I refer to Stabroek News in particular and those of the media fraternity in general who may be inclined to daily worship at the altar of political expediency and sensationalism. It is a foregone conclusion ‘truth’ will suffer. ‘Truth’ is sacrificed on the altar of ‘political intent’ as a means of influencing minds and achieving outcomes consistent with a concocted ‘reality.’ To do so, the so called ‘fourth estate’ erects windmills of quixotic proportions which they then proceed to attack with their pens of deception and rusty armour of hypocrisy. The quixotic flight of fantasy gives flight to something else, something much more enduring than power – Truth! Trust! Honesty and Integrity. It is in this context that I wish to address the allegations about an incident in Aishalton made by John Adams, allegedly an APNU activist, as publicized by Stabroek News.
On the day in question the Office of the Head Presidential Guard received a number of phone calls, some repeatedly, from various news agencies. An individual who stated she was from Prime News called on three occasions. She wanted to know about the allegation and Mr Granger’s call for an investigation, the name of the Head Presidential Guard and how many security personnel comprised the President’s security detail? Two reporters from Stabroek News approached the security at Bidford House and enquired about the whereabouts of Mr Singh. Having been told I was not in, they ventured to Office of the President where they told the security, they were sent over by the security at Bidford House who told them Mr Singh was at the Office of the President! From the very outset Stabroek News reporters began with subterfuge and deceit! Lies were to follow.
Stabroek News claimed it spoke to a guard on Thursday after the newspaper was unable to make contact with me. The guard, according to Stabroek News is reported to have said Mr Adams was not slapped, but rather, “schoolboy tapped behind the head…” Stabroek News was setting the stage to give some credence to its concoction by inferring, if not slapped, Adams was in one way or another assaulted by presidential guards! But here is the catch! Our Standard Operational Procedure dictates whenever ranks are out in the field the Team Leader communicates only with their Officer-in-Charge and or the Head Presidential Guard. No one else! Therefore, no other individual in the Presidential Guard would have been privy to any information coming out of Aishalton!
Undeterred by its loss of decency, Stabroek News crudely ploughed along. It took a nasty swipe at the kind of security offered the President because I allegedly told them, “the ranks had not returned from Region Nine”, and then they went on to state, “ and he subsequently had not been able to speak to them.” What could be clearer than this? I am stating honestly and factually that the men had not returned, therefore they could not have been paraded before me. They were not present before me so that I could have systematically dealt with the issue! Now I ask the general, intelligent, reading public, how does this translate to the “Presidential Guard Service has no means of communicating with its men in the field,” as stated by the Stabroek News?
The fact is that the ranks never reported any such incident as alleged by teacher Adams whose story was taken up by Stabroek News and leader of the PNC/APNU Mr Granger who called for an investigation. They were not aware of any such furor over in Georgetown! And I suspect, it is simply because it never happened! Or, if teacher Adams was indeed assaulted, it was by someone in the crowd who took umbrage to his ‘disrespect’ for the President. Apparently he was too inebriated or full of himself as an APNU representative, to understand that unlike him, the two hundred odd citizens in attendance at the meeting were genuinely interested in what the President had to say.
When interviewed the officer and ranks denied having any knowledge of the allegations made by teacher Adams. They did admit, however, there was one individual who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, had a beer bottle in his hand and was shouting questions at the President. Noticing the individual’s demeanour and the fact that he was armed with a potential missile, two ranks positioned themselves closer to him. Even though our responsibility is to neutralize or eliminate any threat to the life of the President in any geographical location by all and any means necessary, regardless of which ruling party he or she may come from, there was no verbal or physical contact with the individual. And this is simply because at the time, even though he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, he was more of a nuisance than a threat. Therefore, there was no need for verbal or physical intervention which does not translate to not being prepared to neutralize or intervene.
The two ranks in question are over six feet tall. They collectively weigh over four hundred pounds. They are martial arts specialists trained in unarmed combat – combat karate, mixed martial arts – crowd psychology and self-awareness. In fact they are trainers! Together they have over twenty-eight years of experience in the Presidential Guard. Between them, they have over ten subjects at the CXC. I leave it to the general readers to draw their own conclusion. Had any one of them indeed slapped teacher Adams, where he would have been today?
Lastly, at the conclusion of any presidential engagement, our security protocol is not to distance ourselves from the President, but in fact converge around. Even if a Presidential Guard was tempted to follow and slap teacher Adams silly, he would have been violating that protocol, teacher Adam’s rights as a citizen of this country and endangering the life of the President. All of this translates to working against the intentions of the President’s visit in Region Nine. It cannot and it will not happen under my watch.
Attempting to paint the Presidential Guard with a political tar brush therefore will not pass muster. Each year around this time when police promotion comes around I am reminded of the price I paid for my independence of thought, principles and forthrightness. But because of my ability to differentiate between the role I am playing as Head Presidential Guard Service and who I really am, I have stayed the course professionally. Neither my role nor who I am would allow me to be a crocodile in an arapaima’s skin. The Presidential Guard Service will always have the highest respect for the rights of all citizens of Guyana. We are professionals.
Senior Superintendent of Police
Head Presidential Guard Service
Mr Singh’s allegations of deceit and subterfuge in our attempts to contact him for a comment, are utterly contrived. Two reporters from this newspaper approached the guard on duty at Bidford House and asked to speak to Mr Singh. The guard called upstairs and then informed the reporters that Mr Singh was over at the Office of the President. One reporter spoke to a guard there relaying what the Bidford House guard had said. After inquiring from another whether the Head of the Presidential Guard had been seen to come in and having received a negative response, this guard confirmed that he was not there.
The following day a reporter from this newspaper in the company of a member of another media agency went to Bidford House once more to seek a comment from Mr Singh. The guard on duty once again called upstairs and then hung up the receiver. When it rang, they were asked to provide the names of the media houses for which they worked. Subsequently the phone rang again, and the guard on this occasion requested the names of the reporter and the person accompanying her. The third time the phone rang Mr Singh asked for the other media person, whom he informed that he would not speak to Stabroek News, and that this newspaper should take his statements on an issue which was raised some time ago relating to food for the Presidential Guards as his comment.
The reporter did speak to an official at the Office of the President – not a guard as the report indicated – who said that Mr Adams had been “schoolboy tapped.” This was not, as Mr Singh would like to believe, “setting the stage to give some credence to its concoction …[that] Adams was in one way or another assaulted by Presidential Guards,” since this newspaper had already carried the original allegation from Mr Adams that he was slapped, and had repeated it subsequently. We published it on the basis that his allegation was credible, so to ‘concoct’ a different account, as Mr Singh accuses us of doing, could potentially undermine the credibility of Mr Adams’s story, not reinforce it. The fact that we were prepared to carry a version of events which had been told to us but which differs from the ‘slapping’ account speaks to our responsibility as a newspaper.
As for the Presidential Guard Service and communication in the field, etc, Mr Singh’s remarks for the most part refer not to our news reports, but to an editorial which appeared in the Sunday Stabroek of December 7. Mr Singh, unfortunately, has taken that portion of the editorial far too literally; it had a sardonic tinge.