Please allow me to share my thoughts with respect to Brigadier David Granger’s visit to Richmond Hill over the weekend of May 24. First let me take the opportunity to thank Mr Mike Persaud for hosting Mr Granger and several individuals from the PNC who were not mentioned in his original letter. It appears that this is the first time a PNC leader of the opposition was hosted in Richmond Hill, an old PPP stamping ground. I would also like to commend the PNC’s North American chapter for hosting a town hall meeting in Richmond Hill earlier in the day. This was a thoughtful act on the part of the PNC. In the future, I am certain the PNC will think more about how it positions its head table in terms of gender and racial balance. It is unfortunate that it took so many years for a sitting PNC opposition leader to be hosted in the PPP’s backyard.
Nevertheless, I have learned a few things from the opposition leader at Mike’s home.
Firstly, Mr Granger told the gathering that Guyana is the only country in South America where a military coup has not displaced the elected government. This is a crucial point since after a military coup it is difficult for democracy, peace and human rights to consolidate as so many examples have shown. Take for example the India-Pakistan conflict. The civilian elected governments might have the will to bring rapprochement, but the Pakistan military would not be too keen for peace. Secondly, some East Indians present raised the issue of a PNC apology for rigged elections and some thought it was not necessary. One astute contributor puts it this way in an excellent write-up that he did: “The truth is I do not believe in political apologies. I believe in being correct, not politically correct, just as I believe there can be no remission of sin without repentance – a complete turnaround, a reformation, so to speak. To me, an apology without restitution serves no useful purpose, just as an apology for slavery is meaningless without reparation. Furthermore, I do believe the PNC no more owes the Guyanese people an apology than does the PPP. If the PNC is guilty of rigging, the PPP is equally guilty of racially manipulating the Indo-Guyanese into voting for them.”
Thirdly, another person asked why APNU and PNC are not protesting more on the streets. Mr Granger responded that no political party has more hours of street protests than the PNC. Moreover, he said that protest actions have to be sharp and effective; they cannot be a blunt instrument. Fourthly, the opposition leader outlined a five-point policy proposal for improving the economy. At the centre of the proposal are security and a reactivation of the British project to professionalize the police. With sound economic underpinning, he emphasized that the underground economy is a tax on the official one and therefore has to be stamped out. Education and gender issues are also at the core of his plan.
The parliamentary opposition leader mentioned other points that were already raised in the media and some I might have missed. The ones I have given above reflect my professional and academic interests, therefore they stood out in my memory.