Dear Editor,The two recent columns produced by TIGI and published in the Stabroek News have featured attention-grabbing headlines; but after unpacking the lengthy sections of legal jargon and quotations, I still struggle to see any clear-cut case of illegal activity being made.I would be the first to admit that I have no legal training, meaning that TIGI’s columns make for some very thick reading; but I believe I can distill everything down to two points, in layman’s terms 1): The then minister responsible for petroleum does not have proper “discretion” to grant blocks the size of the Stabroek, except under “special circumstances”; and 2): the “special circumstances” the Government has used to defend the award do not meet that definition.If this is an accurate summary of the argument, and I believe it is, then I have to confess that I do not see TIGI’s legal case. Everything seems predicated on an opinion or judgment call, rather than on clear-cut legal wrongdoing.Take the argument concerning “discretion.” TIGI cites lengthy statements from legal scholars, yet nothing I have read clearly shows that any violation of that discretion occurred. The problem is that it’s all about how you interpret the language, specifically the “special circumstances” provision, which seemingly allows for a broad range of undefined discretionary activities.The most recent column illustrates this clearly. TIGI included various quotes given in different contexts. All of these statements essentially say the same thing: “discretionary doesn’t actually mean discretionary.” ‘He said’, ‘she said’ is dangerous ground for legal arguments, though.TIGI’s contention that the security situation regarding Venezuela did not, and does not, constitute a “special circumstance” is susceptible to the same problem.Ultimately, the letter of the law allows the minister to make that decision. TIGI may have an opinion on the status of Guyana’s national security at any given time, but its opinion alone does not determine what is legal or illegal.The question I cannot stop asking myself is: If TIGI is confident that it has an airtight legal case, why isn’t that body making the case in court? It’s fine to publish the columns and state opinions, but why isn’t TIGI moving to bring any legal case? Is it perhaps because there is no case to bring?TIGI is meant to be a transparency watchdog. It is tasked with sniffing out corruption and seeking greater openness in governance. Its columns in the Stabroek News to date seem to veer away from encouraging greater transparency and towards an agenda focused on political and legal advocacy. That’s fine, but TIGI should be clear with the public that it’s now pushing an agenda, and not simply calling for greater transparency.Sincerely,Donald Singh
The Orealla Village Food Processing FactoryCommercial species of wood at Orealla, an Amerindian village situated 50 miles up the Corentyne River in which logging is a major activity, have been depleted. This is now a major concern for the community, its Toshao, David Henry has revealed.Along with its sister village, Siparuta, Orealla depends on logging as one of its two main economic activities.Henry says there is now a need to switch to other economic activities. “We still have the forest intact, but the commercial species that we are using is being depleted, so we need to diversify and leave the forest and move into agriculture.”Henry says the focus will be on pineapples, which the village of Orealla produced bountifully in the past, and on permanent crops, including avocados, pears and mangoes. “We have the land and potential to plant pineapples and supply the world with it.”According to the Toshao, efforts are being made to resuscitate the food processing factory in the village and this time around it will not only be adding value to pineapples.He noted that new machinery has already been added to the old factory to ensure that other fruits could be processed and marketing was currently being done. The Toshao told Guyana Times: “We want to make it an all-purpose factory, where we can do canning.”He reiterated the need for the village to diversify from traditional logging and move into cash and permanent crops so that they can “live mostly off of agriculture”.Orealla has a population of 1500, while Siparuta has a population of 700. The Village Council depends on royalties from sand and wood in order to carry out its functions which include providing electricity and water for both communities which are five miles apart.“Our community is a very poor community, likewise Siparuta, and we are dividing the royalty 50-50 and would say that it is not enough. We are barely floating because that is the only source of royalty,” Henry added.
