By The Piper
Moses Nagamootoo recently called the former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, a ‘coolie-bully’. By any measure, that construction is way beyond the protocols of parliamentary practice, a fact recognized by a wide swath of civil society.
I suppose nothing surprises anyone in Guyana anymore, even the behavior of those who solemnly promised to deliver the duties of their offices with acumen and dignity.
There was, however, one notable surprise. Rather than lash out at the Prime Minister’s indiscretion, Jagdeo brushed it off and allowed the matter to settle. That is a good sign, not only for the ‘new’ Jagdeo and the PPP, but also for parliament and ultimately the Guyanese people who are the final arbiters. It goes without saying that Jagdeo’s studied demeanor is a model worth emulating. Things may be looking-up folks!
It must be said that the calm with which the former President handled the ‘coolie-bully’ issue was in many ways uncharacteristic. One could well imagine that had Moses hurled such an invective a few years ago, Bharrat would have pounced on him in an instant and with equal vitriol. That was generally the order of things just a few years ago.
The bigger picture here is that Jagdeo seems to be adjusting to his role as Opposition Leader. A few things come to mind. His united stand with the Government of Guyana on the Venezuela border dispute, though expected, is good to have on the record. In many countries opposition leaders wait for some kind of foreign threat to mount an attack against the sitting government.
Still on the foreign policy front, the new opposition leader seems to have accepted the right of the current administration to proceed with the turn-over of personnel, most of whom are being replaced (it appears) by party-connected individuals.
On the domestic front, Jagdeo is bolder. He is now challenging the APNU+AFC administration to come clean on assets of cabinet ministers (and why not, parliamentarians?). The former President is even having some fun with this stuff as witnessed in jocular notion that he himself is rich because of financial help from Ramjattan’s sales of gun licenses. While there is much to be laughed at here, it should be clear that the new opposition leader means business – without railing!
The latest big policy issue advocated by Jagdeo is that the GoG should consider buying the Berbice Bridge by drawing on the $30B that are in the so-called private accounts in various government agencies. This is actually worth considering for a host of reasons, three of which come to mind.
By taking control of the Berbice Bridge, the APNU+AFC would be able to actually fulfill a campaign promise, a good promise to boot. In addition to easing the burden on the average passenger, the move would be a real boost to small businesses.
Finally, President David Granger has said that the Venezuela matter is driving away foreign investment. It is important to also keep in mind that not adhering to major infrastructural contracts is not especially welcoming to foreign investors.
The ‘new’ Jagdeo, as Opposition Leader, seems to have found a different form, one that is more focused, and without bluster. We should keep an eye on things, to see if the turn is real, or just another fleeting moment.