By Ryhaan Shah
The Granger Administration continues to sink to new lows that reveal a rottenness at its centre. Just over a month ago, the services of Deputy Solicitor-General Prithima Kissoon were terminated through what can be viewed as nothing less than a conspiratorial collusion between Attorney-General Basil Williams and the Public Service Commission.
Ms Kissoon had filed complaints against the Attorney-General with the public service body, accusing him of trying to force her from her office, and describing his actions as “reprehensible, unbearable and malicious”.
This all occurred very early in the year, and you would think that the PSC would have moved to address the complaints promptly if it were a clear case of absolving the AG of unfounded charges. But that did not happen. It was not until August 21st that the matter got a hearing. This after Ms Kissoon received correspondence from the PSC that she was to appear before a body that was referred to variously as a Commission of Inquiry – which could only be convened by the President – and as a tribunal and a committee.
A letter from Ms Kissoon’s attorney requesting a clarification went unanswered; and she also, during the PSC hearing, questioned the legality and authority of the body to hear her case.
Yet, ten days later, and just six hours before the life of the PSC came to an end, Ms Kissoon was served with a letter of termination based on the body’s findings. To the public eye, it appears that the dismissal was timed to coincide with the expiration of the Commission, in order to forestall any public scrutiny of the decision taken.
The details surrounding the dismissal will become public, however, since Ms Kissoon is expected to bring a case against the PSC that would question their decision.
That such conspiracy and contrivance were needed to bring about Ms Kissoon’s dismissal does give an appearance of guilt and unlawfulness on the part of the AG. As the country’s highest legislator, he is mandated to uphold the rule of law, and one expects that the firing of any of his staff would be done in a transparent and just manner.
Instead, there is more than a semblance of impropriety surrounding the circumstances that led to Ms Kissoon’s dismissal, and former PSC Chairman Carvil Duncan has deemed the Commission’s decision as unconstitutional, based on his knowledge of the procedural rules that govern what is an independent body that should never be subject to political threat or direction.
Already, many are adding this termination to the still-growing number of Indian Guyanese public servants who have lost their jobs because of the Granger Government’s racist agenda. By all reports, Ms Kissoon was the last Indian Guyanese attorney still employed in the AG’s legal offices, and the push to remove her is being viewed as yet another case of Government’s ethnic cleansing policy.
But does Ms Kissoon’s gender also come into play? And was she expected, as the “weaker sex”, to give up under the pressure of working for a male boss who was being uncooperative and obstructionist? She had worked for the two previous Attorneys-General without any complaints about her competence and professionalism, nor had the PSC ever received any complaints from the current AG’s Chambers about her work.
Her dismissal made the news even as President David Granger, on the International Day of the Girl Child, posed for a picture with young Martina Nedd, who sat in the Prime Minister’s chair to commemorate the event. On the occasion, Granger said, “We hold gender rights as being part and parcel of Government’s pursuit of social cohesion and equality in Guyana.”
Granger would surely have been aware of Ms Kissoon’s situation with regard to her employment, and would also have been aware of the conspiratorial moves that had been made to dismiss her. Does he believe that her “gender rights” have been justly served by his Government? Or that the manner in which the dismissal was engineered fosters any regard for Government’s stated social cohesion policy?
Ms Kissoon’s case, along with the numerous other unjustified firing of Indian Guyanese professionals from the public service, runs counter to the words spoken by Granger and his Ministers. Her dismissal is only the latest act of ethnic cleansing, and it is now a matter of acute public interest to see who will be selected to replace her in the AG’s Chambers.
Since the country’s judicial system is not yet in great part infected by Government’s corruption, Ms Kissoon will have her day in court; and in that instance, receive a fair hearing.