The Guyana Government has laid in the National Assembly for debate and consideration legislation aimed at tackling the 21st century phenomenon of cybercrime.Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, on Thursday presented the Bill to the House for a first reading, before requesting that the Bill be sent to a Special Select Committee for special consideration and further consultations, if needed, ahead of a debate and vote on the matter.Williams in presenting the Bill to the House said, the legislation treats with the creation of offences of cybercrimes and provides provisions for penalties, investigations and prosecution of such offences.Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeria welcomed the move on the part of the Government to have the Bill sent to a Special Select Committee – the first such accommodation in the 15 months since the coalition A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) has been in office and in control of the Legislature.She did however query why a physical copy of the legislation had not been made available to the Members of Parliament.Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, informed the House however that in keeping with the evolution of technology, the Bill would be circulated to the members electronically.The Cyber Crimes Bill caters for, inter alia: illegal access to a computer system; illegal interception; illegal data interference; illegal acquisition of data; illegal system interference; unauthorised receiving or granting of access to computer data; computer related forgery; computer related fraud; offences affecting critical infrastructure; identity related offences; child pornography; child luring and violation of privacy among a sleuth of other offences.
The cries of residents in the mining community of Mahdia, Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni), are being answered through the rehabilitation of internal roads.Senior Hinterland Engineer, Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Naeem Mohamed said that works on the internal roads are ongoing, despite challenges.Ongoing roadworks in Region Eight (GINA photo)In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Mohamed said that the contractors are facing challenges with the removal of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and Guyana Telephone Telegraph (GTT) utilities. However, these are being addressed and the contractors are increasing the pace of work. To date 15 per cent of the work has been completed.The approximately $720 million allotted in the 2016 budget will see two kilometres of roads concreted, along with several drains, Mohamed explained.Additionally, works on the Mabura road will commence shortly. The contractors will be removing slush from the potholes and other areas, and in the dry season laterite will be added on, “so that the road will be more passable in times to come,” Mohamed claimed.The contracts were awarded to JR Ranch Incorporated, but due to heavy rains, works were delayed. Mohamed explained: “It is challenging doing the grading when the rain comes. When you do on surface road in the rainy season it gets more complicated, the material becomes more plastic and there is a difficulty in doing roads when these times come.”Mohamed pointed out to GINA that maintenance on the roads is usually executed annually, since it would not be economical to carry out periodic maintenance: “We also cannot allow lots of time to pass before we do work on the road so we have to choose the right time to get it done.”Early in 2016 when Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman and a team visited Mahdia, they were apprised of the poor state of roads in the community.Minister Trotman had assured residents that works were slated to commence this year, since in the 2016 national budget funds were allocated for the paving of roads in Mahdia.A total of $1.702 billion has been provided for rehabilitation of hinterland roads in Bartica, Mahdia, Ituni-Kwakwani and the Cassandra Bridge, says GINA.
A couple is now traumatised after armed bandits stormed their Good Hope, East Coast Demerara home Saturday morning. The incident occurred sometime around 08:30h.The couple’s room which the gunmen ransackedGuyana Times understands that the woman, Sanata Boodhoo, 53, was at home with her 4-year-old grandson at her Lot 11 Phase Three, Good Hope, ECD, house when two armed bandits confronted her.The woman related to this newspaper that she had just opened the backdoor of her home when the bandits forced their way into the house with the gun pointing at her head.“When we reach inside, they ask where all the money, where the gold deh,” she recalled. Boodhoo noted that the men then took her to the bedroom where they tied her up on the bed and stuffed her mouth with cloth.She said they began ransacking the house, collecting cash and the other valuables they got their hands on, and even raided the shop.“Them even carry away my wedding ring and tell me them gon shoot me grandson if me nah give them money and gold; but me nah get money and gold, what meh get me give them,” she recounted.The woman said that by this time her husband, Seelall Etwaroo, arrived home and he too was confronted by the gunmen.Etwaroo related to this newspaper that when he went home he called for his grandson but got no response, which was strange.“Me normally come and open the door from the outside so when me push open the door now, two guns pointing at me. All two ah them get one gun then them carry me in the room and me see me wife on the bed tie up; then them put me on the bed and tie me up too,” the man stated.The ordeal lasted for some 30 minutes during which the gunmen held the four-year-old child frighteningly at gunpoint.According to the couple, the bandits took away about $220,000 cash, $40,000 in phone cards, cigarettes and two cell phones valued $130,000 before making good their escape in a blue and white Allion car.However, as they were leaving the village, another villager, Abdol Mohamed, was passing by in a car and Etwaroo alerted him of what transpired, as such the man gave chase after the bandits.Mohamed told Guyana Times that after he was told about the robbery, he drove after the car which had no number plate. He stated that as he approached the vehicle, the gunmen opened fire on him. He said the men discharged three rounds in his direction, two of which hit his car.The bandits made good their escape.This newspaper was told that a report was made to the Police who took an hour to respond.
