I write this letter prompted by the letter entitled: “APNU and PPP/C must use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for meaningful constitutional reforms” in Stabroek News, Friday, July 12, 2019 by Terrence R. Blackman and Thomas B. Singh. I am responding because I think that they are both earnest and well-intended. And, I would say that taking account of the social peace and quiet in our country since the no-confidence motion (NCM), the overwhelming majority of us Guyanese of all races, classes, religions, and regions are all pondering our situation and looking for a way forward. This may well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grapple with the many things that have been holding us Guyanese back. We are all sensing that we are at an important juncture: I would draw notice to a number of recent letters from our former Prime Minister Hamilton Green and my appearance with him on the Internet GlobeSpan talk-show of Wednesday, July 10th which you can find on YouTube and Facebook.
Editor, in our current situation, full compliance with the spirit and the letter of the NCM and the related Constitutional provisions including those related to Gecom is the gateway towards our desired ethno-social-political harmony. I am aware that a number of persons argue that such compliance is insufficient for harmony: but it is an essential first step for everyone.
Editor, if there is one thread that runs through our history from the mid-1950s, it has been the refusal of those who would have seen themselves as the elite of Guyana, to accord full equal weight as fellow Guyanese citizens to the average Indo-Guyanese, Dr. Jagan and the PPP. I am willing to acknowledge that this period has been a difficult and uncomfortable transitioning and learning period for us all: that the majority of us would have been confused, confounded and vulnerable to exploitation by the overlapping of the differences in our country, in race, class, city people- country people (urban/rural) and religion. Individual personalities and the international situation added more fuel to this already explosive mix.
From mid-1950 many who have gravitated to being supporters of the PNC and to the other third parties as they appeared, have to a greater or lesser extent spoken about and represented Dr. Jagan and his PPP supporters as not being sophisticated, urbane, nimble nor smart; country, agricultural rice and sugar, people; leaning towards godless communism; our brothers and sisters – yes, but second brothers and sisters who must wait their turn; not ready for government.
Those sentiments provided fertile ground for the manipulative change from Constituency First Past the Post to a Proportional Representative (PR) system for the 1964 Elections – it was a calculated change to get Dr. Jagan and the PPP/C out of office. Those same sentiments also motivated and enabled the active participation of a few and passive acceptance by many of our rigged elections from 1968-1985. People however became less wedded to this rigging approach as our social, political and economic situation continuously deteriorated during the 1970s and 1980s when we all suffered greatly and in many ways that we were not conscious of.
The vacillating position of the leaders of the Coalition Government since the NCM demonstrate that they are still having difficulty doing the right thing and accepting us supporters of the PPP and PPP/C as equal brothers and sisters and citizens. We of the PPP and the PPP/C want to be nothing more nor less. We recall our Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo being moved not long ago to plead during a debate in our Parliament that we of the PPP and PPP/C are filled with “not one dollop less of patriotism” than they the leaders of the Coalition Government.
Editor, my fellow citizens Messrs. Terrence Blackman and Thomas Singh, for us to go ahead without first the full acceptance of and compliance with the spirit and letter of the NCM would be for Guyana to put itself once again on the road of getting around the PPP/C and their supporters, the road of 1964-1992. On the other hand, It is my belief that full compliance with the NCM (and the Consequential Orders of the CCJ being delivered as I write) would open the minds of us all to the harmony that we all desire and which is necessary if our recent find of oil is to be a boon and not a damning of us. Let us take that first step.
Samuel A.A. Hinds
Former President and Former Prime Minister