The Government of Guyana has now severed its advertising relationship with the independent dailies. They say all newspapers will be affected but I doubt that, so I am referring in this column to the two independent dailies only. I cannot see the Mirror being affected; if it does, it will go out of existence. But the Mirror is not a daily.
All government placements will be on a web page. This is not only ignorance but the policy is fraught with danger.
The Kaieteur News has decided that in order to enforce transparency, it will carry the placements free of cost so that contractors and other interested parties who do not access the internet regularly will know what is going on. The web page allocation is not only asinine but dangerous. But it has happened and the dictatorship marches on.
Here is one example of the catastrophe that not even the private sector thought of condemning. On page 57 of the Sunday edition of this newspaper is a Government of Guyana notice titled, “Spring Tide Advisory.” The notice warned all citizens to take precautions because of the spring tide of September 20. The warning takes in Leguan, all of Demerara and parts of Berbice. No need to mention that the placement was freely carried by the Kaieteur News.
Does the Government expect the thousands of citizens who live in the affected areas to go to the internet and read about the spring tide danger? Shouldn’t a notice like that be placed as a full page spread in all the newspapers? Isn’t this stupidity beyond belief?
But more importantly, this is a dangerous abuse of power. How can you have a raging tide with rivers bursting their banks and ordinary folks can only know about the danger if they go on the internet and read the web page where the Government places its advertisements?
Looked at from any angle this is political madness. Guyana is listed in any IMF, World Bank or other international reports as being one of the poorest countries in the world. Not even at the University do the lecturers have their own computer. In fact, so poor are we that for over twenty-five years I never had phone facilities in my office at UG. And that goes for a majority of lecturers.
Guyana is a land where technological development is extremely low. Just make an inquiry into the forensic capabilities of the police force and you will see the state of economic impoverishment in this territory.
A government cannot play with people’s lives the way it did last Sunday. If state advertisement of this type will not be going any longer to the newspaper, then disasters are bound to occur. So if the meteorological office reports a freak storm for Sunday and there will be hurricane-like winds, the only way we will know about that is when we read Government’s web page?
What I find extremely bewildering is the fact that citizens who could lose their lives by this type of dictatorial politics from the Government of Guyana can walk into a polling station, with eyes wide open in 2011 and vote for the PPP. Are some of us in this country human beings or zombies?
The spring tide advisory marks another step into the gutter of fascism that this Government has long driven into. It is shocking to read that notice. Here is a Government informing its citizens that their lives and properties are in danger but there is no national alert in the newspapers and on television. If this is not fascism, then what is? If this is not a reckless game of playing with the lives of citizens, then what else is?
I have a suggestion for the opposition parties and other organizations that will participate in next year’s national election. Cut out that advertisement from this newspaper, get it blown up and use it in the election campaign. I plan to do just that.
When the opposition takes to the streets, when they have their public meetings, show the blown-up advertisement to the public. Tell them that this is the way the Government treats their safety. Explain to the ordinary folks that when thunderstorms with devastating winds and floods are expected, the only way they will know about the disaster facing them is if they all go on the internet and read the Government’s web page on advertisement.
The Kaieteur News did a service to this entire nation by carrying that notice free of cost. We should all be grateful. At the same time, we should now possess the commonsense to know that the Government of Guyana does not deserve to stay another day in power.
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