WHEN I looked at the photo of Irfaan Ali, in suit and tie, (page 7, Guyana Times 11.12.19), I quickly read back what he was saying, “I remember long ago, the boys in my village were afraid to go to the bank for a loan. You know why? They say when they turned up to the bank, they saw all these fancy people with ties and they get afraid.”
Now, looking back at his photo with the tie, I said to myself, ‘Ah afraid Ali’! I would rename his speech “The ties versus the lies”. The first big, fat lie is that APNU+AFC Government officials were going to the people in “choppers”. Ali was careful to choose Moraikobai, a hinterland place, to spread this falsehood. It is common knowledge that ministers of the Coalition Government have been in and out of all communities, from the coast to the interior, in the riverine settlements, and in the hillside and savannah villages. They have fanned out by road, trail, river, and by plane. I have not seen ministers going around in helicopters!
The results of the work of this government are there for all to see, and people have more recently gained easier access to information via the Internet, radio and television. This APNU+AFC Government is being connected to the people. No other government has expanded Internet services to the remote corners of our land, or set up regional radio stations in hinterland communities! The PPP’s billion-dollar fibre optic cable from Brazil disappeared, and the only radio frequencies handed out were to friends on the coast. It is not true that Ali’s party or government had accepted constructive criticisms. I would have ignored any such claim from another person, but not from the one seeking to become the next president of Guyana.
Has he forgotten the denial of government ‘ads’ to punish the private media? Has he forgotten that journalists were referred to as “carrions” and “vultures”? Surely he would remember that a journalist was thrown out from presidential news conferences, and a young Amerindian teacher in Aishalton was beaten up for being critical and threatened, “If President Jagdeo was here he woudda slap you!”
Under the PPP regime, CNS TV was taken off the air when criticisms were expressed against officials, and that TV station was never given a licence to broadcast outside Georgetown. The PPP controlled the public media, and turned them into propaganda broadsheets and voices of the ruling party. Opposition criticisms were blacked out. The PPP government was largely inaccessible. State contracts with investors were hidden, and the government spent monies unlawfully, without the authorisation of the National Assembly. Ali has to tell our people those truths, and hope that they will forgive his party for its many years of corruption and authoritarian rule. Otherwise, he will remain unelectable, and an object of fright in his tie!