Trinidad Express slams Jagdeo-issued radio licences
– says gov’t trying to hide incompetence and corruption
Two days after the government vowed to continue denying Kaieteur News a radio license, Trinidad Express, a leading newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago, has condemned the issuance of radio licenses under former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
“…the PPP has expanded the media in Guyana solely for the purpose, it seems, of increasing the outlets for pro-party, pro-government propaganda,” the Express said in its editorial yesterday.
The newspaper noted that this does nothing but undermine media here.
On Thursday, the government’s Chief Spokesman Dr Roger Luncheon dismissed complaints by Kaieteur News about being denied a licence and went as far as saying that this position would not change.
“…we gon be complaining whole year, because I know the Kaieteur Newses of this world will continue to be denied,” Luncheon stated.
In November 2011, the month he was leaving office, Jagdeo granted a flurry of radio frequencies to his friends, family and those who enjoy a cozy relationship with his government. Kaieteur News and Stabroek News were among applicants denied a licence.
“It is a general principle that any government which censors or controls the media does so in order to retain power and to hide incompetence and corruption,” the editorial stated.
The newspaper has called on Trinidad and Tobago to add its own voice to the critics of “such glaring efforts to deny free expression in Guyana.”
The newspaper noted that the PPP’s favouring of friends and family has been so blatant that the United States and other foreign Governments have officially protested the discrimination displayed by the government.
The editorial did not give credence to the government’s efforts to defend its limited and biased freeing-up of the frequencies.
“But the rest of the world—and no doubt most Guyanese who are not blind PPP supporters—recognised the reality of continuing State control of Guyana radio airwaves which, despite pious protestations, has changed only so much as the administration has wanted.
“It is ironic, if not indeed tragic, that the PPP, which represents a constituency which for decades suffered similar censorship and discrimination from the late and unlamented Forbes Burnham, should now have adopted some of his tactics.”
It was recently revealed that Jagdeo, in the very month he was leaving the Office of the President, granted five radio frequencies to his best friend Dr. Ranjisinghi Ramroop; the company which publishes the newspaper of the ruling party; another five frequencies to the ruling party and to Telcor, which has as its directors Ruth Baljit, the sister of Minister Robert Persaud and Kamini Persaud, who is the niece of Jagdeo and wife of Minister Robert Persaud.
One frequency each was granted to seven other companies.
The National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) has been ordered by Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang to show cause why its decisions to assign radio frequencies should not be quashed.
The court issued an Order or Rule Nisi of Certiorari directed to the NFMU on the grounds that the decisions to assign the radio frequencies were premised on the unlawful and unconstitutional distribution by then President Bharrat Jagdeo.