The eminent American journalist, Laurie Garrett, who in 1996 won the Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the Ebola outbreak in Zaire, has given us an alarming warning.In an interview last Saturday with National Public Radio (NPR), based in Washington, D.C., she described as “very late” America’s intervention in the Ebola crisis that is currently ravishing West Africa.Ms. Garrett prepared for her interview by first meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington and came away with the distinct impression that by the time “the fastest mobilizing operation I know of tells me that . . . it’s going to take 50 to 100 days to mobilize the different elements that they’ve promised to commit. We are so far behind the virus and I’m quite fearful that we won’t catch up.”Ms. Garrett was even more emphatic . . . and scared. Said she, “If we conservatively say these three countries have a cumulative 15,000 cases and you say, as it was announced, it’s doubling every 15 to 21 days: so that means by the end of September it would be 30,000; by end ofOctober, 120,000 and by the time we all gather around our Christmas trees, it would be over 400,000.”When the virus first broke out in Zaire in 1976, she said, it was confined to “isolated rural areas;” but the outbreak in the Mano River basin quickly spread to the densely populated capital cities of the three most affected countries–Conakry, Guinea, Monrovia, Liberia and Freetown, Sierra Leone.The prospect of 400,000 cases by Christmas is worrisome. If her estimated figures are correct, we can, with trepidation ask ourselves how many of this number will survive and how many will perish?But before getting there–and we earnestly pray to God that we will not–all of us in these three besieged countries must work diligently, conscientiously and with all our might to contain (restrain) the spread of this virus, so that it does not exceed 100,000 in all the three countries.How shall we accomplish this? First, we must intensify the awareness and sensitization initiatives, so that people know and believe that this virus is not a joke, that it is killing people in the hundreds and thousands. That is why it was so disheartening to have learned on Tuesday morning that Guinean youth attacked and stoned to death several young people who had gone into the villages of that country to promote Ebola awareness. What will it take to cause our people to come to grips with the terrible Ebola reality?Despite the dangers, we cannot give up the battle of sensitization.The three nations should use every means available–especially radio, which is still the most effective communication tool in most places, to get the message across that Ebola is real and it kills. We must also use the cell phone, probably the next most effective communication tool. Every phone call must be answered first with the message: “Ebola is real and it kills;” then go on to give phone numbers and places where people can receive emergency testing, once they suspect a symptom in themselves or somebody they know.These messages should be in all the major languages in each country and locality. In Liberia’s Nimba County, for example, the messages should be in Gio or Mano; in Bong County, Kpelle or Mandingo; in Sinoe, Kru; in Maryland and River Gee, Grebo; and in Montserrado, simple English or Kpelle.TV should be used and posters placarded everywhere.The three countries should be saturated (flooded) with buckets, chlorine, Clorox for hand washing. Medical, nursing and paramedical personnel, including body removers, should be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE). Bodies should be either cremated or buried in safe environments far away from sources of daily water supply.All of us, especially the 3,000-strong military contingent dispatched by United States President Barrack Obama, could ensure the provision of the buckets and detergents and provide the financial and other logistical resources for the sensitization.That is in addition to the troops’ other important functions of building clinics and hospitals to ensure that affected people are speedily admitted and cared for, and that the Ebola dead are swiftly and efficiently buried.With these and other measures, and all of us in our three countries fervently cooperating, we can defeat this virus even before Christmas.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
