The SN headline dated May 24, 2009 and captioned, “There should be apology for past wrongs – Van West Charles says,” has opened the door for some serious debate, particularly within the PNCR organisation.
In the article Mr. Richard Van West Charles, Former Health Minister under the PNC administration, and PNCR leader hopeful, called for the PNCR to apologise for pass wrongs.
However, before the debate gets into full gear there are some pertinent questions Mr. Van West Charles must answer, since he either inadvertently, or advertently, left many issues hanging in his statement to the press.
Firstly, there must be clarity on which PNC must apologise, and what specifically the apology must be made for? See Mr. Charles the era of the PNC can be analysed into many categories, and each of these has its specific accusations leveled at if by the PPP, PPP/C and other critics.
So is it PNC the Burnham government, PNC the Hoyte administration, PNC/PNCR the Hoyte led opposition, PNCR the Corbin led opposition, or just PNC the organisation period.
The former Minister of Health must be more specific lest the nation be confused or misled on this whole question of apology from the PNCR, which for whatever reason, is now being touted as the way to move Guyana forward. Since Mr. Van West Charles, in his own words states that “the party has to take blame, apologise as a principle and move on”.
Quite interesting comment, which seems to suggest that the apology need not be sincere, as it must be done merely as a principle.
And take blame for what, all kinds of blame has been, and continue to be, leveled at the PNC/ PNCR, with the PPP/C championing the allegations, so is the doctor suggesting that the party suck up all these blames?
Mr. Founder Leader Son-in-law cannot be serious. The leader hopeful went on to suggest that the party take the blame for the actions of its comrades, so if a comrade “thief a fowl” does it mean the party is the “fowl thief”, where is the sober logic in this argument, and what about individual responsibility? I wonder if the PPP/C has such a policy.
However, getting back to this whole business of what the PNCR must apologise for; assuming that Mr. Van West Charles position is that the party’s apology must be for the Burnham government era; is he saying that there must be apology for one, or any of the following; Burnham’s policy of free education; his policy of feed clothe and house the nation; his buy local campaign; his robust and sensible foreign policy; for instilling in Guyanese a deep sense of patriotism; for Burnham’s role in leading the nation to independence, which we now enjoy.
Or has he endorsed the PPP/C’s concoction of Burnham as a rootless dictator who rigged every national election to stay in office, and therefore now submits that the party must now apologise, or is he now admitting that the PPP’s allegations that Burnham’s government victimized its critics. Or are there other evils he is admitting.
What really, is Van West Charles advancing?
Now let’s take it that he wants the PNCR to apologise for the Hoyte administration, what then must the party apologizes for?
Is it the fact that Desmond Hoyte brought two of the nation’s largest private investors (OMAI and BARAMA) to Guyana, which created thousands of jobs for Guyanese; Desmond Hoyte’s robust and prudent economic policy, channeled by the ERP, or is it Hoyte’s emphasis on honest government, Desmond Hoyte’s aggressive move to bridge the racial divide, which caused him to be referred to as Desmond Persaud; Hoyte’s policy of privatization and his desire to recognise the private sector as primary engine of growth.
Or does the leader hopeful embraces the positions of PPP/C and Hoyte’s critics that Hoyte was selling out Guyana, and therefore wants the PNCR to offer apology for same. The question again what must we apologise for?
Let’s move on to the next option, PNCR the Hoyte Opposition; are we apologising for the communiqué he and President Jagdeo signed regarding rooting out supposedly discriminatory and victimization policies of the current administration etc; should the party apologise for the Herdmanston Accord; Hoyte’s consistent pressure on the government to reverse its discriminatory practices; for legally challenging the outcome of the 1997 national elections; for leading massive public demonstrations to highlight the excessive of the government.
Or does Mr. Van West Charles subscribe to the PPP/C propaganda which labeled the protestors as mobsters and hooligans who were keeping out investors, and so we must apologise!
Or does he too, claim like the PPP/C that Hoyte’s action is opposition is tantamount to terror. We need clarity Mr. Leader hopeful.
Maybe, the Former Minister is advocating that the PNCR apology is limited to the Corbin period as Opposition Leader; and so he is intimating that the party apologise for Mr. Corbin and the party’s aggressive campaign against the alleged death squad operation and the supposed involvement of former Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj; or is he suggesting that an apology be given for Corbin’s renewed call for shared governance; challenging the constitutionality of various government’s actions and policies; channeling a bill through parliament to give L. F. S. Burnham his due accolade.
Or is he arguing that the current leadership should apologise for not leading mass street protests. Or does he believe the calculated propaganda that Corbin is “in bed with the PPP/C”; the PNCR scaled down street protest; or some other issue.
Finally, on this question of what apology must be done for, is it Van West Charles’ position that PNCR, the political institution, is guilty of all alleged wrongs, regardless of period, and, therefore, it must, without more, just apologise.
If this is the thinking the PPP/C and other critics will claim that their positions have been vindicated, the claim that the PNC government did nothing for Guyana will now become their trump card.
Mr. Van West Charles must be aware that Guyana has a large young population that has, for the most part, only heard negatives of the Late L. F. S. Burnham and the PNC government, it is therefore prudent that when we make blanket statements of ‘apology from PNC’ those half truths and vicious claims out there may come to form lasting impressions.
So the issue of PNC and apology cannot just be mentioned, gloss over and left void of clarity. Further, any talk of apology from the PNC cannot be done in isolation unless, he believes that others be absolved from any guilt.
We agree that the PNC, like every government, has made its share of mistakes but from reading Mr. Van West Charles’ comments it can be interpreted that the PNC government, of which he was a part, knowingly endorsed repressive policies which must now be apologised for.
His attempt to correct this perception by claiming that the party should take blame for the wrongs of individuals leaves much to be desired.
Final questions, does Mr. Charles think the PPP and others must apologise?
And, who should the party apologise to, these and other questions must be clear.
Who should apologize to the Chapman family?
Natasha Small Cameron
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