Analysing the Jagdeo interview

RECENTLY, an international reporter interviewed Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, on several issues relating to allegations of corruption, the rights and development of the Amerindian people and the oil and gas sector.

Jagdeo was asked several questions by the reporter, Isobel Yeung. The interview went left when Yeung decided to let her proverbial hair down and started to pursue the real reasons for the interview with Jagdeo.

It became clear at this point that Yeung was on a mission and had an agenda or special interests which she was pursuing from the onset. She was not there for Jagdeo’s answers to the basic questions that would give him the platform to talk about the strong policies of his PPP/C Government which he did.

Despite this, Jagdeo answered every single question that she threw at him truthfully, competently, factually, and empirically.

Then the reporter introduced a wave of questions that dealt with the government’s alleged poor treatment of Amerindians land rights and development. Jagdeo explained the issues to the journalist on how Amerindians were treated by the PPP/C in comparison to other countries. He rebuffed the views peddled of the developed world which had a track record of viewing Guyana condescendingly and disparagingly. Jagdeo went at lengths to explain this to Yeung but she seemed to be pursuing a particular narrative that simply did not exist.

From this point on, the reporter asked Jagdeo a set of loaded and non-sequitur questions that just did not fit into the interview. For example, she asked, “Guyana has attracted lots of foreign investment recently, what is it that Guyana has to offer?” Seriously? An international reporter?

Nonetheless, Jagdeo with a smirk on his face used the opportunity to speak about his government’s transformation of macroeconomics, local content laws, financial philosophy, and the infrastructure drive.

Then the journalist asked Jagdeo about the allegations of corruption, Chinese investment, and contracts. A firm and seemingly focused, Jagdeo answered Yeung pointedly. At this point, it had become clear that she appeared not to have a clue that Guyana has firm laws that govern the procurement and tender of projects. He had to school the reporter on the projects and wrong figures that she had presented. Again, she seemed to be pursuing a special interest with her line of questions related to Chinese investment and trying to whip up anti-China hysteria.

As the reporter bias and aim became more pronounced, Jagdeo made clear the government’s One-China policy about Taiwan and stated that China had never offered Guyana US$1.5B dollars as a bribe.

Jagdeo made the point that the allegations of bribery made against him were not true. He even asked for evidence. He sternly enquired about the source of the allegations to be handed over to the police. Yeung seemed to panic only mentioning his friendship with an individual named ‘Su’, who she claimed told her that he accepted bribes. This proved to have no truth in it.

Firstly, the whole interview was horrible from the start of the reporter’s line of questioning. It was all over the place. It was not focused and Yeung appeared to be playing ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ with Jagdeo. Surely, the Emmy award-winning reporter could have asked more pointed and focused questions about the subject matter. She could have backed them up with empirical evidence.

Moreso, having the facts about Guyana’s relationship with China, Chinese investment, infrastructure development here and the Taiwanese fax pau would be great to have during this interview with Jagdeo. One would assume that the New York-based reporter was ill-prepared and ill-advised ahead of the interview with Jagdeo. She did not pay any regard to the tenets of good journalism which has to do with objectivity, professionalism, accuracy, and facts.

Yeung missed an opportunity to have one of the greatest interviews on Guyana by getting mixed up in pursuing special interests. Consequently, people are speaking about the meeting she allegedly had here and abroad. It was in poor taste.

Secondly, all the time spent on China and Chinese investment here seems to ring a familiar bell. Was the Vice News Reporter just carrying out instructions for some big and powerful special interest groups here? The questions, apart from the fact that they were not structured and appropriate, did point to China’s supposed worrying influence over Guyana, the Caribbean and South America. Similarly, Prime Minister Mia Mottley had just recently debunked similar claims in her country and region.

Guyana, through Jagdeo, has said that we do not want to get caught between the games of machinations and politics played by the East and West. Guyana wants to do whatever is in its interest that will lead to its development and prosperity.

And finally, Jagdeo must see this bribery allegation as a setup and a ball of political nothingness. Once he is certain that his integrity is above board then he has nothing to fear because there is no sign of Dutch disease entering his Government. He did the right thing when he released the full interview with Yeung. He has crippled the plan to taint him and his government in a bad light internationally and at home. National politicians who jumped at the chance to call for a probe or to get in the news with sensational headlines and quotes will set themselves up for the same to be said about them in the future. Yeung will not get any award for this politically-dead interview.

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