Jul 29, 2016 News
Recent accusations leveled against the coalition administration by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have
led some critics to cast the former President as a dangerous impediment to social cohesion in Guyana.
Particularly, Head of the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), Dr. Clive Thomas is of this opinion. In an exclusive interview, he reminded that Jagdeo’s comments to an audience in Queens, New York, were premised on the notion that the coalition government is engaging in an assault on PPP supporters. Dr. Thomas said that this is not only harmful but “toxic” to the progression of the nation.
The SARU Head said, “This kind of behaviour is dangerous and as an ex-president, Jagdeo should know better than to be spewing comments that would pour salt on the ethnic wounds and divide this country.”
He added, “His comments are a disgrace to the office he is holding as Opposition Leader and he has literally descended to the gutter with this kind of behaviour. What is even more appalling is that he stands by his corrosive statements.”
“His taking such a position leaves me to conclude that he is a dangerous impediment to social cohesion. And he is so desperate to distract from the damning scales of corruption during the PPP’s rule that he doesn’t really care how low, distasteful and repulsive he has to be.”
Adding his take to the matter was, Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds.
He asserted that Jagdeo’s recent statements are part of a larger political mobilization strategy of the PPP, which is aimed at pinning the charge of racism and ethnic cleansing on the government.
Dr. Hinds said that the message of that strategy is aimed directly at the Indian Guyanese community
which seeks to exploit the inherent fear of that community—a fear that heightens, now that a government that draws its support from the opposite ethnic group is in power.
The University Professor opined that the charge by the Opposition Leader that Indian Guyanese are discriminated is not racist. He emphasized however that it is false, and it is being used to create racial hysteria among one section of the country. He reiterated that it is a charge that is not grounded in truth.
“Furthermore, the government can’t be assaulting people of Indian origin when it has in one short year pumped billions of dollars into the sugar industry and to some extent the rice industry which are dominated by PPP supporters and Indian Guyanese,” Dr. Hinds expressed.
He added, “It seems to me that if you want to assault a community, you attack its source of sustenance. That is not what the government has done. To the contrary, the government has sought to strengthen the Indian Guyanese economic base.”
The WPA Executive Member said that what makes Jagdeo’s statements dangerous is that they are coming from a top leader, and are likely to be believed by the target audience.
Dr. Hinds asserted that if the Opposition Leader were making a case on behalf of the Indian Guyanese community and representing their concerns, he would have been in order.
The political activist said that this is not the case. Dr. Hinds asserted that Jagdeo is exploiting the community’s fears, using untruths and half-truths to exacerbate those fears, and painting the government as dangerous to the Indian Guyanese well-being.
He said that this is unacceptable. The WPA Executive Member emphasised that it is the intent of the statements and the possible outcome that are ethnically dangerous. As such, Dr. Hinds said that Jagdeo is making it difficult to bring about any semblance of national reconciliation and consensus.
With regard to Government’s response to the utterances, Dr. Hinds stated that it is “doing the best it can to combat this campaign by Jagdeo”.
“It has issued a strong statement. But given the intensity and relentlessness of the PPP’s strategy, the governing parties have to be more politically nimble on the matter,” Dr. Hinds opined.
He stressed that the administration has to speak directly to the Indian communities. He suggested that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Education Minister, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine and Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan have to “get into the trenches” in the Indian Community, as well as in the media, and speak politically to that community.
Dr. Hinds said that the government has to show that community what it has done for them in policy terms and tangible ways. He said, too, that President David Granger needs to be part of that discussion. He opined that Granger is perhaps the only African in the government, who by virtue of his office and his reputation for fairness, that can command an audience among Indian Guyanese.
Also important to addressing the situation, Dr. Hinds said, is the need for the Ministry of Social Cohesion to get busy.
“That ministry has to do the hard work of public education, day in day out. It has to have field officers on the ground educating people so as to soften the blow of Jagdeo and the PPP campaign of fear.”
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