EYEWITNESS: Too hot…for democracy

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In general, your Eyewitness doesn’t believe in politicians suing newspapers and other media for reporting on their sometimes-vilifying charges against their opponents. In a democracy, politicians gotta be under constant scrutiny by the people…and the media’s supposed to be performing that role on behalf of the said people. That’s why they’ve been dubbed the “fourth estate” ever since the French Revolution of 1789, when the banner of democracy “Liberty, Fraternity and Equality” was raised.

But, in Guyana, we’ve become used to these lawsuits against the press by politicians, for “damaging their reputations”! Obviously with the sole intention of silencing them, so that they can have a free pass sprouting their scurrilous utterances. Now, we know there are defences against claims of libel…with “truth” of the statements being right on top of the list – and “justification, fair comment, and privilege” following in its trail. Under English precedents, which we follow – the plaintiff – the person suing and claiming damages, doesn’t have to prove the complained-of speech was false…the burden’s on the defendant to prove the truth of the speech!! This is unlike US law – to which we’ve all become accustomed because of the movies, if nothing else! Think about the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard case and you’ll get the drift.

So, when your Eyewitness heard that Charandass Persaud won his defamation case against Khemraj Ramjattan, he had to assume Khemraj had no defence muster for what he’d asserted about Charandass. And from this perspective, this case is bigger than Ramjattan. In fact, the case goes to the heart of establishing democratic governance in our country. What were the facts of the case? Very simply, Charandass voted against the APNU/AFC in the vote of confidence motion brought by the PPP. The difference in their seats was a wafer thin 33 vs 32. All it needed was ONE Government MP to vote against his party and it was sayonara, baby!!

Now, we gotta remember that the PPP and PNC had put their heads together when the same Ramjattan and his PNC chum Trotman had crossed the floor!! And closed that particular gate to stop future horses from bolting. Or so they thought! But Charandass jumped THAT hurdle at the CCJ – Representative Government was never meant to have MPs bereft of opinions!! So how specifically did Charandass stick it to his erstwhile pal Ramjattan??

This fella was lawyer to boot – yet, specifically asserted in his own voice that Charandass (even though he didn’t utter the name) was BRIBED to vote as he did!! Screaming “JUDAS!!” the entire Opposition had implied that Charandass was bought, but when Ramjattan said “for 30 pieces of silver”, he was being very specific that money had changed hands!!

And he’s now $7million poorer!!

…to debate

And here your Eyewitness was implying the stiff-upper-lip Brits can be pretty staid, and up comes the news that the host fainted during the debate between Conservative candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, who are vying for Boris Johnson’s vacated Prime Minister’s seat!! Now, your Eyewitness doesn’t believe this was just a case of nerves, or a heat stroke, or anything like that!! He’s convinced it has to do with something deeper, and the host became discombobulated to the point of the blood rushing out of her head and causing her to faint!!

So, what exactly could’ve caused such a strong reaction?? Your Eyewitness firmly believes that it has to do with race. Not THE race…but “race”, as in “wogs” and “Pakis” that are commonly bandied about in England – but not in polite company!! Can you imagine the tension this caused as the host fought off not asking all the real questions she knew the rest of England had on the tips of their tongues??

She fainted!!

…for the Opposition

So, there we had it, straight from the horse’s mouth – just as your Eyewitness had said it would. The US Secretary of State confirmed that his Government was simply ensuring that Guyana was in sync with them on security – food and otherwise!!