All we needed was a state-of-the-art rubber stamp not a Broadcast Authority

Dear Editor,
“Every single radio station, licensed radio station, approved broadcasting… They all have to make an application accompanied by those supporting documents” (Ms Bibi Shadick, Chairperson, Board of the Guyana National Broadcast Authority (Demerara Waves, November 21, 2012)).

“And once again Shadick reminds that the Authority is the only agency authorized to issue a broadcast licence to radio, television or cable outlet” (INewsgy, January 25).

In January 2013, Ms Shadick assumed office under the wrong impression. The Board, with one person representing the official opposition majority in the elected House is not “the only agency.”

Many years ago, the serving President of the Public Service Workers’ Union, Mr Norman Semple of Canje, Berbice warned of “a second command” over the public service and resisted it. His remarkable phrase, directed at the ruling party of those days, was quoted internationally by Dr Cheddi Jagan. But this is also a time of a busy and not businesslike second command.

Only yesterday or so the government’s Lord Explainer corrected the Chairperson of the Board. He was answering a question about the granting of 24-hour rights to the Government of the People’s Republic of China on a Guyana government channel. A leading Guyanese  communications expert  has condemned the grant. The press had asked Ms Shadick about it and she had no knowledge of it. Dr Luncheon explained the ducks-and-drakes government style. He said that the Guyana government had an agreement with the Chinese government and that the government could not make an application “to itself.”

So, readers, the Chairperson of the Board says one thing, and Dr Luncheon says another, quite the opposite.

Dr Luncheon was reported as follows: “The government applying to itself for a frequency?” queried Dr Luncheon when asked whether the government had applied for the frequency.  Further grilled about whether it was the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) that had issued the frequency, Luncheon said: “Obviously if they are instructed, what you think they would do? If you were the Managing Director of NFMU and the HPS (Head of the Presidential Secretariat) called you and said ‘we have just agreed with the Peoples Republic of China to broadcast the signals and to do so we are selecting a channel… could you please go ahead and assign a channel,’ do you think he is going to tell me that you have to apply and all of those things? I doubt it,” said Luncheon.

And will Dr Luncheon, the HPS publish the agreement and the law allowing it?  To use his words, I doubt it. Why in peace time, will a government sign a secret broadcast agreement in place of a licence with a foreign government? I have no doubt that the North Korean government would welcome a 24-hour broadcast channel in Beijing.

In Dr Luncheon’s  management  model, appointed  officials know only half the story.  That is why a young non-party woman exclaimed in the seventies, “There is no government!” Is there a fee attached to the agreement, and if so to which agency is it payable?

There is another side of it. They appoint a Board of human beings with a list of responsibilities and then treat all of them like robots. The Board is there to provide a deception that government business is handled without “fear, favour, affection or ill-will.” Then the chief explainer of the cabinet ‘open mout, an story jump out.’ The Board is a fake, with members not expected, or trusted, to think. The Board is the government “itself.” It is there to hide the actions of the ruling party, to pretend  at ‘rule of law.’ All we really needed was a state-of-the-art rubber stamp or state-of-the-art Seal with the Coat of Arms and a good old time ink pad.

And what about the People’s Republic of China and its rousing anthem “Arise, you who refuse to be bond slaves! –Let’s stand up and fight for liberty and true democracy!” Foreign Minister Chou en Lai never signed an agreement with an ex-colony without pledging to “defend state sovereignty.”

Board members have a right to be respected and a duty to respect themselves and others.

Yours faithfully,
Eusi Kwayana

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