Guyana has been blessed in its history and development with public servants of the caliber of Judges like Chancellor J.O.F. Haynes, E.V. Luckhoo, Victor Crane, and Chief Justice Kenneth George. Diplomats such as Noel Sinclair, Sir Sonny Ramphal and Fred Wills. Attorneys General like Dr. Mohammed Shahubudeen, and Dr. Fenton Ramsahoye. Solicitor generals such as Joaquin Sabola et al. The present crop cannot hold a candle to these luminaries. Gone are the days when Guyana was respected as the bread basket and brains of the Caribbean, and the land of brilliance. With all due respect to the qualifications, reputation, abilities and services, or lack thereof, of Chancellor Carl Singh (Ag.), Chief Justice Yonette Cummings (Ag.), Hon. Bayney Karran, AG Basil Williams and others, we can, and must do better. We have to do, if we are to stop being the laughing stock of the Commonwealth. This problem has plagued all three administrations — Jagdeo, Ramoutar and Granger.
Most of the judicial talent has to be repatriated, and a vigorous, objective recruitment drive for the best globally must be undertaken, including advertising and utilizing foreign talent if we are to return our country and its systems to former glory. Future appointees must be deeply vetted and investigated. Other countries and scholars no longer cite our judicial decisions with pride and authority. We are already stuck with an attorney general who seems to have the wrong temperament and judgment for the job of top legal officer, a DPP who seems out of her league, an acting chief justice who should have never been even a puisne judge, much less acting chief justice in the first place.
We simply cannot allow such seminal appointments to be bullied and trampled by anyone’s caprices, whims and prejudices-or pity. Our future and heritage will be shaped by these people. We can no longer reward political patronage with selection to these positions. Talent, reputation, class and skill must be the paramount considerations to the Offices of DPP, AG, chancellor, chief justice, judges, diplomats etc. We cannot allow questionable qualifications, mediocre talent and social and political alliances to continue to deprive Guyana of its best judicial, diplomatic and public servants. Ian Change is arguably the only choice who justified his appointment as chief justice, and has the reservoir of work to prove it.
The shortcomings of unwise appointments are felt by all Guyanese all over the world. For example, where are our international representatives, especially our US Ambassador Riyad Insanally and others, on the present international crisis, pain and suffering caused by the Trump ban? They need to step up, stand up for human rights, it’s not only to attend black tie dinners, sit in limos and sip champagne! Our tax dollars pay them for representing Guyanese in the USA and elsewhere. The Trump fiasco has affected Rabeeya Khan and other Guyanese citizens, and demands diplomatic action! Also, we need to appoint people who have the courage and conviction to tell the government when it is wrong!
We can, and must, do better.