The buffalo's rights

Frankly Speaking...
by A.A. Fenty
Stabroek News
November 5, 1999

Again I have to crave the indulgence and tolerance of my editor who might discern mental laziness this week. And again, an alternative caption for this section was to have been "criminal negligence".

One difference between progressive societies and "under-developed" nations can be the time which elapses between conceptualisation and execution, between theory and actual implementation. The reason could be money, personnel or opportunity, but the longer good plans and proposals take to be implemented people suffer.

Take the current carnage on our roads. I've heard and read numerous excellent wide-ranging suggestions to stem the wanton recklessness by road-users and to educate and prevent. From the Commissioner to Cassandra, the anonymous Sunday Columnist that so many seem to know, simple or scientific or street-smart proposals flow. But the execution? That's another matter.

However, after reading a simple but telling police force release this Tuesday, I'm permitting myself the briefest of comments on a topic tailor-made for the more professional analysts and letter-writers.

The police force press release carried this sentence: "Investigations are underfoot in connection with this criminal negligence". This was with respect to the death of a two year old who was left to cross a busy road. Whether an actual charge in law, or a legal term or concept, I appeal for serious prosecution of those guilty of criminal negligence on our roads.

Passengers are now almost all criminally negligent when they don't insist that errant reckless, ragamuffin drivers and conductors operating public transport adhere to law and decency. Good point by the Minister of Home Affairs this week. Has any parent ever been charged in this country after certain child deaths? By fire or accident?

Just a few years ago the Botanical Garden Buffaloes caused severe damage to my correspondent friend's vehicle. He was promptly told by the Buffalo's boss that "the buffaloes also had a right" to be where they were. Time and reflection must surely now render that intemperate and contemptuous remark unfortunate.

Amidst all the campaigns and approaches to be employed to minimise death on the road, I suggest that the police pursue relentlessly those guilty of criminal negligence in any form.

Civil society and NGOs

Just another bit of musing on a popular theme. Having become both bored and impatient with the current catch-phrase "civil society", I was impressed, nevertheless, with a Bernard Wadsworth's letter (SN Oct. 26) which sought to define the now over-used "civil society".

Noting the inclusion of trade unions, the business sector, churches and professionals, etcetera, Wadsworth wrote that "the hallmark of civil society is defined by those individuals and groups who act over and above their own narrow interests - in the service of the common interest of their community."

Mr Wadsworth stated more too, but I wish to endorse his basic definition and to record my own concern. Trusting that my baser political instincts are not clouding my vision, I must say that I don't regard many NGOs and much of civil society as caring, apolitical groups or volunteers interested only in the good and welfare of the larger society, or those less-privileged.

Which trade union is neutral these days? Who are the leading decision-makers in the GMA or the Private Sector Commission. Traditional church leaders too have their allegiances on earth these days. Back-door political interest groups assume the innocence of an NGO - non-governmental, but political to the core - But no, I must be losing it. Too cynical.

Surely the Red Cross, the St. John's Ambulance Brigade and the Salvation Army are non-political. Caring first about the needy. Then exercising their vote and political preference after.

Prove me wrong all you righteous Rotarians and Lodge members.

Short and .....?

1) Next week: In defence of Africa - by Claude V. Chang

2) Let the country breathe! Dialogue my no-teeth. Let the people speak with one another. Mr Hoyte is finding it tough to take; to swallow. Sit with a President half his age, whom he doesn't recognise? What? Give Mr Hoyte a break. But let Guyana breathe.

3) After Linden where, Mr President? Mr Dev is watching. He is telling Mr Lumumba that there are more poor Indo-Guyanese than those descended from Africa. Careful my President of all the People.

4) Powerful NGOs like PTAs are closing down schools these days.

5) I'd love to meet in person - with their birth certificates - letter writers to the Stabroek. Like S. Henry or Carlton Campbell.

6) Don't you get fed up every now and then? With those with take-away lunches, fish-fry and bar-be-que tickets?

7) Nevertheless, a happy traditional Diwali.

`till next week!!

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples