Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Conflagration of guilt: Adam methinks doth protest too much!

A doctrine of ancient Latin, Greek and Hebrew theologies is that Sampson used the jawbone of an ass to slay his enemies - 1000 Philistine men at Ramath Lehi. The dogma of this doctrine is not alien to modern-day Philistines. The People's Progressive Party (PPP) government engages it to attack critics.

Editor of Guyana's Kaieteur Newspapers, Adam Harris, is being used as an instrument akin to this dogma. The mission of Kaieteur News, through its columns, has been to attempt to disparage me for criticizing President Jagdeo and his government for their non-payment of former President Desmond Hoyte's pension to his 76 year-old wife, Mrs. Joyce Hoyte. These articles not only attacked me, they attacked Mrs. Hoyte as well.

Moreover, Kaieteur News has refused to publish my original letter on this matter as well as my responses to their vicious attacks. The editor implicitly claimed that the State's failure to provide adequate security for a former First Lady as well as its non-payment of her husband's presidential pension of $800,000.00 per month, have no merit. This notwithstanding, he subsequently decided that it is in the best interest of the nation to publish three columns attacking me for raising the issue. Two of such are the "Blame the Government" and "Peeping Tom" columns, both anonymously written. The third was written under Harris' pen.

Confirmation of their pathetic lack of journalistic and professional integrity came with Kaieteur's refusal to publish any of my responses. At its core, the conduct of the newspaper on this issue; particularly its attacks on Joyce Hoyte, has been disgraceful. It is a manifestation of a shocking absence of editorial decency. What has Joyce Hoyte done to Adam Harris and Kaieteur News that could have motivated their implacable, wrongheaded and ignorant advocacy against her interest? For this they must be besieged with public scorn.

The "Blame the Government" column titled "When people confuse favors with rights," which, attacked me and Mrs. Hoyte for claiming a favor as a right, was published on November 22. Its entire premise was indistinguishable from the views Harris exchanged with me privately. Some expressions were even verbatim. After careful inquiry, I ascertained that Harris wrote the article, and thus, responded by exposing this fact. However, Kaieteur refused to publish my response.

But the cutthroat politics did not end there. On November 25, the newspaper published another vile article under the "Pepping Tom" column titled "In defense of a good man," which sought to pillory me for petitioning for Mrs. Hoyte to be paid her husband's pension and for allegedly accusing Adam of writing "Blame the Government." The author of this column was also anonymous. What was more reprehensible, is that Harris again refused to publish my response.

It then became apparent that the newspaper had, by editorial judgment, declared war on me. Having refused to publish all of my prior three responses, Harris wrote another article on November 30, titled "Eye-pass I will not tolerate, Rickford," further attacking me. He even invoked my dead parents' name to underscore his familiarity with my family.

What he failed to say is that my parents were tough disciplinarians who inculcated in me a compass of integrity, truth and honor, and that they would never tolerate "cutthroat" politics and nasty, yellow journalism. But even the "conjuring up" of my dead parents' name would not save Adam from the wrath of my determination to expose cowards who would attack Mrs. Hoyte and me, under the cover of pseudonyms, over my advocacy for her husband's benefits.

For the record, I am not afraid of any politician in Guyana. Neither, am I intimidated by their henchmen; be those henchmen Phantom killers, newspaper editors or enablers of Phantom killers. I am also not afraid of nasty attacks in newspapers. This is the preferred choice of the Philistines but it would not faze me. I am ready to do combat at anytime, anyplace, and in my own name.

Unlike the dastards at Kaieteur News, who use entire columns to attack me under nome de plumes, like "Peeping Tom," I am no one's house-slave and do not have to assume different personalities to carry out my commission. Does Adam and his Kaieteur colleagues do? And if he is not a contributor to these columns, as he incredulously claims, then he must tell us who these contributors are. Transparency is a prerequisite to integrity.

My assertion that Adam is a contributor to the "Blame the Government" column was not "willy nilly." I am in receipt of credible information and evidence from his colleagues at Kaieteur news. I am also convinced that the Office of the President (OP) has an inside track to individuals at this newspaper, whom they use to publish attacks on individuals.

I am also aware that Harris is in regular contact with both President Bharrat Jagdeo and Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS) Dr. Roger Luncheon, and that there is an "information" continuum that facilitates a smooth exchange of information and "intelligence."

I am also well aware, and have electronic documentation to corroborate, that the aforementioned individuals in the Office of the President communicate with their source and convey "editorial instructions" from email accounts "QCskelly" and "Smokey." This is what motivated my desire to strongly expose this cutthroat politics.

Nothing is wrong with anyone writing in support of the government, as Adam himself questioned in his last article. What is egregious is the publication of venomous attacks on individuals, on behalf of corrupt politicians, through editorially sanctioned columns by anonymous writers and the entity's refusal to publish dissenting views and responses.

Worst, the continuum of information between OP and Kaieteur News, engenders the frightening possibility of "snitching" on the newspaper's sources. This compromises lives; as Guyana is a dangerous place where Phantom killers allegedly act as enforcers for known individuals in the government. They have killed over 400 persons with impunity. In 2005 Minister of National Security, Ronald Gajraj, was forced to resign over such allegations. This is why this type of cutthroat politics is so dangerous. Individuals must therefore be distrustful about leaking confidential information to this newspaper.

Harris' private and public denials lack credibility with me. In his column on November 30, he claimed that "Rickford Burke has promised me a public apology and I am waiting. He owes me that." This is not exactly the truth. I advised him privately that if he provides me "credible evidence" to support his denial, I will withdraw my accusation. I stand by this statement. However, he has not done so to date and given the facts, I doubt whether he will ever be able to do so. So I am waiting. No proof, no apology. In fact Kaieteur owes me and Mrs. Hoyte an apology for their malicious attacks and its refusal to publish my responses.

Rather than meet this simple request, Adam instead informed me that Robert Corbin has been provided with the names of the authors of the "Blame the Government" column; as if Corbin was attacked by that column on this issue. Kaieteur News and Adam have been exposed as apparent threads in a dangerous web of "cutthroat" politics. I will not relent or give in on this issue. I will continue to expose those who are commissioned to attack and mislead.

After all, Adam remains impenitent for his attacks on me and his proposition of the deluded opinion of some individuals in the government that this issue is about a "favor" to Mrs. Hoyte rather than her right to her husband's benefits. I rejected completely.

As of today, more information has come to light. President Hoyte has never received any aspect of his two pensions to which he is entitled. Furthermore, Mrs. Hoyte has only been receiving a Presidential Widow's pension since his death, contrary to what Kaieteur news has been reporting. She is therefore now entitled to her husband's presidential pension; payable from 1992 onward, and to his parliamentary pension payable from 1985 to 1992 and from 2002 onward.

I am familiar with pensions and how they are computed. I have worked in both the Office of the President and the Public Service Ministry in Guyana. As Technical Assistant to the Minister for the Public Service, I have had to review many complicated pension matters. Although Presidential and Parliamentary pensions are not regulated by public service regulations, per se, and there are different formulae for computation, there are common guiding principles.

This experience, as well as my knowledge and involvement in Mr. Hoyte's pension issue in 1992 and after, I possess a unique understanding of this issue. I therefore need no misguided lecture from anyone; be it in the form of a newspaper editor or cowards who mask themselves as anonymous columnists.

Adam has also advanced the PPP's foolish argument that the enactment of a 2006 law, which authorized an increase in the presidential pension to 7/8 of the current President's salary, prevents the government from making provisions to pay Mrs. Hoyte her husband's pension as a law could not be enacted retroactively. This is the most nonsensical argument I have ever heard.

This matter is simple. The government must pay the woman her husband's pension as the formula allows up until 2006 and then apply the 2006 provisions from the point of its enforcement. But as an aside, let me also dispel the ignorant argument that laws are not enforced retroactively. This is false.

No doctrine or case law of any jurisprudence in the world prohibits retroactive law making. Laws which emanate from the bench are retroactive laws. Legislatures all over the world engage in retroactive law making everyday. In criminal law, many jurisprudence enact laws leading to the abolition of the death penalty and enact retroactive commutation of death sentences to life sentences. Additionally, civil and public laws are also enacted retroactively to modernize or correct statues, or to codify standards for social order. Guyana recently did just this. So Adam, quit the misinformation.

As I have said before, Adam is the editor of the Kaieteur Newspaper. By virtue of this responsibility he will always be assessed to have vicarious liability for injurious publications by his entity. Further, the offending article's striking similarity with his private expressions also establishes constructive authorship to him. His protestations sounds like a fraud. They drip with guilt.

Irish playwright and author Oscar Wilde once said "It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution." Adam, your vehement denials cannot absolve you from the wrath of guilt. It is evidence that you didn't which will. You should be counseled by the Shakespearean quote; "Doth protest too much, methinks." If I am wrong you need to prove it.

We know that Kaieteur News will not publish this letter, so I ask my fellow countrymen to, through their individual sense of community, organizations and churches, disseminate this letter widely.

Rickford Burke
Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

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