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Tuesday 21 May 2019
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Letters to the Editor

CCJ must uphold the accepted math formula

THE EDITOR: Reference is made to a commentary on Guyana’s maths by Noel Kalicharan (May 10). Kalicharan is a statistician par excellence. He is right that it is laughable that by going with the Guyana Appeal Court’s math formula, the majority of three is three, the majority of five is four, and the majority of seven is five.

Any Std 1 student would laugh at the court’s math formula. And if the CCJ agrees with the court in its ruling in the case before it, the little children would have a field day with this new maths. All of the maths and science books will have to be rewritten (for the Caribbean off course since the rest of the world will want to remain progressive and forward thinking).

The Guyana court by a two to one majority, controversially overturned a decision by the lower court which held that the motion filed by Guyana’s Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, was successfully carried by a vote of 33 to 32, thereby warranting the Government’s resignation and a new election.

Using the court’s own math formula, the appeal lost because three votes are needed to carry it (half of three which is 1.5, rounded up which is two, plus one which is three). This is idiotic. Doesn’t the court recognise its own flaw – or does the shame of the two judges make them feel better than math logic – that 33 is a majority of 65?

As Prof Dev Rawana penned in an article, the court rejected two universally accepted methods used for maths calculation: the median formula and the PEMDAS method of operation. This may be too fancy language for Guyana judges.

The median formula is one-half the sum of numbers plus one, or ½ (n +1). PEMDAS tells students in what order to perform mathematical operations. It is as follows: parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and finally, subtraction.

In the Guyana case, it is 65 plus 1 divided by 2 or (66/2), to get 33. And 33 is a simple majority as well as an absolute majority – every grade 1 student knows that math to be factual.

Retired prof emeritus Errol Miller (UWI, Mona), a recognised expert in election matters, sated that should the CCJ uphold the Guyana court’s decision, it would have dire effects across the Caribbean and the rest of the Third World including TT’s 41-member Parliament.

To avoid chaos on such an extraordinary scale, it is important that the CCJ rejects the flawed mathematical reasoning upheld by the Guyana Appeal Court and embrace PEMDAS.

The other matter before the CCJ is appointing the chairman of Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom).

Prior to 1992, all chairs were appointed by the dictatorial rulers (Burnham and Hoyte) who governed like monarchs under the fraudulent Burnham constitution.

In 1992, the precedent was set with the intervention of US president Jimmy Carter and George Price of Belize in which the President appoints the chairman on the recommendation of the Opposition Leader. It was formally added to the constitution in an amendment in 2000.

President Granger made a unilateral appointment in 2018. The Guyana courts agreed with him saying the President has a discretion to appoint the chair if he disagrees with the recommendation of the Opposition Leader; the constitution has no such caveat. It will be impossible for the CCJ to agree with the Guyana President that he has such a discretion when the constitution is clear on the matter – President must appoint a nominee from among those recommended by the Opposition Leader.

VISHNU BISRAM via e-mail

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