I would like to congratulate the Merundoi Incorporated and its collaborating partners for their initiative and excellent execution of the 2011 Presidential Debate held at the Theatre Guild (Wednesday) evening. It was a civilized discourse between two leading presidential candidates, and later between them and the citizens.
What was impressive was citizens’ awareness of issues that stimulated and at times challenged the candidates.
For me, there were two major concerns: the refusal of the state-owned National Communication Network (NCN) to carry the debate, and the failure by the PPP/C’s presidential candidate Mr. Donald Ramotar to participate.
I was hoping that Chairperson Margaret Lawrence’s announcement that NCN had not only refused to carry the debate live but also refused to carry it as a paid programme later would have met with cries of shame and disgrace.
In fact it was taken with complete resignation and almost an inaudible sigh of what should we expect.
In no other Caribbean country, let alone the First World countries would any major television station refuse to carry a presidential debate. And in the case of the state-owned media it would be unthinkable. For us, though, democracy and freedom of information seem to have such a peculiarly Guyanese definition so that we would still sit back and have our elections declared free and fair. On the issue of Mr. Ramotar’s absence I was not surprised. After his poor performance at the University of Guyana Presidential Discourse, his handlers clearly had no choice but to save him and the party, the public embarrassment of a repeat.
It is frightening that this gentleman who wishes to be President for all the citizens of Guyana is afraid and unwilling to engage them in a discourse on policies. If this is how he would conduct himself as President, if elected, then Guyanese will be badly represented.
Meanwhile if we continue to allow NCN and its print sister the Guyana Chronicle to continue their partisan abuse, without expressing outrage and disgust, protest and challenges and spirit and spine, we will have only ourselves to blame.
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