In a scene in the last act of the ‘The Merchant of Venice’, Shylock, the money lending Jew pursues Antonio before the Venetian court for breach of contract. Shylock prays the court to enforce the provision of the contract which entitles him, in the event of a breach, to a live pound of the defendant’s flesh. Intransigent, inflexible and vengeful, Shylock will accept nothing less than his pound of Antonio’s flesh. Portia, however, lover to the defendant’s best friend, assumes the advocacy of Antonio. And in one of Shakespeare’s favorite dramatic devices of disguise, Portia proposes to Shylock, in the hurly burly of argumentation, not so many juridical arguments as she does a moral option. A moral option based in the faith of God! And this is what she says:“THE QUALITY OF MERCY IS NOT STRAINED, IT DROPPETH AS THE GENTLE RAIN FROM HEAVEN UPON THE PLACE BENEATH. IT IS TWICE BLEST. IT BLESSETH HIM THAT GIVES AND HIM THAT TAKES. TIS MIGHTIEST IN THE MIGHTIEST, IT BECOMES A THRONED MONARCH BETTER THAN HIS CROWN. THE SCEPTRE SHOWS THE FORCE OF TEMPORAL POWER, THE ATTRIBUTE TO AWE AND MAJESTY WHEREIN DOTH SIT THE DREAD AND FEAR OF KINGS. BUT MERCY IS ABOVE THIS SCEPTRED SWAY. IT IS ENTHRONED IN THE HEARTS OF KINGS, IT IS AN ATTRIBUTE TO GOD HIMSELF”. Act IV, scene 1 William ShakespeareAnd so, the conclusion of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ turns for outcomes upon this ‘OPERATION OF MERCY’ to resolve the central conflicts: The conflicts of money, the conflicts of love, and the conflicts of law. And it was also by this self-same ‘OPERATION OF MERCY’ that Gyude Bryant emerged on the Liberian scene in 2003, charged with the responsibility to draw a million bellicose Liberian parts into one accommodating whole. But before the ‘OPERATION OF MERCY’ was a skillful political tool, it was in Chairman Bryant’s effortless compassion and accommodation guided by principle and faith. Bryant’s ‘OPERATION OF MERCY’ was possessed of the understanding that the greatest need of men and women everywhere is the recognition and affirmation of their humanity, irrespective of their station in life. It was thru Bryant’s ‘OPERATION OF MERCY’ that the nation and people were set upon roads not taken, in a direction of better choices, to new places and paradigms of possibilities. It was Bryant’s ‘OPERATION OF MERCY’ that created the discipline to deliver to the Liberian people without variation and delay. And Gyude Bryant shone on the national stage because -MERCY- the one quintessential quality missing to Liberian political and civic life was enthroned in his heart.In its vicissitudes, the hits and misses, the zeniths and nadirs, in the munificence of God’s wisdom, we need accept that Bryant accomplished here on earth what his Maker put him here to do. In the munificence of God’s wisdom, we need accept that God repossessed Bryant’s life according to HIS plan. And it is ALSO in this munificent wisdom that the charge and responsibility of his legacy is bequeathed to us.Gyude Bryant is motionless. His life is extinguished, and yet, there is a great unfinished national business at hand. A business to bind the nation’s wounds, a business to untangle truth from strangulating lies, a business to lather justice to a million wrongs, and a business to produce prosperity and happiness for the people. Bryant’s tenure started THIS process which now ebbs more than it flows. The good is not the enemy of the perfect, and where we continue to throw the patriots and their industry onto the great Liberian bonfire of ingratitude, we burn the hopes and heroism, the health and happiness of millions born to this land. We wallow in the cinders of confusion and defeat when Mercy is absent. Bryant’s sacrifices, however, were not for a nation of merciless qualities, but for a nation of merciful life.That is the contribution and character of Bryant’s life. It is incumbent upon us to seize it. For nothing that we do or say has meaning or tenure, or use in the absence of mercy, mercy towards each other, and mercy for Liberia’s life. We can only do ourselves and our country honor in saluting an icon in the new Pantheon of the Patriots; one who might be called ‘A Liberian Worthy’.“I am a part of all that I have metTho much is taken, much abidesThat which we are, we are —One equal temper of heroic heartsStrong in willTo strive, to seek, to find,And not to yield.” -Alfred, Lord TennysonShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Ebola means disconnection and isolation. How we miss embracing our friends and distant loved ones in this time of, “Don’t touch. Stay away from gatherings”. Can we only communicate via phone? No!Our artists can remind us of the comfort of Unity when isolation fills us with loneliness. Liberian musicians have written Songs and more Songs about the dangers of Ebola. We needed that. Now we need to hear Songs of how we are defeating Ebola; of how we are empowered with our new knowledge