A front-page comment in the Guyana Times (May 22, 2018) should be a warning to all Guyanese who cherish free speech, that the era of censorship is now upon us.
The threat that Guyana Times, its owners, management and affiliate companies will face “dire consequences” unless the newspaper company “stop publishing news items which are critical of the Administration” is real, and can be seen as a sign of desperation by the PNC controlled APNU/AFC Government.
Last Saturday, the PNCR held its General Council Meeting at Congress Place, in which the Party Chairman, Basil Williams urged members to “stand up and defend the party, the government and the coalition”. I was informed that at the closed-door session that followed, a strategy was planned to achieve this objective. Then on Monday, May 21, the headline on the front page of the Government owned Guyana Chronicle screamed, “Fight back – PNC chairman urges members to resist opposition propaganda.”
This man has been making headlines of late, all for the wrong reasons. Readers may recall the explosive revelation contained in a leaked email, reportedly emanating from the same email address used by Basil Williams which he quickly denounced as “fake”. But this so-called “fake” email address is the identical one used in the email-chain that the Parliament Office uses to communicate with the Attorney General and other Members of Parliament.
The leaked email exposed the mindset of the PNC controlled APNU, and revealed the unscrupulous tactics this party has been using effectively for years against the PPP, and are still determined to propagate to retain power in 2020.
The strategy outlined in that email encourages the APNU/AFC government to, “Keep propagandising on the issue of having inherited an empty treasury …(for) statistics show that this has resonated well with our support base as a means of justification for the (draconian) Budget 2017 tax measures. We must also continue to restate that the economy was surviving on drug money.”
If indeed the treasury was empty after the PPP/C left office in 2015, where did the Administration find the money to pay themselves hefty salaries ranging from $1 million to $1.7 million monthly; buy new luxury vehicles for the President and his ministers costing taxpayers as much as $22 million each; pay between $800,000 and $1.2 million a month in house rent for some government ministers to live in; reward a APNU+AFC financier a lucrative $12.5 million a month contract for the rental of a non-certified pharmaceutical drug bond.
According to the Bank of Guyana, our gold reserves and foreign exchange reserves have decreased significantly since 2015. The way this government spends money, it wouldn’t be long before we’re truly bankrupt again.
The leaked email also advised the APNU+AFC coalition that, “We must continue to prod favorable media houses and our social media operatives so that they further fuel the perception that the PPP is racist. … this has worked well in the past an should continue.”
Well, while this perception may have worked well in the past, they will have a difficult time convincing Afro-Guyanese that Jagdeo is a racist after the warm reception he continues to receive from their own supporters in traditional PNC strongholds including Tiger Bay and the Stabroek Market square.
And despite the propaganda that the APNU/AFC peddled for years that Jagdeo and his ministers stole billions while in government, Minister within the Finance Ministry, Jaipaul Sharma, disclosed that 50 forensic audits into a number of state agencies had failed to unearth any evidence of fraud. SARA and SOCU can’t seem to find any evidence of that too. So they can no longer convince the people that the PPP was corrupt.
The APNU/AFC is rapidly losing support, even in their hard-core base. They (APNU/AFC) are becoming more intolerant and desperate, and desperate people do desperate things.
I believe the mainstream thinking of the PNC/APNU is to resort to proven tactics that have served them well in the past, and have become the hallmark of the PNC for decades, fear and intimidation!
Most people, are now fed-up with this Government. They’re losing support and they know it. They already have SARA and SOCU doing their dirty work but that’s not enough. They were hoping to use the Sedition Clause in the Cybercrime Bill to silence their critics and the Parliamentary Opposition, but now that this is likely to be thrown out, government needs to find new ways to muzzle the press and any attempt by their critics to excite disaffection towards this corrupt, inept and incompetent government.
Guyana Times have been threatened before, however, these threats intensified over the weekend following the address given by the irate PNC Chairman and the loaded “Fight Back” headline in the Guyana Chronicle. This is no coincidence.
Guyana Times is targeted because they are the beacon of truth, and because the publisher is a close friend of the Leader of the Opposition. Because of this, Dr Ranjisinghi Bobby Ramroop, the owner of the Guyana Times and New GPC is despised by this Administration although he had allowed this ungrateful government to use his WHO-Approved facility to store drugs and pharmaceuticals free-of-cost for a number of years.
The PNC/R has retracted a press statement that quotes President Granger expressing concerns about “the daily challenges faced by the Coalition from some sections of the media,” words they claim were “taken out of context” (nobody believes that). It is said “If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words”. After reading the transcripts of his presentation, Granger is smart enough to conclude that the words spoken did not fit the image he wants to portray to the nation. Hence the statement was retracted.
I hope the PNCR follows his lead and retracts the goons that perpetrated these acts of terrorism against the Guyana Times based upon the inciting speeches made at Congress Place by both the Chairman and the Leader of the PNCR.
Guyana is still a democracy where the freedom of speech is enshrined in our Constitution.
PPP/C Member of Parliament