What the Minister knows Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
June 7, 2002

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Well-well-well. It's Minister Gajraj, I mean. The Minister of our Country's Internal Security, its civil security force with responsibility for peacekeeping and indirectly, law and order within our borders. Some say that in other societies, wherein a particular type of political integrity and culture exist, our Minister of Home Affairs would have been hard put to justify his continuing in office.

But Minister Ronald Gajraj has been explaining his dilemmas and by inference, the predicament, impediments and compromises large segments of his respective forces and services face in their hunt for the five criminal fugitives and in the larger exercise to stem the surge of murderous crime now igniting the fears of the righteous and law-abiding amongst us.

Now normally and perhaps "stylistically", I would ask rhetorically: "should I believe this?" But how dare I today? After all, it is Minister Gajraj, I listened to, on the State Agency GINA's television production "ANSWERS" last week-end. He was dead serious, as he ought to be with such an issue, and his revelations caused me concern, anxiety and plain fear. That's because I am assuming that Minister Gajraj is accurate, based on his solid, verifiable evidence.

Naturally, the Minister was being grilled about his Minis-try's - and Government's - handling of the escalation of vicious crime and the more-than three-month freedom spree of five convicts who have killed a prison guard and terrorised many.

Many were the Minister's responses. In case you missed it, here is what scared me: one, Mr. Gajraj outlined the lack of "confidentiality" as it relates to current investigations, planning and operational strategies like surprise raids or other entrapment exercises. I marvelled in fear, as the Minister boldly told of former senior military and/or para-military types allegedly in contact with the criminal fugitives. He also hinted at the political patronage and ("moral") support being offered to the (village-based) bandits.

But the part of his expose that concerned me most, Frankly Speaking, was Minister Gajraj's public declaration that one of this nation's members of parliament was in communication with escapee murderers. Forgive me Minister, for finding that tough to take. Hard to believe and accept. But, under the circumstances, I don't dare disbelieve you.

Now fans and foes, do you realise, do you really appreciate what the Minister's revelation means? If a parliamentary lawmaker is conspiring with lawbreakers? Look I'd better lay off this for now. I do know that Minister Ronald Gajraj is an "old soldier" who is in the know. Quite apart from being an attorney, he is an ex-GDF Officer who knows other ex-officers and subordinates who reside in town and village. I guess he would still be privy to "roots intelligence" - quite apart from the official police/military intelligence/situation reports he has to receive. How I can dismiss what he says?

I can now also speculate about what else he knows. Perhaps the former GDF officer-Minister knows whether the Kaieteur News letter writer of this past Tuesday is being fictional or not: about the bandits' loot being disbursed in the accommodating village. He - the Minister - might even have reports of "training" being carried on at certain venues; of the political strategy to support criminal activity to destabilise, terrorise and make the country ungovernable. I hope he tells us all in a timely manner.

You see, my friends and my critics, it is we the poor, powerless and defenceless who will suffer most in this state of affairs. When we, or you laugh at the police in their barricaded stations, we are laughing at the anarchy which dictates that indifferent police will offer the innocent no service or protection. Then the criminals will turn even on their own! May your God forbid that all that happens. Meanwhile, let's hope that the Minister does not have to send thieves to catch thieves. But can rely on the good amongst his ranks. They still outnumber the suspect.

Protecting notorious criminals?

As in the elections season, it seems some pamphleteering has begun again, for me this is an element of destabilisation and its resistance that scares me. Anti-government, pro-crime forces have published two handbills, one entitled 'Shaka lives' and another, that reek of racism and virtual treason. Now, some obvious pro-PPP, pro-government soul has sent me, anonymously through the post a flyer captioned `Protecting notorious criminals'.

This one accuses the major opposition party of harbouring the five escapees and consorting with other criminals; of sheltering the bandits and calling upon Mr. Desmond Hoyte to make certain public declarations. I say again; all this is depressing and frightening. Even as I appreciate the PPP's right to defend and to also utilise techniques similar to their enemies, I wish there would be no cause for this "warfare". Note the "creativity" the abbreviation for "protecting notorious criminals".

Consider ... and hope

1. Now I am told that the Member of Parliament the Minister mentioned could be either male or female. Now I ask you: what else!?

2. Amnesty International and other human rights group often point out that in the aftermath of such tragedies as the world trade centre terrorism, governments often sacrifice some human rights for the sake of national security. So? How far should terrorists and criminals' rights be "protected" when the greater good is at stake? Are not states of emergency justified at times?

3. No more angels? The little schoolgirl sounded like her adult mentors as she lamented the state of her "government" school vis-a-vis the next door private Muslim school. A race-free future?

4. The Chronicle published a letter twice in one week. That letter was most frantic in giving one view of our judiciary. Would my Stabroek carry such?

5. Which segment of the population has the guns now?

6. So Nigel Hughes now heads the local bar association. Lots of pro bono cases promised... The rights of the poor to be championed - huh?

7. Who will organise a protest march for murdered policemen?

8. The fellow noted that "wanted" posters and pictures with Douglas show him with a beard, while the tape his media activists/ consultants made shows him clean-shaven.

9. So soft this government! The right to demonstrate means the Main Street Avenue is now a toilet to many; the hotel reports intimidation; the Prime Minister allows drumming past midnight but 'buses the hotel for soft music and the Mayor allows permanent obstruction. So soft!!

10. Race at the World Cup. Lovely isn't it? All citizens of the world - the new nationalities: one black Pole, many African French, Ecuadoreans, even Irish. So why no Japanese or Caucasian yet, for Nigeria? `Til next week!