Justice Claudette Singh needs to safeguard her integrity ASAP
I refer readers to my column titled, “Claudette Singh, Lennox Shuman, GECOM and tragic Guyana” of Saturday, February 1, 2020.
In that piece I wrote the following; “I have always had a good relation with GECOM Chair, Claudette Singh. Over the years, we would encounter each other in public places and we would chat.
“I recall a very fruitful conversation on Merriman’s Mall six years ago. Last month we encountered each other in DSL supermarket and we had a very meaningful exchange.”
Things are happening in GECOM and they are moving swiftly. In this vortex, I hope Ms. Singh does not suffer a credibility crisis. She has to move immediately to protect her credibility.
I will cite three recent occurrences that have created an exigency to which Madame Singh has to respond.
First, six commissioners constitute the policy-making body of GECOM. I may be wrong but I cannot see how certain changes fraught with controversy could be done by the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) without the bureaucratic procedure of contact with the GECOM high command either through formal contact or the round robin process, thus it becomes a formal GECOM decision.
To remove voting stations from private residence situated in districts where, according to the PPP, they have majority support was bound to cause controversy.
Even if it is a justified, logistical decision, it was destined to generate a huge quarrel because of the way it was done. The other aspect is, why make the changes so close to the elections?
The second occurrence is a pellucid statement from the Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) Chairman, Mr. Gerry Gouveia related to the above. If Gouveia is wrong, then Ms. Singh has to respond to him to dissolve the fiction because what Gouveia has to say could lead to serious reactions that this country could do without.
Mr. Gouveia provided a list of polling stations in private residence in south Georgetown. The list did not amount to the figure of 40 he listed. Among the areas where he noted, they include Guyhoc Park, South Ruimveldt, North Ruimveldt and Albouystown.
Only a dishonest mind would deny that since 1957 in elections competition between the PPP and PNC, the PPP does not lose consistently in south Georgetown. I only moved out of south Georgetown in 2007 and lived there all my life and voted there since I became 18.
If this is true, how do you explain it? If not true, Justice Singh has to call out the PSC Chairman and warn him that such fictions are bound to have adverse repercussions.
Since we are on the topic of repercussions, we come to the third occurrences – the statement on GECOM by the Guyana Press Association (GPA).
Before I offer an extract from the GPA position, a little preface is important. I refused to be convinced that the leadership of the GPA has a political agenda or is close to any political party. But here is what I believe. If you check off the names of the GPA’s leadership, it is hard to find anyone who has electoral sympathy for the PPP.
Here now is the part of that emanation from the GPA that I believe Guyanese must seriously reflect on; “The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, and the Chairman, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh are for the most part inaccessible. Against this background, the GPA has come to the conclusion that GECOM is complicit in and must be held responsible for imbalanced coverage especially in instances where there are serious accusations and claims being made by the election commissioners, political parties and other stakeholders”.
How does the average Guyanese react to this trenchant adumbration? We remind readers, the Gouveia claim is not coming from some obscure opposition worker who put it up on Facebook. It is emanating from a stakeholder that few would doubt is one of the most important players in this country – the umbrella body for the business community.
The GPA is not known to have any connection with the opposition parties so we can discount any ulterior motive. So the question needs to be asked again – how does the average Guyanese feel about these developments?
I cannot speak for the nation. My opinion is that any person who lived in this country would know that election time generates dangerous, ugly and violent vocabulary.
It is not the time in the ongoing life of this country where you want to have election questions hanging that social media will feast on. The GPA is not only right, it is immensely accurate.
If GECOM does not explain, sores will fester and grow into violent monsters. I appeal to Justice Singh – do not damage your credibility.