday with expressions of a sense of satisfaction and the conclusion that the event was useful, stimulating and beneficially functional. The various partners of Media Encounter 2011 considered the participation of approximately 110 persons in the two-day event a positive development, remarking that the robust involvement of students of communication and young members employed in the media augurs well for continued efforts to further improve journalistic standards in order for the media to continue to effectively undertake its societal role and better serve the public.

Freddie Kissoon and Mark Benschop's attempts to disrupt the event were rejected by members of the panel. After a presentation by Carolyn Walcott, a representative from the University of Guyana, Centre for Communication Studies Kissoon proceeded to question the ERC's right to present the laws in question and stated that it was unfair that "his colleagues" from the private media houses, namely, Stabroek News, Kaieteur News and Prime News were not part of the seminar. He also stated that there had been no presentations by the ERC Chairman and GPA President. His remark was rebutted by by Enrico Woolford of Capitol News, who pointed out that a presentation had in fact been made by Moseley and that the printout of the statement was available. Concerning the absence of private media houses, head of the Government Information Agency (GINA) Neaz Subhan was swift to point out that there were two representatives from Stabroek News.

The emphasis of the ERC on the use of education and moral persuasion as an approach to interactions between the ERC and the media was commended. Further, it was hoped that ERC and its partners both developed a fuller understanding of the constitutional mandate of the ERC as well as complexity of the issues that confront media workers.

While the ERC received input from media practitioners for the conduct of its functions in the forthcoming elections period, the media practitioners called upon the ERC to seek a Declarative Statement from the Judicial Branch in its quest for elucidation of aspects of the Racial Hostility Act. A major emphasis of the media encounter was discussion of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act and the Racial Hostility (Amendment) Act.

During the opening ceremony, ERC Chairman Bishop Juan Edghill described the media as important stakeholders with responsibility to report accurately and without bias. He expressed the view that the highest level of professionalism should at all times be expressed by media operatives when reporting on sensitive matters.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Something stinks over at Congress Place

Something just doesn't seem right over at Congress Place, the headquarters of the PNCR, and the results of the elections held to select the party's 2011 Presidential candidate suggests the same.

How could a reputable and longstanding member of the party such as Faith Harding receive only 20 votes?
We must also take note of Basil Williams' claim that there was a well directed campaign by Robert Corbin and his underlings to embarrass him using the election results. The allegations of delegates being evicted or locked out of the Congress confirms an intent to control the outcome of the elections. Then the recounts on 3 separate occasions is outrageous given that it placed different nominees as the winner. Therefore it is not unreasonable that the various factions supporting different candidates have called for an investigation into the way the election was conducted.

Youthful picketers turn tables on AFC

-Benschop threatens, stalks member of the group

A youthful group of protesters on Friday became so incensed over a move by the fledgling Alliance for Change (AFC) to picket the Office of the President (OP) that they decided to take matters into their own hands.
And it all came about because the ongoing `One Laptop Per Person’ brouhaha and the alleged dismissal of an OP employee who was closely linked to the project.
Word is that no sooner had the AFC team, comprising Party Leader, Raphael Trotman, Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan and well-known social activists Mark Benschop and Freddie Kissoon returned to their Campbelville headquarters from their picketing exercise outside OP, than the group converged there to launch a counter-picket of their own.
The anti-AFC picketers’ ire is over the AFC’s perceived dereliction of its duty to represent the interest of the citizens of Guyana, both in and out of Parliament.
So heated became the ensuing situation that the Police, who were called in by persons unknown, were forced to intervene in an altercation between Benschop and a member from the opposing group.
Reports are that the young man was subsequently advised by the intervening police to report the matter to the Kitty police as they are in charge of the jurisdiction in which the fracas took place, and that since then, his assailant has had persons trailing him wherever he goes.

