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Oct 15, 2018 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon
There are times politicians should shut their mouths because when they open them, it backfires. In politics you simply have to know when the time is not right to make an utterance. The list is long and it includes the past two presidents and the present incumbent.
Jagdeo was so full of himself that he said anything that came to his head. Ramotar was as banal as they come
Neil Kumar, PPP parliamentarian a few years ago (he is still an MP) discussing the influence of the presence of the ABC countries in Guyana identified them as Argentina, Brazil and Chile. This was not only laughable ignorance but diseased ignorance. At the time he made that assertion, Argentina and Chile did not have embassies.
But any politician of his age would know that since Independence up to the time he made his statement, Guyana hardly had any significant political and trade ties with Argentina and Chile. Commonsense could have told him that in pointing to the role of the ABC countries in the affairs of Guyana, they could not have included Argentina and Chile.
Clement Rohee as a senior minister of government at the time told the press that he has so much on his plate and they are bothering him with questions of police torture. Just the mention of torture should have caused him to open his eyes widely.
Of course by now we know the most infamous example of not knowing when to shut your mouth was Priya Manickchand. Her outburst at the home of the American ambassador on that country’s Independence Day celebrations has certainly unleashed consequences that will haunt the PPP forever.
Manickchand’s de facto boss, Roger Luncheon, further damaged the future of the PPP. He gleefully referred to Manickchand unacceptable semantics as a feral blast. Manickchand has her career in front of her because she is still young. Luncheon is in his late sixties and his career is almost over. He will be seventy next year.
Is it that politicians in general do not know when not to speak or is it a particular negativity that obtains in Guyana only? Section 18 of the Cyber Crime Bill before it was deleted stated; “A person commits an offence of sedition if the person, whether in or out of Guyana, intentionally publishes, transmit or circulates by use of a computer system, a statement or words, either spoken or written, a text, video, image, sign, visible representation that brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government.”
Two ministers rushed to the defence of that obnoxious clause calling into question their democratic credentials. Khemraj Ramjattan said it was necessary because sedition is part of the laws of Guyana. Joe Harmon said the section was included because the government was concerned with security.
If that Bill was in existence before 2015 then Ramjattan and Harmon would have been in jail given the things they said about the government and the president on television and during street demonstrations.
Attorney-General, Basil Williams said that there needs to be a referendum if there is going to be amendments to the anti-narcotic legislation. President Granger in defending two press meetings over the past three years as president said his busy schedule does not allow him to hold frequent press conferences.
All these folks had to do was just shut their mouths. Why open it and lose credibility. The PPP is going to make mincemeat out of the foolish defence of the dangerous section of the Cyber Crime Bill especially in the light of the acknowledgement by the government that the words were dangerous and thus removed them.
Here is the latest example of not knowing when to shut up. The coordinator for the AFC for local government elections is Michael Leonard. On nomination day, the PPP and APNU hosted large contingents as they entered Critchlow Labour College to hand in their papers.
This is a kind of joyful parade that takes place in most countries. It is intended to show the world how strong is your party and how enthusiastic are your supporters. It is also designed to attract voters who are able to see your strength.
The AFC contingent walked in with eight persons. When asked by the press to account for such a poor showing, he said the AFC doesn’t believe in theatrics. What a strange pronouncement. A tiny group of eight persons arrives at the office to hand in their documents for the whole world to see and the justification is that the AFC doesn’t like theatrics. Those eight persons were in fact performing theatrics.
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