Government is losing public relations battles

Dear Editor,

Government is losing one public relations battle after another.  Somehow it remains a formidable and leading presence in the war for minds and hearts, where such exist and also continue to function. It is timely to look in a few areas, where I believe it is winning that war, and also where it can do better.

President David Granger is said to be slow.  This is in contrast to his recent predecessors, who rush about to the point of breathlessness, only to tangle over their feet.  Many an unpardonable blunder was committed in the unseemly haste to trip this nation, some of which are slowly coming to light daily.  I will settle for President Granger and slow, but sure.  Slow but sure on those bench appointments, inclusive of an increased female presence, and ethnic plaid.  Slow but sure is present in the resignation of the former Minister of Education.  I applaud Dr Roopnaraine for making the right decision, and taking the honourable route.

I would recommend, however, that the President mix with the people more, and mix it up with adversaries.  I believe that he would listen to the former, but shrink from the latter.  From his perspective, the gutter belongs to others, and should be so monopolized.

Then, there is this continuing talk of witch hunts.  To that I say, just look around, and even at a superficial level, there are coveys of witches around who did (and still) practise financial sorcery. And for every witch striving desperately to evade the light, there are a dozen wizards lying low and praying for the darkness to be eternal and the searching winds to blow past. Unlike Salem, George-town has a vast roost of underground operators begging for hunting, detecting, and revealing. I urge the government to keep up with the hunts; just do them right.

Next, there are spirited disagreements about the government’s handling of public relations. Ask anyone, and the stance is that this government has dealt with PR very poorly.  I agree.  It has all these expensive and well-placed PR presences, but resists using them smartly and strategically.  The word from PR professionals is that there is a refusal to listen to the expert guidance offered.  The experts languish and gather rust. Before proceeding further, let this be clear: this government should not and could not compete with the slick gargantuan propaganda machinery of its main political opponent.  There is just too much money (problematic); too much history (communistic); and too much energy (dogmatic) devoted by those opponents to spreading falsities, and defending perversities.

Nevertheless, the government must appreciate and embrace the need for preparing and conditioning the environment.  It has to stop being reactive and get in front of developing and sensitive issues.  It has to lay out its wares and points of interest like an upscale restaurant, or the well-dressed.  Presentation is paramount.  For some mysterious reason this government is deaf to commonsense.  It has to learn to tell its story, and tell it timely and constantly, like those three out-of-power party stalwarts do daily in the media.

Alas, I now have to tread where even fools have the wisdom to leave alone. It is this tawdry, but roiling, business about ethnicity, cleansing, and numbers. Against my residual better judgment, I proceed.  First, many of the people in many of the places under the old regime were of a certain ethnicity. This is realpolitik here. Now in some of those same places, material financial and ethical breaches are alleged to have occurred; and the people who were in charge (the money overseers) are of that same particular lineage. There-fore, it follows quite reasonably, that there is a very high probability of the malfeasants coming from that group, and being among those charged based upon a preponderance of evidence. That is, unless the old government was doing the unthinkable and giving a free pass to supporters of the other side.  It got rid of people for far less.  And remember, cleansing held in abeyance momentarily, a ton of money is unaccounted for and has vanished.

By any standards of prudent stewardship of the nation’s holdings, the current government is obliged to bring the weight of the law against those who were derelict in ethics and duty, and to whom all roads lead.  I happen to know a few of those collared; they would have serious problems walking on a very wide straight line while stone-cold sober.  This is why I view claims of cleansing as colourful camouflage using infected red herrings to distract from the white light of accountability. Come to think of it, many servants of the public (elected or selected) are not nominees for sainthood; national awards and Gecom, yes; but sainthood, no.

In a near similar vein, there are allegations (some credible) that replacements are mainly of one kind. As said earlier and unfortunately so, this is real-politik in Guyana; it is what rewards, comforts, and trusts.  Meritocracy can be blared from the hilltops, but this is the troubling saga of ethic based voting and ethnic driven electoral success.  There are those who have said that this government has done way too little to change things. I think it has tried in some areas; and it can do more, even as it is hamstrung by custom and tradition, and many other considerations. I point, once again, to the composition of today’s judicial selections.  They help.  I point to a whole lot of people whose egregious failures would have prompted me to remove them; they are still around.  That says a lot two years later.

There are other government actions begging for comment.  I stop here now.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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