Private Sector Commission’s own independence and credibility are in the balance

By Stabroek News

December 22, 2020

Dear Editor,

While the Private Sector Commission (PSC) is pointing a finger at GECOM, the public’s hands are pointing toward the PSC as its own independence and credibility are in the balance. Two incidents of recent vintage are most troubling. Firstly, while the PSC is casting stones, its glass house harboured some very questionable characters in the upper echelons and in positions to themselves pronounce on the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.

PSC member Ghalee Khan stands out as one such person. The nation recoiled and was revulsed to learn that a fugitive wanted by the American justice system nestled comfortably in the PSC’s perch “undetected” and was deemed by the organization worthy to serve also as an Observer in the last election. Mr. Khan has since been apprehended by US authorities. It is human nature to often see the speck in our brother’s eye, while the log in our own goes unseen.

Secondly, the PSC’s scathing attack on the National COVID-19 Task Force because of a warning letter issued to one of its members’ establishment is a terrifying assault on public health systems amid a historic pandemic. The PSC is a member of said Task Force and threatened to remove itself from if the missive was not rescinded. Stabroek News in an Editorial on the issue stated, “Its quite outrageous threat to remove itself from membership of the Task Force unless Colonel Hussain’s letter to the Palm Court is rescinded amounts to an exercise in equal measures of arrogance and brinkmanship. Is the PSC suggesting that it is prepared to compromise the critical mission of the COVID-19 Task Force by omitting itself therefrom rather than dismount the imposing high horse on which it ascended in order to stand behind the Palm Court?” What an indictment!

Editor, in April the PSC declared publicly that GECOM’s National Recount was a “waste of time”. It went out of its way to write to GECOM about ‘unfounded allegations being made by party agents’. However, that Recount revealed several irregularities, inconsistencies, occurrences and anomalies and said concerns were raised expeditiously with the GECOM.

Finally, the charge by the PSC of “unfounded allegations” still reverberates. In the words of GECOM Chairman Justice Claudette Singh (May 21), “I am of the view, he who asserts must prove”. Similarly, “The Chairperson posited that she is of the opinion some of the allegations are of a serious nature and must be addressed”. But she was of the view that, “The Constitution confers on the High Court the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the validity of an election.” (June 16) Even the CARICOM Scrutinizing Team recommended “an investigation into the missing documents” at GECOM.

We reside in a country where the Rule of Law operates and the wheels of the justice system still turn. Those perceived to have transgressed the law are still entitled to due process. They are still entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise not by the Commission but a court of competent jurisdiction. The PSC should focus on its core mandate and allow GECOM and the judiciary to focus on theirs.

Yours faithfully,

Sherod Avery Duncan, MP