Monday, July 30, 2007

Power-sharing (executive): why it’s not good for Guyana

In the fiery storm that is the British Parliament, the respected Member of Parliament George Galloway said, “If there were a democracy in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah would be the president, because he would get the most votes. But of course he cannot be the president, because you have to be a Christian to be the president, and you have to be a Sunni to be the prime minister, and you have to be a Shi'ite to be the speaker”.

Above MP Galloway went as far as to denounce power-sharing as undemocratic. Like the respected MP, those of us who understand the political world understand the difference between power-sharing and democracy. Power-sharing is the road towards democracy, if a country is torn by civil war for example the horn of Africa and Northern Ireland. It can also be vital towards a transition to democracy like the case of South Africa. Power-sharing expert Arend Lijphart acknowledges this.

We are often fooled by beautiful words like power-sharing, which should be more truly termed power-stealing because it is stealing from the people, stealing the right of the people to choose a government based on a political platform, it is also stealing accountability in the executive branch. The political oppositions have to a lot to gain from power-stealing, but ultimately their supporters have everything to loose.

Guyana is a full fledge democracy and have nothing to gain from power-sharing, to us it would be a step backwards. We have no militia to appease; we have no group of elite that seek to destabilize democracy, we do have a group that seek destabilize our democracy but they are far from the elite, however I should point out they also choose a patriotic misguided name by calling themselves “Freedom fighters”. We have free and fair elections where a majority of the voting population gets to choose the party they feel have the best platform to lead Guyana over the next five years.

An election in Guyana is a bid by the political parties to serve the people of Guyana. Every party put forward their proposal and the people choose the best proposal, that winning party then get to choose those who feel can carry out the platform chosen by the people.

In layman’s language, imagine you want to build a house and you choose the best contracting firm to do the job (Democracy), but you are being forced to also hire part of the high priced competitors and the other firm that have a track record for shabby workmanship (Power-stealing).

Many supporters of power-stealing do so along racial and ethnic terms and points towards marginalization while they advocate disenfranchisement. I wonder which member of the PNC would like to explain to their supporters that in their power-sharing plan they would endorse the no-basis case for race and in turn guarantee Guyana to be ruled by the ethnic majority. Now political scientists might argue that this is the reality in Guyana, but that is just thinking short term, what would happen when the next Walter Rodney comes around? Oh that’s right the PNC have no care for the Walter Rodney types!!!

Asif Mohamed

Friday, July 27, 2007

Brain Drain Guyana

There is very little we can do about brain drain. Someone once told me we cannot see the evolution of the world because everything evolves so rapidly, it is like we are running the fastest we can just to keep up, globalization and national development is no exception to this rule.

Today about 80% of our educated migrate to other countries and this depends on a variety of factors.

Guyana stand out in South America as the only English speaking nation and this is one of the main reasons why we are being hemorrhaged by brain drain. Our top three brain drain destitutions are USA, Canada and UK respectively and this comes as no surprise because they are all English speaking countries. It is important to note that the brain drain percentage in Suriname is higher than Guyana and is the highest in the world. It is also important to note that a majority of Surinamese migrate to The Netherlands, due to language commonalities. Suriname population is significantly lower than Guyana’s; this is why their percentage rate is so high.

As much as Guyanese are seeking to travel to the United States, Americans are looking to hire Guyanese. I am still very proud of the New York Times article in 2002 which talks about Schenectady Mayor Jurczynski visiting Richmond Hill trying to recruit Guyanese to his town.

"They're a hard-working people (Guyanese)," Jurczynski said. "They do not believe in public assistance as a group, unless it's absolutely necessary. So right away I felt good about them. What mayor wouldn't?" (Pittsburgh Tribune).

Mayor Jurczynski have made his success with Guyanese a role model for cities facing decline in America. Robert L. Smith highlighted Jurczynski’s success on as a solution to Cleveland declining development, Marisol Bello made the same claim and hope for Pittsburgh declining economy.

The lack of a language barrier makes it easy for us to be recognized but the Guyanese appetite for progress and our good work ethics make us stand out in the American workforce. As long as this demand for Guyanese workers continues many more will be leaving the motherland.

Our sense of community and family also contribute greatly to our success in foreign lands. Barbara Ehrenreich in her book Nickel and Dimed explores the world of single women taking on minimum wage jobs in America and come to the conclusion they cannot survive. Little did she realize that Guyanese and other immigrants women survive on less in America, because we have a strong sense of community and family. While Ehrenreich was spending more than half of her salary on rent (in her book), Guyanese immigrants are doubling up, tripling up, quadrupling up… to save that necessary rent money; vital to survival and remittance. Our strong sense of community means you can find everything Guyanese on Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill that you would find in Guyana.

