Great men and great nations apologize for their actions

Dear Editor,

Editor I have resisted calling the President of Guyana a dictator but after listening to his remarks at his last press conference, there is no doubt that the title is deserved. At that event, President Jagdeo, the maximum leader scoffed at his critics, dismissed the political opposition and flatly denied an apology to a religious leader who was wrongfully arrested while visiting our country.

The dignity and professionalism of the office of the presidency have been severely tarnished by this President. Normally even if you don’t respect the person who holds the office, respect is shown to the presidency (the institution). My upbringing is similar to that of many Guyanese. My parents stressed the fact that “manners maketh man.” Simply put, one was expected to conform to certain acceptable societal norms and etiquette; salutations at the appropriate times of day (good morning, etc), saying please and thank you, saying you were sorry if you wronged someone and refraining from the use of profanity. In school we learned that quiet speech was a mark of refinement (no cussing and busing down), and that our deportment was as important as our intellect, because we would be judged by what people saw and we would never get a second chance to make that first impression. These are qualities that today are sadly lacking at all levels of leadership in Guyana including the presidency.

Great men and great nations apologize for actions big and small. President Bill Clinton apologized for slavery and the incarceration of American-Japanese during World War 2. Governors and elected officials apologize to aggrieved constituents every day for a wide variety of wrongs and perceived wrongs. Saying I am sorry is not a sign a weakness, rather it takes a pretty strong person to say they are sorry. Saying how sorry you are is a sign of being mature and willing to accept responsibility; it is a sign of respect. I think the President erred by not offering an apology on our behalf to Minister Mohammed, and our image as a nation suffered yet again by his attitude.

To those who are wary about state sponsorship of Mr Ramotar, it was confirmed. The President sees no problem with that; where others see grey, he sees black and white. Mr Ramotar has to be trained and brought up to speed, for after all (according to Mr Jagdeo) he is the next President, he is attending cabinet meetings, and he will travel on government missions and even help select the date for elections. Mr Jagdeo dismisses the opposition and predicts a win by the PPP; to hear him one would think that national elections are all but a waste of time.

Editor, this is the type of hubris that is the hallmark of dictatorship. The arrogance of a leader who has lost touch with reality and conducts himself in such an unsophisticated manner screams for regime change in Guyana. I am hoping that when we go to the polls later this year we will vote to end one party rule in Guyana, so accountability can be restored. I am hoping we vote our hopes and not our fears, and send a message to the PPP that 19 years is enough. I hope we embrace a partnership for national unity (APNU), for it represents a path to national unity and reconciliation. Editor, I am hoping that we vote to restore the dignity of the office of the presidency.

Yours faithfully,
Mark Archer

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