The elections of 2011 are over and Guyanese are now trying to identify and quantify the changes that have taken place since the opposition controls the Parliament. Today, I want to focus on a topic which I do not believe is sufficiently debated – government spying. I know that in these times almost all governments do have some form of national surveillance. However, in a democracy, these systems are used in the interest of national security.
I know of no democratic society where the national apparatus is controlled exclusively by the ruling party and is used to spy on other parties. Every time I call to talk to a PNC/APNU supporter or member I am reminded that the phone is bugged and that the emails are unsafe. I consider this to be outrageous. I hope that both APNU and AFC demand parliamentary oversight of any such national system.
What is most ridiculous is that with all this spying and eavesdropping capability not a single drug lord of consequence has been apprehended. We have hundreds of unsolved homicides yet law-abiding citizens are being terrorized by this state apparatus. Guyanese, both inside and outside of Guyana demand privacy in their day-to-day activities and expect that any government in office in Guyana must be accountable to its citizens.
The citizens voted for change on November 28, 2011. They expect to see meaningful changes. The discontinued practice of this intrusive surveillance must begin now. One of the most barefaced attacks is on the privacy of the present leader of the opposition, Brigadier Granger. I am told that cameras are mounted on lampposts just yards from his home. I dare say that his supporters do not believe that those cameras are there for his safety. We believe that those cameras should be moved immediately and placed around the premises of the known and suspected drug kingpins. Should the government not comply, then the whole department should be unfunded until this agency and its activities are approved by parliament and that it works in the national interest on behalf of the longsuffering nation.
The more I think of the politics in the homeland, the more bizarre it gets. Can you imagine the CIA or FBI in the United States working exclusively for the Democrats? In the case of the United Kingdom can you contemplate MI 5 working only for the Labour Party? In those societies that scenario would be regarded as utter madness. However, in Guyana the national intelligence apparatus is owned and controlled by the PPP.
To whom it may apply, may I request that you take the time to question your party representatives in the APNU and AFC to tell you something about the building on Vlissengen Road; I mean the building which is opposite the Office of the President. I sincerely doubt that they will be able to tell you anything that you do not already know. The point I am making is that the PPP has been treating the opposition with disdain and contempt for the past decade. We as a people must demand better governance, greater accountability and true transparency.
Most Guyanese are angered by this pervasive Soviet-like behaviour. They are angry because they cannot properly communicate with their elected officials nor conduct their day-to-day business with any degree of confidence or privacy. Guyanese want to be treated with dignity and respect. If the spying apparatus cannot be put under parliamentary control then it should be disbanded and shut down.
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