I suppose the fact that our current President is a retired military commander and that our three continental neighbours do have, or once “boasted,” similar senior army professionals as national leaders can easily stimulate relevant commentary in our land these days.
President Granger, it should be recalled, whilst never displaying outright overt political tendencies, did serve at the feet of a master political manipulator, Linden Forbes Burnham then went on to advise a similar-minded academic, Desmond Hoyte. And under Burnham, Granger was the astute editor of an army publication which cleverly shared ideology.
This 24-year old Man-in-the Street column did deal with errant army types over the years and I did dare to explore the elements of a potential Granger presidency when I first heard – one July night in Church Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, NY – of the combination described as APNU. Some reliable verifiable “knowledgeables” had also given me their version of how Mr Granger captured the PNC leadership – Corbin–style – then acceded to the APNU headship.
Scholar or no scholar, the soldier – historian – publisher had to have picked up some most useful strategies from Forbes and (even) Dessie. And he had his ‘Generals” to call on!
But what’s my point? Oh just brief context for the following.
Bad soldiers, bad police – unemployed
Once, when doing some quiet routine “P.R.” for the late police Top Cop Laurie Leyland Lewis, the Commissioner, in one of his rather impish moods furnished me with a list of former GDF soldiers who had run afoul of the law. Most, seriously! Some had only just left, or were forced to leave, the army.
But Mr Lewis was not being only mischievous or spiteful, for we discussed the reasons why the ex-army types became criminal-minded. We even used as references about two editorials Stabroek News produced. When you let loose on civilian society, men trained in weaponry, military tactics and security skills and they remain unemployed you can conclude, reasonably what follows. There were no agencies to support former army or police personnel. Though that was no excuse for their rampant, sometimes murderous, criminal activities.
And I did chide Commissioner Lewis then, that army boss Joseph Singh could, no doubt, have furnished me with a list of errant policemen or former GPF members. But just who was on Laurie Lewis’s bad-soldiers list?
That frightening list
Spare a thought about why and how these soldiers quickly turned murderous criminals. And as you ponder that, wonder if since then, pre-emptive safety–nets or corrective provisions are in place currently.
Remember “Eye-lash”? He was Henry Subner who rampaged by day and “limed” in Ann’s Grove by night, dressed as a female. Police shot him dead! Jungle Commando/Orson Benn was also eventually taken out by the police. Godfrey Smith or “Soldier” ended up in prison for murder; Michael Craig was also shot dead – but by New York police; Trevor Brooks and Cecil “Beast” McDonald also died from police bullets while Maurice Connelly was shot by a resident during an attempted robbery. The list was long – Belgrave, Bagot, Brooks included but, I’ll mention only three more.
I honestly can’t recall, as I hurry this piece, why the dickens officer Oliver Hinckson ran afoul of his army, the law and the police. He was a worthy intellect. Even his dramatic escape from the jurisdiction; his international literary achievement and his eventual return make for significant “cerebral” reading and study.
Do you know that Andrew Douglas exercised his own personal principle in sparing the life of a young man he had kidnapped even though he (Douglas) was guilty of the most heinous activities? (I knew and worked with the fortunate young man).
For reasons known to himself former President Hugh Desmond Hoyte chose to attend Lindon Blackie London’s funeral by the 1763 Monument. To me Frankly Speaking, London’s name warrants a special place on Commissioner Laurie Lewis’ list. Why? Reportedly London was as noteworthy for his professionalism in the army as he was for his subsequent criminal notoriety.
He seemed to be a dedicated soldier good at weaponry before something snapped. Ask his old Captain McAllister. (Incidentally, a few years ago I befriended a young lady from the West Dem. Who turned out to be Blackie’s relative! Poor me?)
2015: Enter the Good-Guys/Officers
No need to dwell on our Brigadier-President’s officer-choices for continued high service to the nation.
(But I beg for this digression: Internationally, in recent history, “yesterday’s rebel is today’s national leader.” Even statesman. Suriname’s President Bouterse has never been a favourite of mine. For numerous reasons. I can “go to France.” His people and our President – accept him.)
Since President Granger’s APNU-led coalition began to govern, numerous former GDF officers were invited to continue serving their country in various significant capacities.
Now just a few days ago, this Stabroek News found cause to write: “Observers note that Lewis has no experience in hospital administration.
The appointment will also add to the view that the Granger administration is pushing ahead with the placement of former army personnel in key positions and oftentimes in posts that are not suited to their skills.”
These ex-officers are well-trained, well qualified, some very experienced. They deserve work as anyone else. My mind remains open so long as they are not denying younger similarly-qualified applicants. By 2020 I hope their contributions make up for the mayhem their younger junior counterparts caused a decade and more ago.
And who knows? The current Commander-in-Chief may some day write something on the contributions of his army’s products who impacted Guyana – all of them?
All elements proven?
Space has run out. But as a concerned layman I frequently feel that the law – its technicalities and safeguards – favour(s) the crooks!
(But no. I’m told those statutes can work for me if I’m wrongly accused and prosecuted.)
As court cases concerning possession of cocaine mount weekly, we laymen can try to understand how the accused traffickers escape conviction. Certain elements must be proven. Did he/she know that the drugs were in a certain place? Were the drugs in the accused’s actual possession? Did the accused alone have control of the drugs? Poor prosecutor. Are his witnesses and evidence convincing? According to extant law? Defence lawyers are sharp! The learned magistrate has to rule after “findings.” But wait! That magistrate has discretion too.
- 1) There are “officers and gentlemen.” Name 23 ex-officers appointed to high offices since June 2015.
- 2) The President actually supplemented the constitutional provisions regarding the requirements for an Election Chairman. And you all still don’t know the two reasons he rejected Dr Jagdeo’s 12?
- 3) Let’s examine the workings of all police stations from Ruimveldt to Timehri. What would we find?
- 4) Coming soon: The NIS and me.
- 5) Are they about to tear down the old Stabroek Co-op Bank building to create the vendors mall?
’Til next week!