Neither the PPPC nor the APNU+AFC can point a finger at the other

Dear Editor,

Some elected officials either don’t care or are forgetting we are living in an era where information is easily retrievable and transmitted. No amount of denying, as happened this past week by the coalition leaders, can erase the public admission by one of its senior members that Cabinet raised the issue of David Hinds and my own columns in the Guyana Chronicle. It’s a fact some members of the Cabinet, ie the senior ranking, were calling for the columns to be removed, expressing angst they were still be being carried, and insisting a way must be found to stop them.

There is no secret that at the 14th January media brunch, hosted by President Granger at the State House, the ‘Eye on Guyana’ column was singled out for attention. One of my articles, ‘Govt lacks testicular fortitude to contain Russia, it will be worse with ExxonMobil’ (10th December 2017), was used as reference for what must not grace the Chronicle pages. Shortly after, this article was removed from the paper’s online edition.

The notion that Prime Minister Nagamootoo being in recovery and away from office is absent from political participation and decision-making does not hold.  His presence continues to be felt via his weekly column in Chronicle and due to his portfolio in government he would remain involved.

Accusations that criticism of the government was bad or tantamount to biting the hands that feed you ignore the fact that 1) the people own the state media, not the government; 2) there is yet to be proven/shown that any of my criticism was untruthful. The fact government may be uncomfortable having a mirror placed in its face by the people who elected them to represent, advance, and safeguard their interest, and are paying them to do so is not deficiency on the people’s part.

Anil Nandall, former PPP/C appointed Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs now shadow minister, has since weighed in on the Chronicle issue and the role of the government in our termination. Refer to ‘Schisms in the coalition will only get larger’ (SN, March 30).  His rendering is a classic case of ‘iron pot calling the kettle black,’ though the coalition must take responsibility for creating such an atmosphere.

To cite me as a “relentless critic of the PPP and ally of the government who deluded himself into believing that he can be critical of a PNC government in the Chronicle,” and would have had to go given that the coalition’s “authoritarianism brooks no criticism,” is a revelation of the debased nature of political thinking of which the PPP/C cannot claim innocence.

Though the coalition when in opposition rightly condemned the PPP/C government for silencing voices of critique, dissent and alternative views in the people’s media, acceptance now of similar treatment by the coalition government is not a function of politics but that of personalities. The state-owned media were used as hatchets against the people, driving wedges in the society. Yours truly was not allowed access, including the right to respond to those who wrote about me.  This double standard the people must not support for it retards us and society’s development. If it was wrong under the PPP/C it cannot be right under the APNU+AFC.

The internal political working of the coalition members is for them to resolve, providing such does not violate the Constitution and Laws of Guyana. But even as Nandlall highlights treatment of smaller members in the group he ignores that the Civic component of the PPP in government fared no better. One of its earliest members, who was disposed of, is on public record speaking of the loose arrangement of that alliance, which was nurtured and allowed by the PPP in order to miniaturise, sideline and ignore what was said to be an amorphous group.

Neither the PPP/C nor the APNU+AFC coalition can point a finger of purity to the other, though in principle there is support for members of this coalition to earn and demand their rightful place at the table.  There must be political maturity and growth in our politics.

The Member of Parliament needs to be reminded that support for any government or opposition is not hinged on blind loyalty but on adherence to universally acceptable principles that would see the realisation of good governance through respect for the rule of law, citizens/workers’ rights and freedoms, public accountability, and sound policies and programmes that would bring about equity, justice and fair play in the society.

There is no delusion on my part. There is belief in the equality of man and the capacity of man to act towards each other with reason and conscience. The benefit of the doubt will always be given until proven otherwise. Support or non-support are contingent on these. To brand me pro-government and anti-PPP but still witness my voice being raised against issues I consider reckless and inappropriate by this administration which I asked people to elect in May 2015, demonstrates an absence of blind loyalty or silence in the fact of violations or transgressions. This ought to serve as lesson that all shall be held accountable by me, as citizen and leader.

The claim that the administration in engaging in “vulgar disregard for the Constitution and crass undemocratic actions” since 2015 truthfully is not without some merit. Laws, rules, conventions, declarations and charters are not made to be cherry-picked, but respected in their entirety. When this government continues the practice of cherry-picking, Nandlall’s accusation will find fertile ground. At the same time neither he nor the PPP/C can claim moral authority as the nation witnessed that government’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law, rights and freedoms; and the plundering of the nation’s resources for the benefit of a clique.

I close by borrowing Nandlall’s use of George Santayana’s admonition that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Truer words could not have been spoken. The things the people condemned with the PPP/C management of our government we must not now accept from the APNU+AFC. Whenever ugly signs, acts or actions raise their heads we must nip them in the bud!

Yours faithfully,

Lincoln Lewis

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