Dear Ms. /Mr. Editor,
I HAJJI Dr Roshan Khan, a former Commissioner of the Ethnic Relations Commission of Guyana, wishes to submit some suggestions to be urgently considered by the honourable Minister of Parliament and the Hon Speaker of Parliament. Please note the following:
1. Former commissioners should not be reappointed in this new commission about to be re-created. The reason being, many are tainted.
2. I have advised my Islamic constituent grouping that I am not up for elections, in order to give some new blood an opportunity to articulate and make an impact positively in this country.
3. The ERC grouping to which I belonged did some marvellous pieces of work, at least in the beginning by the chairman, the Hon Reverend Dr General Bishop Oswald Smith.
4. We went throughout the country, met many in various meetings and motivated them about the importance of national cohesion, respect, and the understanding of peoples regardless of ethnicity, religion and their way of life. Little could have been achieved due to the rabid election process that was evolving, which exposed many as to their true colours and who seemed to have lost the understanding of the concept and purpose of the ERC.
5. Many want to be reappointed as far as I know. To many the stipend is lucrative. Plus the facilities to tour, great meals and accommodation, out-of-town allowances, etc.
6. The CEO previous and current have both been exceptional and I have great respect for them, the staff are also worthy of much respect and applause. I am ashamed to this day that there was one member of an ethnic group who was planted as a spoiler within the ERC, not for the purpose of creating cohesion and goodwill until I intervened. After he continued at the beginning of meetings being given the priority to speak sometimes not very intelligently, he would always attack the pre-2015 government and said that government was responsible for killing over 400 black people. Also at that same time I was being prevented from making very elegant, quality remarks. With a Christian group I had to intervene and actually said that I was prevented from speaking. If all went well that should be in the minutes.
There are about four persons who are always aligned as spoilers as was observed by myself and other positive commissioners as being completely pro PNCR/AFC/APNU and always had a tendency to vote along that line. In votes and discussions one could see the alliances, the eye messages and language that were being passed.
I have even refused a bonus of a large sum, which in my opinion was not necessary and should have been returned to the treasury as the end of the period was approaching. In my opinion there were attempts to spend as much money as they possibly could have. I refused to participate in the New Amsterdam event as a result. Again, that was with lavish food and the finest hotel, I doubt whether anything tangible was ever achieved.
I believe in the wisdom of the founding fathers and the concept of the Ethnic Relations Commission, i.e., the late former President Excellency Hugh Desmond Hoyte and then Excellency President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.
In my opinion it was a travesty that as the election season neared I witnessed certain forms of ethnic hate and disrespect from questionable elements and realised that a certain head of the organisation was receiving directions externally, politically to lead the ERC into a political direction. To me this was a betrayal of the philosophy and thought for the creation of the ERC; this I believe from the depths of my heart.
With all of that in mind, because I was not in concurrence with the line they were taking, concerned about the brutalities of a certain ethnic population just after the elections in 2020, I was severely attacked and even placed in the press to be critiqued.
An arrangement was made through the deputy chairman, the Hon Mr Norman McLean, Retd’ Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, who had arranged for the Chief of Staff of the GDF and the Commissioner of Police to travel with us to meet the parents and the citizens to bring a sense of calm. But lo and behold, which I suspect to be total politics, the Chairman unilaterally postponed the visit with the excuse being fear, which it is alleged and believed by several commissioners was a political directive. I do not believe any leader of people can be so cowardly.
Please be reminded when we would have had entire military and police brigades accompanying us, with all of the above I sincerely believe that the Speaker of Parliament and the Hon Minister of Parliamentary Affairs need to be very cognisant of the points that I have made. We need real, positive personalities and not just those nominated by constituents who might have ulterior motives for their constituents and not for the development and peace of the nation.
I recommend that the background of the individuals being nominated be it ethnic, religious, trade union or whatever be thoroughly studied and assessed. We need only individuals who are truly interested in peace, harmony and national cohesion of our Dear Land of Guyana.
Hajji Dr Roshan Khan Snr