Stabroek News: Granger in offering a comment on Dataram’s allegations which were aired by HGPTV Channel 67’s Nightly News on Monday night said that a decision was made by the members of the National Security Committee (NSC) to set up a Board of Inquiry. Continue reading
At about 0200h. today, the Police SWAT Team was deployed along with Detectives to effect the arrests. The police ranks came under fire during which a Constable was shot to his right thigh. The injured Constable and other ranks returned fire fatally wounding one suspect and another suspect was shot and injured to his abdomen and is under guard at the GPHC.
Westford was named by President David Granger last Friday as one of the persons embroiled in the fraudulent act. Westford and her spouse are two of the five persons into whose names at least eight state vehicles were being transferred. The uncovering of the scheme has prompted a police investigation.
“Raphel, good afternoon. I need to speak with you urgently re: Jonny Welshman, who sought my services. In your interest and that of your family’s I think this matter should be settled quickly and discreetly.” – Jaya Manickchand
Attorney sought settlement from Trotman, before denying representing accuser – court papers
Although attorney Jaya Manickchand has denied representing Johnny Antony Welshman, the man who has made abuse allegations against Speaker Raphael Trotman, court filings show that she sent text messages lobbying for a settlement on his behalf.
The four text messages have been labelled as an exhibit in legal proceedings filed on Monday by attorney Nigel Hughes on behalf of Trotman, who has secured an injunction against Welshman, barring him from publishing any material relating to the allegations in the print or electronic media.
Trotman, who has denied the allegations, is seeking damages in excess of $50 million for libel contained in statements made by Welshman and published in the Stabroek News, Guyana Times and on Welshman’s Facebook page.
In his Ex Parte Affidavit in support of his application for the injunction, Trotman says he feared that various elements in the political arena are attempting to smear his name and threaten him in an attempt to impact upon the discharge of his responsibilities as Speaker.
According to the affidavit, on September 19 Trotman received several texts from Manickchand, who informed him that she had been contacted by Welshman and that there was a matter that should be settled quickly in the interest of his family.
According to the exhibit, the first message was sent at 5:27 pm last Friday.
It reads, “Raphel, good afternoon. I need to speak with you urgently re: Jonny Welshman, who sought my services. In your interest and that of your family’s I think this matter should be settled quickly and discreetly.”
The second message, which was sent two minutes later, said, “If a settlement cannot be reached I will recuse myself from the matter… I think that you have young daughters who need protection from a mean press and you have your reputation at stake.”
Stabroek News called the number from where the text messages originated and Manickchand answered. However, she declined to comment. “I don’t have a comment on the matter madam,” she said.
Manickchand, who is sister of Education Minister Priya Manickchand, had previously served as a nominee of the ruling party on the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom).
Welshman had told Stabroek News that Manickchand was representing him but on Sunday, shortly after both Trotman and his party the Alliance For Change had sent out separate statements condemning the allegations being made, she said she had not been retained by him.
Manickchand, who had refused to comment on the issue when initially contacted, had subsequently explained that Welshman had approached her office on Friday last while she was out and she later contacted him via telephone and he made certain allegations.
She said she advised him to approach the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) since she was not the person from whom to seek legal advice. She acknowledged that she had spoken to him on more than one occasion between Friday and Saturday but made it clear that she had not been retained by him.
According to the affidavit, after receiving the texts from Manickchand, Trotman called her and denied the allegations and also advised that the man should report the matter to the police. Further, the document said, Trotman was not prepared to enter into any discussion about a settlement for something that he did not do. It was thereafter that Trotman immediately contacted his attorney, who conducted a search on Facebook for the defendant’s page. As a result of what was discovered, he said he immediately became concerned that Welshman was part of an orchestrated political smear campaign intended to discredit him by publishing an interview with him on NCN, “a known government news agency.”
Trotman’s party, the AFC, yesterday said it was evident from the text messages that Manickchand acted extensively on behalf of Welshman and was deeply involved in representing his interests.
“The AFC calls on Ms Manickchand, a former PPP nominated Gecom commissioner, to frankly admit her full role. The party believes that any attempt whether by Ms Manickchand, her representatives or agents or anyone else, to create a public impression that she has not been acting on behalf of Mr Welshman would be disingenuous, wicked and false,” it said in a statement.
It also reiterated its position that they were party to a plot to entrap Trotman in an attempt to derail the impending no-confidence motion before the National Assembly.
“Once again the AFC condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the reprehensible exploitation of such a heinous crime against minors, for political purposes and calls on Ms Manickchand to fully acknowledge her role in acting on behalf of Mr Welshman in this process…,” it added.
In the affidavit, Trotman admitted that he had been familiar with Welshman for several years as he is the son of one of his friends, Johnny Welshman senior.
