PPP/C 'will not be bound by DFC final report'
Says Lutchman's appointment unethical
Stabroek News
January 18, 2004

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The PPP/C says it will not be automatically bound by the final report of the Disciplined Forces Commission (DFC), as it can be tainted by partisan considerations.

In a statement issued yesterday, the PPP/C said this decision was reached as a result of the appointment of Dr Harold Lutchman, the PNCR's nominee to replace Irish human rights activist Maggie Beirne, whose tenure came to an end just as the DFC submitted its interim report to the National Assembly in November 2003. Dr Lutchman was sworn in last week as a member of the DFC.

But Leader of the Opposi-tion, Robert Corbin, who nominated Lutchman after consulting various civil society organisations, told Sta-broek News he is amused by the PPP/C's "new discovery of morality" when it is aware of his objections to some of their nominees such as former attorney general Charles Ramson SC who is a known activist of the PPP. He said Lutchman has never been a member of the PNCR, is a widely respected academic and the fact that he gave evidence before the commission did not taint his objectivity.

Corbin pointed out that Lutchman was not a PNCR nominee, but that his name was on the original list put forward by the organisations with which he had prior consultation. He said all he did after Beirne's resignation was to select Lutchman to replace her.

Corbin stressed that as a commissioner, Lutchman would have heard all the evidence presented to the DFC and still have had an opinion about what he had heard.

Corbin also accused the PPP of the same breach of principle which it had accused his party of committing, in its nominations to the Public Service Commission and the Teaching Service Commis-sion.

The PPP/C statement, while acknowledging Dr Lutchman as a distinguished Guyanese who is widely respected by all sectors of the society including the PPP, said that he was present when Lincoln Lewis, general secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, "in his usually aggressive and obnoxious manner accused the government of discrimination/ racism".

"Dr Lutchman gave evidence before the DFC through the TUC and therefore it is wrong, unprincipled and unethical of him to now become a member of the DFC. As an attorney-at-law, Dr Lutchman knows this and he should have declined the nomination. It is not a question of whether he would actually be biased but whether there would be a danger of bias or in this particular circumstance whether the public including the PPP would be comfortable with such a situation."

GAP/WPA Parliamenta-rian Sheila Holder expressed disappointment at what she said was the PPP/C's focus on the negatives rather than the positives.

She said the PPP's expression of a lack of confidence in Dr Lutchman's objectivity could have a negative impact, asserted that "as a nation we need to be more magnanimous and allow people to rise to higher levels of performance."