Mr. Nadir: I rise to make my contribution to the motion moved by the Hon. Leader of the Opposition and to join in the expression of sincere sympathies to the families of the three persons, Shemroy Bouyea, Ivan Lewis and Ron Somerset. Also to those who were injured on that eventful day.
We listened to many speakers on this motion. When I listened to the Members of the Opposition, in particularly two of them, who we recently heard from, one talked about what had happened in Linden was because the Government wanted to settle scores. I think that was the words used by the Hon. Member Desmond Trotman, that this Government had scores to settle - that is what he said - and so the Government took this route because it wanted to settle scores with the people of Linden.
I have been around a little while, long before spending ten years in the Cabinet and I try to search my memories to see what kind of scores this Government has settled with the people of Linden. These were the scores I found. I found that we are settling scores by building and rebuilding roads, industry, lives by training young Lindeners and residents of Region 10 for better jobs. We are settling scores by investing in water, health and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for Region 10. We are settling scores by ensuring that developmental initiatives for Guyana pass through and not bypass Linden. I am speaking of the road to Lethem, the hydropower and the fibre-optic cable coming from Brazil, passing through Linden and not bypassing – a settling score.
We are settling scores when we invested, subsidised and ensured that when Linden and the mining communities of Region 10 needed Government support… I referred over and over again in this National Assembly to the time when I was in Cabinet and the Hon. Member Mr. Benn, came for US$10 million in subsidies for Region 10.
The issue of normalising electricity rates throughout Guyana has been on the agenda for a long time and many speakers here have spoken for it, but settling scores by killing people reminded me about the post-1997 elections period. It was in the month of Ramadan too and when the protesters finished they were marching back to Sophia, Congress Place, and just in front of there, there is the Sunatul Masjid, Prashad Nagar, and the comment was heard: “We preferred to rule over ruin and it must be more fire and slow fire”. This Government does not practise that. This Government practises… [Mrs. Lawrence: Were you there?] Yes. …and so I referred to all those good initiatives which this Government has undertaken to ensure that the residents of Region 10, that the people of Linden, can enjoy the same access to opportunity, to education and to a better standard of living as everybody else within the country. That is the score we are settling.
The Hon. Member Trotman made my stomach turn, when he said - it was his opinion - that the Government thought by killing a few the matters would be laid to rest. We could go back to the verbatim. [An Hon. Member (Government): Sickening.] It is very sickening. I have been... [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Okay Hon. Members, both sides. Members are allowed to put their opinions. Mr. Trotman, all Mr. Nadir is saying is that it was your opinion. He is entitled to his. You had your say with your opinion.
Mr. D. Trotman: I am expressing…
Mr. Speaker: Well, you have had a chance to speak.
Mr. Nadir: I have been around a long time and one thing I am certain of, and one thing I know, is that within the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government, and its party, it has people who understand that politics is working for the betterment of the people who they serve. They have been around long enough to know that in such situations any loss of life does not go to the credit of the Government. It brings down Government. I ask myself, who is to gain? Those killings… (I do not know about murder because on this side of the House and close to me… I know of one person who said that in our British Common Law system with murder it has to be proved with intent). I know about the killings that happened in Linden that all of us regret. To ascribe and prescribe, and to assign, a motive for those killings directly to the Hon. Minister Clement Rohee, I think it is most atrocious and that is the reason why I cannot support this motion.
I have known Minister Rohee long before he and I entered this House in 1992. One thing I know about him is that he is a person, while he may have his mask up, who has humanity at heart and he would never issue an instruction like that to the Commissioner of Police.
The second to last WHEREAS clause of this motion speaks to a litany of accusations level at Minister Rohee under his watch as Minister of Home Affairs, but on the other hand I know of these: I know of a Minister who has seen the implementation of the Citizens Security Programme, US$27 million, to revamp the police, to ensure that our justice system… to ensure that a greater level of justice can be carried on in this country and he has done that with great proficiency and excellent leadership skills.
I have seen a Minister of Home Affairs who oversees the implementation of the new machine readable passport that ensures today that more than five hundred thousand Guyanese can travel as first class travellers throughout the entire world. I see with the level of interest, care and concern with which Minister Rohee has followed for the training of over four hundred out of school youths from very depressed areas so that they can turn around their lives. I have seen a Minister who has led the Ministry of Home Affairs, as his predecessors, with a great amount of efficiency and effectiveness.
I have said, long ago, that I will enjoy retirement and I am enjoying it, but to use one incident and to now pin everything on Minister Rohee, I said before, was most atrocious. Prior to Minister Rohee assuming the Ministry of Home Affairs he had served in other capacities, and the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs would testify when she travels around the world…, and Minister Ali mentioned what a great contribution Minister Rohee has made as an internationalist. I have had the opportunity to lead some of those delegations and wherever I went there was much reference to the good works that Minister Rohee had performed on behalf of Guyana. [Mr. D. Trotman: Nancy story.] I do not know about nancy story, but I know about bringing back from one of the Foreign Minister of Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) a book that he had written during his stewardship and in no less than three places in that book was Minister Rohee mentioned and even some very younger looking pictures of him are included in that publication.
Perhaps the work of Minister Rohee, as Minister of Home Affairs and as Minister of this Government, has paid the greatest tribute when in the World Trade Organization’s negotiations, a few years ago, Guyana, represented by him, was included to sit in the green room for it. The green room was not only about the environment. It was the room where all the decisions were taken with respect to the whole plenary and led by Minister Rohee, and because of his skills he was there. This is the person, today, for pure political reasons, that the Opposition has tabled a motion for this National Assembly and it will use its majority of one to pass this motion and send to the President to ask that Minister Rohee be removed. [Mrs. Backer: Why do you always speak of majority?] That is the British system. The majority will have its way while the minority has a say, but the National Assembly, and pregnant in this motion, as many of the other motions, is that majority of one trying to assign executive authority to it.
What I have seen in this motion, while we all are very saddened by those killings, is not the issue of calling for Minister Rohee’s head, but it is more like the politics of the moment. A mechanism has been set in place and that mechanism was not given an opportunity to work. I do not agree with the call from the Opposition that this particular debate is not going to prejudice that inquiry. I do. [Mr. Greenidge: Who cares?] I know. You could care less. Some people on the other side have just lost and my congratulations are to those Members who won executive positions of the PNCR. This motion has more to do with politics.
I am in full support of the rational amendments made by the Hon. Prime Minister and would not support the motion as originally tabled.
Thank you very much. [Applause]