Guyana: Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran fired

Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran fired

Posted By Anand Persaud On April 29, 2015 – Stabroek News

Dr. Bheri Ramsaran

Dr. Bheri Ramsaran

President Donald Ramotar this morning fired Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran following his verbal abuse of rights activist, Sherlina Nageer on April 20 outside the Whim Magistrate’s Court.
A press release from the Office of the President today said:

“His Excellency President Donald Ramotar has named Dr Jennifer Westford to act as the Minister of Health.
Minister Bheri Ramsaran has since been relieved of his Ministerial duties following a meeting with the President.
The President reiterates his outrage at the verbal outbursts and insults uttered by the Minister recently.”

The firing comes after unrelenting public pressure for Ramotar to sack Ramsaran for his profane abuse of Nageer and a subsequent threat to have her stripped. Ramsaran’s dismissal comes nine days after the abuse of Nageer which he expanded on at a subsequent meeting with Regional Health Officers. Though he had condemned Ramsaran’s remarks, observers say that Ramotar had resisted sacking Ramsaran as it had not been the habit of the PPP/C to remove ministers, particularly one with a senior position in the PPP.

Acting only nine days later, observers say that Ramotar would face the question of why he had not acted earlier and decisively.

amsaran becomes the first minister to be fired by the Ramotar administration and observers say it is testimony to the unrelenting campaign by civil society added to the view that real damage could be done to the PPP/C campaign in the few remaining days before the May 11th general election.  Ramsaran’s removal would be the highest profile sacking since the PPP/C parted ways with then Finance Minister Asgar Ally and replaced him with his junior minister, Bharrat Jagdeo.

On April 20, Ramsaran was recorded verbally abusing Nageer, saying he would slap her for the fun of it and have her stripped in a public place.

Ramsaran had journeyed to Whim to support former president Bharrat Jagdeo, who was expected to attend the court to answer a private charge filed against him by Ram. The confrontation occurred after the minister labelled Ram a “wife beater” while being interviewed by reporters. Nageer interjected and proceeded to confront him about the deaths of women and children in the health care system under his watch.

At this point Ramsaran could be heard calling Nageer a “piece of shit” and an “idiot” before asking her to get out of his face.
After the recording of the exchange between the minister and Nageer began circulating in the public, he issued an apology in which he claimed to have been provoked into anger and uttered harsh words which he regretted. However, the day after the minister was recorded calling Nageer a “miscreant,” accusing her of spitting on him and saying she was in need of psychiatric help.
In her statement filed with the Crime Chief on April 27, Nageer says that at no time did she raise her voice, spit at or otherwise threaten Ramsaran.

“M. Ramsaran, however advanced towards me, raising his hands. I moved back and put up my own hand defensively at this point. (Most of the rest of the time however, my hands were clasped behind my back). I felt threatened by Mr Ramsaran, as if he wanted to hit me,” Nageer charges in the statement.

Ramsaran’s actions have been condemned by the western missions and local civil society organisations. Members of the governing PPP/C have spoken out against him as well, although a PPP statement argued that his actions were blown out of proportion.
A brief statement from the Government Information Agency last Friday stated that Ramotar had reprimanded the minister but did not suggest further action against him was imminent.

The Women and Gender Equality Commission had said that Ramsaran must offer his resignation.
“Despite claims that he was goaded into such an outburst, he should have acted with restraint, recognising that he is a public officer. All Guyanese have a constitutional right to ask questions of public officers, as much as those officers have a right to answer those questions in an appropriate manner,” it said in a brief statement.

“His reaction was uncalled for. His remarks are unacceptable for any person – far more so coming from a Minister of Government. He must face the full consequences of his actions and offer his resignation as the decent thing to do,” the commission added, while noting that no woman, or any person, deserves to be treated in the manner of Ramsaran’s outburst.
The Guyana Human Right Association (GHRA) also commented on the case and noted that the PPP leadership was resisting universal condemnation and protecting the minister.

“The continued presence of Dr Bheri Ramsaran as Minister of Health and candidate on the PPP/C electoral list is the direct result of the feeble levels of accountability in our electoral and political systems,” it said, while arguing that the case highlights “the real powerlessness of citizens and civic influence” in the political system, particularly over parliamentarians selected in their name by party leaderships.

“Ramsaran’s survival as a parliamentarian, much less as a Minister, rests entirely with the leadership of his party.
The only avenue for a voter wishing to signal their rejection of him as a candidate is to reject the entire party list, thereby rendering him a liability to all other candidates on the list,” it noted.

Noting that the current list system effectively denies electors scope to evaluate the qualities they want to see in candidates, the GHRA also called for a removal of the party monopoly over the system and re-establishment of the direst influence of voters over elected officials.

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  • detow  On 04/29/2015 at 6:33 pm

    Time for change; the knee jerk reaction by the weak president has come too late for the PPP/C to save face.


