LAST week’s article “The 2012 Linden/Region 10 struggle must not be in vain,” there was a re-writing of a statement, though I’d like to think it was done with the best of intent, nonetheless represents a thinking I strongly reject. The offending statement was: “The squandering of the people’s goodwill always realises grave consequences for every ruling administration.”That statement contradicts with the submitted statement which says, “The squandering of the people’s goodwill always realise grave consequences for every sitting government.” This is what was expected to be communicated to the public as my expressed opinion, given that it has been my consistent position over the years.
When some among us and our forebears fought for the right to self-determination at the political level, it meant being able to govern one’s affairs, independent from control of another. This means that we are no longer subjects to be ruled, but we are owners and framers of our own destiny, electing from among us persons to manage our affairs. It should be reminded that resistance against control was not only against foreign domination, but domination of every sort.
When Guyana achieved republican status in February 1970, it was the ultimate accomplishment in the nation’s political struggle for self-determination. Republicanism brings with it protection of the interests and rights of minorities and major groups in society. In pursuing development, deepening and strengthening of the institutions of State and Government would bode well for the people, should such be guided by the said principle.
The view is strongly held that talks of constitutional change will not bring about good governance in the absence of understanding the current system of government as prescribed within the existing constitution and in the presence of disregard for articles therein. In our system, government functions as a representative of the people and protector of the institutions of State and Government, advancing, protecting and defending the welfare of all, guided by the laws which ought to inform its policies and programmes.
When the people believe and accept that they are being ruled by their elected representatives, they create despotic leaders like Bharrat Jadgeo. His stewardship saw the nation’s resources plundered, laws violated with impunity, the people trampled on mercilessly, and fear stalking the land. During his leadership, Guyana saw its worst blood bath and criminality. Among those murdered were Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh, Ronald Waddell, hundreds of young men and women. Also, the likes of Roger Khan walked hand in hand with those in the corridors of the government.
A people with a legacy known to stand up and fight against injustice, were conditioned to think that they were powerless because some made them believe that a constitution has made them impotent to demand better from their government. I am talking about impotency here in the presence of a constitution that protects our fundamental rights and freedoms and outlines therein how the system of government ought to function in the administration of the people’s business.
Let us compare this institutional empowerment and possibilities with the era of our forebears who did not have such a document, yet were possessing the presence of mind in the face of domination-structural and military- to stand up and fight for what was inherently theirs, i.e. equality, justice, the right to self-determine and be involved in matters affecting their well-being.
And this brings me to the point where in last week’s article the sub-headline, “government continues to squander goodwill,” was deleted. Again, I am inclined to think this was done with the best of intent. At the same time I am confronted with the reality that informs a perception that rulers have to be told what they want to hear, or should the truth be told persons fear they may fall out of favour with the rulers, or in the presence of debilitating fear, going along with the charade is deemed the best option. I subscribe to none of these and want none to be imposed on me under my pen-ship.
Trade unionism has taught me that rights and freedoms are non-negotiable, operate in the here and now, and when any is disrespected one is expected to stand up and fight for it to be upheld. As a citizen participating in the system of representative government, where the parameters of its operation are outlined in the constitution, the responsibility is mine and likewise others, to speak out and call it as it is in matters relating to governance, the nation, and one’s welfare.
In the interest of ensuring positions that are in conflict with my views are not advanced under my pen-ship, it must be said there exists a difference between editing and re-writing.