Undermining…

first_img…the judiciaryBack in the days – those days when Burnham was launching his dictatorship after being placed at the head of Independent Guyana — the man who’d be King of Guyana decided he wasn’t going to risk having a man of the legal stature of Sir Joseph Luckhoo as Chief Justice. But what was he to do?? One of Burnham’s trademarks was to genuflect to the legal forms — and very rarely, the spirit — to get his way.He couldn’t DISMISS Luckhoo, so he created a NEW position of “Chancellor of the Judiciary”, who’d be superior to the Chief Justice. He then inveigled Kenneth Stoby, a Guyanese Jurist who was then Chief Justice of Barbados, to become Chancellor by matching the Bajan’s salary scale, which was even higher than Burnham’s!! In case you’re wondering, Luckhoo promptly quit and moved to Jamaica.So what if this was an unnecessary drain on our Treasury?? Burnham got what he wanted, didn’t he?To be honest, we then attracted a string of high-powered – albeit expensive – Chancellors. But fast forward to 1989, when Desmond Hoyte decided he wanted to have a high-powered ATTORNEY GENERAL — which position, we should emphasise, isn’t a JUDICIAL one, but a POLITICAL appointee who’s the consigliere of the EXECUTIVE! And guess what Hoyte did — this man who is touted as a moral exemplar of good governance by some? He invited his Chancellor, Keith Massiah, to become his hired gun Attorney General!!Ahhh…how our Judiciary’s reputation fell in the eyes of the Caribbean legal fraternity, especially when Massiah demanded, and got to keep, his massive Chancellor’s salary as Attorney General.By that time, the Judiciary was about all Guyana could boast about. But at least we were starting a tradition that our Attorneys General had to be members of the bar with standing. The pay certainly was an inducement!!Fast forward to the present, and we have the sorry figure of Basil Williams as Attorney General for the last two years, making a mockery of his position. His only evident “qualification” for the job being that of Chairman of the PNC, Pressie decided to award him silk to buttress his position. But, like President Obama said, if you put lipstick on a porcine creature, it doesn’t change anything, does it? What to do??Well, the Government just hired FIVE retired Judges. With an average age of 80, these are real “old heads”, and they are there to advise Williams. With the money Government now has to shell out, wouldn’t it have been better to just fire Williams? And what about the impact of FIVE judges becoming legal guns-for-hire?But then, Williams is Chairman of the PNC, isn’t he??!!…Indigenous PeoplesThe toshaos are elected by each Indigenous Peoples’ village to represent their interests. Yet, after the Government unilaterally connected the issue of their land rights to that of African ancestral land rights under one Commission of Inquiry, they’re asked to APOLOGISE for commenting!!Obviously, they can comment to support initiatives of the Government. But how dare they disagree?? And in case you forgot what’s it’s all about, on the same day of the Government’s demand comes Eric Philips to “explain” why Indigenous peoples are getting “too much land”!! Yup! There were “only” about 6000 Indigenous Peoples when the Dutch came here. So how could they occupy ¼ of Guyana?So, reasons Phillips, if a person owns a house with 10 rooms, he’s entitled to own only one room, since he couldn’t have occupied all of them!! But Philips can’t have it both ways. He’s depending on European laws to claim land ownership for African Guyanese.But it’s an European (British) codicil to the Independence Agreement that gave Indigenous peoples their land rights!! Checkmate!!…the Judicial and other Service CommissionsYour Eyewitness should’ve known: Patrick Yarde, rigs the GPSU’s elections; and before the results are officially in, he’s sworn in by Pressie as acting Chair of the Public Service Commission!!Reward for following PNC’s traditions!!last_img

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