Dis­tort­ing re­cent his­tory

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Edi­tor,

Iwrite to dis­pute the let­ter which ap­peared in KN of Sun­day 6th Au­gust from a ‘Guyanese Na­tion­al­ist’, en­ti­tled “Jagdeo lost a great op­por­tu­nity to move this coun­try for­ward”, and the same let­ter in an­other news­pa­per of the same date, un­der a dif­fer­ent ti­tle, “Where Does The PPP Go From Here” signed ‘Con­cerned’. This let­ter dis­tort­ing our re­cent his­tory does great in­jus­tice to our For­mer Pres­i­dent Jagdeo and the PPP.

Firstly, our peo­ple and coun­try took great strides for­ward dur­ing the 23 years that the PPP/C was in of­fice with Mr. Jagdeo as Fi­nance Min­is­ter ini­tially then as our Pres­i­dent for more than half of the time. Se­condly, be as­sured that the PPP will con­tinue to work its way to­wards one Guyanese Peo­ple, one Guyanese Coun­try and One Com­mon Guyanese Des­tiny on the back­ground of, ‘A New Global Hu­man Or­der’ – the World be­ing one and us all be­ing mem­bers of one Hu­man Race.

True, there are the chal­lenges of com­pre­hen­sively and ex­plic­itly com­ing to terms with the col­lapse of the Soviet Union, and the pass­ing of our founders, Com­rades Cheddi and Janet; and yes there have been ten­sions, con­tentions, con­tra­dic­tions, dif­fer­ences and de­par­tures, but the ba­sic vi­sion still holds the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity to­gether and con­tin­ues to at­tract new young cit­i­zens to its fold. The fu­ture and the way for­ward is sel­dom clear and undisputed: con­tra­dic­tions are tes­ti­mony of evolv­ing sit­u­a­tions and the ba­sis for fur­ther evo­lu­tion. The PPP will al­ways be there as the Cham­pion for the less able.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Jagdeo car­ry­ing on in the changed di­rec­tion for our coun­try, ini­ti­ated by For­mer Pres­i­dent Cheddi Ja­gan, changed the face of Ge­orge­town and Guyana for the better and our Peo­ple and Coun­try moved re­mark­ably for­ward from where we had been, re­ally get­ting on with the tasks and an­tic­i­pated re­wards of our In­de­pen­dence.

Edi­tor, when be­fore did we have reg­u­lar minibus ser­vice to Mah­dia and to Lethem? and reg­u­lar an­nual sa­faris from Ge­orge­town to Orinduik pass­ing through and link­ing some twenty Amerindian vil­lages across the North Pakari­mas? 24 x 7 elec­tric­ity ser­vice to Lethem/St Ig­natius, Mah­dia/Camp­bel­town, and Port Kai­tuma? and pho­to­voltaic so­lar home sys­tems pro­vid­ing elec­tric lights to 20,000 homes across our hin­ter­land?

When be­fore did we have the sec­ond East Coast Road (Rail­way Em­bank­ment); and the bridge across the Ber­bice river, elim­i­nat­ing hours even days wait­ing to cross on a steamer? And when did we have two RO-RO steam­ers cross­ing be­tween Parika and the Esse­quibo coast with po­ten­tial of a ten-fold in­crease in com­merce and travel? When did we have the Ogle crop-dust­ing airstrip grown to the cen­tre for sched­uled do­mes­tic flights and be­come the Eu­gene F Cor­reia Re­gional Air­port?

The then still young For­mer Pres­i­dent Jagdeo made him­self a cham­pion for estab­lish­ing the new and fu­ture IT econ­omy in Guyana, to pro­vide new and better jobs as jobs were lost in the old tra­di­tional sec­tors. When be­fore did we have a sec­ond com­pet­ing tele­phone ser­vice and mo­bile and in­ter­net ser­vice rapidly avail­able all across our coun­try? You can be sure that there was much en­cour­age­ment and pa­tient nur­tur­ing to at­tract and hold and ini­ti­ate the new IT sec­tor in­clu­sive of Qual­fon, Teleper­for­mance, the un­suc­cess­ful med­i­cal tran­scrip­tion ven­ture and the lo­cal Nand Per­saud op­er­a­tions.

When did Guyana and we the Guyanese peo­ple de­liver on that bold com­mit­ment of For­mer Pres­i­dent Burn­ham in 1973 to pro­vide a head­quar­ters build­ing for Cari­com? As a mem­ber of Cabi­net I saw For­mer Pres­i­dent Jagdeo lay­ing out a vi­sion for the de­vel­op­ment of that area, that saw the con­struc­tion of the Arthur Chung Con­fer­ence Cen­tre, the Cari­com Head­quar­ters, the Aquatic Cen­tre, and the al­lo­ca­tion of lands for pri­vate de­vel­op­ments – the Gift­land Mall, Movie Town now near­ing the

end of con­struc­tion, one or two ho­tels and lands for up-scale hous­ing and of­fices. Our Present Pres­i­dent may well con­sider re­nam­ing the area ‘Jagdeo Square’ per­haps with an eye to nam­ing the Cari­com Head­quar­ters the ‘L F S Burn­ham’ build­ing.

