Feb 22, 2017
One just gets caught up in a vortex of never-ending bad news in this country, so your planned columns just keep on getting shifted and you write on breaking news all the time. I normally look back at interesting moments of the year just gone by. I didn’t do it for 2016, and now we are at the end of February. But as they say: better late than never.
Reflecting on 2016, I would say that the funniest moment was connected to Ramon Gaskin, the most serious with Khurshid Sattaur. Let’s start with Gaskin.
Walter Ramsahoye sued me over a letter that appeared in this newspaper that did not carry a signature. Ramsahoye in his affidavit said it was written by me. The case is over, but there was a hilarious moment in court that if the reporters were there it would have made headlines. Ramsahoye’s chief witness was Ramon Gaskin. Gaskin testified that even though the letter didn’t bear my signature, it was me who wrote the letter because of one particular factor that he cited to the court.
He explained to the judge that the unsigned letter was in response to an article on Ramsahoye the previous day. Gaskin testified that in the newspaper business, a person cannot get a letter published the next day in response to something written the day before. He told the judge such a quick publication could only be done by someone working with the newspaper and in this case that would be me.
Many persons reading this will say that I am exaggerating that such nonsense cannot be spoken in a court of law. But Gaskin spoke it, and if reporters were there such testimony would have been carried in all the newspapers.
If you don’t believe me then you can ask the editor-in-chief of this paper, Adam Harris. The defence called Adam to testify on how soon a person can get a letter published in a newspaper. In response to several questions from my lawyer, Adam explained that one has until about 9 p.m. to get a letter into the edition of the next day. So you can see a story about you in the newspaper of January 1, and reply to it and send in your letter to the newspaper for the next day, that is, edition of January 2.
This was one of the most hilarious yet incredible moments in my life in 2016. Up to now I burst out with laughter when I think of that day in court and Gaskin’s explanation as to why I wrote the unsigned letter. I am absolutely sure there isn’t a reader of this article here who believes a person would tell a judge such nonsense.
Now that I have brought out this aspect of Gaskin’s testimony (I’m so sorry this aspect of the case was not reported in the press), I wonder what his good friend, Christopher Ram must be saying to himself and to Gaskin.
One of the most satisfying moments of my life in 2016 was the eventual end of Khurshid Sattaur’s reign at the Guyana Revenue Authority. We like to criticize Burnham and his politicization of the public service, whereby public sector managers were made to carry out political orders at the detriment of their professional status. It is my opinion that Sattaur fell into that category and behaved in a politicized manner that I had never seen under the Burnham administration.
I would go on to add that Sattaur descended into the area of politics and took on people directly using his vast power to victimize them. I know this because I know what he did to me. In trying to get at me, I paid the GRA $72,000 by mistake. I would forever be grateful to Nigel Hughes. If it wasn’t for a no-nonsense letter from this great human rights activist, I may have ended up paying the GRA all the little savings I had in the bank.
I hope never to let malice and spite destroy my idealism, but I could never have any kind of appreciation for Khurshid Sattaur. If the promised forensic audit results in criminal charges, I would be willing to testify against Sattaur as I would against Jagdeo and Ramotar.
I do not approve of the direction the Coalition Government is heading into, but I say with the deepest of emotions, I do not want to see the PPP ever in charge of my country again. I would join up with the Devil to remove them in such an eventuality. Civilization lives with risks and the PPP is one such risk.