Peeved Kwakwani residents have endorsed the words of Opposition Leader David Granger to the effect that the logging
company, Bai Shan Lin, has overstepped boundaries. However, in this case, residents are also lamenting the fact that some Guyanese have been “caught in the net of a few dollars, forgetting that at the end of the day, we are the little ones and those people are living large off of our resources”.
Pressured by the daily revelations, Chinese-owned Bai Shan Lin and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) have come out swinging in defence of the company’s logging activities in Guyana.
GFC held a two-hour press conference on Monday last which saw the attendance of the likes of Lindener Phillip Bynoe, a former treason accused, who used the opportunity to abuse and threaten Kaieteur News reporters.
The following day, a meeting for loggers was held at the Umana Yana, at Kingston. This meeting was hosted by Bynoe, who has close ties to the administration.
The “loggers”, inclusive of children and women, were brought to the city to “once and for all put to rest speculations abroad about alleged malpractices in the industry”. They were reportedly drawn from 10 logging organizations in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice),
Bynoe told the gathering that “Kwakwani today is buzzing with economic activity that has come because of the Chinese.”
However, hours after that meeting, another one was held in Kwakwani. During that meeting at the Kwakwani Workers’ Club, residents expressed worry, saying that Kwakwani is not as well-off as is being painted by Bai Shan Lin and a few individuals who were in it for the money.
That meeting was hosted by Region 10’s Regional Democratic Council.
At the meeting, Chairman Sharma Solomon reminded the residents of the significant resources in the area, but
reflected “look at the community, look at the roads, look at the conditions you are living under, I must say it is not impressive.”
It was a resounding no when Solomon asked residents if they were satisfied with the conditions they are living under. The Regional Chairman expressed that he was sure there were people in Georgetown, at the time, saying that Kwakwani is satisfied.
He sought to make it clear that he was by no means advising that Kwakwani residents go against each other, mainly because “we live under a system that thrives by the divide and rule concept.”
He urged, however, that residents take an aggressive approach to securing better lives for this and the next generation.
Solomon said that under the present conditions, he cannot “not even barely”, understand how some can say that “all is well.” He wondered who was benefitting.
During the meeting at Kwakwani, it was also claimed that members of logging associations were paid $10,000 to attend the meeting at Umana Yana. Two particular associations reportedly fined members $5,000 each for refusing to attend the Umana Yana meeting.
The Chairman said that that money could have gone to better use. He estimated that the exercise executed on Tuesday “just to make a point” must have cost Bai Shan Lin in the millions as the company paid people to attend, provided transportation and food.
“This money could have gone to so many better causes. But look at it, this company prefers to do that before they give
you what you deserve,” Solomon said.
Bynoe’s presence at GFC’s press conference on Monday was objected to by journalists. There were later accusations that he was placed there to strengthen GFC’s case that nothing was wrong in Guyana’s logging industry.
The press conference was called to refute the recent exposures in the media regarding the operations of Bai Shan Lin and other Asian logging companies operating in Guyana.
Bynoe was not the only non-member of the media fraternity and non-employee of GFC that attended the press conference.
In fact, a minibus load of Lindeners was brought to Georgetown and the passengers were in attendance.
During the media conference, Bynoe and the other Lindeners shouted in agreement with the responses by various GFC officials to the press and sought to distract reporters as they posed questions.
But Bynoe was the only one who attempted to ask a question, and he was obviously peeved when he hadn’t the chance to do so. During the media event, he hurled inappropriate remarks and interrupted Kaieteur News’s reporters whilst they were posing their questions.
He threatened reporters to deal with them individually and to protest in front of Kaieteur News’ offices.
Reports are that money was also paid for the persons to attend the press conference.
In 2008, six years after being slapped with a treason charge, Bynoe was granted a pardon by the then President Bharrat Jagdeo.
A Government Information Agency (GINA) statement indicated that Bynoe had been writing to Jagdeo for a pardon for at least one year. GINA noted that, in his appeals, Bynoe had expressed his remorse over the invasion of the Office of the President, and the destruction of public property.
In 2002, Bynoe campaigned throughout the country, urging citizens to protest against what he called atrocities against the people by the PPP/Civic Government.
His campaign led to a massive march on July 3, 2002, which culminated in the storming of the Office of the President, leading to the shooting death of two persons, and injuries to several others, as presidential guards opened fire on the intruders.
GINA, after Bynoe’s release, reported that Bynoe recognized that the event was an attack on a democratic institution of the state and not directed at the President. By 2011, during the last General Elections, Bynoe was on the PPP campaign trail and was recorded making a passionate plea to Lindeners to vote for the ruling party.
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