EYEWITNESS: Earning…

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…AFC’s keep

The leaders of the AFC have moved from the risible to the ridiculous. Khemraj Ramjattan wants “constitutional” change – as promised since he hitched up with Trotman – AND he wants to give a statutory imprimatur to the common law criminal charge of “seditious libel”??!! God help us all on this benighted speck of real estate on South America!! Has the fellow ever heard of “incommensurable paradigms”?? That’s what “constitutionalism” and “seditious libel” constitute.

The latter arises from the days of the absolute Monarchy, when the rule was: “let no dog bark” when the King passes. The King’s word was literally the gospel. After all, he was appointed by Divinity, and seditious libel was analogous to blasphemy against God! If you blasphemed, then having your tongue pulled out was an act of mercy!!

In England, a Star Chamber was established by the seventeenth century to deal with Seditious Libel – which was the “notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority”.

Let us just say the Star Chamber was modelled on the Spanish Inquisition, and valiantly tried to outdo that abomination in practising and refining the fine art of torture. The entire history of “constitutionalism”, on the other hand, has been an attempt by the people to curb that arbitrary power of the absolute King. Founded on the notion of the “rule of law”, this proposed that all and sundry should be equal before the law – enshrined in a constitution. And when it came to criminal charges, if the gravamen of the seditious libel is to move to launch an insurrection against the state, there are enough laws of the books TO HANDLE THEM.

Notice your Eyewitness said, “On the books” – that is, they’ve already been given statutory basis. So one can only surmise that people like Ramjattan want to drag us back to the Middle Ages, when we would all have to genuflect when the rulers – himself included, of course – pass by. After that genuflection, of course, it’s just another step to lopping off the extended and bent neck of someone who supposedly insulted the rulers. Who knows, it might just be for looking at them cross-eyed?!!

Some question why Ramjattan insists he can still get his party’s proposals on Constitutional change passed before 2020. No problem!! It’ll just be like the way Burnham, who insisted on being an oxymoronic “constitutional absolute monarch, held the 1978 referendum, permitting him NOT to have a referendum on his new constitution by rigging it to deliver a 97% majority!!

Of course Burnham was caught – as Ramjattan will be, and like all smart flies — on the backsides of his own artifices.

…the people’s trust?

Your Eyewitness is pleased that at long last — 7 years waiting? – the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) is up and running again. Early on, Cheddi Jagan had insisted on keeping his word that a Race Relations Board be established to address the ethno-racial divisions that had kept Guyana spinning its wheels — progress wise — for half a century.

The PNC protested the Chair being Bishop Randolph George of the Anglican Church, and didn’t cooperate. That took care of that initiative!! After the 2000 constitutional changes, the ERC was launched, with its membership given greater legitimacy from the wide array of bodies nominating members.

The PNC didn’t cooperate because the Chair was Bishop Juan Edgehill. Did they have a “thing” against Bishops?

The PNC Leader challenged the bona fides of the ERC in 2011, and it went into hibernation. Now with them back in the saddle, and with the PNC-friendly John Smith of the Assemblies of God– almost a Bishop – chairing the ERC, we can expect them to cooperate.
But will they ease ethnic tensions? Let’s see.

…cultural cash

After its Big Bash for the Jubilee Independence Celebrations, the Government passed the baton to a private group to run the “Independence Carnival”.

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