He also recounted that on August 13, 2014, while at his office at the firm of Chapman and Trotman, his secretary informed him that a man named “Johnny Welshman” was outside to see him. He subsequently met the man, who introduced himself as the man’s son and said that he needed reference. Trotman said that given his general nature, he did provide the reference.
Trotman added that Welshman subsequently appeared at his chambers and said that he had applied for a job at a city hotel and that he needed Trotman to call and put in a good word for him. However, Trotman said he indicated that he was unable to assist in this regard.
He said later, on or about September 8, while he was out of the jurisdiction, he received an email from his office informing him that Welshman had appeared accompanied by a police officer and was attempting to serve process on his father who he could not locate. Trotman, the affidavit said, instructed his staff not to accept service of any documents for Welshman’s father. It was subsequent to this that he received the text messages from Manickchand about a settlement.
The court has granted an order directing Welshman to forthwith remove from his Facebook page all material and publications relating and or referring to the plaintiff in relation to the issue of sexual assault. A check of Welshman’s Facebook page revealed that he himself had removed all posts relating to the issue.
This is a few days late, but the Honorable Minister of Legal Affairs should get know one thing: he is a SENIOR public servant of the Guyanese public. If we have a problem with him or his office, it is our right to let him know.
As a senior public servant, he of all persons should set a good example. So, before he raises a tyrannical arm against the Stabroek News for a few words that might have upset his paranoid ego, he should pound it on his desk and rail against the instances of gross negligence and miscarriages of justice perpetrated against ordinary Guyanese by the justice system, as evidenced in press almost daily.
These should also include those currently on remand without a hearing for God knows how long, and those who have been unable to make bail. He should immediately ask the Standards Bureau to confiscate and replace the scales of justice currently in use.
So as not to have the term incompetence become pejorative, I shall have to say it is unbelievable, impossible and preposterous to consider that a senior PPP official, who is paid a fat sum of in excess of $960,000 per month, is responsible for Governance in Guyana. No. Not at all. This couldn’t be. In fact, this person, an ‘advisor’, is responsible for Corruption in Guyana. And on this score, their performance has been splendid. Yes, we are forking out close to one million taxpayer dollars every month, or twelve million a year, for the oversight of Corruption in Guyana. All the while the PPP continues to drag the Public Procurement Bill in the mud so that select scampish contractors can get on with robbing this country of millions of our tax dollars.
This is exactly why this bill has not been passed as yet. The milking will continue until the Opposition puts an end to it. Without a doubt, in the PPP’s twenty-one years in government, corruption has blossomed magnificently, so that now there is now probably not a government minister who lives on his salary and allowance alone.
Would those ministers who do not receive hanky panky money, and can prove it, kindly submit their names for publication and due recognition in both newspapers? The Peoples Progressive Party (this is now a joke) continues to abuse the late President Cheddie Jagan’s memory and service to this nation every time they mention his name and play televised recordings of his speeches.
The late president was a champion of social justice and the cause of workers. Run by Jagdeo and his usual cohorts, the PPP ripped Guysuco to the rags that remain today, beleaguering approximately 16,000 workers and their dependents (approximately thirty-two thousand persons, including an estimated ten thousand children) in the process. In total, this amounts to about forty-eight thousand persons whose lives Jagdeo’s PPP essentially hung out to dry like salt fish.
This has been the portion of the PPP’s inglorious cup for Guysuco’s workers and their families over the last twenty-one years. On the issue of narcotics, the report by the United States states that there is evidence of narcotics trafficking in Guyana’s social and justice system. Maxwell in his article (Did the PPP; March 20/14 ) claims that there is none that directly links the PPP to this massive flow of money.
That in itself is evidence enough. Not to be outdone, however, one little scrap escaped from under the PPP’s dirty carpet. A couple of years back, a cargo ship was intercepted in Europe some years back with a large amount of cocaine.
The ship’s documentation listed Guyana as its port of departure. Amazingly, the Guyana Revenue Authority could not find the record of this ship’s departure. No one at the GRA, from the computer programmers to the Commissioner himself, could cause this record to reappear. Unbelievable, but that is what I call a masterpiece of government service.
Guyana is without a doubt a cake shop front, and the participants are having a rollicking time. Getting back to the nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty of life. The traditional PPP supporters need to get one thing straight: in this twenty-first century, it’s not about love anymore, which the late Jagan had. It’s all about the money, money, and more money.
Guysuco’s workers play no part in the money-making machinery of the PPP, so they get shafted. It’s all about the big bucks and massive projects and how to leak money from them. Knowledge sets the mind free, and this is what I have to share with GUYSUCO’S workers and the other traditional PPP supporters.
The APNU under Mr. David Granger and successive leaders will always care about GUYSUCO’s workers, because they are people first, but also because sugar and Guysuco are an important industry with links throughout Guyana’s economy. The APNU knows that closing Guysuco will mean that we will have to import sugar. And this is something I don’t think Guyana is yet prepared to do. So we would all do well to forget the PPP’s lies, lies and more lies. Yours Faithfully, Craig Sylvester.
