Sep 12, 2017
We should never underestimate the familiarity with political issues by the ordinary man and woman in the street. Countless numbers have come up to me and when they start to talk, you are simply amazed at how knowledgeable these people are with the main currents in Guyanese politics.
Last week I was waiting in my car for my wife when this gentleman came up and said; “Freddie, yuh didn’t write de thing on Sattaur.” I had not even the remotest idea what this chap was talking about and I told him so. Then he reminded me and the man was spot on. He told me that I mentioned an incident with Khurshid Sattaur while I was driving on the street where Mr. Sattaur’s parents live. I described what Sattaur did and indicated a full column will follow. This was early in this year and I completely forgot. This gentleman remembered that.
Well, whoever this fellow is and if he is reading this, I want to thank him for jolting my memory and here now is what I should have followed up on months ago. My mechanic, “Smallie,” who happens to be the mechanic of Adam Harris too, has his workshop on the street where Sattaur’s parents live in Bel Air Village (Greater Georgetown).
One morning, after fixing my car, as I passed the home of Sattaur’s parents, I slowed up on the hump and Sattaur was right on the bridge.
He came up to the front passenger window and angrily asked me why I was attacking him, referring to a recent column in which I predicted that unbelievable skullduggery would emerge from the intended forensic audit of the GRA. He was loud and aggressive ( traits I could understand because I embody them too) and then blurted out some sensitive information telling me that he never did me any wrong but was ordered to do what he had directed against me. He called names which I will not mention here.
I was worked up too. I told him he tried several times to victimize me; he did victimize me. Sattaur kept insisting he had no problem with me and was instructed to go after me. There is a lesson to be learnt here and it involves the complexity of life itself. Sattaur named names of people who asked him to go after me. Before we go into the complexity of moral values, let’s describe what Sattaur did.
First, Kaieteur News received three letters from Sattaur on information of the amount I was being paid as a columnist. Such a request in itself is proper and valid but it is immoral and depraved when context comes into play. No other newspaper was written to about their columnists. Mr. Sattaur enquired only about me. I was singled out and there is a law in this country against any kind of discrimination if you can prove it.
Next, Mr. Sattaur wrote asking that I submit property tax return dating back seven years. That one completely stunned me. I knew nothing about this since I assumed that this was a tax for people with assets not someone poor like me.
I went to my fellow UG lecturers and asked them if they got a similar request. Not one of them knew about property tax. I rang Sattaur. He said that all citizens who have assets, including books, furniture, jewelry, have to declare property tax. I insisted that my friends didn’t get a letter. His words were; “Don’t you want to pay taxes?”
Chris Ram did the calculations and I submitted $72,000 to GRA which I could ill have afforded. Two years after, Sattaur came at me again claiming $7 million as undeclared income from Kaieteur News since I didn’t declare that I earned half a million dollars a month for my columns. That was not true. Nigel Hughes responded to Sattaur that the matter will be defended in court.
So let’s return to moral values. It is no point in a newspaper column trying to polemicize on what moral values are. Even the great philosophers couldn’t decide that among themselves. Sattaur told me he had nothing against me and he was instructed. My question to readers is should I exonerate Sattaur for his victimization crusade against me because powerful people ordered him to do so?
This is indeed a complex issue in philosophy but it leaves many questions open. Don’t humans have a conscience that deters them from hurting people? Don’t humans have a right to refuse a diabolical order to victimize their fellow humans? What do you think?