ERC functioned and never lost its way

Dear Editor,

Since the 69th sitting of the 10th Parliament, February 10, 2014 and a motion to appoint members to the Ethnic Relations Commission and subsequent work between the National Assembly and the Standing Committee, the ERC members were selected by their respective constituencies and sworn in as Commissioners by then President, David Granger. I took particular pain to point out the mechanism adopted to engage this process as both the opposition and Government of the day worked hand in hand to bring this process to fruition. I commend them.

 My humble and honored service in the ERC emanated from the discussed and agreed to positions from Indigenous Organisations and their constituencies. The notion that the ERC had lost its way, is dysfunctional and not fulfilling its mandate is a distant stretch from reality. I strongly disagree with this fabricated concept of the ERC.  The ERC, even though birthed from political infractions of the past, must not be deemed to be politically guided and should concentrate on promoting ethnic harmony, ethnic security and good relations in Guyana. The claims by some members of the Commission who peddle the self-enrichment, being dysfunctional, opportunistic themes, have in my opinion, ulterior motives. Work was done amongst these Nations, hard work too, not only by the Indigenous Representative but by all the Commissioners. I can proudly say that all regions where Indigenous Peoples live were visited by the ERC, however, even though this being the case it was not enough, and much more work needs to be done. The logistics and financial demands creates a challenge for continued access and implementation.

It was peddled by some ERC commissioners that the commission failed to deliver, I cannot challenge that assumption as maybe within their constituency, some commissioners failed. But, I humbly seek clarity and identity on these areas of failure before pasting the entire commission as dysfunctional, lost, opportunistic, self-enriching and visionless. If for some reason, some in the commission do not want to commend and celebrate their achievements, I seek redress for the Indigenous Bodies. The Indigenous bodies are not lost or dysfunctional, we stand tall. Notwithstanding the many calls I received from persons seeking an answer for my seemingly cowering stance in the midst of the mudslinging factions, I simply advised, getting on to the dirt road will not help our peoples, it will only weaken us. There were no hostile or violent reaction to calls for our boats and engines, bridges and other infrastructure to be destroyed or taken away. The ERC was established to function in the best interest of Guyana, through creating and promoting a harmonious relationship between all races and peoples of Guyana.  Indigenous Peoples stood and still stand by that principle.

I have given sterling service to the Indigenous Sector and Guyana through the ERC. The Indigenous Peoples, even in high office, have respected and cooperated with the ERC. I am not just articulating on a windy cloud, as reality will prove that our current deputy speaker of the House was hauled before the ERC and his full cooperation was welcomed and appreciated by the ERC. When other constituencies were baffling how to handle their sector, the Indigenous Peoples demonstrated how. For this, I sincerely thank our deputy speaker, an unprecedented example of working together to achieve love and harmony. The Ethnic Relations Commission as a team visited Kanashen, Lethem, Aishalton, Mabaruma, Port Kaituma, Moruca, Paramakatoi, Madhia, Bartica, Kamarang, Orealla/Siparuta, Anna Regina, Annai, Surama, Karasabai, Cotton Tree, Anna Regina. Visited and collaborated with Govt. ministries, financial institutions, religious bodies, disciplined forces, met with Indigenous Bodies and Organisations, African Bodies and Organisations, Muslim Bodies and Organisations, Hindu Bodies and Organisations, factories. Hosted workshops, national conversations, produced ERC play “I AM US”, launched harmony campaign, produced ERC coloring books, engaged political parties on elections and code of conduct, and engaged stakeholders through film festivals and National Expos.

In summary, interventions were made in Region 1 – 7 times, Region 2 – 1 time, Region 3 – 4 times, Region 4 – 20 times, Region 5 – 1 time, Region 6 – 15 times, Region 7 – 3 times, Region 8 – 2 times, Region 9 – 2 times. Each of these 55 (fifty five) activities can be authenticated with the ERC. So the ERC functioned and delivered on a plotted course and never lost its way. I cannot fail to commend the work of the ERC staff, the Amerindian constituency recognize their hard work and sterling input into making the work of the commissioners doable. I hope other commissioners who were on track, not lost and have done work in the fields with their support and genius planning strategies, commend them. Finally, there are many outstanding commissioners on the ERC, who deserve not to be ridiculed or intimidated by ones writing to the president and prime minister of Guyana and ministers of the government, inclusive of the deputy speaker. Guyana has no place for mediocre projections, Guyana has taken an ambitious course to mold Guyanese, Guyanese of differing ethnic groups to join the wagon of peace, love and harmony so that as a nation we can achieve together. Only then, can we be ‘One People, One Nation with One Destiny’.


Ashton Simon