STABROEK NEWS EDITORIAL
Nothing can gainsay the continual retrogression of media freedom in Guyana under the administration of the People’s National Congress (PNC). In those days much time and effort was spent in strangling the free flow of information by ensuring that government exerted tight control over the information disseminated by the state-owned media. Simultaneously, various restraints were placed on the capacity of those private media houses that did not share the then ruling party’s views on any issue whatsoever from functioning effectively. The various other ruses to which the PNC resorted to curtail media freedom are a matter of public record.
A point was eventually reached where the Orwellian notion that state control of the media was in keeping with the country’s developmental needs was exposed for what it was – an unpalatable and farcical attempt to rationalize the suppression of media freedom. The PNC’s media doctrine persisted, however, long beyond the point at which it was exposed though it encountered increasing public cynicism and intellectual resistance. Some of those functionaries who helped to fashion the PNC’s media doctrine even sought, eventually, to distance themselves from it.
In opposition, the PPP was a vocal critic of the continual erosion of media freedom. It did more than that. It set out a media freedom regimen of its own which embraced both the state-run and privately-owned media in a collective commitment to an unfettered two-way flow of communication which is the very essence of media freedom. In effect the PPP, by its pronouncements, held itself up to a higher order than that which obtained under its predecessor, as far as media and media freedom were concerned.
After more than two decades in office the PPP is encountering no small measure of difficulty in rationalizing its patent failure to live up to the standards of media freedom which it had so enthusiastically embraced whilst in opposition. Its most glaring inheritances from its predecessor are its tight and uncompromising control of the state-owned media and the use of various devices to limit the effectiveness of the privately-owned media. Having failed to meet those media freedom standards which it had professed to believe in even before taking office in 1992 the PPP then resorted to making comparisons with the PNC in office whenever it was required to make a public pronouncement on media freedom.
It happened again on Friday evening when Attorney General Anil Nandlall filled in for President Donald Ramotar at a World Press Freedom Day reception hosted by United States Ambassador Brent Hardt. In the presence of an audience that included a number of veteran media functionaries and other well-informed public persons, Mr. Nandlall trotted out the political administration’s customary we’re doing better than the PNC line.
Not only did the ruse appear to fall flat on its face as far as audience approval rating was concerned, but it also attracted periodic bouts of vigorous heckling, the sort of thing that you don’t expect to encounter at a diplomatic reception.
These, of course, are considerably more enlightened days than those in which the PNC administration sought to lead the nation to believe that the media were better off under the state’s control. One would have thought, therefore, that to declare itself to be doing better than the PNC did as far as media freedom is concerned is to say nothing of serious consequence; and yet that is exactly what the Attorney General did on Friday evening, commencing his presentation with a recitation of the transgressions of media freedom perpetuated by the PNC. The Ambassador’s guests appeared more than a trifle nonplussed by Mr. Nandlall’s ploy.
Of course there are many more privately-owned media houses in Guyana today than there were under the PNC though some evidently find greater favour with government than others and those which do not are sometimes appropriately reminded of that fact; so that whether the PPP likes it or not there are examples of its treatment of privately-owned media houses that amount to flagrant denials of media freedom.
On Friday evening the Attorney General opted for the government’s familiar least line of resistance in defending itself against the views articulated by the US envoy on issues like the government’s censorship of opposition views on state media and less than fair distribution of state advertising. Quite simply, that approach didn’t work.
Even assuming that Mr. Nandlall might have felt too discomfited by the directness of the Ambassador’s particular pronouncements on censorship of opposition views by limiting state media access and less than fair distribution of state advertising, he might have at least opted for an enlightening comment on Ambassador Hardt’s more diplomatic view that “there is more that can be done to protect and expand freedom of the press and the free exchange of ideas and perspectives it makes possible.” Of course there is more that can be done to protect and expand media freedom in Guyana and one assumes that such a theme might, perhaps, have provided the Attorney General with a better comfort zone. Not only would taking that road have been decidedly more ingenious; Mr. Nandlall might even have averted the intermittent heckling which, given the nature of the occasion he (and the various other government and ruling party officials who attended Friday evening’s reception) may well have found more than a trifle discomfiting.
What, effectively, was a disingenuous attempt by the Attorney General to present the PPP as a paragon of media freedom, fell at the first hurdle of seeking to make a comparison with the PNC era. It left Mr. Nandlall with the task of accounting for his government’s own various and flagrant transgressions of media freedom and he could not have hoped to get away with such an omission in the presence of such an enlightened audience.
What the government fails to understand is that a favourable comparison with a decadent and now distant past does nothing to erase its own contemporary transgressions of media freedom. It must begin to compare the unsavory elements of its own track record on media freedom with other democratic countries with which it seeks to compare itself in other respects. Only then will it come to understand how far short of desired standards of media freedom it continues to fall.
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