Is President Jagdeo jeopardizing his Nobel Peace Prize chance?
By Freddie Kissoon
I often wonder if President Jagdeo is given to uncontrollable spontaneity therefore he makes no in-depth reflection on what he is going to say. The newspaper advertisement scandal comes to mind. Asked why state placements were withdrawn from Stabroek News, he gave an answer that on the surface must have appeared watertight to him. But it was fraught with credibility problems. The President’s explanation is that the Government has to get value for money. So he will put state resources into newspapers that have the largest circulation because more people will be reached. David de Caires fired back and said; “Well let’s do a survey to see who has the biggest circulation.” It fell on deaf ears. Even if Mr. Jagdeo gets a third term, he will never accept a challenge from a government critic. It is the only trepidation Mr. Jagdeo has displayed in his eleven-year-old presidency. The presidential posit has come back to haunt Mr. Jagdeo. What can Mr. Jagdeo say about plenty advertisements to the Mirror and Guyana Times whose combined markets are less than three thousand daily.
Next we have the conflict of interest accusation directed at Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL). This firm won a case against Guyana in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Mr. Jagdeo cited possible conflict of interest because the Chairman of the CCJ Trust Fund is the CEO of TCL
The very President saw no conflict of interest when his advisor and a member of the Parliamentary Committee on mining, Mr. O. Lumumba, petitioned him for a mining licence. It was given.
I could go on to offer dozens of examples where the polemical arsenal of Mr. Jagdeo is so weak that if he debates his detractors in a public forum he can end up facing formidable embarrassment.
Here is the latest display by Mr. Jagdeo. In disagreeing with Justice James Bovell-Drakes’ assignment of bail to a murder accused. Mr. Jagdeo says it is unprecedented in the Commonwealth. So what is wrong with that statement?
Before we come to that, the answer to which will not help the intellectual standing of Mr. Jagdeo, readers need to know that Mr. Jagdeo’s Government has impending legislation to allow the DPP to appeal an acquittal in a High Court trial which has no precedent in the Commonwealth.
Let’s move away from precedents and talk about philosophy. I don’t know how strong Mr. Jagdeo is in that form of knowledge, but he needs to know that life is about creating precedents so that history could be made.
Is Mr. Jagdeo saying that when the first woman leader was elected president in a Muslim country (Bangladesh) it was a precedent which should not have been allowed?
Is Mr. Jagdeo saying that after hundreds of years of persecution and prosecution when the first European country decriminalized homosexuality it was a precedent that should not have happened?
Is Mr. Jagdeo telling us that when the Anglican Church in the UK made a huge precedent in ordaining its first female priest, it never should have taken place? Is Mr. Jagdeo saying that precedents should not be made? Are we to interpret that to mean that even if he is given a third term, he will not see it fit to create precedents.
Let us look at the particular incident that has led to this presidential vexation.
A man has been in jail for six years charged with murder and only one civilian witness the DPP has to take the stand.
That witness cannot be located. So no witness, no trial, and a citizen is locked away in jail forever. Wasn’t it that sordid approach to justice that got President Bush into trouble? Isn’t it that inhuman perspective that caused the peoples of the world to say that the US was no longer the leading country in the protection and practice of rights?
The US has done better than Guyana. Unable to provide incriminating evidence, it has released many Guantanamo prisoners.
Mr. Jagdeo should be careful how he pronounces on human rights issues. He is a candidate for the colossal prize that carries huge honour around the world – the Nobel Peace Prize.
To argue that a human being should remain in jail and not given bail because he is charged with murder will not improve Mr. Jagdeo’s chance at getting that valued prize, especially if his detractors plan to write the Nobel Prize Committee and bombard them with the concatenation and phantasmagoria of anti-democratic policies and practices of Mr. Jagdeo.
In the meantime, Justice Bovell-Drakes has created history. It is time, Mr. Jagdeo does the same.