about Ebola; our victories over Ebola and how we will continue fighting until it is no longer a threat. As we listen to this Unifying Music, we will connect with it, join in the Song and even Dance to the Rhythm. It’s the Unity of spirit Music brings and feelings of loneliness and isolation are chased from our hearts. While this new Music is recorded, let our visual Artists make us fall in love with ourselves again. We need to connect with the beauty and strength of our land and Culture as many of our foreign concessionaires and foreign business people do. They are not moanin’ and groanin’ like us. They are movin’ and groovin’ – doing more business and making more money than ever.Our visual Artists must create for us and present to us our own Art. It must be made available to us and it must be affordable. Then every Liberian will be able to own some Liberian Art work. We are blessed that some Liberians already know that the world market for African Art is soaring upwards as we speak. And some wise Liberians are even ahead of the foreign investors procuring these precious works of Art.Artists! Let’s spark this recovery! Let’s have a “Recovery Exhibition!” No need for plenty people to gather at once. People come at their own time and do their part to spark this recovery. The “Recovery Exhibition” where everyone can own a beautiful piece of themselves.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
By Shirley CoxRobtel Neajai Pailey’s Gbagba is definitely a Liberian story. Equally so, it is African and universal simultaneously because it addresses corruption, the enemy of economic progress and social development everywhere. For children, particularly in developing countries, Gbagba is a compulsory read. Pailey skillfully unmasks corruption through the focused eyes of twin characters, Sundaymah and Sundaygar.The story begins with the twins preparing to leave their port city of Buchanan to visit their aunt and uncle living in the capital city of Monrovia. That Sundaygar and Sundaymah do not gleefully pack their bags to visit their aunt and uncle indicates that the warmth of home penetrates deeper than neon city lights and abundant attractions. Despite all the material benefits and comforts capital cities usually have, the twins, particularly Sundaymah, are reluctant to leave the trusting environment of their hometown. However, as Sundaymah lists all the things which tug at her heart thereby making the visit to Monrovia seem unnecessary, her brother Sundaygar moves quickly to remind her of the hot baths and television programs which await them at Auntie Mardie’s and Uncle Momo’s house on the Old Road in Sinkor, a suburb of Monrovia.Before boarding a taxi for Monrovia, the twins listen attentively to a loaded piece of advice from their mother—behave yourselves—which is enough for a dutiful, loving parent to understand that her children would rise to the occasion anywhere, including Monrovia, and do the right thing.Following the journey from Buchanan, the twins’ maternal aunt Mardie is awaiting them at the taxi station in Monrovia. The delight at seeing her niece and nephew is evident in her voice and the twins reciprocate by quickening their steps to fall into her warm embrace. No sooner do the twins alight the taxi from Buchanan and greet their aunt do they encounter a crisis.Before they settle in the backseat of the government-owned jeep in which driver Opah chauffeurs their aunt Mardie around, the twins hear the unfriendly noise of bystanders alerting the driver that the trunk of the jeep has been opened. Luckily, Opah proves more agile with his feet than the unkempt man who is making away with the children’s suitcases. After he retrieves the twins’ belongings, Opah comes to a standstill in heavy traffic. If Sundaymah and Sundaygar had hoped that the rest of the journey to Auntie Mardie’s and Uncle Momo’s house—not quite a ten-mile distance—would have been uneventful, they are in for some surprises.The first surprise is subtle.The president’s voice on the radio gives the twins a new word to think about: “corruption”. It is not in their vocabulary, but they like the sound of it and cannot wait to find it in Uncle Momo’s big red dictionary.The next surprise is more disturbing. Auntie Mardie has the rank of “minister” in the Liberian government. When she tells the twins not to worry, that a way would be found out of traffic delaying all vehicles caught in a jam, they are shocked when their aunt’s driver slips an unscrupulous policeman a 100 Liberian dollar bill to quench his “thirst.” They see this action of cutting ahead as a contradiction of what their parents have taught them—that when forming