In 2008, while I still worked in cricket, there was a trial match at Bourda, Sewnarine Chattergoon walked out to bat in short pants, the journalist seated next to me in the Cricket Board’s viewing gallery, shouted down “Disgraceful! I will take your picture and put it in the papers” to which Chatts replied “Calvin Roberts, do what you want, nobody don’t read Chronicle anyway”, the laughter that followed was absorbed with good nature by the now deceased Roberts, but the truth of that off the cuff statement has always stayed with me; seeing Imran Khan’s letter of the 22nd October in the Stabroek News entitled ‘Jagdeo’s criticism of Court of Appeal ruling can be viewed as attack on judiciary’ brought those memories flooding back, here was the former West Indies Press Officer now Guyana’s first Director of Public Information and Columnist in the aforementioned Government-controlled Chronicle Newspaper reduced to using his official title to ensure publication of base drivel in reputable publications.
Editor, the DPI and those responsible for the publication of the national newspaper are not the first to use it for propaganda; they may however be the first to know how ineffective they have rendered it as medium of communication. The DPI would be better served putting his efforts into informing the public on specific aspects of Government policy and how these would impact their lives; why for example the Government continues to expend $1.5 Billion a year on an entity called the ‘People’s Militia’ when no one has any idea of who the People in this Militia are and what functions do they have that make them different from the regular army? Why this money should be spent on them (PM) instead of on severance pay for sugar workers or salary increases for teachers? Why is the Nation being plummeted into debt at precisely the time we should be exercising the most fiscal caution? Why all of the established pillars of our economy are crumbling due to neglect while we await the saving gush of oil? Why our President has seen it prudent to write to oil company executives to inform them that His Minister of the Presidency has “no reason” to meet with them? Yes, Mr. DPI, we the people who pay your salary have many questions, and you Sir, have been remiss of our needs.
Editor, any government administration would see the value of having a Director of Public Information, but that would be based on actual dissemination of reasoning behind decisions and policy of Government , to take such an office and cheapen it is to waste an opportunity to do good work for One’s country and its People. I urge my friend to reform his office and seek to redeem his professional career in the remaining few months of this government.