WITH the defeat in 2015 of Guyana’s most corrupt government, the regime’s surrogate media have unleashed a brutal, X-rated campaign of rage and hate against the APNU+AFC Coalition and its officials. From the opposition camp have come the most outrageous claims and outright lies. The latest imputed that the President is allegedly missing in action and that no one knows who is in charge of the nation’s affairs in His Excellency’s absence.
As always, the Coalition Government would issue righteous responses, buttressed by the biblical exhortation, a gentle or soft word turns away wrath.
It is common knowledge that President Granger had departed Guyana on April 2 last for the Republic of Cuba, where he is undergoing radiology for his publicly-disclosed medical condition. In between treatment sessions, our Head of State has been visiting, inside Cuba, certain places of interest to Guyana.
In addition to that misplaced rage over the President’s whereabouts, assorted opposition figures have been randomly taking dirty swipes at ministers for alleged corrupt practices. With portraits appearing like mugshots of suspects in the Rogues’ Gallery, it is clear that they are trying to use those claims as a paste-over to hide their own crimes.
They also try to take advantage of the political adage that people have short memories, and that when it was recently reported that “corruption persists in Guyana” that that would be enough to plaster the old sores of “pervasive corruption” under the post-Jagan PPP regimes.
Over the years that I have been a minister responsible for information in ideologically different governments, I have resisted my better impulses to engage the dirty press. I respect free speech, for which I have fought in my many years as a journalist, and as an attorney. But my friends would regularly pull me aside and tell me, that it is not freedom of the press to allow lies, slanders and expletives to be used against high officials. So it is not easy to just shrug off the daily puffs of partisan political propaganda, especially in what people would describe to me as “that opposition rag” – Guyana Times.
In its latest obscene attack, it compared ministers who have admitted to having dual citizenship as “smart flies” who ended up in “cow’s backside”. It described one minister as a “doormat”, and another as “a beneficiary of nepotism”.
CODE OF CONDUCT
I do not hold any brief for any of our ministers but I know that all of them have fully supported the Code of Conduct that prescribes standards of integrity, accountability and transparency while they hold public office and that they have been complying with requirements under the Integrity Act to declare their incomes and assets.
That was never the case before the Coalition took office which made it convenient for the Opposition Leader to rubbish the Code as “crap” since there was no compliance with the Integrity law under successive PPP administrations.
In its Investment Climate Statements for 2018, the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs of the U.S. Department of State confirmed that for many years, the Integrity Commission had been inoperative.
Corruption has been a way of life and was cultivated by the former regime. It has grown deep roots that supported the underground or parallel economy, remnants of which remained even many years after the people had dislodged the PPP regime from their backs.
No wonder on Friday night last the Opposition Leader was pompously telling a small audience in New York that his regime had tolerated and even encouraged cross-border smuggling of contraband goods ostensibly to support local communities. It was a reckless and shameless admission to state-bureaucratic complicity in corrupt as well as criminal conduct of undermining state revenues, and subverting the law.
VEIL OF CORRUPTION
Even as Guyana tries to lift the veil of corruption, it is shrouded by its dark shadows, so much so that the State Department Report identified inefficient government bureaucracy and corruption as the largest obstacles to doing business in Guyana.
‘The opposition press rage was also directed at diplomats who have expressed preference for constitutional reform. Short of unleashing another bout of the PPP’s infernal feral blast, it dismissed such advocacy as “a lot of hot air”.
Well, tell that to British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn, perhaps the most affable of all the British envoys who have been posted to Georgetown. With all the issues that have surfaced since December last year, His Excellency advised that there should be a collaborative and consultative approach to constitutional reform.
He was quoted in the local press as saying that “ultimately, constitutional reform has to be a Guyanese-led process…It’s now over to the political parties to decide what needs to be done to move the process forward…Changing the constitution needs two-thirds of the 65 seats in Parliament. So, it’s not like one party or another can direct the process…”
This seemed quite in order, but the “rag” knuckled him for blowing “hot air”. And that also would be free speech!
STAR WILL SHINE
Finally, I was violently misrepresented in the Times on the presidential term limit issue. After being appointed a member of the Constitutional Reform Commission, the late President Cheddi Jagan had told me that there should be only two terms for anyone holding this office. Jokingly, he told me that he would prefer a single five-year term since ‘tiefing’ usually starts in the second term.
The PPP had duly agreed to a two-term limit and submitted to the Commission a resolution to this effect. However, in the obsession for continued office by one person who wanted a third term, the party allowed the subversion of the Dear Leader’s edict.
But it took the judiciary to clip the wings of that totalitarian ambition and it appears that history will repeat itself!
For now, the propaganda seems hideous, and the truth appears to be blotted out by a litany of lies. But as Maxim Gorky once wrote, “The brighter star will always shine, even when the moon is out”!