Basil Williams cries fowl

Basil Williams

One contestant at the just concluded special Congress held to elect the PNCR's 2011 Presidential candidate, Basil Williams is claiming that Returning Officers, handpicked by party leader Robert Corbin, were given a mandate to disenfranchise his supporters. Williams also made reference to the incident where several persons were evicted by Ernest Elliot though they were accredited delegates.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Confusion surrounds PNC Presidential candidate elections-3rd recount ordered

Plenty confusion surrounds the elections to nominate the PNC 2011 Presidential candidate. After two rounds of counting Faith Harding received 20 votes, James Bond 13, Basil Williams 88, David Granger 279 and Carl Greenidge 254. However there are widespread claims of rigging and voter manipulation and a female delegate was slapped by a supporter of David Granger over her refusal to vote for Granger.

Up to this time a request for a 3rd recount was made by Aubrey Norton.

UPDATE: Controversy erupts at PNC Congress as delegates chased out.

-evicted delegates forcibly enter by breaking down gate at Congress Place

After being barred from entering the PNC special congress held to select the party's 2011 candidate supporters of Faith Harding forcibly entered the congress area by breaking down the gate and several doors leading to the venue. Harding's supporters were initially barred from entering Congress Place and in some cases being forcibly removed from the premises by Ernest Elliot under instructions from party leader Robert Corbin. Around 56 persons were evicted/barred and it started a fracas. The incident was seen as an attempt to propel Corbin's favoured candidate, David Granger.

Controversy erupts at PNC Congress as delegates chased out.

-Ernest Elliot chases out Faith Harding supporters

Supporters of Faith Harding and delegates of the PNC special congress held to select the party's 2011 candidate were left fuming after being barred from entering Congress Place and in some cases being forcibly removed from the premises by Ernest Elliot under instructions from party leader Robert Corbin. We have been told that around 56 persons were evicted/barred and it started a fracas with supporters of Harding seeing it as a move to propel Corbin's favoured candidate, David Granger.

Anthony Vieira’s letter part of a wider propaganda machinery to discredit the ERC -PRO

Anthony Vieira

ERC PRO-Azeem Khan : Reference is made to a letter captioned, “Vieira responds to the ERC” written by Mr. Anthony Vieira (Kaieteur News 22-02-11).
The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) does not usually get involved in a public debate with the likes of Mr. Vieira or any of his colleagues, but in the interest of disseminating accurate and factual information the Commission is forced to respond.
To begin with, Mr. Vieira’s letter contains a barrage of inaccuracies aimed at misleading the Guyanese populace and to discredit the work of the ERC, but the masses of Guyanese from all 10 administrative regions, who have participated, benefitted and supported the initiatives of the ERC, will not be fooled by this propaganda campaign.
Mr. Vieira in his letter said that, “the ERC is not properly in place since the Leader of the Opposition has not agreed to Juan Edghill continuing as Chairman of this sensitive and important body”. How hilarious, deceptive and wicked!
For public knowledge, the Leader of the Opposition has no role whatsoever in approving or determining the Chairmanship of the ERC. He has no veto power, his agreement is not required, and neither does the President.
The Constitution of Guyana requires that the Parliament by a vote of no less than two-thirds of the National Assembly shall agree on the entities to be consulted in the various constituencies, those entities vote or name their Commissioners and it is the seven Commissioners so named by those entities who vote for the Chairmanship.
The Constitution of Guyana Article 212 B section (1) (a) and (b) states and I quote, “the Ethnic Relations Commission shall consist of no less than five nor more than 15 members nominated by entities, by a consensual mechanism determined by the National Assembly, including entities, representative of religious bodies, the labour movement, the private business sector, youth and women after the entities are determined by the votes not less than two-thirds of all elected members of the National Assembly.”
With regard to the nomination of sitting members from other Rights Commissions on the ERC, the Constitution states in section (1) (b), “a member who shall be a nominee, without the right to vote, chosen by and from each of the following Commissions to be established under this Constitution, Indigenous Peoples’ Commission, Women and Gender Equality Commission, Commission for the Rights of the Child and Human Rights Commission”.
Important to note, the Constitution of Guyana also states the following, “the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Ethnic Relations Commission shall be elected by and from the members of the Commission, other than the members mentioned in paragraph (1) (b), using such consensual mechanism as the Commission deems fit”.
Referring specifically to Mr. Vieira’s peddling of misinformation, the people of Guyana should read and be the judge for themselves since the whole report of which he claims to be quoting “ERC information” can be found on the ERC’s website; and Mr. Vieira should not be pulling out selective passages distorting the truth and misplacing the context.
Mr. Vieira quoted figures with regard the status of African Guyanese in the public sector who he said are not holding senior positions because they are being marginalised and discriminated.
Mr. Vieira, speak the whole truth! Afro-Guyanese have exited the public Service for the following reasons as the research have shown.
(a) Higher employment benefits in the Private Sector – is this discrimination Mr. Vieira?
(b) Attaining the Age of retirement and finding employment in the Private Sector – is this ethnic discrimination Mr. Vieira?
(c) Migration – as far as we know Guyanese of all ethnicity have been migrating.
Mr. Vieira’s letter should be seen as a part of a wider propaganda machinery to discredit the ERC to facilitate aims and objectives best known to him and his colleagues. It is quite obvious that he is against the ERC hosting Media Encounter 2011, an activity aimed at sensitising journalists and reporters on how to effectively report before, during and after elections without infusing ethnic conflict of which they can be sanctioned under the Representation of the People Act and the Racial Hostility Act, both documents of which I assume Mr. Vieira is familiar with since he is a former Member of the National Assembly.
It is quite noticeable the effort Mr. Vieira is putting into doing everything he can even using mis-information, half truths and blatant lies to derail this process but I wish to remind him and all his associates, critics that the ERC remains committed to fulfilling its constitutional mandate even in the face of criticisms coming from the likes of Mr. Anthony Vieira.
One Amerindian leader told the ERC in Aishalton that this season is called “Mango Season”, Guyanese are wise and they are able to judge and to even identify the subtle messages aimed at causing conflicts in the letters, articles and political comments of Mr. Vieira and his colleagues. The jury is out Mr. Vieira – stop the lies!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Protesters picket AFC