Ge­orge­town and Guyana were changed in so many ways by the over­whelm­ing num­ber of Guyanese leav­ing their ear­lier dis­il­lu­sion­ment, down­cast psy­che and hope­less­ness be­hind them. The large num­bers of new and im­proved homes and the surge in the num­ber of ve­hi­cle own­ers all across our coun­try pro­vide the solid ev­i­dence. For the ma­jor­ity of us, For­mer Pres­i­dent Jagdeo de­liv­ered on the hope and en­thu­si­asm gen­er­ated with his com­ing to of­fice.

Edi­tor, I am ready to ar­gue that NICIL was not law­less and was good for Guyana; that the only fi­asco about Amaila was the then op­po­si­tion with­draw­ing its support and scut­tling the de­vel­op­ment of a wa­ter­fall which had been iden­ti­fied in an in­ter­na­tion­ally sup­ported pro­gramme of the mid 1970s as one of the best to match our do­mes­tic needs; and that the ma­jor em­bar­rass­ment in Guyana must be the in­abil­ity of this Coali­tion Govern­ment to find any­thing sub­stan­tial to support its al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tions of hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars in an­nual bud­get ex­pen­di­tures whilst the PPP/C was in of­fice.

In the un­war­ranted, un­jus­ti­fied at­tack on For­mer Pres­i­dent Janet Ja­gan that let­ter writer dis­played his alarm­ing prejudice and be­liefs gen­er­ated by the hos­tile pro­pa­ganda of the 1950s and 1960s. Though she was not born a Guyanese, she was a Guyanese of greater faith than many born here.

It was For­mer Pres­i­dent Janet with her un­der­stand­ing of how badly many Afro-Guyanese felt about los­ing elec­tions one after an­other to the PPP, who, after our 1997 elec­tions, de­spite the sense of un­hap­pi­ness through­out her party about ac­cept­ing an­other in­jus­tice, signed that Herd­manston Ac­cord, which pro­vided for Con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments to put lim­i­ta­tions on the powers of the Pres­i­dent and the Ex­ec­u­tive and brought for­ward our next elec­tions by two years. For­mer Pres­i­dent Janet Ja­gan signed the Agree­ment and it was For­mer Pres­i­dent Jag-

deo who as­sented to the en­su­ing amend­ments. How­ever, as he once quipped, one amend­ment he wouldn’t as­sent to would be an amend­ment that said that the PPP shouldn’t win an elec­tion!

The let­ter writer must have been car­ried away with his jaun­diced views in bring­ing up the name of Roger Khan. An un­prej­u­diced re­view of our me­dia from the months pre­ced­ing our 1997 elec­tions unto to­day, would re­veal that a crim­i­nal fringe of mainly Afro-Guyanese men took over Bux­ton and styling them­selves as ‘Free­dom Fight­ers’ launched at­tacks on mainly Indo-Guyanese, at the same time ‘dis­ci­plin­ing’ Blacks who did not meet their plea­sure.

With our se­cu­rity forces be­ing re­mark­ably un­suc­cess­ful in ap­pre­hend­ing them, Roger Khan – a man with con­tacts in al­most all circles in Guyana – took on him­self and some as­so­ciates, the task of ap­pre­hend­ing them. It was a pe­riod when Guyanese and Guyana were put to a se­vere test – maybe it is still too early for a true and com­plete telling. Suf­fice it to say that it was a trou­bled time, a pe­riod when a Pres­i­dent could have be­come very pro­tec­tive of him­self and party.

I want to as­sure the writer and the pub­lic that we value ex­cel­lence no less, but ex­cel­lence must be judged in con­text. A ma­jor plank of us the PPP and PPP/C is to pre­fer poli­cies and pro­grammes which would en­train and ben­e­fit the larger num­ber and pro­vide for growth up­wards from the widest base. We are wary of trickle down ap­proaches. The CCJ would rule on a For­mer two-term Pres­i­dent run­ning again for of­fice, then, if so, the Guyanese elec­torate will have its say.

What­ever the case, we are free to re­con­sider what­ever we in­tended. There are many coun­tries which al­low For­mer Pres­i­dents to run again after an ab­sence of one or two terms. For­mer Pres­i­dent Jagdeo would now be el­i­gi­ble to be Pres­i­dent again in per­haps every coun­try of the world save for the USA, and what ap­pears to be the evolv­ing prac­tice in China.

Sa­muel A. A. Hinds For­mer Prime Min­is­ter and For­mer Pres­i­dent

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