Mr Ellis' arguments are flawed

Stabroek News

November 20, 2003

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Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr. Ellis' letter captioned "Our task is to drive wedges in the authoritarianism that rejects racial equality" (15.11.2003) wherein he raises several issues which I deal with below:

(1) Mr. Ellis supports and approves of Dr. Gibson's book "The Cycle of racial oppression". This surprises me as the research material and research methodology are extremely flawed; conclusions are subjective and Dr. Gibson shows massive ignorance of the Hindu religion in Guyana which forms the main basis of her thesis. Ellis' support and endorsement therefore seem to be based on the concept of Black solidarity which most of his letter reflects.

(2) Ellis indicates that there has always been greater Black opposition to the leadership of the PNC party as a black-dominated party, than Indian opposition to the PPP as an Indian-dominated party and this shows that Blacks are more egalitarian than Indians. Facts belie Ellis' proposition.

(3) I have not seen any statement anywhere emanating from GIFT, or about it, that advocates genocide. Evidence should be produced to support this astonishing claim.

(4) Mr. Ellis mentions the names of four public servants, two Indian and two Black. The Indians were promoted but Mr Ellis claims the Africans should have been promoted though they are less academically qualified and have less direct and recent experience in the fields in which the promotions were made.

(5) Mr. Ellis asserts "the authoritarianism of Indian leadership and mores of the plantation encourage poor Indian people to accept their poverty as natural." He implies that poor Black people do not accept their poverty as natural and try to get out of it. Ellis is making assertions a la Gibson. It is well-known that the Indian group is one of the most individualist, private enterprise and bourgeois-oriented with a Victorian work-ethic who struggle hard to get out of poverty. This is observed both in Guyana and among Indo-Guyanese in North America. These facts could not have escaped Mr. Ellis.

(6) Ellis then goes into a tangent. He wants "weakening of authoritarianism in the Public Service - removing public servants from being underlings to politicians", and wonder of wonders, he concludes that political structures are reflective of a Hindu caste system!

He says that the "Separation of Powers" could lead to the breakdown of the public service caste system and lead to equality of politicians and civil servants! There is now more egalitarianism in the public service since the Burnham days of "The Paramountcy of the Party" and the executive dominating the judiciary and legislature have passed into history since the PPP had succeeded to office.

Ellis seems to forget that Ministers only deal with PS's and PAS's, about 30 persons in the whole public service. It is the higher ranking public servants who deal with the lower grades and not politicians or ministers. So there is no question of equality or otherwise between public servants in general and ministers since they never meet. Ellis must realise that all administrative structures, including the public service, are hierarchical and must be so to be functional.

(7) Power Sharing. Power sharing in governmental matters is a pluralist answer to Guyana's socio-political problems. But there are many, many models of power sharing. Mr. Ellis' model is to have "power sharing" at executive level and to have hundreds of mini-local government authorities at the village and town levels. He should stop getting emotional when his model is rejected or shown to be unworkable.

Yours faithfully,

R. Williams