Rickey Singh is living in a fool’s paradise. Singh thinks that he is a journalistic superstar. He never was and he never will be. At his age, Singh is in the twilight of his career. It has been a career marked by the worst type of journalistic sycophancy in the English-speaking Caribbean.
When the PPP won the 1992 General Elections, Singh became a weekly columnist with the Chronicle. He held that title until the first week of this month when he resigned after a pro-PPP column was not carried. Let me set out my journalistic parameters before I look at Singh’s vicious and insane attack on the character of Moses Nagamootoo in his interview with the Guyana Times. I believe the media in general – both state and private – should print opposing viewpoints.
The Chronicle is going to find itself swimming in deadly lava if it doesn’t carry perspectives that are critical of state behaviour. It will end up earning the contempt of the Guyanese people as it did under the PPP. This venality goes back to President Janet Jagan who exercised tight control over the Chronicle through the mediocrity and sycophancy of Sharief Khan.
The Kaieteur News stood out during the 2015 election when it carried columns that were raging with emotional endorsement for Jagdeo and Ramotar.
The Kaieteur News, during the 2015 election campaign, published columns by Ralph Seeram, a man who was never trained in journalism and who migrated from Guyana since the eighties. Seeram’s columns were not only slavish endorsements of the PPP campaign but featured venomous attacks on Nagamootoo’s character and the APNU+AFC coalition. Glenn Lall and the editor never stopped Seeram’s ramblings. Peeping Tom embraced the PPP with pro-Jagdeo pieces and anti-coalition denunciations during the 2015 election period and they were carried. That is how the media should operate and one hopes that the Chronicle does not continue with the same morbid journalism as when the PPP ruled Guyana.
The question for me is not the Chronicle’s rejection of a pro-PPP viewpoint but Singh himself. In his resignation letter and interview with the Guyana Times, Singh made statements that truly made you want to vomit. He called upon the present editorial management of the Chronicle to resist political interference. This is coming from a man who wrote for twenty-three years for the Chronicle throughout the entire reign of the PPP from Cheddi Jagan right up to Donald Ramotar.
This is the same man who used his column to support Jagdeo’s presidential campaigns in 2001 and 2006, the same Jagdeo that withdrew state advertisement from the Stabroek News then later the Kaieteur News. There wasn’t one word, not even one word in passing in any of Rickey Singh’s columns on that attack on the media.
The obvious question is – does Rickey Singh have the moral authority to criticize state involvement in the administration of state owned media in Guyana? Taking a nasty swipe at Nagamootoo, Singh asserted that in the two professions in which Nagamootoo is involved, he has remained ordinary – law and politics. Only a fool would support this asinine contention of Singh.
Nagamootoo is one of Guyana’s longest serving politicians and one of the most admired. In the twilight of his career, he achieved the distinction of the unimaginable crossing of the ethnic line when his party, the AFC, entered a unity team with the PNC and other parties called APNU. It resulted in the removal of the PPP.
Nagamootoo’s great contribution to this country is not only in the deepening symbol of racial unity but in the historic opportunity it now gives Guyana to break with sixty years of old political culture and racist philistinism.
For a countless number of Guyanese, Nagamootoo is a hero because it is felt that without him, the edifice of the PPP would never have crumbled. He opened the gate to endless possibilities in 2011 when he single-handedly reduced the PPP to a minority government. There isn’t an analyst who would deny the Nagamootoo factor in the 2011 election results. History was made on May 11, 2015 when Nagamootoo took his fight against PPP’s hegemony to its logical climax.
For this, many East Indians, like Rickey Singh, hate Nagamootoo. Singh always pontificated on Guyanese politics using ethnic semantics. Much as Singh rant and rave against Nagamootoo, it was Moses who parted the way for Guyanese to move on to greater horizons. Singh will become a footnote in Guyanese history while Moses will always be a historical signpost in Guyana for generations to come.
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