There is very little positive we get from brain drain, sure we get remittance but that only encourage more migration. It is quite impossible for Guyana to compete with the big ABC (America, Britain and Canada), especially since the conditions are right for Guyanese to succeed in the developed world. Brain drain is solely the responsibility of any single country, crisis in single countries lead to refugee migration and not only brain drain.

There is no solution to Guyana’s brain drain but a reduction in crime would lessen the blow. With less crime Guyanese who choose patriotic over economics can return or stay home and live in relative peace, which can eventually turn the tide towards economical development and separate common migration from massive brain drain.

Thank you,

Asif Mohamed

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Freddie Kissoon and his misguided thoeries

Freddie Kissoon wrote a very disturbing piece for Kaieteur news (July, 09, 2007) that is riddled with inaccuracies and hypothetical nonsense. Freddie Kissoon rightly wrote, “People's psychology is a complex thing to understand” and then he went on to rationalize that the president might draw his confidence from the fact that many of the journalists are young and employed by the government. Now Mr. Kissoon as a political scientist lets examine your rational, have you ever seen the President not confident? Is he any less confident when in the mix of older journalists? Is the President any less secure when he is among a majority of private journalists? Is there any correlation between the rhetoric of the President and your theory? If you were to do a little research you would see that your premise is wrong because the President’s rhetoric does not change from a local press conference to one held overseas. Yes I did the comparison you neglected in an attempt to project your misguided theory.

People’s psychology is a complex thing to understand. My guess is Mr. Kissoon had to sell our local journalists as inexperience and too scared to do their job so we can all hail the glory of the experienced and brave Freddie Kissoon, who is not afraid to take on the GOG yet, play the victim anytime he gains official attention.

I truly believe Mr. Kissoon when he wrote, “My task in life in this country is to seek to open the eyes of the people of Guyana that I hope to spend the rest of my life in.” Self praise? You decide.

Mr. Kissoon claimed that President Jagdeo never accepted any invitation to a debate among the presidential candidates. I don’t know how true that statement is, but I can tell you President Jagdeo had no need to accept invitations to debates because he was the one issuing debate challenges to Mr. Corbin and the PNC before the last election. Also Mr. Kissoon, the President did not stipulate the debates only deal with economics, he wanted social and economical issues to be addressed. Robert Persaud issued a statement saying, “The Office of the President has made it clear that the President of Guyana has no preconditions for the debate and is willing to publicly debate the Leader of the Opposition at any time, place and on any topic”. (Guyana Chronicle).

Mr. Kissoon also criticized the President for not engaging third parties in debates. It is quite mind-boggling why a political scientist would criticize the leading presidential candidate for not engaging third parties. Generally the two main parties engage in debates because they represent a vast majority of the people. If they don’t represent the vast majority they would not be the main parties.

I agree with Mr. Kissoon that GPL is responsible for a great part of technological progress in Guyana; however I must point out that it is hardly as simple as Mr. Kissoon stated also his references to technologies is outdated. There are many alternatives to GPL but there is no alternative to GTT when it comes to landline. Many private individuals and companies have alternatives to GPL power. The Guyanese government has issued commitment to the One Laptop project.

Mr. Kissoon wrote, “I close by asking President Jagdeo if it is bad reporting that has caused 80 percent of university trained Guyanese, as reported by the World Bank, to leave Guyana?” I can in no way answer for the President, but in my humble opinion it is unfair to make statements like that without any analysis of what is said, therefore no it is not bad reporting, but the way you did it is bad. Brain drain is not a problem unique to Guyana, all our Caribbean and South American sisters faces the same problem and the factors never depend upon any individual country. There is the country that suffers from brain drain and there is the country that succeeds off brain gain. There are also language barriers, ethnic security, historic alliances and experience to factor into the equation and this is only the beginning of the discussion. I am not running from the issue of brain drain in my next article I will address this topic.

It is time Freddie Kissoon to apologize to the Guyanese people for his blunders or else he would not be able to serve the people due to a lack in credibility.

Asif Mohamed

Thursday, June 28, 2007

An El Dorado poster

It is time for Guyana to reclaim El Dorado.

El Dorado can become a gold mine for our tourism industry if we market it properly. El Dorado is among the world’s top ancient lost cities and has been claimed by various countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Mexico and it’s about time that Guyana reclaim this legendary city.

Sir Walter Raleigh in his book The Discovery of Guiana (1595) wrote, “The Discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful Empire of Guiana; with a Relation of the great and golden City of Manoa, which the Spaniards call El Dorado, and the Provinces of Emeria, Aromaia, Amapaia, and other Countries, with their rivers, adjoining.”

