SN made an unimpressive defence of its outdated editorial policy

Dear Editor,

The Stabroek News editor’s note to my letter published in its March 23, 2012 edition is a most unimpressive defence of its outdated editorial policy. It reflects the typical ‘in the box’ mindset in which the editors of Stabroek News find themselves trapped.

It’s a pity its readership didn’t have access to the entire survey to make their own judgement call whether there was indeed balanced and objective reporting on the matter [Swiss survey entitled In Transit – Gangs and Criminal Networks in Guyana].  Stabroek News’ defence is based on the expectation that its readers will believe the newspaper and not the politicians.  How cheap!

Withholding information from the public because of its editorial policy is tantamount to deciding what the public should know and what the public should not know.

This is reflected in its editorial policy as regards the Guyana Police Force (GPF).  It is precisely this “unflinching” reporting and the “astonishing lapses and gross unprofessionalism of some members (sic!) of the police force” that has contributed to the public perception of the Force as an entity in which it should not have any faith whatsoever.

By its own admission, Stabroek News has confirmed that negative reporting about the police, embellished as “astonishing lapses” and “gross unprofessionalism” has been its main focus over the years; as far as the Stabroek News is concerned acts of professionalism, effectiveness and efficiency are alien to the Guyana Police Force and as such could not appear in the pages of that newspaper.

What the Stabroek News fails to recognize is that contrary to its biased reporting on the GPF there are others in society who believe otherwise.

Stabroek News claims it doesn’t pay inducements to police for information, but why should they be believed?  I did not expect Stabroek News to admit it pays inducements to police ranks.  Even if it did, it wouldn’t be wise to admit it did would it?

The problem here is that there is no entity to which the Stabroek News could be held accountable and to launch an investigation into such matters. Nothing is wrong with holding the PPP/C government accountable, but that demand must be based on an  unbiased, non-prejudicial and objective approach.

When one casts around and examines the persons and organizations who bellyache about accountability these days they all have a sordid and hostile track record towards the PPP/C, therefore any call for accountability by those individuals and quarters would have a familiar political ring. Mind you, I am not saying they don’t have the right to call for accountability, they have every right to do so, but at the same time, it cannot be denied that such calls by the usual suspects are politically motivated and have nothing genuine and sincere about them.

In this connection, I have absolutely no apologies to make for my assertion that the Stabroek News’ agenda is to see the back of the PPP/C administration; call it “flight of fancy” or by any other name, it’s an assertion shared by many! And I didn’t expect Stabroek News to openly admit that that is indeed its agenda anyway. After all, it wouldn’t be business wise to do so would it?

Stabroek News showed its hand when it disclosed that “…governments the world over – not the opposition – are held primarily accountable for the state of governance in the country…’’ I hope its readership understands where the Stabroek News is coming from?  To them it is clear that when opposition forces take up arms against a democratically elected government and are supported by a “localized coalition of the willing” that opposition according to Stabroek News, should not be held accountable.  On the contrary, it should be encouraged and supported.  Another “fanciful flight”?

Stabroek News is free to write and publish about jaded and prejudicial views in the media and that my twenty years of public service may be responsible for this.

And as regards the “serious and sustained criticism” under which my “performance has come,” well, I have always recognized that’s the price that comes with the territory, however, the question is who is making these “serious and sustained criticisms” – the PNC, the APNU, the AFC, the Stabroek News, the Kaieteur News, Sasenarine Singh, Christopher Ram, M Maxwell, F Kissoon, Harry Gill, David Hinds, Lurlene Nestor, Mark Archer, the Human Rights Association and all those who seek to hide behind “names and addresses withheld”?

The above-mentioned, are all opponents of the PPP/C.  They don’t matter to me. They opposed the PPP/C before and after the elections. They are in the opposition camp so any advice or opinion they have to offer or proffer is politically tainted and only serves to embarrass the government of the day.  These are the people who according to Stabroek News, have made “serious and sustained
criticism” of my performance over the past twenty years.

Take the wicked and mischievous letter written recently by Christopher Ram.  He penned a letter to the media calling on his cohorts to keep the pot boiling  even after the Auditor General published a report on the $90M brouhaha. I sincerely hope that the Auditor General does not allow himself to be influenced by these political wannabees and hasbeens.

Who are they to judge?  Who has given them the power to judge?    Only the electorate can judge politically and they did precisely that in November 2011.  One hundred and sixty-seven thousand, one hundred and twenty-seven (166,127) Guyanese voted for the party to which I belong. I was on that party’s list of candidates.

Thus the threats, the ranting and raging, the pointing of fingers and condemnations, as well as their constant abuse – what is it about?  It is about their infirmities and not their power to judge.

They all have prejudicial minds and a prejudicial mind is like opening the door to a room packed  with  junk; nothing more whatever can get into that room and when the door is opened, the junk comes tumbling out.

“El camino is largo pero voy a andar porque estoy seguro que voy a llegar” – Pablo Neruda.

Yours faithfully,
Clement J Rohee
Minister

Editor’s note

We will not repeat here what was said in our note to Minister Rohee’s letter of March 23, the key points of which he has not addressed. Leaving other issues of content aside, there are two statements in his letter above to which we would like to draw attention, since they are a matter of grave concern given the office he holds. The first is that we should not be believed when we say we do not pay inducements to police ranks. The Minister adduces no evidence in support of his contention, simply saying that there is no organization to which this newspaper could be held accountable and which could launch an investigation into the matter. No Minister of Home Affairs should be caught dismissing our denial on an issue of such a serious nature without some evidential basis for doing so; a dislike of this newspaper is no justification for dreaming up egregious accusations which have no foundation in fact. We will simply say again that “SN does not engage in the payment of inducements to policemen for information…”    

The other allegation made by the Minister, which again does him no credit given his position in the administration, is that Stabroek News believes that “opposition forces [which] take up arms against a democratically elected Government” should be “encouraged and supported.” Now if he is just referring to what he considers to be a view held by SN, then his comments can be dismissed out of hand, because they are supposedly based on a statement in our March 23 note that he appears to have misunderstood. His non sequitur notwithstanding, if it is that he is in addition seeking to imply that this newspaper has supported anyone taking up arms against this democratically elected government, then his statements would not just be improper for a senior member of government to make, but mendacious and irresponsible in the extreme. Whatever it was he actually intended to convey, our written record going back to the founding of this newspaper in 1986, speaks for itself.     

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