Fortunately, Guyanese live in a democratic republic. Imperfect though it may be, one can only hope that our country continues to progress along a positive course towards realisation of democratic ideals. Central to those ideals are the rights of association, self-expression and choice of our political representatives or leaders. Recent developments though, have caused me to question whether or not we as a people are being wise in the way that we exercise those rights. Here, I wish to cite two instances.
First, in the exercise of his own constitutional privilege under Article 67 (1), President Granger addressed the 71st sitting of the 11th Parliament on November 2. As has been extensively reported, PPP Members of Parliament engaged in acts of protest inside the Chamber, and, among other things, in the words of Speaker Dr Barton Scotland “some members held placards and other bits of paper bearing slogans; some with poor spelling and even poor grammar.” He said, “One of the placards displayed, alluded to democracy while another was in support of free speech.” He said too, that those members who were engaged in the sitting protest were not at all embarrassed about their behaviour while being in that esteemed place. The Speaker also said that the performance by those on the opposition side was unworthy of the National Assembly and served to heap disrespect on the “Honourable House.”
Further, the Speaker characterised the MPs’ actions as, irredeemable, intemperate and misguided, while pointing out that they were in contravention of the Standing Orders.
Second, on November 14, Mr Charles Ramson, a PPP Member of Parliament, posted a photograph of a house on his Facebook page accompanied by the caption, “The benevolent and honourable Granger building his mansion and his high fences to keep out the poor people who may have supported him… all after just 2 years in office but complained about a man who was 12 years a president. Bannas I couldn’t make this stuff up.”
It was later conclusively proven that Mr Ramson did indeed make this stuff up, as the building was revealed to be a relatively modest, 32-year-old dwelling-house, owned by President Granger’s deceased brother. Mr Ramson’s contention and innuendo were thus proven to be false.
Editor, the two examples of conduct that I cited were orchestrated by persons who represent about 50% of Guyanese (according to results of the last general election). Those leaders have since issued no apology for their acts of disrespect and deception. They have offered no retraction or otherwise showed any remorse or evidence of embarrassment or shame. In fact, on the contrary, many of them appear to be proud.
Editor, it is a saddening fact that we live in a society which is divided along racial lines, and that that cleavage is reinforced by some self-serving politicians. One is even more disheartened by the fact that many citizens blindly support the actions of their elected representatives, despite objective proof that those actions are unworthy of endorsement and should instead be condemned and denounced in the strongest manner. In other words, it is unfortunate that owing to irrational, unearned loyalty supporters and enablers of political leaders who behave in ways which bring not only their offices but our country into disrepute and embarrass us on the international level, fail to hold those representatives to account.
I hope that in our quiet moments, we can find it in our hearts to be honest with ourselves and admit that some of our leaders do not deserve our backing. I trust that as a result of that admission, we demand that those leaders either alter their behaviour or, we resolve to ensure that they are made to face the political consequences.