Jul 28, 2016 News
…don’t separate communities along racial lines
Following statements by Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo in Queens, New York, of an “assault on people of Indian origin”, Minister of State Joseph Harmon has issued a terse reminder to Jagdeo to get his priorities in order.
Harmon, who was speaking during a post cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, was asked about Government’s response to Jagdeo, who had found himself at the centre of a criticism after a video of him claiming that the Government of Guyana practised ethnic discrimination went viral.
Jagdeo said that he still stood by his statements.
As the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, Jagdeo holds a constitutional post which has, over the years, been used by previous holders to advocate for positive development. Harmon yesterday called for more focus on the development of these communities.
“And so when people speak of racial division what we want them to focus on are the issues that affect (communities). And let us address the question of physical infrastructure. Let us address the question of education for these communities and not just try to separate communities.”
The Minister made it clear that the government, including President David Granger and Ministers, has embarked on outreaches or visits in as many areas as possible. It would not differentiate which communities should or should not be engaged based on racial lines.
“We do not discriminate along lines of ethnicity or geographic location, racial preference or anything of that nature,” Harmon stressed. “We engage, in fact all of our Ministers including the Government and the President himself, see Guyanese as Guyanese.”
“Where problems exist in this country, we try to find solutions to those problems. We do not see a person or any community because of its race, which should not be engaged. And if you are to look at the engagements of the President since we came into office, you will see a wide range of communities that he has visited.”
According to Harmon, he has personally been told on some of his outreaches that he was in a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) stronghold area. Noting that he did not see things that way, Harmon said that once elections are over Government had a responsibility that all of Guyana be treated equally as citizens.
In the statement, Jagdeo had made claims that “There’s an assault on people of Indian origin; there’s an assault on supporters of the PPP (People’s Progressive Party). What we thought would never return to Guyana, in just one short year has returned with full force, and even worse in some regards than the Burnham era.”
He had gone on to say that transported lands are being “snatched” and that “140 new taxes were increased”.
This development, he said, has been targeting the rural poor, who are mainly the supporters of the PPP. He had stated that the country had taken “a turn for the worse” and “whenever the elections come again, we’re going to take back Guyana…we’re going to take it back from these people.”
The Government subsequently issued a statement condemning, “in the strongest possible terms, the irresponsible, hateful race baiting and malicious fabrications and falsehoods uttered” by Jagdeo.
The Administration regarded the claim that there is an “assault on people of Indian origin” as “despicable” and a figment of Jagdeo’s imagination.
The statement pointed continued, “Speaking to a predominantly Indo-Guyanese audience, Mr. Jagdeo attempted to inject among them a feeling that they are victims.”
The statement emphasized that the Coalition Government remains committed to stabilizing the Guyanese economy after years of lawlessness, nepotism, corruption, cronyism, mismanagement, misrule and the flagrant misuse of resources.
It had also said that the former President’s statement comes at a time when efforts are being made to foster closer relations and achieve a greater level of social cohesion. Moreover, the government said that it considers it reprehensible that Jagdeo chose to sow seeds of division, discord and race hate.
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