queues, wait for your turn. Unfortunately, Pailey does not enable the twins to voice their concerns in this instance. But they do question authority in the next scene.The third surprise is possibly criminal.Sundaymah, Sundaygar and their aunt stop at a supermart to get snacks, and Auntie Mardie enables them to choose familiar chocolate bars. To the twins’ dismay, the chocolate tastes quite different – spoiled – because it has long expired. Yet, Auntie Mardie checks the dates and promises the twins that she will be “right back” with some positive results. Instead, she exchanges pleasantries and a warm handshake with her “friend”, a foreign merchant. The twins grill her after she gives them the lame excuse, “He does not usually have problems with his goods, so I let him go today.” They respond, “But what if he does it again to another person who comes to the store?” The twins’ aunt ignores their protests and walks away without a reply, much to their dismay.When Opah parks the jeep in his boss’ garage, it is Uncle Momo who embraces the twins in bear hugs. Sundaymah and Sundaygar do not forget, however, the promise they make earlier to themselves and each other. So, off to the library they rush to look up the word “corruption”! In all its ugliness, the word stares the two minors in the face—lying, cheating and stealing is what it means, they discover—the same as the word gbagba in their native language Bassa. The twins immediately recall incident after incident of corrupt practices their parents have pointed out and warned them against, and realize that they do not like the word “corruption” after all.Pailey has woven into the story Gbagba some of the many facets of corruption. Yet, given how entrenched corruption is in Liberian society, she only brings to the fore this vice as it is manifested in the lives of adults. Gbagba could certainly do with a scene showing children engaged in dubious acts, to showcase the pervasiveness of corruption.Nonetheless, Gbagba gives hope through the discerning eyes of Sundaymah and Sundaygar. It is courage such as theirs that will keep corruption at bay. Therefore, it is imperative for teachers and parents, particularly in Liberia, to read, digest and interpret to children the implications of Gbagba. If children could emulate the strong ethical compass exhibited by Sundaygar and Sundaymah, there would be hope for the future.This review is being published in commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day, December 9, 2014. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Executive Director of the Bassa Women Development Association (BAWODA) has declared 2015 as a year for the women of Grand Baassa County to be studious and obtain quality education for better future.Madam Martha Flanjay-Karnga made the statement when she gave her New Year’s message during a press conference at her office in Buchanan City recently.Madam Flanjay-Karnga reiterated that if the women of Grand Baassa County obtain quality education, by learning how to read and write well, they will be able to teach their children at home after their children have returned from school.Madam Flanjay-Karnga said while it is a need for the women of the county to obtain quality education, the government must re-enforce its adult literacy education program in the various districts and not only in the urban areas.She pointed out that if educated the women will know their rights and social responsibilities, something she said will enable them to immensely contribute their individually and collectively contribute towards the socio-economic and infrastructural development of post war Liberia.She commended her donors, including the Nyonblee Cares Foundation, the American-Jewish World Service, Concern Worldwide-Liberia, Search For Common Ground, and Action-Aids-Liveria among others, for supporting her association to empower women and girls by building their capacity through trainings for self-sustainability.She mentioned that during the year under review ,the association has created awareness program about the danger and preventive measures against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the county.She used the occasion to encourage citizens and residents of the county to regularly wash their hands with soap and clora and adhere to all the preventive measures instituted by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other international partners.She named other preventive measures as ‘stop shaking hands, touching bodies suspected of Ebola, and reminded them of the symptoms like vomiting, fever, red eyes, running stomach among others.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)