Things that puzzle me
By A.A Fenty
December 13, 2002
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On bail and phantom forces
O.K. I blame this on my total unawareness of how magistrates determine and decide on bail (and even their interpretation of the guidelines for sentencing). And yes, I think the magistrate does have discretion - apart from the obligation of strict adherence to the law’s prescribed penalties.
So is that the reason for a magistrate granting bail to the young accused charged with the armed robbery of a Guyoil service station recently? Because the offence is bailable? So in this season of crime, terror and killings, it is sensible to keep these vulnerable “kids” out of incarceration? Oh, they didn’t bother to actually shoot or kill anyone that night. I see (?).
Similarly, the adults, including the young policeman, caught with a frightening cache of weapons and other equipment in Good Hope, ECD and represented by one of those popular prominent Attorneys, also “deserved” to be let go without being charged for anything? In this season of terror? Offence - when and if there is one - bailable too? Phantom force or not, the fellows are free to roam - according to law? Poor me. Poor us.
Thieves catching thieves?
Even though I know I myself am still amongst my society’s law-abiding and responsible citizenry, I risk the ire of others when I couch this “puzzlement” in this seemingly pro-crime, pro-anarchy language and context.
If you were a Buxton bandit or a Boerasirie brigand, who or which would you fear most these days? The political leaders who struggle to recommence healing dialogue or to agree on a crime communiqué of largely sterile rhetoric? Or the businessmen who shut down the commercial sector in righteous justified protest? Or the “Civil Society”, “Social Partners” or religious Holy Men who preach, implore and form human links for peace? Or the deadly reprisal-vengeance of an alternative mercenary force that is wiping out your partners? (Perhaps I’m not so puzzled by one. But we must not condone that. Right? After all we must not allow thieves to catch thieves. We have two official legal forces already and always.)
I opt for welcoming our Brazilian neighbours to join us in development when that highway link facilitates the two-way travel. But our welcome must be conditional. There must be early preemptive controls on our side. Because we are small, weak, open and vulnerable. And the Brazilians are already here. (They didn’t need any border or territorial dispute...).
So I am a bit mystified over the fact that our Geology and Mines people - and our Army and Police - can’t seem to restrain our greedier Brazilian “friends” as they appropriate our God-given land and natural resources in various indefinable sections of our hinterland. Or is the answer to my perplexity residing in the fact that there is connivance and exploitation by certain local officials who make glorious gain financially. Reportedly, Brazilians are raiding, occupying and buying out our best mineral - rich lands - through unpatriotic local surrogates. Can’t the law assist those local legal owners who are being dispossessed?
Well, I shouldn’t be bewildered by this one - I’ve grown up with it and should realise that it is one obvious reason why we lack real accelerated development. Why we might never get full-time electric power, collect revenues for better salaries or develop a solar or nuclear programme.
Not getting things done
I refer to our laid-back attitude in the public “service”. Really slow or no service at all! Indifference, silent protest or active anti-establishment sentiment was at work as last week-end (Thursday/Friday) I couldn’t get cheques or “vouchers” signed because an officer was writing exams at UG, or was celebrating Eid! The service - and parts of our world - stopped for these events. No alternative, no stand-by, no substitute to carry on business. “Check back” is all there was. Need I be puzzled? Or just migrate?
1) No-no-no. The Guyanese spirit will prevail. This Christmas-based religious (?) festival of celebration, justified or not, will inspire courage and determination. Despite fear of the bandits, the poor people will shop, will decorate. Even remember to worship. Even as the bandits celebrate in their own nefarious fashion.
2) Chairman Allan of Region Four, not really reacting to my piece of a fortnight ago, was pro-active in marginalised Anns Grove the other day. With his leader showing him how. Still good to see the Chairman in the village.
3) Rickey Singh reports that most Eastern Caribbean courts will have their proceedings electronically recorded for faster judicial and magisterial study and determination. Meanwhile in big Guyana, judges are still using big notebooks.
4) Minister Gail was great, last Sunday, in explaining to the beleaguered business-sector what they could get out of Mashramani. Pity our poor economy. But I’ll be repeating her suggestions.
5) See? I’ve had to postpone my “Christmas con” piece for the Friday before Christmas Day.
‘Til next week!