– “It gives the nation the impression that it is treasonable to question it on transparency and accountability. This behaviour erodes democracy,” Greenidge
Leader of the political opposition, David Granger has emphasized the importance of ensuring a good relationship
between the National Assembly and the media. Describing it as crucial, he noted that it is an essential partnership that should serve as an instrument in ensuring democracy and sparking national discourse on public issues.
However, when the media is threatened to “limitless extents” for exposing corruption by the government, the political opposition leader is of the belief that this is tantamount to “trampling on democracy.”
He is also of the belief that government’s “obsession with having control over the private media” is not only frightening but clearly indicates that the current Administration does not want the public to be aware of all the facts so that it can be in a better position to make informed decisions.
In an interview with this publication, Granger made the point that the media is fundamental in ensuring that the public is apprised of all the facts, so that it can be in a better position to make certain assessments as the electorate on both government and the opposition. He said too, that the media also plays a role in ensuring that democracy is achieved.
Elaborating on his leader’s points, Shadow Finance Minister of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Carl Greenidge stated, that government’s “sickening control of the state media and its now disturbing attempts to manipulate the private media” clearly shows that there is a plan by the government to control the public debate on controversial matters.
“They are looking to have the media captive. For the PPP coverage, the media must tell half stories in its defense, lies or sworn songs of the PPP. If it does not, then the current Administration would seek to crucify you. Its actions are inconsistent with the right to democracy of which it would speak of so often.”
The APNU Parliamentarian also asserted that citizens are expected to be a large part of national dialogue, not only by way of letters in the newspapers, but through presentations and analysis.
The former finance minister said that through this method, politicians will get a better understanding of how to improve
on polices which will have a more hard hitting impact on their lives.
While the media plays an important role in disseminating information for public consumption, Greenidge reiterated that the government tries to stifle the media because it wants to prevent the people from making informed choices.
“The government gives the nation the impression that it is treasonable to question them on transparency and accountability. This erodes democracy. At the heart of some of these difficulties is government’s attitude towards freedom of expression,” he added.
In this vein, House Speaker, Raphael Trotman, also opined that the media is an indispensable component in the democracy and good governance wheel. He said that any attempts to stifle private media or to promote the interests of state media over and above private media is an affront to the principle of free choice which he said is the “linchpin of democracy.”
In further support of his comments, Alliance For Change (AFC) General Secretary, David Patterson said that the media is indeed an indispensable part of the democracy process, and any attempt to restrict it should be strongly resisted by all.
The AFC General Secretary said that sadly, attempts have been made to so do. To cement this line of argument, he reminded of cases where CNS Channel 6, Stabroek News and Kaieteur News were threatened because of their coverage on certain national issues.
He added, “During the Ninth Parliament, a motion was moved to request that the National Communications Network (NCN) carry live coverage of all parliamentary sittings. However, this was rejected by the then majority PPP government. We still feel that it is particularly important in this modern age so that the people can judge the performances of their elected leaders in order to hold them accountable.
He said a true test of press freedom will be the upcoming No-Confidence motion. It is doubted that the government will allow NCN to carry these debates live, since it will be a damning account of their management of the country in general. For the country to start achieving some level of press freedom and universal access to media, the Broadcasting Board has to be revised so that it is more representative of the society, the parliamentarian said. “These are core policies which will be on the front burner, within the first 100 days of any future AFC government.”
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