Dear Editor,

Someone dubbed the recent exchange between myself and Ruel Johnson as “the duel with Ruel.” The duel was good in that it uncovered the Guyana Prize as a mediocre and corrupt award that needs to be scrapped and/or reconstituted as a prize worth winning, and that writers should not be writing in order to win a prize.

It also uncovered that Mr Johnson’s criticisms of the current government are not based on a principled stand that all governments must be held accountable since he expects to become part of the establishment if his party wins at the polls. But, all in all, it was a good exchange.

About any public policy, cultural or otherwise, the history of our governments since

independence is one in which policy statements are nice words on paper that are meaningless, since successive governments have used their office to marginalize and disempower whole groups, including their own supporters, appease their detractors and, during a period of authoritarianism and victimization, to imprison, brutalize and even kill their critics.

If the public has a healthy distrust of public officials promoting their lovely policies, this is as it should be.

Mr Johnson dispatched himself very well during the duel, and given what is expected of a public functionary in Guyana he has proven himself worthy of such a position if his party wins. I wish him well.

Yours faithfully,

Ryhaan Shah



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