Feb 26, 2017 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

 When the Democrats had a majority in the Senate in Obama’s first term, to prevent the Republicans from delaying the confirmation of Obama’s Cabinet selections, the Democrats changed the rule of two-thirds for confirmation to a simple majority. They naturally wanted to help their Democratic President.
People never think far ahead when they makes rules and laws to help bolster their power. The past comes back to haunt you. If you change the rule to allow you, as CEO, to determine the salary of your deputy because he is your cousin, then one day your successor will bring in his girlfriend and pay her whatever she wants. It is best to let impersonal rules govern life.
The Democrats never imagined that one day the US would have a president who is far below any leader of a tenth-rate banana republic. It now has one. A simple majority in the Senate has allowed for all of Trump’s Cabinet choices to go ahead. This is where the PPP is facing Norman Bates, and the dagger in Norman’s hand isn’t a tiny penknife.
Sensing that juries will free political victims that the PPP charged, the PPP changed the law to allow the State to appeal against criminal convictions in the High Court. It meant if Mark Benschop or the Munroes or Oliver Hinckson or Ronald Waddell was freed by a jury, the State could still keep them in jail by appealing the verdict.
So what we have in Guyana today is a man or woman being freed after a judge’s summing up and jury deliberations but because of the route of the appeal, that person can be denied bail or still languish in jail if the bail is unobtainable. I haven’t done the research but if other countries have such a law, I beg to disagree. Either you abolish the jury system but if you still have it, then you must accept it for what it is worth.
frddie2Dr. Cheddi Jagan and PPP, when they were in opposition went from one end to the other of the vast territory of Guyana, denouncing what they described as the Burnham constitution. The PPP took power in 1992; its hegemony lasted until the first two weeks in May 2015. That was a long time –about twenty-three years. That was sufficient time to replace what they call the Burnham constitution. The 1980 constitution does not allow for post-election coalition.
Let us suppose that this section of the constitution was changed during those twenty-three years and it accommodated post-election coalition, could it not be possible that the PPP could still have been in power. Suppose it had enticed the AFC with the job of Prime Minister and fifty percent of total power, that is, Cabinet positions and public sector headships. Who knows? Politics is strange and unpredictable. The AFC may have gone for it.
It looks like some Ministers on top of the PPP’s pyramid during its domination of Guyana – 1992 -2015, will face the High Court for criminal offences involving larceny of state funds. Would it not be poetic justice that as the jury returns a not-guilty verdict, the prosecutor jumps up and says: “Your Honour, the State will appeal, we ask that bail be refused because the accused is a flight risk.” That may very well happen. And if and when it does, the knife in Norman Bates’ hand was put there by the PPP itself.
We see so many institutions in Guyana where the laws where changed to bolster the PPP’s power base. Perhaps one of the most egregious of these changes was the amendment to the University of Guyana Act in 1995.
Under that amendment, the Council must have a member from each of the following; the Amerindian communities, trade unions, women groups, the medical profession, the Private Sector Commission and two lawyers from the legal professions. Horribly missing is any representative from the engineering profession or the scientific community or the agricultural sector. One would think given the nature of our landscape an economy such people would dominate the Council.
I cannot think of any university in the world that has such stipulations as to who should be in their governing council. In life, should you not use the talent that is available to you? Why not a representative from City Council? Royston King or her Worship, the Mayor, could have added his and her voice to UG matters.
The Coalition have three more years; will they learn the lessons of history and scrap the PPP’s laws that were driven by personal motives or will they too become victims of the Draculean past?