Eric Phillips was not willing to compromise his integrity
Stabroek News
February 21, 2002

Dear Editor,

A letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] supposedly written by a "Lisa Rambarran" (15-02-02) highlights the very point Eric Phillips was making in his letter on Servant Leadership. It seems some local Guyanese are very happy to receive money; barrels and help from overseas Guyanese but are hesitant to involve these Guyanese in the Diaspora with one of the most glaring needs …..proven leadership in an increasingly complex global village.

Most overseas Guyanese I have interacted with are resentful of this view and of the residency requirement, which seems to suggest that local Guyanese would be happy to see their overseas counterparts "suffer a little" at home before being allowed to contribute meaningfully. This local belief misses the point that most Guyanese who left did this as refugees escaping political persecution, racial turmoil and economic ruin. Is it our fault that we are now better equipped to serve our people? Maybe the lessons of Singapore's transformation should be taught to those who require constant reassurances that we are still their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles etc.

In Eric Phillips' case, even though he had represented Guyana in cricket , table tennis and soccer and was a preeminent student and Head Prefect at Queens College with 9 'O' levels and 3 "A' levels, he made the cardinal sin of calling a successful QC strike against the then PNC government for misusing the school for Party functions. For this he was told he would never get a scholarship from the government.

'Lisa's attack on Eric Phillips shows a fundamental lack of knowledge of who he is and the contributions, sacrifices and commitment he has made to Guyana since 1992.Let me help educate you about this person.

In 1992, Eric Phillips while a White House Fellow was invited to Guyana by a Group of Guyanese businessmen to speak to President Hoyte about free and fair elections. He brought with him Lauri Fitz Pegado who later became Assistant Secretary of the Department of Commerce in the Clinton Administration under the late Secretary Ron Brown.

In 1993, together with Stanley Ming , his classmate at QC since 1964 and three other individuals, the Guyana 21 plan was conceived . In 1996, this plan was co-authored and presented to the public at the Pegasus Hotel with Ming. Since 1994, he and Ming have spent enormous time, money and effort in making Guyana 21 real and in meeting investors around the world. Between 1995 and 1997, he lived in Guyana at least a week every month traversing the entire country doing research and developing this plan with Ming. During the last election season, Phillips spent 5 months in Guyana as co-founder of REFORM and was the architect of Reform's philosophy, the video tape launch of Reform with Supriya Singh, the Compact with the PNC, the Youth Conference and the detailed Guyana 21 plan which was published in the media two weeks prior to election day. The theme "Imagine Guyana 10 years from now' was his and Supriya's.

Eric's article on leadership has perhaps hit some raw nerves in Guyana. His remarks on the residency requirement and the leadership that supports it are well founded. To say he has avoided words like sincerity, commitment, dedication and fortitude thereby suggesting he has none is ridiculous and disingenuous. Tell me of any Guyanese in the diaspora who has shown these qualities other than Eric Phillips over the last 10 years. Ask the thousands of Guyanese who interacted with him at REFORM' headquarters during the last election and hear what they have to say.

Eric resigned from Reform a month after the elections because he was unwilling to betray his beliefs, values and promises to the Guyanese people as a co-founder of REFORM. Philosophically, he openly championed power sharing when elements within the PNC/R opposed it; he disagreed with the silence of PNC/R when businesses were being burnt; he disagreed with the threat of violence and unmanaged protests and refused to be lied to in the guise of 'this is Guyanese politics'. He was one of the few Reformers willing to not compromise his integrity. He has the moral right to speak about Guyanese leadership. He has functioned in some of the highest leadership positions in major Corporations around the world and this is the type of talent our country desperately need.

Many others and I have urged Eric to launch a new party that would support his philosophy and vision for Guyana. He has refused and also has no interest in the leadership of PNC/R. He believes Guyana cannot prosper with the current lack of leadership, absence of political morality and conceited ownership of ethnic enclaves. He became involved with REFORM to make a difference but was very disappointed with the compromises of philosophy, vision and values that resulted.

In the dark morass of Guyanese politics someone must emerge as a beacon to guide our people on the road to social and economic prosperity unless they remain doomed to continuous poverty, maybe Eric could help. No one (including Eric) deserves a chance or opportunity, they must earn it…………..hopefully Eric will lace his boots, tighten his buckle, strap his lunch pail and resume his contribution to the Guyanese people.

Maybe "Lisa's" letter will act as a springboard for Eric and others to refocus and deepen their involvement in the political process and not be deterred by the sometimes-violent opposition from mediocre minds.

My experiences both at Queen's College and as an Army Officer taught me that any inflow of new thoughts and ideas could renew you regardless of every difficulty you face and it is important to continue to seek those thoughts and ideas.

Yours faithfully,

Edmon H Braithwaite