-one assaulted by Mark Benschop

Anti-AFC picketers today vent their frustrations outside the party's 4th Street Campbellville office, even as one of their colleagues was assaulted by Mark Benschop.
The picketers held the AFC to account for their lies about the party's financiers as well as questioned the credibility of the party's 2011 Presidential candidate, Khemraj Ramjattan.

Benschop repeatedly chucked and pointed his fingers at one of the picketers and hastily retreated when challenged by the said individual. A report was later made at the Kitty Police station and police are said to be investigating the matter.

Marcelle Joseph stole four flash drives from OP.

-The minutes of payment and other financial documents are nothing secretive as they are expenditures captured in the national estimates

In a statement last evening, the Office of the President said it would like to clarify the position with respect to the ending of its contract with Ms. Marcelle Joseph as a junior employee.
Following is the text of the statement:
“ Ms Joseph was previously employed with the Press & Publicity Section but was transferred to the Permanent Secretary’s Secretariat five months ago.
“Recently, suppliers of goods and services have been complaining that Ms Joseph was in the habit of requesting lunch or lunch monies from them whenever their payments were ready for uplifting. As a result of such reports, the Permanent Secretary decided to transfer Ms Joseph to the Administrative Division.
“On February 4, 2011, Ms Joseph uplifted the keys to the Permanent Secretary’s Secretariat from the office security and unauthorisedly entered the office. She removed four flash drives and apparently downloaded routine information which was stored on the computer there. Additionally, she deleted some of the same minutes of payment records and other information from the computer.
“It was the unauthorised entry into the Permanent Secretary’s Secretariat, the copying and tampering with records that led to the termination of her contract subsequent to being interviewed by both the Permanent Secretary and the Minister of the Public Service Ministry on her wrongdoing.
“We wish to categorically state that her termination had nothing to do with her role in the leaking of information on the one laptop per family project.
“The minutes of payment and other financial documents are nothing secretive as they are expenditures captured in the national estimates. These payments are made openly and the records are easily accessible by junior level staff. These are processed and audited as a matter of routine. These payments are legitimately made for authorised transactions. There is nothing to hide.
“The efforts of Kaieteur News and Mr. Mark Benschop to market these disclosures as leaks represent their mere clutching at straws and attempts at creating sensationalism.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sri Lankans quote Dr Ashni Singh in questioning Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report on that Country

The Island Online: It has been claimed that Colombo, Sri Lanka’s financial capital is among the ten worst livable cities in the world, according to a recent survey carried out by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Accordingly Harare (Zimbabwe), followed by Dhaka (Bangladesh), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Lagos (Nigeria), Algiers (Algeria), Karachi (Pakistan), Douala (Cameroon), Tehran, (Iran), Dakar (Senegal), and Colombo, Sri Lanka ranked as worst cities to live in the world. On the other hand the following were the top 10 most livable cities as ranked by The Economist Intelligence Unit: 1. Vancouver, Canada, 2. Melbourne, Australia, 3. Vienna, Austria, 4. Toronto, Canada, 5. Calgary, Canada, 6. Helsinki, Finland, 7. Sydney, Australia, 8. Perth, Australia, 9. Adelaide, Australia and10. Auckland, New Zealand.

First it is better to understand the background of Economist Intelligence Unit. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is part of the Economist Group. It is a research and advisory company (with stakeholders) providing country, industry and management analysis worldwide and incorporates the former Business International Corporation, a U.S. company acquired by the parent organization in 1986. But it has some criticisms in the past also. The April 2010 country report by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) pointed out an uneasy relationship between the government of Guyana and the private sector despite a net increase in private investment in the country’s economy last year. A recent report which gives a less than upbeat picture of the overall economic climate in Guyana has come in for severe criticism from Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh (PhD in accounting and finance from Lancaster University, which is a triple-accredited, world-ranked management school, consistently among the UK’s top five), who says it paints a "misinformed, distorted, warped, and totally inaccurate picture". Further he stated that EIU’s coverage on Guyana has been hijacked by partisan domestic political operatives. The Government Information Agency (GINA) reported him as saying that it is most unfortunate that the EIU, a Unit whose publications have come to be expected to be objective and competently prepared, "would allow itself to be misled and misinformed by one or two political aspirants and spokespersons who pose as independent correspondents and commentators." As a result, the EIU’s recent reports on Guyana paint a misinformed, distorted, warped, and totally inaccurate picture of economic developments in Guyana, GINA said.

In Sri Lanka we have to question whether the reports made on Sri Lanka also are valid or not. Serious doubts arise as to how they collected information and the methodology adopted including the way they name researchers etc.

We can study the role played by some of the local media on this news caption. One publication went so far as to question the wisdom of investing in infrastructure in 2010. It was argued that there was no need to invest money in road developments etc because Sri Lanka is not getting enough rankings from EIU! This is all about the colonial mentality of some people. Even they highlighted the fact that the Defence Ministry has taken over the urban development authority. It is quite evident that these elements like to see Pettah as it was and the country as it was in 2005!

Marcelle Joseph is no pagan of virtue as she's being made to appear.

Contrary to what is being made out in the public by Mark Benschop and Kaieteur News, dismissed OP worker Marcelle Joseph is no pagan of virtue. In fact just a few weeks prior to her dismissal she was forced to pay back $500,000 she had demanded from a man who purchased a vehicle from OP. Joseph was said to be in the habit of demanding sums of money from persons that did business with Office of the President in exchange for the speedy processing of their payment vouchers.

Joseph reportedly received the $500,000 from the individual who purchased a vehicle disposed by OP as an inducement to speed up the process. However, it was drawn to the attention of the Permanent Secretary by another competing purchaser and an investigation was launched which later determined Joseph's guilt.

So Benschop is a credible source of information for Kaieteur News now?

So all of a sudden Mark Benschop is a credible source of information for Adam Harris and Kaieteur News?
It was this very KN which questioned Benschop's non-existent credibility and even warned him about copying stories from the newspaper's website. On a daily basis Benschop posts all sorts of fabrications as well as racists attacks against government functionaries and persons not in agreement with his confrontational methods.

What Benschop is trying to hide from members of the public is the fact that Marcelle Joseph is one of his fuck mates.

