It is often said that your first response is your truest response and is most reflective of your innermost genuine thought on the question at hand. Often times it is the most revealing of one’s true intention and a reflection and insight into one’s true motivation.
This could not be more true of what took place on Friday, April 26, 2019, at the Guyana Forestry Commission’s meeting on the restructuring of the GFC by the Restructuring Committee’s Convener, Clayton Hall.
The meeting on Friday was planned to put the GFC’s staff members’ minds at ease that the restructuring is well-intended and aimed at positive outcomes. Opening remarks and general platitudes were extended to the staff and the questions and answers segment began.
Several GFC staff asked questions that were of high concern on the minds of staff: would the monitoring division and resources management divisions be merged as pre-empted by Hall’s early submission of his desired structure of the GFC? Would staff be dismissed and left hopeless and helpless?
What would happen to the families of these staff? Is it a witch-hunting exercise aimed at getting rid of specific persons? Is the Committee experienced in Human Resources Management to undertake a task such as this?
And finally, how were the members of the task force chosen and is there a clear term of reference for the Committee’s work?
Hall was stunned by the candour of the probing questions and the persistence with which staff pressed for answers?
He was totally unprepared for those questions, clearly did not previously consider possible responses, and had to rely on his instincts to respond.
What we saw because of him relying on his instincts, was the most striking degree of unprofessional conduct of Hall as the Convener of the GFC Restructuring Committee and the Chair of the meeting. He was condescending, offensive and outright shameful.
In his worst moment, he referred to the GFC staff as ignorant, incompetent and in his words, “not bright”. Dr Singh, a true professional, requested that he retract his statement and staff were on the verge of walking out.
The Commissioner also requested that he withdraw his statement and apologise to the staff. He refused.
The situation was all around bad – embarrassing for the other members of the Restructuring Committee, offensive to staff who felt belittled and a shameful display of those with power and influence willing to use it in ways that disgrace our esteemed Minister as well as the Government of Guyana.
As one searches for some modicum of positiveness, the only item that emerges is that Hall has been unmasked to show him as he truly is – a man with a hidden motive to make changes within GFC to weed out all the current staff who apparently, at least according to him, are dunces, and bring in persons whom he handpicks.
This was the big reveal at the meeting on Friday and was witnessed by 230 staff members of the Commission and several Board members.
What a disgrace that what could have been, and perhaps intended by some members of the Restructuring Committee, to be transparent and fair to GFC staff, turned out to be a full-on diatribe on the intelligence level of 230 progressive, talented and hardworking young people.
This was his instinctive response and a true reflection of his motivations for the restructuring of the GFC.
Today, I hang my head in shame that we have come to this point at GFC; that with one sweeping statement by Hall, all current GFC staff fall in the category of stupid, and the most hurtful irony of it all is that the future of these same staff are in the hands of Convener Clayton Hall.
Hall has brought embarrassment to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the honourable Minister Trotman, whom he represents.
He has shown his true colours as a partisan political operative who has motives that will not serve the GFC well, not on this restructuring process nor on any process in the future. His judgement is not objective; he is not fair-minded nor is he open-minded.
If the Ministry of Natural Resources is well-intended on this restructuring process, they will consider forthwith, a more logical and transparent route to the restructuring, in resting this important activity to the GFC Board as the main body that oversees the Commission.
There is no other choice following the travesty of Friday and the poor reflection that Hall’s misstatements have on our esteemed subject Minister. Staff are again calling on the Minister to put on hold the work of this Committee or have it led by someone else.