Last year July, during a telephone conversation, Priya Manickchand, accused me of wanting to remove the government. My reply was that I wanted to see the PPP Government go because twice, my life was endangered and on both occasions I believe the PPP was involved.
I also mentioned my contract termination at UG, Khurshid Sattaur’s harassment of me (of which I will have more to say; my Kaieteur News friend Edison Jefford keeps urging me to explain it to the Guyanese people) and the forcing out of my wife from her public sector job at GOINVEST. Ms. Manickchand, in response to the physical attack on me, said that I upset so many people, what made me think that it wasn’t those people.
Yes, Ms. Manickchand had a point there.
But then the point became blunted and looked like a weltered flower afterwards. Dale Andrews of this newspaper, Mark Benschop and I went to the Alberttown Police Station to urge an investigation of NCN’s role in the attack. You see NCN had broadcast the assault on me just minutes before it happened. How did they know that? Because my assailants informed them just before the attack and NCN immediately broadcast it as news.
The Officer in Charge gave one of the most asinine responses you can find at any police station in the world – NCN is a big place and who you are going to approach to ask questions. Dale Andrews and Mark Benschop heard that asininity. It was obvious the officer was aware of the forces behind the conspiracy and that was beyond the police jurisdiction.
This is the type of government we live within Guyana. A government we thought would never descend to such semi-civilized levels after it won general elections in 1992. And since 1992 whatever semblance of freedom we still have in Guyana, the independent press is largely responsible for it. The Kaieteur News has played a major role in the bulwark against the inexorability of naked power.
In an authoritarian country, the free press becomes an inevitable victim. This inevitability is as perennial as the grass. One of the first observations of Tony Blair after he demitted office was that during his tenure he found the press to be feral.
Blair no doubt had in mind the torrid time the press gave him over the “sexing up document scandal” in which he was accused of fictionalizing the existence of weapons of mass destruction to justify war in Iraq. The sexing up scandal led to the suicide of one of Britain’s leading biological warfare scientists, David Kelly. We come now to Anil Nandlall’s theory as the newspaper as a weapon.
Nandlall’s theory is simple. If you use the newspaper as a weapon, people who are the targets of journalistic investigations will use real weapons at the newspaper to fight back. The operative words here are ‘weapons’ and ‘fight back’. For Nandlall, if the newspaper exposes a wrong-doer and the wrong-doer is hurt, then the paper was used as a weapon.
There is no conception in the mind of Nandlall that what he refers to as a weapon is in fact “exposure.” Exposure of powerful men and women with money and power who will resort to violence against the press for highlighting their wrong-doing as how Blair in the UK, Berlusconi in Italy, Jagdeo in Guyana were exposed.
Journalism becomes a dangerous pursuit in Guyana when violence can visit you because you wrote about the undemocratic or corrupt behaviour of ruling cabals or wealthy folks who get illegal concessions from the state.
Where is this weapon to which Nandlall refers? Was it used when KN exposed a man who no sooner he became a Minister built a huge mansion with a swimming pool over the West Coast or his colleague who was selling a house for one million American dollars that inexplicably she built after she entered the Cabinet.
Was it used when NICIL was found to have oceans of public money that it was spending irresponsibly on projects that Guyana doesn’t need. This columnist knows of a situation where one of the richest men in the Caribbean who lives and invests in Guyana and who is Guyanese, paid taxes in 2013 that would make this entire population drop dead with heart attack. Is writing about him using the newspaper as a weapon?
The simple thing about Nandlall and the cabals in the government and the PPP that dominate Guyana is that if you highlight their venalities then be prepared to face the weapon of violence. Only regime change can save Guyana.
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