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By Mark DaCosta- A phone that was seized by United States (US) Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents from the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Permanent Secretary Mae Toussaint Jr. Thomas has been returned. A local media house reports that the return of the device was confirmed by a government official on May 30. While the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime may be uncomfortable because this matter is once again in the news – the regime may have preferred the matter to be buried and forgotten – many questions remain to be answered.
On April 21, Stabroek News broke the story.
In the days following the disclosure, it came to light, the Permanent Secretary (PS) Mae Toussaint Jr. Thomas was subjected to a secondary search at the John F. Kennedy Airport while she was en route to China on April 8. During the search, and reported hours long questioning by US authorities, her phone was seized.
The following facts were subsequently revealed:
- Guyana’s PPP government had known about the matter, but had hidden it, and acknowledged the issue only after it was unearthed by the media.
- The PS was traveling on a diplomatic passport, but she was not on government business.
- The PS – the most senior public servant in the ministry responsible for Guyana’s internal security – was on her way to China on PPP business, specifically, some undisclosed sort of training.
- The PS had the equivalent of some US$9,000 in her possession.
- Following the seizure of her phone by US authorities, her US visa was revoked, and remains revoked.
While it is known that the PS skyrocketed into the top job at the Ministry of Home Affairs after the PPP took power in 2020, after working as an accounts clerk. And while it is public knowledge that she ran for office on the PPP list of candidates in 2015 and 2020, there are many questions yet to be answered by the PS and her PPP regime masters.
Those questions include the following:
- What was the nature of the training in China?
- Why was a sitting PS going to China on “party business?”
- If she was not on government business, why was she travelling on a diplomatic passport?
- Who paid for her trip and expenses?
- What was the plan for all the cash she was carrying?
- Was the seized phone a state issued device?
- Did the phone contain sensitive government information?
- If so, is government worried about such information being compromised?
- Was the PS on a US watch list?
- How will the fact that she cannot travel to the US impact her ability to do her job?
- Is there something going on between the PPP and China in which the US – and Guyanese – may be interested?
- Is the government concerned that the US may be monitoring the PS of the ministry responsible for Guyana’s internal security?
The list of questions is, of course, almost endless. And those questions must be answered.
It is well known that Guyanese – having to struggle to make ends meet – usually forget about the questionable dealings of people in the corridors of power. Those dealings usually die a natural death. It is the duty of the press, though, to keep the spotlight on such matters, and demand answers on behalf of the people.
In recognition of that duty and responsibility, the PPP regime is called upon — by this publication — to come clean on this matter, and tell Guyanese what is going on.