If Venezuela is to make the claim that Sir Raleigh is really talking about a part of Venezuela then they should give up all official claims to the Essequibo region and give up that part of Venezuela that Sir Raleigh mentioned.

Guyanese historians are very quick to point out that El Dorado lies somewhere along the Cuyuni River, others points towards the Rupununi. Obviously no one is certain to the location of El Dorado that is why it is such a great mystery. It is a popular mystery because of the gold it promises.

El Dorado is sometimes referred to as The City of Gold, but the legend states El Dorado is the title of the king that translate into “The Gilded One”, the city or country that El Dorado lived in have a variety of names depending upon the local legend.

Guyana has a lot to offer in the area of unexplored lands. While the more developed South American nations have been explored vastly due to their history of ancient civilizations through expeditions and satellite imaging, Guyana still holds her natural allure of exotic mysteries and unexplored beauties.

Our share of Mount Roraima still holds on to many of its mysteries because it is difficult to climb and requires authorization to enter certain areas, this is mainly why the range is explored from the Venezuelan side and leaving the Guyanese side unexplored. Is this where the key to El Dorado lies? Interestingly to note Mount Roraima is credited as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle inspiration for his book, The Lost World (1912). It is also the world’s highest tabletop mountain.

I am a strong believer in global recurrence and El Dorado has been a gold mine for Guyana centuries ago. The city of gold drew early explorers to our shores, although they did not find their golden city they stayed because of our beauty and access to other wealth. Can we lure them in with the legend and get them to return for our other natural beauties and hospitalities?

If none of this works out we can always lobby Angelina Jolie or Madonna to adopt a Guyanese baby and put us “on the map”.

Asif Mohamed

Monday, June 11, 2007

Guyana not only famous for Jim Jones

Is it time for me to retire my “ Guyana not only famous for Jim Jones” t-shirt? Abdul Kadir and gang have caused a media frenzy not seen about Guyana since the days of the infamous Jim Jones.

Sure we grab the media with cases like Richard James and Robert Mallay who are accused of killing four persons, two in Guyana and two in NY, and collecting the insurance money.

Another headline grabber was Harry Rupnarine, the New York cop who shot his fiancée in her face at close range and killed her on Atlantic Avenue , NYC. They are both Guyanese immigrants.

Of course we cannot forget Roger Khan and the international fiasco that followed his arrest in Trinidad .

All of these cases are nothing in comparison with the JFK terror plot. I have seen coverage by the local papers, the USA papers, Canada and British (The ABC countries) and the Caribbean , but this coverage is far beyond the regular coverage we are used to on stories pertaining to Guyana . For example Google News gives a result of 278 newspapers that cover the FBI trip to Guyana , 90 stories on commentaries by the Guyanese community, 93 stories about family and friends calling the suspects innocent.

In a country like Guyana that is working very hard to build its tourism reputation, this story can hurt us greatly or help us mildly. Sacha Baron Cohen “Borat” did help Kazakhstan tourism, but his story was fictional and did not involve “terrorists”.

I hope more people would join me in wearing my new “Guyana not only famous for Abdul Kadir” t-shirt, so we can explain the natural wonders of Guyana, including the magnificent Kaieteur Falls, eco-tourism hot spots and the hospitality of the Guyanese people.
Asif Mohamed

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dr Jagan was not a communist

Dr Jagan was not a communist.

Dr. Jagan was not a communist, and any attempt to place him in a communist camp is a misunderstanding of the ideology. Dr. Jagan was a Marxist.

Marxism is the foundation for Communist states, therefore all Communists are Marxist but not all Marxist are Communists. Marxism deals more with liberation and addressing the plights of the poor and Communism deals with the misguided concept loosely associated with government and equality.

Many of Dr. Jagan Marxist ideas were incorporated into his New Global Human Order which was passed by the United Nations General Assembly on the 22nd of November 2002. Dr. Jagan called for a New Global Human Order in his speech at the World Summit for Social Development in 1995.

Even politicians get this mixed up, intentionally or unintentionally … you decide.

Clive Thomas said “In particular he (Dr. Jagan) also applied the "official" thesis of Soviet communism about the nature and policies for Third World societies to Guyana. Thus, he was a strong upholder of the ""non-capitalist path of development." (Monthly Review Press, 1988)

In reality Dr. Jagan did not adopt the "official" thesis of Soviet communism, but rather the Soviet communism adopts the Marxist thesis.

The New York Times reported Dr Jagan said, “I was a Gorbachev even before Gorbachev, in the sense of what we were doing and not adopting the traditional dogmas of Marxist parties," of course referring to Mikhail Gorbachev who granted personal freedoms to the people of Russia and orchestrated the collapse of the Soviet Union which was held together by Communism.

