I have paid keen attention to the debates in the National Assembly concerning the amendments to the broadcast law and found it extremely difficult to comprehend the position of the opposition. All of the opposition members centred their presentation around the phrases, stifling freedom of speech, stifling freedom of expression and stifling press freedom.
The Broadcasting Amendment Bill in my humble view seeks to create a level playing field and also allows for the distribution of much needed information to the Guyanese people. Media houses will now be mandated to disseminate important and factual data to the public without inciting racism, hatred and general political one-sidedness.
The hypocrisy of the opposition was quite glaring to the naked eye since it was they who when in government disturbed freedom of speech, freedom of expression and press freedom.
I am absolutely certain that my Guyanese brothers and sisters remembered clearly when CNS Channel 6 was shut down. Chandra Narine Sharma has always been and continues to be the voice of the poor and vulnerable. This man showed the upper echelons of society places and people that one would have thought never existed in Guyana, but rather than use the good offices which the PPP held for 23 years to improve the lives of the people, CNS was shut down. Was this press freedom? In the eyes of Mr Jagdeo maybe it was.
Another action that solidifies the point that the PPP is hypocritical in its quest to suddenly stand up for press freedom and freedom of speech was the ban that was placed on Gordon Moseley. Mr Moseley, who is a popular journalist was banned from entering State House, not Mr Jagdeo’s private house, but the house that Mr Moseley’s tax dollars help to manage. He wasn’t banned because he acted unlawfully, but simply because he did what Mr Jagdeo doesn’t like. Was this freedom of expression? In the eyes of Mr Jagdeo, maybe it was.
Editor, how can we forget when first Stabroek News and then all private newspapers were denied government advertisements. This particular action was indirectly an imposition on the people of this country since rather than allow us Guyanese the option of buying our prefered newspaper, we were forced to buy the government paper. Was this democracy? In the eyes of Mr Jagdeo, maybe it was.
There are so many other cases to which I can make reference, simply to concretize my position and that is, that the PPP is being hypocritical defending freedom of expression. The actions of the leaders of yesteryear, especially the period from 2006 to 2015, defiled them, and therefore they have no credibility to speak on the subject matter which I reference.
Notwithstanding the above, I am so happy and proud to know that the Government of Guyana took the bold and audacious step in amending the broadcast law. The citizens of Guyana will now be properly informed and the dissemination of information can now be done in a more conscientious manner. No more will media operatives feel threatened and obligated to any political party, since the amendments are beneficial to the broadcasters and citizens, not politicians. I am more elated to know that the media outlets must now carry public service advertisements for almost one hour daily.
Information is a very important tool for the academic upliftment of us all, and this move will have a positive feedback from all, for in various ways we will benefit.
Editor, this amendment bill is a welcome one, and if I had the power to tell the President to assent to the bill as early as yesterday I would have done so, but I know he will peruse it in its entirety and do the necessary to make it law.
In closing I say, long live press freedom, long live freedom of expression and long live freedom of speech.