I did not know that in the covenant between Opposition Leader Desmond Hoyte and President Jagdeo on the creation of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) that of the three nominees, one must come from civil society. All the time I felt the appointee must be from the Private Sector Commission (PSC). In a letter on Saturday in both independent dailies, Mr Tony Vieira stated that civil society was the body identified to send a member to the ACB but the PSC has arrogated to itself the right to do so (‘Prior censorship should not be enshrined in the licences of broadcasters’ SN, July 16).
I only have Mr Vieira’s position on this matter. If Mr Vieira is right, then the Guyanese people should not accept this anomaly. My trade union, the University of Guyana Workers’ Union forms part of the executive of the GTUC. I will ask the GTUC to allow me to write the PSC on behalf of the GTUC to explain if it has in fact displaced the right of civil society to send a nominee to the ACB. The GTUC is a member of civil society and therefore should object to this nonsense if Mr Vieira is right
We, the Guyanese people have allowed elected dictatorship to grow over the years but especially since 2006 because we appear like sheep in the eyes of the elected dictators. In these situations, we should let our voices be heard. The Guyana Press Association is part of civil society. So is the Guyana Human Rights Association. So is Red Thread. So is the Bar Association. So is ACDA. Why should the Guyanese people allow the PSC to appoint a member of the ACB when that right does not exist?
I don’t want to say more on this issue because Mr Vieira may be wrong. But if he is not, then the opposition has to act immediately and all of us in civil society should demand a cancellation of the PSC’s nominee. My position on the PSC has been fully adumbrated in my columns. For me, the PSC is Ramesh Dookhoo and Mr Dookhoo is an unashamed supporter of the PPP government. I sit with Mr Dookhoo on the Council of the university and I know his views on many things.
Protocol does not allow me to publish the statements Mr Dookhoo made in the meetings of the UG Council though I would willingly print what has taken place there once it is in the interest of my country. All readers of my columns would know I have done so in the past. Actually I am not sure that the Private Sector Commission has the statutory right to sit on the UG Council. Again, I think the person should be from civil society. I will ask Mr Vincent Alexander, the UG Registrar to clarify this for me. Businessmen are afraid to criticize the politics of Mr Dookhoo.
On Monday, I will drop off my inquiry to the PSC if the GTUC agrees. I will publicly state what the PSC’s response was. If I do not hear from them, then I would ask organizations in civil society to seek justice in the High Court