Thousands Mash with the PPP/C

Government slashes fuel tax on diesel

Faced with soaring international oil prices, government on Thursday slashed the Excise Tax on dieseline by five percent in an effort to stabilize the price of that fuel at the pumps.

Oil experts say that unrests in the Middle East and North Africa- more recently Libya- have seen the price of crude oil on Thursday close at US$110.75 per barrel

An official of the state-owned Guyana Oil Company (Guyana Oil Company) said that the E-tax was reduced from 20 percent to 15 percent.

Diesel price- now at GUY$196.50 per liter at the pump- is, according to the source, the fuel that is mostly affected by the change in international prices. About three weeks ago, the price was GUY$186.60.

The price of diesel has been soaring mainly because demand has gone up for that fuel because demand is up in many Temperate Zones due to winter.

The E-tax on gasoline remains the same because, the official said, the price has remained unchanged at 198.60 for the past three weeks.

Mashramani 2011- a cacophony of resplendent colours

-event a huge success

One of the Ministry of Health’s costume

Part of the Tourism Ministry’s float

A costume of the Ministry of Public Service

Guyanese camping out on Merriman’s Mall to view the Mash float parade as it moved along Church Street

Region Six’s float- representing the Berbice River Bridge

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christopher Ram opposes land rights of Guyana’s indigenous peoples

Peter Persaud: Christopher Ram, in his business page of the Stabroek News (S/N Thursday January 20, 2011), states that the Government plans to spend “Huge sums on the Amerindian land demarcation progress” in his preview of the 2011 Budget
Christopher Ram stated: “The budget optimistically projects the receipts of seventy million United States dollars from the Guyana-Norway Agreement under the Government’s Low Carbon Development Strategy(LCDS). The Government is projecting to spend much of this money on the Amaila falls Hydro power project and huge sums on the Amerindian land demarcation process.”
Mr. Editor, kindly permit me to state the following:
1. Christopher Ram doesn’t know what he is saying and must stop misleading the Guyanese people and the international community with his trash and untruths. He further stated: “when one looks at the Amerindian Act 2006 however, one finds it extremely difficult to see how the process can cost any huge sum of money.”
2. Christopher Ram is all wrong here and should be big enough to accept that this is deception he is deliberately perpetrating on the Guyanese people, as well as the international community. He wrongly justifies the cost for Amerindian land titling, land extensions and land demarcations by quoting sections 59 & 60 of the Amerindian Act 2006 that deal with the procedures when applying for land extensions by an Amerindian village, and land titlement by an Amerindian community. Christopher Ram is at sea where Amerindian land issues are concerned and I challenge him to find out from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs the cost for Amerindian land titling, extension and demarcation, instead of polluting the Stabroek News’ readership with lies and distortions.
3. Christopher Ram strongly opposes the land rights of Guyana’s indigenous peoples, as well as their social and economic empowerment, since he is questioning the “Huge sums (spent) on the Amerindian land demarcation process.” What would he do then to Amerindians if he gets a ministerial portfolio if the PNC forms the next Government: But that is only a dream. In my opinion, therefore, Christopher Ram is nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing where the rights of indigenous people are concerned.
4. Christopher Ram does not want the LCDS funds from Norway to be reflected in the 2011 budget, yet he is a preacher of transparency and accountability. What manner of transparency and accountability is this? What manner of man is this? It is crystal clear that Christopher Ram has double standards, and yet he has the temerity to criticize and condemn the Government, its ministries and officials. While he writes a lot, spewing his trash and lies, he has done absolutely nothing for the development of our nation state. His commentaries lack objectivity since he is political and anti-government.
5. Christopher Ram and others waged a vendetta against Guyana’s LCDS, but they lost quite miserably and that is their place. They believed that Norway would have bowed to their trash and untruths, but Norway knows better and Guyana received its first tranche of funding for the implementation of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). What does Christopher Ram know about climate change? He is an accountant.
6. But Christopher Ram is disgruntled and frustrated. He wanted to become president of what he said would have been “an interim Government”. He assisted in crafting the PNC’s 2006 Elections Manifesto, hoping to hold a top Government position if the PNC had won the elections, but the PNC lost the 2006 elections. Is Christopher Ram assisting the PNC with its 2011 elections manifesto? Last year, 2010, he refused the offer to be the presidential candidate for the PNC at the 2011 elections.