US President John F. Kennedy denied accusations that the US was meddling in the affairs of Guyana. He stated: “The United States supports the idea that every people should have the right to make a free choice of the kind of government they want. Mr. Jagan, who is recently elected Prime Minister in British Guiana, is a Marxist but the United States does not object because that choice was made by honest election, which he won.” (CJ Research Center 1999).

“Jagan is not a Communist but rather a naïve London School of Economics Marxist filled with charm, personal honesty and juvenile nationalism” according to Schlesinger (JFK Special Assistant) in his book: A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House.

It is also fair to note that U.S officials did call Dr. Jagan a Communist, many in secret (that later became declassified). It is also very important to note that the U.S was in a red scare and suffered from McCarthyism only a few years earlier where innocent people were persecuted after being accused of being a Communist. The term McCarthyism got its name from Senator Joseph McCarthy who led the witch hunt against those so called Communists.

Undoubtedly many within the old PPP were Communists, including Mrs. Jagan (who later gave up these ideas as was proven by her term as Executive Leader), but Dr. Jagan is a Marxist.

The greatest proof that Dr. Jagan was not a communist come from one of his quotes at where he said, "The word “Communism” means different things to different people. This explains why I have consistently refused to answer “yes” or “no” to the question. The term Marxist is a more apt description of my position."

Thank you,

Asif Mohamed

Saturday, May 12, 2007

CPG needs to be reexamined

I urge Minister Rohee to reexamine the CPG (Community Policing Group) programs and congratulate him in acknowledging there is some disconnect between CPGs and the community they serve.

Under careful analysis one would find CPG to be a flawed concept that would lead to disconnect among the communities they serve (which is happening right now) and predict they would also be disconnected from the Govt they serve.

CPGs can only work if they are governed by a strong law enforcement body, and if there is a strong law enforcement body we would not need the CPG as it exists today. We would only need bridges between the community and the Police, therefore making every law abiding citizen part of the CPG.

CPG can only work if they are given a lot of support financially and structurally, also lots of training. Again those are valuable resources that the legitimate law enforcers; the police are competing for and deserve.

I am not aware of anywhere else in the world where CPG is being used in the same manner we are today in Guyana; sure some might point to CPG implemented in the US and the Caribbean, but that is in collaboration with a strong law enforcement structure. The GPF desperately needs restructuring before we can address CPGs. I would not go far enough to suggest this is a premise for civil war because the needs of Guyanese have risen beyond the physiological level; however CPG is an avenue that will lead to the abuse of legitimate power.

I am sure CPG have worked in some areas and provide a valuable service to those residents, however it is a poor substitution for legitimate and responsible law enforcement. I would also like to thank those who are members of CPGs and continue to fight the good fight. I encourage you all to demand reforms within the Guyana Police Force, for we are all members of our own CPG.

Asif Mohamed

The myths about a shared government

Lately we have been hearing a lot about shared governments, without any explanation what is shared Govt. What the writers mean when they mention the term shared government?

Most democratic countries have shared government, with the exception of the communist states. Cuba is one of those states where there is democracy (technically) but no shared government.

The U.S.A form of shared government is Federalism, which was a flaw in design by the founding fathers and a last resort to keep the states from breaking apart and collapse the United States of America before its creation. The only Politician I am aware of in Guyana who is pushing for Federalism is Ravi Dev and I have a strong feeling, that’s not the version of shared government recent and past letter writers are talking about.

The Guyanese system is very simple, all the parties put forward their party political platform and the people go out and choose which platform they like best. Eric Phillips quoted Dr. Jagan as saying “if the PPP were to put a broom up as its presidential candidate, the PPP would still win”, without quite understanding the fundamentals of Guyanese politics. In Guyana the Presidential Candidate is not as important as the Party Platform. If the party put forward a strong platform, that party will win regardless of the presidential candidate and Dr. Jagan did had a lot of confidence in the PPP.

After the people approve the party platform by popular vote, the winning party gets to choose members of their government to carry out the party promises and indirectly carrying out the will of the majority. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Any attempt to use “share government” within the executive branch would disrupt democracy and go against the platform choose by a majority of the Guyanese people.

At the start of my letter I said that Guyana does have a shared government and that occurs in parliament where parties’ representation is proportional to votes gained. The members of parliament would be the equivalent to the American senators and congressmen, while the Guyanese ministers would be the equivalent to the Americans secretary (Secretary of Defense, State etc).

Anyone who understand the way the systems work would have a very hard time calling for “shared government”, because it is not only impractical but its also undemocratic in this case. Enemies of democracy you have ruined this land once and your scams shall never work again.

Thank you,

Asif Mohamed