–the truth will eventually prevail
VICE Media has reduced a two-hour-long video interview with Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo to 16 minutes and in the process has painted a false narrative that “Guyana is for Sale”.
The programme was aired on Showtime TV on Sunday, June 19, 2022. Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali has slammed the distorted presentation, and apart from saying that there was no evidence of bribery, he challenged VICE to air the full two-hour interview.
Chinese Ambassador to Guyana Guo Haiyan quickly condemned the VICE News feature on alleged corruption between the Guyana Government and Chinese businesspeople, noting that the report was purely malicious, and intended to smear the image of Chinese companies in Guyana, and Guyana-Chinese relations. She notes that Guyana-China relations are based on laws and best international practices.
“This so-called journalist; the undercover journalist, came with a predetermined agenda, and I think the purpose is clear: To smear the Chinese companies here, and to attack the Guyana-China cooperation; it’s quite clear its content was edited with malicious purpose,” the Chinese diplomat told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Monday, June 20, 2022.
A perspective on VICE News is important to understand its preoccupation with the idea that China “is being involved in underhand dealings in countries around the world”. Foreign reporters come to developing countries like Guyana with a stereotype “to portray their leaders as corrupt”.
VICE is reeling from its precipitous drop in the media market; its ratings and credibility have slumped dramatically.
In May 2019, Disney had to wipe out US$35.3 million in its VICE investment, and later that year, HBO pulled the plug on its (VICE’s) seven-year programme, VICE News Tonight. In 2020 and 2021, VICE News laid off hundreds of its staff. VICE is struggling to raise liquidity (in the millions) to pay off investors.
It is public knowledge that one of the Vice-President’s roles is to facilitate investments for the country; nothing is wrong with this. He would, therefore, meet with potential investors, and advise them of investment possibilities, and on regulatory mechanisms.
Diplomats also seek investments for nationals of their countries. The US Ambassador, the Canadian High Commissioner, and the British High Commissioner, for example, have all been trying to facilitate investments in Guyana for their respective countries.
In the Guyana environment, a few people would falsely pose as liaison between potential investors and government officials. Only recently, a man was charged for pretending to be a facilitator of a deal.
Referring to such travesty, Dr. Jagdeo categorically stated: “It has become almost like an industry, where people claim they are representing companies, and I don’t know what they are representing to these people. So, if anyone is stupid enough to lose your money by thinking you will get any preferences, because someone arranged a meeting with some policymaker, it’s your loss.”
Guyanese academic and a former Head of the Public Service, Dr. Nanda Gopaul asserts in relation to Dr. Jagdeo: “I can attest nothing but hard work, integrity, and impatience for procrastination. At the spur of the moment, he would intervene to bring an issue to head or finality, once it was brought to his attention that there were delays on any issue of importance to national development.”
Dr. Gopaul cited the example of the Park View Hotel that was constructed because of Dr. Jagdeo’s intervention.
Here are some falsehoods flowing from the VICE report.
Falsehood 1: In the first VICE interview, Mr. Su Zhi Rong (who claims friendship with Dr. Jagdeo) stated that the VP does not take bribes from anyone: “his hands are clean”.
Vice-President Dr. Jagdeo has made it clear to the imposter investor, “Mr Chan” that he “would not get involved in any financial dealings.”
In a follow-up interview, however, Mr. Su Zhi Rong has apparently left the door open for a bribery allegation. Why? He is purportedly under pressure from certain Opposition sources to implicate the Vice-President.
Falsehood 2: VICE is concerned with global issues, and is worried about China’s implicit threat to replace the United States as the dominant power in the world. To restore its ratings and advertisers’ confidence, VICE seeks to engage in controversial and sensational news.
Falsehood 3: The claim that Mr. Su has oil blocks is false. CNOOC has shares in Exxon oil blocks.
Falsehood 4: The claim that the Chinese “bribed” the PPP/C government with US$1.5 billion in loans is again false.
Falsehood 5: The Amaila Falls project contract was not awarded, as claimed by VICE reporter Ms. Isobel Yeung; the Chinese company withdrew its offer. The PPP/C government has to re-tender the contract.
Falsehood 6: Nowhere was any evidence produced in both interviews that the VP took bribes, as alleged.
Falsehood 7: Ms. Yeung reports that the Vice-President will change the Guyana Constitution to facilitate contractors. This is ridiculous; the VP has no such power.
Dr. Jagdeo plans to sue him (Mr. Su) for slander. It is also conceivable that Mr. Su could be implicated in extortion.
This hatchet job was a calculated attempt between VICE News and certain Opposition forces to malign the integrity of the Vice-President, a man of action, and a man who is loved by most Guyanese. Even if they develop better plots, they will fail. The truth will always prevail.
As the name indicates, VICE News is about vice and not virtue.
Dr Tara Singh