Dr Luncheon sought to bring closure to the Cummings matter
Stabroek News
May 13, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Dr Luncheon's advisory to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) seems appropriate from a management regime. The impasse between the GFC and the Government on the Cummings affair demonstrates a management crisis and that the government is becoming unpopular among its own supporters and there is dissatisfaction with the government's performance.

Mr.Cummings' contention is that he should have been offered a position which was filled by others less qualified and experienced than him, hence he was discriminated against, especially after he received additional training by a scholarship.

Qualification is the quality or an ability that makes a person suitable for a particular position or task. However, in an application, qualification is the certificates, diplomas, and degrees, and experience is performance in a position of a similar nature, innovative and mature capabilities, relations with colleagues and staff, PR, conduct, punctuality, health etc. GFC probably feels that while Cummings has the qualifications, his "conduct" is not acceptable and if he is placed in a more responsible position he would not be manageable, hence, the mandate of GFC will not be realized. GFC was advised legally that the commission's decision was final, Dr Luncheon's intervention was not legal and Cummings' legal recourse is the high court, which is constitutionally correct. Why was Dr Luncheon's action viewed as "intervention" and inappropriate? Dr.Luncheon's advisory to GFC seems appropriate from a management regime, based on the following:

1) The President is the custodian of the constitution and Dr Luncheon is his representative.

2) While the word "intervene"has a harsh connotation that Dr Luncheon bulldozed the laws, he did not because he knows he cannot, but he circumvented the law without breaching it, to provide "advisory services" and "mitigation measures" to assist in resolving a complaint of discrimination, which is a concern under his government.

3) It is the duty of the State to enhance the cohesiveness of the society by eliminating discriminatory distinctness between classes, between town and country and between mental and physical labour. This is an elected government representing the state, a group managing the affairs of the people as guided by the constitution..

4)The government has the managerial responsibility for the peace, progress and prosperity of every man, woman, and child, every autonomous or semi- autonomous statutory body, every private business etc. This is why we call on the government when law and order is in chaos.

5) He did not interfere with the decision to dismiss Cummings, he did not deprive Cummings of his legal recourse to the High Court. He advised that GFC pay a sum to Cummings, regardless who is right or wrong, and bring closure to this impasse, thus preventing the loss of time and cost of all the players in a legal battle, money that will eventually come from the government coffers.

6) Isn't an allegation of discrimination in a country where race is a sensitive issue enough to warrant the government to mitigate?

7) From a legal perspective, Dr Luncheon's action may seem to be illegal, but, from a management and decision making perspective his actions were appropriate

Yours faithfully,


Editor's note:

The legal issue is whether Dr Luncheon on behalf of the government had the right to overrule or interfere with the decision of the board of the Guyana Forestry Commission, a semi-autonomous institution created by an act of parliament.

Mr Khemraj Ramjattan, attorney-at-law, is of the opinion that the government cannot do so, though it can remove the board if it concludes the board is not acting properly.