All roads de­liver the mat­ter to the gov­ern­ment’s doorstep

Stabroek News Sunday - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Editor, It is healthy and spir­i­tu­ally re­fresh­ing to step away from the ca­cophonous Sturm und Drang that is Guyana. Re­bal­anc­ing and re­ju­ve­na­tion comes; both helped dur­ing the Len­ten in­ter­val to re­flect upon the avalanche of ma­te­rial hurtling across the mind, and which at­tracts in­ter­est. The state-owned Guyana Chron­i­cle fur­nished one such in­stance that em­pha­sizes how the weak, the fear­ful, and the un­sure op­er­ate.

A lengthy life­time ago, when I was but a mere lad, the Guyana Chron­i­cle had a state­ment on its mast­head: “Where all men think alike, no one thinks at all.” As lo­gos (mis­sion state­ment, guid­ing prin­ci­ple, or what­ever) go, this was im­pres­sive, and es­pe­cially so for a news­pa­per, in view of the em­bed­ded prom­ise. As in life (and with so much in Guyana) it would have been much more im­pres­sive for the Guyana Chron­i­cle of to­day to live those words through con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to de­liver on what they rep­re­sent.

Al­most twenty years ago, I was a reg­u­lar (some would say pro­lific) con­trib­u­tor to the let­ter columns dur­ing the Sharief Khan era. That lasted un­til some se­ri­ous peo­ple took se­ri­ous of­fence; that was the end of my pres­ence (along with oth­ers) in con­trary think­ing, which was found ob­jec­tion­able and un­ac­cept­able in a land where the rul­ing caste proudly and loudly (and ever shame­lessly) touted so-called demo­cratic tra­di­tions and demo­cratic cre­den­tials. Po­lit­i­cal cir­cum­stances over­whelmed Mr Khan. Twenty years later, there is new gov­ern­ment, new editor, and new board, but the same old busi­ness, the same old story, and the same old re­sult: Those who dif­fer in think­ing and so write are dis­patched. Those dis­agree­ing should con­sult with cit­i­zens Lewis and Hinds. Their fail­ure was not to think alike; their sin, ar­guably the very act of think­ing. And so, men in pow­er­ful po­si­tions in this coun­try con­tinue the long sorry his­tory of thought­less­ness, and of great sen­si­tiv­ity to ob­jec­tion of any kind, in­clud­ing those that might pass con­struc­tive tests.

Many have been the times that I dis­agreed with the two gentle­men re­moved; I am sure that they may do the same even more with me. It is how it should be, and a sign of vi­tal­ity in this young repub­lic, the ebb and flow in the mar­ket­place of ideas, of the con­struc­tively crit­i­cal, of con­trar­ian fer­vour, and all rooted in hon­est eval­u­a­tion. It is not of gos­sip or mal­ice or cheap po­si­tion­ing and rab­bler­ous­ing; but of a con­cern for the pri­macy of the wel­fare of this sad

state, and of lift­ing it to some place other than what it has al­ways known.

As to who is re­spon­si­ble for their ouster; or who should have over­sight and fi­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity for such de­ci­sions whether the editor-in-chief or the board, this all fades into ir­rel­e­vance and im­ma­te­ri­al­ity. At the end of the day, and when all analy­ses have been made fi­nal, all fin­gers point to the gov­ern­ment, and all roads de­liver this mat­ter to its doorstep. This is not good gov­er­nance; it is not new gov­er­nance. In­stead, it siz­zles with the spite­ful­ness and malev­o­lence that was so char­ac­ter­is­tic of just yes­ter­day. It is very trou­bling that the same mis­takes are be­ing re­peated regime af­ter regime; that the pow­er­ful can be so inse­cure, and so un­re­cep­tive to un­com­fort­able truths. There are those; not al­ways, but of­ten enough to give pause.

Early in the David Granger ad­min­is­tra­tion I cau­tioned that the then new gov­ern­ment can­not and must not per­pet­u­ate the ob­scen­i­ties and low roads that were so much a part of the shabby con­duct and shab­bier record of its pre­de­ces­sors. Re­gret­tably, those in charge seized the op­por­tu­nity, in yet an­other in­stance, to yield to baser in­stincts to be rid of colum­nists Lewis and Hinds from the tax­pay­ers’ news­pa­per. As gov­ern­ments go and gov­ern­ments come in this hy­per­crit­i­cal and hy­per­sen­si­tive land (a dis­tinc­tively hyp­o­crit­i­cal one, too), they have all with­out ex­cep­tion man­i­fested a cer­tain vi­sion for the cit­i­zenry: docile, agree­able, obeisant. Part of that vi­sion could very well in­clude the pop­u­lace cul­ti­vat­ing men­tal pig­tails and kow­tow­ing in lit­er­ary sub­servience be­fore the mighty. That has its own peo­ple, and its own places. The gov­ern­ment ought to know that that does not in­clude here. Yours faith­fully, GHK Lall

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