Dear EditorI refer to a letter that appeared in another section of the media on November 4 written by a “Concerned Citizen” which criticised the government’s decision to hold Cabinet meetings at the GDF headquarters. The concerned citizen asked “where are the voices of Dr David Hinds and Freddy Kissoon”—an obvious inference that we have been silent on the issue.On so many occasions I have heard that line—where was Hinds when so and so happened or why didn’t Hinds speak up when so and so was happening? The truth is that Hinds did comment on the issue to which the letter writer refers.No single individual can be everywhere or speak on every issue. But maybe it would help if people did a little bit of research before they make some sweeping assertions. This is relatively easy to do in the age of the internet. Further, maybe editors can use the “editor’s note” a little bit more to correct some of these glaring inaccuracies which when allowed to go unchallenged could be interpreted by readers as the truth.For what it is worth, the writer of that letter should be informed that I did comment on the Government’s decision to hold Cabinet meetings at the GDF headquarters in a news item on October 26 under the headline “Meeting of Cabinet at GDF HQ pilloried by Jagdeo – presidential complex undergoing urgent repairs” In an invited comment by Stabroek News I made the following observations.The Government’s decision to hold Cabinet meetings at the GDF headquarters, while not politically explosive, is bad optics and not tactically sound. At the end of the day, there are political consequences for such actions. The explanation that there were security concerns seems plausible on its face, but may not be worth the political cost.We have to believe that the Government tried very hard to find an alternative meeting place for Cabinet meetings. But I would have stayed away from the GDF headquarters for two reasons. First, by going there, the government is playing into the hands of the opposition, which has already raised the issue of the militarisation of the government. For the PPP’s support base this linkage of the military to government has long been a sensitive issue with ethno-political overtones that the government ought to do everything in its power not to feed.But there are also murmurs about the over-reliance on ex-military personnel among government supporters. Ours is a society in which political optics matter even among supporters and perception quickly becomes reality. We are also a society whose political culture is partly grounded in a separation of the military from the government; we don’t have a history of military coups and are not accustomed to seeing ex-military people in high political office.Mr Granger rose to political prominence, not because of his military background, but primarily because there was and is a perception that he is a decent man who is not tainted by the old politics. I think that a section of the society expected that his closest advisors would include some of his military comrades, but he has to be careful not to veer too much in that direction. In my estimation, we are at the borderline as far as the military linkage to Government is concerned.Sincerely,David Hinds
Valenzuela is a sixth grade student at Rancho Vista School in Palmdale, Westside Union School District Superintendent Regina Rossall said. The district sent a mass recorded message to homes of all students district-wide requesting assistance locating the boy, Rossall said. Fliers with pictures of Valenzuela were given to all district students to take home, Rossall said. Rossall said district officials interviewed classmates seeking information about Valenzuela’s whereabouts. Rossall said she spent most of Friday morning with Valenzuela’s mother distributing fliers. “(The mother’s) doing remarkably well, but she’s certainly very worried and concerned about her son,” Rossall said. Anyone with information about Valenzuela’s whereabouts is asked to call Lancaster sheriff’s station (661) 948-8466. QUARTZ HILL – Sheriff’s deputies are seeking public assistance in the search for an autistic child with diminished mental capacity, authorities said Friday. Jason Valenzuela is 13-year-old Hispanic boy who authorities say has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old. Valenzuela is 4-foot-11 and weighs 85 pounds. He was last seen at approximately 3 p.m. Thursday riding a red BMX-style bicycle near 47th Street West and Avenue L-8 in Quartz Hill, authorities said. He was wearing a light blue t-shirt and brown shorts, and was carrying a clear plastic “air soft” style rifle. Sheriff’s deputies established an outdoor command post Friday at intersection where Valenzuela was last seen.