  • guyaneseonline  On 04/29/2015 at 6:44 pm

    Rights activist Sherlina Nageer rejects President’s action against Ramsaran; wants similar action against Attorney General
    Wednesday, 29 April 2015 16:01 – Written by Denis Scott Chabrol – CND

    Rights activist, Sherlina Nageer on Wednesday rejected President Donald Ramotar’s announcement that he has relieved Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran of ministerial duties because he had insulted her, describing his move as a political gimmick.

    “Noted but we are still not appeased. We are less than two weeks before elections. It ‘s pretty clear to me that it is simply for that reason that a decision has been made now,” she told Demerara Waves Online News. She reasoned that if the Guyanese leader was sincere about women’s rights, he could have taken similar action previously.

    Instead, Nageer said she would only consider the President’s motive as sincere if he takes similar action against Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall. “If Mr. Ramotar fires Anil Nandlall tomorrow it might change the landscape significantly,” she said.

    In a private telephone conversation back in October 2014, he is heard asking a Kaieteur News reporter to arrange for a female reporter to have intimate relations with his uncle. Nandlall has already apologized for the comments contained in that recording and has pledged his full support for the rights of women and children.

    Nageer argued that the taking away of ministerial duties from Ramsaran might be due to persistent pressure from several quarters for him to resign or be fired. “I am not fooled by this. It seems obvious that they feel pressured and maybe they have lost ground in the last week and half from their core constituency- Indo Guyanese- maybe it’s an attempt to regain some of those votes,” said Nageer, an author of children’s books.

    Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon has conceded that the action taken against Ramsaran was due to pressure. Asked whether he believed that the incumbent administration was hoping that the relief of ministerial duties would result in the incumbent administration regaining list ground ahead of the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, Luncheon referred such questions to the PPP’s Headquarters.

    The rights activist plans to pursue criminal, civil and professional action against Ramsaran, a medical doctor by profession.

    The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) also viewed President Ramotar’s action against Ramsaram with deep suspicion, saying it came days after his abuse of Ms. Sherlina Nageer and only after public pressure from all quarters and the PPP Civic was heading into general elections. “Looking through the lens of the trade union being relieved from duties does not necessarily translate to being fired,” said the labour organisation.

    “This is the first time President Ramotar has relieved a minister of duties and it only comes at a time when the PPP is desperately seeking every vote in society and women are considered a critical demographic.

    As such this must be seen for what it is, another cheap political exercise because Dr. Ramsaran will receive his salary for the month and retain access to all state privileges, inclusive of vehicles which taxpayers will continue to shoulder the burden.

    The GTUC wants the President to prove that it did not engage another exercise in cheap politicking by removing Dr. Ramsaran’s name from the List of Candidates so that after the 11th May, whether the PPP wins or lose Dr. Ramsaran is not given another chance to enter the National Assembly as a representative of the people.

  • guyaneseonline  On 04/29/2015 at 7:08 pm

    Guyana: Minister Ramsaran’s firing is a victory for the culture of resistance
    By Dr. David Hinds

    Minister Ramsarran, the minister who, like his comrades, believe that we are still a Plantation society, has been fired. It does not change anything about the PPP’s attitude to power. This firing is out of character for the PPP, which has been supremely stubborn on disciplining those guilty of official excesses. Minister Nandalall and several other errant ministers were not fired.
    The PPP budged in this instance for two reasons. First, with elections around the corner, they want to appear reasonable. Second, with some voices in the party giving the Minister a mild slap on the wrist, they don’t want to look divided. In the end, this is more a public relations stunt aimed at those in their constituency who are outraged at this latest example of domination.
    But this is huge moral and symbolic victory for all those who raised their voices against this politically depraved behavior and for Guyana in general. It shows what sustained public pressure can do when a people decide enough is enough. Power concedes nothing without firm demands and sustained struggle. This is a victory for People’s Power. This is a victory for the culture of resistance, a key component in any democracy.
    Onward to May 11 when the entire mis-government should be fired. Not by the President, but by the collective will of the people. Let Guyana live again with a truly representative Government of National Unity.
    Dr. David Hinds, a political activist and commentator, is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University.

  • compton de castro  On 04/29/2015 at 11:31 pm

    Good riddance….adios….one down more to follow…😈

  • Deen  On 04/30/2015 at 12:25 am

    It’s disturbing to see the character and moral quality of such candidates holding ministerial office in the government of Guyana. I have seen much arrogance and condescending behavior among a few.
    Yes, it’s about time the people of Guyana vote for change….they deserve better.

  • gigi  On 04/30/2015 at 1:05 am

    The god complex always gets them in trouble. The diva complex does, too.
    As a mother of a son and daughters, I cannot condone the behavior of both the individuals involved in this altercation. Reading the transcript of the incident reminded me of the video of Freddie Kissoon cursing out the black female MP. However, that lady was a class act. Very civil and polite in her response to Freddie Kissoon while he profusely dropped f bombs and called her all sorts of nasty names. Yet she remained calm, civil and polite. Was she Ms Harper per chance? We need more women like her representing the dignity that is women’s rights.

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