by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 28 September 2006)
It always gets a snicker out of me when I see politicians stick with a poor decision come hell or high water. Bush had the entire world telling him it was a bad idea to invade Iraq. The U.N. shared its wisdom on the situation, several national leaders said there was no valid reason and polls taken before the invasion showed that even the majority of the American people were against it from the start.
Bush did not give a damn and went ahead with his war. Now it is years later and there is no end in sight to this mess, Iraq is in shambles and thousands upon thousands of people have died. This was one time that a politician should have taken the advice of others.
Which brings us to Jagdeo’s decision to stick with former New York top cop, Bernard Kerik, “for a key role in the anti-crime fight here” - as the Chronicle put it yesterday in an article on this matter. Regardless of how badly this man has performed in the past or how spotty his ethics record, Jagdeo has decided to use Kerik come hell or high water – and with this man’s record, it seems we can expect a lot of both.
It is one thing to make a bad decision when all of the necessary information is not available to formulate a more educated conclusion. We all make these types of mistakes, especially when we are treading on new territory and have no previous experience from which to draw wisdom.
However, that is not the case with Jagdeo’s decision concerning Kerik. Jagdeo has been made fully aware of Kerik’s sketchy past - that he has admitted to corrupt practices, that he did not fulfil the expectations of previous contracts and that he is being investigated for further corruption.
Guyana’s President has all the information he needs to make a good decision about this matter. Still, with all of this vital information, he chooses to stick with a bad decision. I smell disaster in the air.
Moreover, Jagdeo has also had previous experience with this situation that should help him make a better decision. He has seen first hand how corruption can influence the police force. Would it not be better to bring in a less experienced person with a clean record than to use a sullied leader to reform a sullied system?
As the old saying goes, a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. I have said before that introducing corruption to corruption is not a way to clean up corruption.
I do believe people with bad habits can be rehabilitated, so yes, I think Kerik could have changed his ways and become a model leader who spurns corrupt practices. However, to put him in such a lofty position in the Guyana Police Force is like sending an alcoholic into a bar.
This is a bad situation for Kerik. It is a bad situation for the GPF. It is a bad situation for Jagdeo. Most of all, it is a bad situation for Guyana, who deserves someone better than Kerik to oversee its law enforcement reform.
Law enforcement is all about trust. If the people cannot trust the police, they will not turn to society’s protectors when they need help. How can they possibly trust the police when they know those who lead this organisation are criminals themselves? This decision by the President is not just a bad decision; it is also very revealing in regards to how he views the national security situation.
Crime is one of the top concerns of most Guyanese and should therefore be one of Jagdeo’s primary concerns as well. Kerik is not the answer to the GPF’s problems. At best, he is a patch job - and a poor one at that. At worst, he could drag the GPF through yet more scandals, of which he seems to be inclined as well.
By not affording the crime situation the amount of attention it deserves, reveals that the President does not take this national predicament as seriously as it ought to be taken. If Jagdeo wanted to bring in some help from outside Guyana, surely he could have found a candidate with the necessary qualifications as well as a record for integrity.
Kerik’s dirty record will be a direct reflection on the GPF now. Way to go, Mr. President. You sure know how to clean up a law enforcement system.