In the Gospel according to St. Mark, Psalm 10 Verse 25, Jesus is recorded as having said: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” In the 2000 plus years of the existence of Christianity, the view expressed by Jesus has lost much of its currency.
Because of the PPP’s philosophy and history, it was, until now, similarly impossible for the wealthy to enter into its leadership. While many of them came around to the PPP in 1992, by which time the PPP had moderated its policies towards private capital and to the West, none of the wealthy sought to be admitted to its leadership ranks. In a sense, therefore, the PPP’s leadership was as closed to the rich as the Kingdom of God was in the beginning era of Christianity. It did not take 2000 years but, as happened in Christianity, times are changing within the PPP.
After two weeks of silence while the controversy raged over Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo’s claim that the Jagans lived in luxury, Mr. Clement Rohee, General Secretary of the PPP, launched a fierce defence of Jagdeo and his wealth, without a word on his claim about the Jagans, except to say that Jagdeo’s position is not that of the PPP and that only the General Secretary speaks about policy matters. In seeking to defend the indefensible, Mr. Rohee missed the point.
He said that it is “grossly unfair, unprofessional and unbalanced” to attribute to Mr. Jagdeo statements about what the Party stands for. But the issue in controversy never related to what the PPP stands for. It concerned Dr. Jagdeo’s gross falsehood that Dr. Jagan lived in luxury.
Mr. Rohee sought to salvage some of Dr. Jagdeo’s credibility rather than defend his false accusation against the Jagans. He accused ‘recent Jagan lovers’ of attacking the PPP. No one did. The criticism was against Dr. Jagdeo, a leader of the PPP, using the PPP’s platform at Freedom House, not to announce a policy, but to perpetrate a blatant fraud against Dr. and Mrs. Jagan in order to deflect the criticisms against him about his lifestyle, much of it at the taxpayer’s expense.
Mr. Rohee asked and himself answered the following questions. “Did Jagdeo attack Dr. Jagan’s ideology? No! Did Jagdeo attack Dr. Jagan’s politics? No! Did Jagdeo attack Dr. Jagan’s economic policies? No! Did Jagdeo attack Dr. Jagan’s children? No!”
Mr. Rohee did not ask the critical question – “Did Jagdeo lie about Dr. Jagan lifestyle?” The answer would have been a resounding “Yes!” Mr. Rohee therefore avoided the pith and substance of the issue. But he went further and defended Dr. Jagdeo’s wealth and his use of it in building a mansion by the sea.
Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo mansion by the sea at Pradoville 2, cannot be worth anything less than US$5 million, having regard to the value of US$600,000 which he obtained for his far more modest house in Pradoville 1 several years ago, the rise in property values since then, and the going price for a more modest house at Pradoville 2. Media reports suggest that his pension and benefits amount to G$3 million a month, which he has not denied, and in his recent statements he indicated that he earns money overseas. By any standards Mr. Jagdeo is a very wealthy man. He became wealthy, by saving he insists, while serving as President.
The tightly knit leadership of the PPP, through its General Secretary, now officially embraces and defends the wealthy and Dr. Jagdeo’s continuing dominance of the PPP confirms that its leadership is now open to the wealthy. Just as the Gospel according to St. Mark is not now an obstacle to the wealthy seeking entry into the Kingdom of God, so the character and history of the PPP is no obstacle to the wealthy seeking entry into, or remaining, in the leadership of the PPP, after the acquisition of wealth while serving therein.
This is all in keeping with the PPP’s transformation from a Party of the disadvantaged, exemplified when its Government threatened to de-recognize GAWU, to a Party of crony capitalism.
As an aside, relating to Mr. Rohee’s assertion that I was never abused in the PPP, I quote from a letter written by me to then General Secretary, Donald Ramotar, as long ago as September 22, 2008, the full content and import of which I will reveal and discuss on a more appropriate occasion. But a short quote should suffice for the time being.
I said: “I refuse to allow myself to be further tormented by hostility, insults, humiliation….by certain members of the Executive…so as to eventually force me out of the Party…What was worse is that the discussion, if it can be dignified with that word, consisted of abuse, lies, insinuations, disassembling and vulgar disingenuity.”
This letter was circulated to members of the Executive at the time so Mr. Rohee got a copy. He was present at the meeting that triggered this letter, in silent witness to the ‘abuse,’ without then or ever coming to my defence. I bore this continuous torment, which started sometime before, for four more years before my prediction of being forced out of the PPP finally came through in 2012.