Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mr. Maharaj You Are Wrong

Secretary general of the Maha Sabha, Satnarayan Maharaj, has out rightly confused me by his support for President George Maxwell Richards and his condemnation of the Law Association's call for the President's resignation. Mr. Maharaj's position is one of utter contradiction because on the one hand he does not support calls for the President's resignation asking rhetorically of the Law Association to show him a person in public life who has not made a 'mistake'. He then goes on to say that the Law Association should instead spend it's time criticizing the wanton wastage of public funds and alleged procurement breaches by officials involved in these projects.

Mr. Maharaj's position is one of direct contradiction because the President's actions, or in my personal opinion 'negligence' is in fact tied directly to the wanton wastage and procurement breaches to which Mr. Maharaj claims to be concerned about. Quite frankly I'm not surprised by Mr. Maharaj's comments that all public officials make mistakes, which seems to endorse President Richard's remarks that to 'err is human'. Mr. Maharaj is after all a religious man, and his position seems to be that of 'who is without sin cast the first stone'. In my own secular opinion I would like to indicate to Mr. Maharaj that in the case of a public official, especially one who holds a high an office as the President, the word mistake cannot be used as a 'synonym' for 'negligence' and gross negligence at that. Not ignoring the fact that Mr. Maharaj is a Hindu, I just want to indicate to him that in the Bible Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus hanged himself when the full brunt of his actions registered on his conscience. We are not asking that the President hangs himself, however when one makes a mistake, especially a material mistake one is expected to take full blame for that mistake and then take whatever necessary action is required to redeem oneself. In the case of President Richards that would be to resign. One writer in the daily newspaper even made reference to the fact that ancient Romans use to commit suicide, however his view is that they were running away from their errors. From what I have read of the ancient Romans, my view is that Romans were people who valued their honour and their names, so much so that they preferred to be dead than to live with a sullied character.

The Presidents appointment of Father Charles to the Integrity Commission, knowing fully well that this is someone who willfully committed a breach of academic ethics was not a mistake. It was a willful act on the part of the President as Father Charles himself said that the President indicated to him that 'it was no big thing'. A former university principal now president saying that plagiarism is no big thing is not a 'mistake'. As a matter of fact, that act of the President calls into question his own integrity. If Mr. Maharaj sees this as no reason for Mr. Richards to resign then this would mean that plagiarism is also no big thing for Mr. Maharaj. I would then have to check myself when reading Mr. Maharaj's weekly columns in the newspaper, need I say more? Then there is the issue of the appointment of Mr. McFarlane whom the President introduced as holding positions on several state boards. The President was aware of Mr. MacFarlane's state board positions, and if it is as the President indicated it is his 'prerogative' to appoint members of the Integrity Commission then shouldn't the President familiarize himself with the contents of the legislation which grants him the authority to do such? This again cannot be described as a mistake, it was a dereliction of duty on the part of the President.

Mr. Maharaj confuses me most when he says that the Law Association should focus on the cost over runs and procurement breaches. Doesn't Mr. Maharaj realize that the Integrity Commission is in fact one of the Institutions that would be involved in any investigation concerning the misappropriation of funds in any of these large projects? And if the Integrity Commission is one of the Institutions that guards the public purse then shouldn't it's commissioners be men of standing, men of integrity? If Father Charles can claim he committed his acts of plagiarism because of time constraints, what would time constraints cause him to do in his capacity as an Integrity Commission Mr. Maharaj? And for someone who has fought against victimization by the current ruling government how can Mr. Maharaj say that the appointment of someone to the Integrity Commission, who sits on three state boards and who is a direct employee of the state is no reason for the President to resign because it's a mistake? Mr. McFarlane is Calder Hart's employee, can Mr. McFarlene then without prejudice adjudicate on any matter that comes before him concerning Mr. Calder Hart?

As someone who is the head of an organization that represents a significant section of our population, Mr. Maharaj needs to evaluate his positions very carefully, for like the President he may very well bring the organization which he represents into disrepute in the eyes of the civil minded citizens of this country. ©

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