Sharief Khan passes away.

The late Sharief Khan

Stabroek News: Well-known journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of the Guyana Chronicle Sharief Khan passed away early this morning at his East Coast Demerara home.

His brother, speaking with Stabroek News briefly via telephone, confirmed his passing and said that the loss has come as a great shock to family, colleagues and friends. Khan, he said, “had not been in the very best health for a while”.

Prior to his death, Khan served as a consultant to the Climate Change Unit (CCU). “Mr. Khan was actively involved in the CCU and has always been actively involved in activities which will move Guyana ahead,” a colleague there told this newspaper.

Khan, who was in his late 50s was also a resident of Campbellville, Georgetown for many years.

Stabroek News Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud expressed condolences on the passing of Khan. He said Khan had played an important role as a leading journalist in the formative years of Stabroek News. He was appointed News Editor and later become Assistant Editor of the Stabroek News. He later moved to the Guyana Chronicle in 1993.

Khan, who originally hailed from Vergenoegen on the West Demerara, began his journalistic career as a free lancer and subsequently joined the newsroom at Radio Demerara, according to Anna Benjamin’s Birth of Stabroek News. He remained there until 1978 when he was offered a position as a senior reporter by Carl Blackman at the Chronicle. He was there in time to cover Jonestown and the following year he wrote a full account of Father Bernard Darke’s murder only to find that it had been replaced with a seven-line statement from the Government Information Service. Khan left the newspaper after it was clear to him that whatever the governing party wanted in the newspaper would go. He later became a CANA correspondent and worked with it until 1981 when he moved to the United States Information Service as an information assistant.

At Stabroek News he was appointed as Chief Reporter in 1987 and eventually rose to the position of Assistant Editor before moving to the Chronicle.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kaieteur News caught lieing 3 times during last week

THE Kaieteur News newspaper continues its gross misreporting on government issues, and Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy had cause last week to respond to two instances, a spokesman said yesterday. In a letter, Ramsammy rejected assertions of inappropriate procurement practices by the Ministry of Health made by the Kaieteur News in two articles -- one on Wednesday February 16 in a headline story stating that the New GPC outbid another supplier by $335M, and in a follow-up story on February 17 asserting that the tender for which these two companies submitted bids was never advertised.
“Both stories are false, and a total misrepresentation of the truth. In short, they represent either total ignorance of what took place, or deliberate mischievousness on the part of Kaieteur News. I believe Kaieteur News embarked on a path of misrepresentation in these instances because they know the truth and instead of telling the stories with the truth, they sought to present them as examples of inappropriate government behaviour,” Ramsammy said.
“The Ministry of Health supports and promotes the right of citizens to know and have access to information. In addition, we support the work of the media in informing people, and we believe strongly the media has a responsibility to accurately inform people and not to mislead people,” he added.
But the minister stated: “It is our position that the misinformation peddled in the two stories is a deliberate effort to misinform people and fits an agenda of anti-government mischief.”
Other Cabinet Ministers and President Bharrat Jagdeo have recently deplored the deliberate misinformation campaign being waged by the Kaieteur News.
Mr. Omadatt Chandan, Corporate Secretary of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), last week also took issue with a Kaieteur News editorial on the Hope Canal project.
He said that major developmental projects being implemented by the government “have all been negatively criticised” by the Kaieteur News, “leading one to believe that there is some sinister motive – either political, or the fulfilling of a personal agenda.”
He reiterated that with regard to the newspaper’s claim that the government has undertaken the Hope Canal project “against the advice of every engineer in sight (and some out of sight),” studies by local and international experts have all agreed that such an outlet is necessary to alleviate the adverse effects of climate change, particularly on the East Coast of Demerara, Mahaica and Mahaicony areas.
According to a government spokesman, media houses have a duty to ensure their reporting is in keeping with basic and honoured journalist policies, including accuracy, fairness and balance but the Kaieteur News is blatantly violating these for its own purposes.