“It took a tragedy to open my eyes to see what is going on in Guyana and to see that we had 28 years of PNC and 20 years of the PPP/C and nothing to show for it except to make the list as one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” the outspoken Persaud, who recently endorsed the Alliance For Change (AFC) said.
Speaking to Stabroek News recently from his home in Canada, the still grief-stricken Persaud described Guyana as the “cocaine capital”, functioning with lawlessness and without the rule of law.
He said his hopes for Guyana are that citizens will be given back their dignity and doors that can create opportunities will be opened. “I want them to enjoy peace like what I have in Canada. It is factual that if one analyses the performance of this government [the PPP/C] over the past 20 years, you will find that the people of Guyana are no better off now than then,” he stated.
Persaud said that over the years, he had never aligned himself to any political party but it was after the murders of his loved ones that he really started to follow the crime situation in Guyana. He left Guyana in 1972 for Canada and at the time he migrated, he explained, he never knew about drugs.
“I never followed Guyana politics. I started to read and understand what was going on back home. I never even knew who Roger Khan was until this incident,” he said.
Persaud added that it was through his own readings and investigations that he started putting pieces together and eventually concluded that the government had information about the murders of the minister and his siblings.
“I suspect that they know who did it but will do nothing to close this chapter for several reasons. One is the fear of reprisal and most likely fear of diminished financial support,” he said.
He said Guyana does not stand a chance of making any progress if the government does not observe the rule of law and international norms. “Stamp out corruption and engage the Guyanese people, regardless of their creed, colour, religion or their political beliefs,” Persaud stressed.
‘Democracy begins with
rule of law’
According to Persaud, after living in Canada for nearly 40 years, he had taken note of how law enforcement works and has come to understand the constitution and how it affects every Canadian.
“Every true democracy begins with the maintenance of the rule of law. If any level of the government is as corrupt as yours in this country [the government] will not stand a chance of being re-elected,” he explained.
Persaud noted that he has compared the ruling party to the PNCR and has found that there is no major difference between the two. Both parties, he said, have not represented the Guyanese people and both displayed a high level of corruption.
He said he believed that two laws exist; one for the rich and the other for the poor. In giving an example, he referred to a matter involving the son of a Guyana government minister, who was charged with a vehicular accident which claimed a life but managed to get off lightly.
He said that recently in Canada a minister’s son was in a similar situation and was charged with manslaughter. According to Persaud, that man is currently in jail. This, he said, clearly shows how the rule of law is different in Guyana when compared with Canada.
Persaud added that because of the state of affairs here, Guyanese usually excel when they go to another country. He said he knew several cane cutters who have migrated to Canada and are the owners of homes and cars.
“For the first time in their lives, they have truly experienced freedom,” he added.
Asked about the possible outcome of the November 28 elections, Persaud stressed that Guyanese are intelligent people and urged them to vote on issues and not race.
“I know that there are diehard PPP and PNC supporters but they have to realise that they have to get past race and vote for what is best for the country, not individuals,” he said.
He added that in making that important choice, there are questions to be asked, including whether you think the government has done enough to control crimes so that you and your family can sleep in peace as well as whether the justice system is fair, or if the rich are treated one way and the poor another.
“I suspect if you answer these questions with all honesty and integrity, you will agree, Guyana needs honest leadership. A party that will give you back pride and dignity. A party that is bent on driving away the drug lords and pusher, restore the rule of law, weed out all corrupt law enforcement people, including civil servants,” he noted.
Asked why he decided to endorse AFC, Persaud told this newspaper that it is obvious that this government is similar to the “failed PNC.” He said that the only choice Guyanese have is a new party that is headed by decent, honest individuals.
“These men are committed to rid Guyana of corruption and open doors for Guyanese to excel and most importantly to bring back the rule of law,” he said.
Since the 2006 murders, Persaud had been very vocal in his criticism of how the Guyana government had handled the investigation. He went as far as to seek an audience with Khan, whom he felt had answers. He also wrote to the Canadian government for assistance and was shocked to later learn that the Canadians had offered their help but it was turned down by the Guyana government.
Around 12.15 am, seven masked gunmen dressed in military fatigues invaded the minister’s LBI home and riddled him, his two siblings and security guard Curtis Robertson with bullets.
Another brother, Omprakash Sawh, had said that he begged the men for Phulmattie’s life and gave them $23,000, a digital camera and a watch.
He said he and Rajpat were praying for their lives, but before the gunmen left, they fired another shot at them, killing Rajpat. Omprakash and security guards Albert Mangra and Aga Khan sustained injuries during the incident.
The minister’s wife and children have returned to Canada, where they lived prior to 1992 when Sawh was called home to be part of the PPP/C government.