I don’t have time to waste

December 18, 2011 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, My Column 

By Adam Harris

In my life I have been accused of many things, but never of being a spy. Even when I was married I could not find the time nor bring myself to go spying on my wife. Of course, I grew up in a family where the operative word was trust.
To this day I trust people until they prove themselves to be untrustworthy. As an editor in a newspaper I trust reporters. They bring back a story and I would ask them about the facts if I suspect that something is untoward. If they tell me that what they have written is the case and I cannot get independent verification then I go with the reporter.
Of course I have been burnt and the reporter was doubly burnt. I am before the courts because reporters submitted an article and I published because the buck stops at my desk.
Such is the case that I took affront to the accusation by the Guyana Times that I had time to go spying on Queens Atlantic Investment. What is there to spy about? The organization acquired the property that once housed Sanata Textiles.
I was among those who questioned the acquisition but Winston Brassington who heads NICIL explained that there was an advertisement to which no one responded and that an offer was made to the current owners of Queens Atlantic. I saw the conditions and the option to sell after three years and the employment of a certain number of people.
Of course I had some questions but then again, there were many things that went unnoticed and unexplained. I am not going to spend my life peeping after every shady or covert deal that the government entered into.
However, as a reporter it is my duty to investigate some of these and to report on them. I was behind the story of the failed Supenaam stelling because a lot of taxpayers’ money went into it, and even more to have it further rehabilitated although it had hardly been used. Why did I? Because I still feel that the education system could have done with some of that money that went down the drain.
As a former teacher, and for those who do not know, I was a pretty good one, I still believe that the government could spend that money to recruit some retired people who would concentrate on the early development of children. This would reduce the volume of illiteracy that abounds in the society.
If the truth be told, Dr Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop was someone I admired. I never and still don’t dislike him. So for him to suggest that I would be spying on him is to suggest that I have nothing better to do with the few moments I have left on this earth.
I did drive by Queens Atlantic because I wanted an assessment of the size of the compound compared to West Ruimveldt. My intention is to assess the cost of a house lot in West Ruimveldt and then do the Mathematics. That would give me an approximate cost of the Queens Atlantic property. I also know the cost of house lots being sold by some of the private developers.
Indeed, the government does not operate like that, but I would have a fair cost of the establishment. I never stopped for one minute and I certainly never took photographs. I have an aerial photograph of the complex so any photograph I would have taken at the ground level would have been useless.
So there was Dr Ramroop suggesting that my presence there was suspicious. Indeed I was with Glenn Lall who drove, and indeed he is of the view that the complex was had for a song. But to suggest ulterior motives is to stretch the imagination. Guyana Times lied to embellish the story. But then again, anything about Adam Harris and Glenn Lall would have an impact on sales.
If indeed the paper needs to boost sales, call me for advice. Talk to me about ideas that could make the paper hold its own in Guyana. I did that for the Chronicle and made it the best selling paper in Guyana at the time, even when Stabroek News was on the stands. The less said about Kaieteur News, the better, because that newspaper is anathema to some people. It exposes too much of the truth.
There are other things that caught my eye this past week. It never fails to amaze me at the number of people who take to the streets for their Christmas shopping. This is a phenomenon the world over but as far as I am concerned, Guyana takes the cake.
In the United States, a recent survey suggested that one in every two persons is poor. In Guyana, three out of four are poor but they do make merry. I know the stats speak about thirty per cent living in poverty and a further thirty or forty per cent live in abject poverty.
But these people are not poor at Christmas time. They all want to be happy and to make those around them happy. A few years back Banks DIH spoke proudly about doubling annual sales in December. Where does the money come from? Thank Heavens for relatives and friends overseas. They knew what Christmas is like in Guyana and they want to see that spirit perpetuated.
The smells cannot be compared to anything the year round and I love it. I am sorry that I do not have money to entertain the children of the poor. But I do contribute to those poor people who prance as masquerade dancers.
I try to make my grandchildren happy and above all, I give thanks for just being here to enjoy what I once went wild over—and this has nothing to do with sex.

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