Will community service to get laptops include doing PPP propaganda and election work?

November 9, 2011 | By | Filed Under Letters 



Dear Editor,
You can’t get one of those PPP election season handout laptops unless you attend training at an ICT Hub and perform 10 to 20 hours of community service. Nobody knows what this community service really is. The PPP is yet to explain it to us.
This laptop handout in the middle of the election is an election gimmick, exploitation of the psyche of deprivation amongst the poor and an attempt at election bribery of the Guyanese people with their own money.
The people of Guyana paid for these laptops. They are theirs. The PPP is not giving them anything. They are entitled to these laptops because their tax dollars paid for it. The PPP needs to tell us what is this community service? Is it attending PPP rallies, handing out PPP propaganda or engaging in activities that the PPP government will claim as its own success? Will that be part of the community service?
If supporters of an opposition stronghold have to build or fix something the PPP failed to build or fix in order to get their laptops, does the PPP claim it as their success when campaigning in that community?
Now that we know laptops will be handed out before elections, one has to ask “where will be PPP be handing out these laptops?” Will the laptop handout be used as a weapon to try to soften voters in opposition areas or to woo back voters in PPP traditional strongholds who are disenchanted with the ruling party?
These ICT Hubs are far and in between and scattered. Diamond, with tens of thousand of people, has one ICT Hub. Where are these Hubs? Are they in PPP stronghold areas? Are they located in the homes and businesses of PPP members? Given they are few and scattered, do you have to book and appointment to use a Hub?
Poor people and their children who can’t afford internet will have to do a lot of travelling to get to these hubs. When they do get there, it is no guarantee they will be able to access the internet since many more may show up before them and try to hog the available internet connections and make space a problem.
With many persons congregating at these ICT Hubs, the internet which is already notoriously slow in Guyana will come to a frustrating crawl.
My belief is that the lack of internet access and internet affordability is the real problem with this PPP one laptop masquerade. Kids will figure out these laptops in a few days and will want to access the web and its wealth of resources.
But they won’t be able to afford it because of a ridiculously overpriced and monopolised telecom and information technology sector the PPP has fostered by allowing GT&T to stand alone in bold inefficiency.
I won’t even delve into the impact of unreliable and expensive electricity on this programme. This laptop handout without any viable plan to improve internet access for the majority which cannot afford internet will only add an extra burden on already crushed families barely making ends meet on dwindling wages to find more money to pay for overpriced internet.
Who is organizing these community programmes for laptop recipients? Are they exclusively or mostly PPP members and supporters? Is it the local PPP committee in every community that decides the type, extent, nature and level of community service everyone who gets a laptop must perform, including non-PPP supporters?
The OLPF website states that if you don’t complete community service, you will need to explain why and to tell OLPF when you will complete the community service. What nonsense is this?
Will the PPP government dictate that those who are approved for laptops between now and Election Day must complete community service before Election Day? Will these laptops and ICT hubs block access to newspapers like Stabroek News and Kaieteur News?
There is no CD-ROM on these laptops so poor Guyanese cannot share information on CDs unless they purchase a portable CD-ROM. For those poor Guyanese who do not have a TV, a DVD drive should also have been included to watch movies on the laptop. Frankly, I think people should not uplift their laptops until after elections to avoid being potentially caught performing politically motivated and driven propaganda masked as community service.
These laptops are yours. The contract is already signed and the manufacturer is already making them. Even if the PPP leaves office, the next government has to honour the contract. A new government looking for political pull would be really stupid to not give people their laptops. So, every family will get its laptop.
Because it is your laptop paid for by your tax dollars, you can pick it up after election. I think you should.
M. Maxwell

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