Linden, a divided Guyana and this country’s future
I want to say to everyone in this world that I am entitled to my opinion and I will voice my opinion. Those who support the Government of Guyana are not people I am in agreement with, but they have a right to their political stance. Let me have my right to my stance. Freedom of the pen comes with responsibilities of course. The traditional saying is that no one should shout “fire, fire” in a crowded cinema.
No opinion-maker is entitled to the right to advocate that people be harmed. I did not and will never agree with the kinds of things that Iran did to the British author, Salman Rushdie. Advocacy of harm, violence and scandals are boundaries commentators must avoid. But no matter how unpopular are some views, people have a right to use them once they stay within legal and civilized limits. I support legalization of homosexuality. I support the abolition of the death penalty. I am of the opinion that the PPP Government is a fundamentally flawed one. Those are three opinions I have. Why am I not entitled to voice them?
Like every citizen in and out of Guyana, I have some thoughts about what is taking place in Linden. Here are my opinions since the situation worsened Saturday night.
The Education Minister has reacted angrily to the arson of the school. Opinion-makers out there, including this newspaper’s editorial yesterday, seek to blame those that are among the protestors. I do not share that view.
Unlike Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, who told the press that he has evidence that agent provocateurs were at work, I am not in possession of that kind of proof, but I am in possession of my opinion, and my opinion is that the protestors in Linden would not have burned that school. I simply do not believe that and will not unless you show me the evidence. I think I can safely say that I know them and I will stick with my belief that they did not do it. But why don’t we talk about agent provocateurs?
Every government in the entire world uses the service of agent provocateurs. It was revealed in the Guardian of London two months ago that MI5, (British intelligence) had infiltrated the anti-war movement and other radical groups. The basic operation of the agent provocateur is to do something that is violently unpalatable and the anti- organization gets the blame. The result is that the organization loses mainstream support. The role of the agent provocateur goes back to the earliest times in human history
There are all kinds of denunciations of the Linden organizers coming from certain quarters, particularly the Private Sector Commission. But Guyanese refuse to learn the lessons of history. Social instability is inevitable once the ruler does not observe the “Social Contract.” This golden rule goes way back to the ancient Greeks, particularly Socrates and Plato. Even a dyed in the wool advocate of strong, “monarchial” government like Hobbes argued in his seminal work, “Leviathan” that the strong man must keep his side of the social contract and if he doesn’t then he broke it, and the citizens have a right to reject his power.
All this talk about what has descended upon Linden has dishonestly ignored bad governance in this country, and the Linden crisis should be the turning point of the end of bad governance. Why for the past two decades have the people of this country not supported the right of the Linden people to have television channels other than NCN? Why is Berbice allowed to have NCN signals and not those of the private operators in Georgetown?
Bad governance could lead to all types of unpleasant situations in this country because Guyana’s reality is graphic – we have been a politically and ethnically divided society since self-government in the fifties. Any central government in Guyana must observe and recognize this reality and deal positively with it. Guyana’s has the potential for instability because the electoral balance sheet is a recipe for disaster.
In Region 4 and Georgetown, the ruling PPP has never, and I mean never (especially in Georgetown before we were divided into Regions) won a majority of votes. Yet the people of Region 4 and Georgetown have little say in their respective budgetary allocations and the exercise of local power. Every citizen knows that in the last general elections the opposition won a landslide in Linden. Surely, the exercise of power at the central level must recognize this reality. One hopes that the lessons of the Linden tragedy will change how power is used.