Jan 03, 2018  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

I guess you know who that is. The visitor came at ten minutes past the midnight hour of 2018. The trouble with blackout is that it comes when you are right in the act; when you are doing a chore that is important to you and your family. That is what makes it unnerving.
As usual the fireworks dominate the skyline each year on December 31. The animals run for shelter. We were trying to make sure our cat and dog were under the bed but as you know, animals run around your feet in a frenzy when they hear the boom.
The blackout came just as we were putting the animals in secure cocoons. It was pitch black, and I yelled out; “Do not mash the dog.”
This column is not about blackout but I mentioned it because of the occurrence of it on the stroke of midnight, 2018 is a huge sign of things to come; surely not at midnight when a new year begins. If it can happen at that time then brace yourself for some terribly incessant blackouts in the New Year.
Before I move on to the designed content of this article, I will make a new year’s wish- I am not penning another piece on blackouts. That is the reality of Guyana. It will be the reality for deep into the foreseeable future. You are staying in Guyana, then accept this is what your country is like, what it will be like and just forget about the electricity breakdown.
This first column for the New Year captures my expectations for 2018 and I am just going to mention two of them for now. As 2017 was about to pass into history, California allowed for the possession and smoking of marijuana for recreational purposes. As the months and years pass, more countries are allowing for a more modern approach to possession of marijuana.
In no country is the drug made legal. The problem is possession of an amount. In all countries, you will be charged for trafficking in ganja if the police find a basket full of the stuff in your car. The era of hauling a man before the courts for a marijuana cigarette is quickly fading. In Guyana, once you plead guilty to possession of a smoking utensil, imprisonment of three years is mandatory. I haven’t done the research but I doubt in any CARICOM country (not to mention our continent), you go to jail for possession of a smoking utensil.
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There is a Bill, drafted two years ago by attorneys Mark Waldron and Nigel Hughes that removes the charge for small amounts and allows for bail and provides for other forms of punishment other than jail. The Bill in the name of parliamentarian Michael Carrington was on the order paper to be read by the House two years ago. The process never went forward.
My wish for 2018 is for Guyana to stop the bestial act of jailing young men and women for the possession of very small amounts of ganja. This is pathetic backwardness and Guyanese must demand their government put an end to it in 2018. My next wish for 2018 is the modernisation of the Labour Department.
I was told that a very senior Minister over the Christmas holiday was having guests in his home and in response to a barrage of questions of why Freddie Kissoon isn’t working for the government, he replied, “He never told us what he wanted.” Well, that is not exactly true. I was in fact the main speaker at a meeting at Bagotstown during the 2015 campaign.
I announced there and then that if the coalition wins the election, I want to take over the industrial complaints desk of the Labour Department because workers’ exploitation is extremely cruel in this country and the Labour Department is compromised.
Carlyle Goring, APNU+AFC councillor in the Georgetown City Council gave me permission to quote him. Over the holiday weekend, he informed me that a very well placed politician told him that I refused the offer the government made to me. That is an unmitigated lie. Let me say unambiguously, no leader in the APNU and the AFC, and no Minister in the Government of Guyana in the list of 27 ministers ever communicated with me since the 2015 election.
I repeat no one in the power establishment ever called me to have a discussion with me about anything including a job, Michael Jackson’s music, the manatee in the Botanical Gardens, my love for the seawall, the policies of the government, the politics of Guyana, etc. That is the truth and the entire truth.