I entered public life during the presidency of Forbes Burnham as a free agent. It is a status I shall not relinquish in spite of what some may desire. My years as a trade unionist are marked with staunch advocacy for the creating of a just society, the pillars of which are good governance, the upholding of universally acceptable principles, and respect for Rights and the Rule of Law.
In pursuit of same, I’ve crossed path with persons close and dear to me and persons not so, I’ve been called a nationalist by the very people who will call me a PNC apologist when a position taken by me offends their political point of view or the group they identify with.
From my own racial group, I have not been spared. I was let go as a columnist from the state-owned Sunday Chronicle without due process for articulating my opinion on issues consistent with the principles I hold dear.
Some have accused me of being a sell-out, and recently as gas lighting and joining with the ‘enemies’ to remove the Coalition Government by calling for the respect of the no-confidence vote – having been accepted by both sides as validly passed – and adherence to Article 106 of the Constitution.
When the Coalition sought judicial recourse and their right to do so was supported by me, I became an ally or supporter. Only some saw that I was staying true to my principle.
With humility, it must be said that while my positions have been validated with time, such have attracted a new type of attention to me, which I am getting to the stage of zero tolerance for. It is generally perceived with higher academic certification comes higher level of reasoning, and the more senior the position one holds the better the ability to reason. This perception is not foolproof. It is one thing accepting a level of reasoning from those least expected, but another from those who better is expected.
There shall no relenting from me on sharing my views of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) rulings on the no-confidence vote – or any issue for that matter – providing the media allow me access. Equally, I’m aware in being allowed this access my opinions are giving some hernia, so they are lashing out rather than seeking to have constructive engagement. I’m not opposed to being challenged. Neither am I too big to review a different perspective nor admit where I may have erred. But this is not the type of discourse we’re having in this society.
It seems like a mad race to the bottom to prove who can be the most devoid of reasoning and lay before the public argument(s) our primary school teacher would have whipped us for. How do you survive in this environment and not become intolerant? How could you endeavour to have a healthy discourse/cut-and-thrust without shaking your head in amazement? How can you? I am fearful for this nation’s future should stupidity be seen as the voice or thinking of the majority. It is shameful.
I had cause in the past week to respond to former President Donald Ramotar’s letter in the newspapers, and comments on my Facebook to Ralph Seeram, who is/was a columnist for this newspaper.
In last week’s article, I examined the life of the late Cyril Belgrave, a known PPP member who was known to me. For making known the factual events of his attendance to the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) conference as part of the Guyana Labour Union (GLU) delegation, Ramotar told me I was wrong because “Cyril …never attend a Guyana Trades Union Congress.”
For sharing an interaction I had with Belgrave who sought to dissuade me from challenging then Minister of Labour and Organising Secretary of the GTUC Kenneth Denny, whose re-election was supported by the GLU of which Belgrave was a member, it had to be a “monumental mistake” on my part because “it never happened.” What made me mistaken in the thinking of Ramotar was that Belgrave would have never supported “the PNC’s Kenneth Denny” or I am “trying to turn Belgrave into a PNC supporter after his death.” Can it get more ridiculous than this?
Would Ramotar also accuse me of wanting to turn Cheddi Jagan into a PNC supporter or say his attendance at the GTUC conferences and solidarity with motions proposed by a union supportive of the PNC never happened? When it came to matters of trade unionism and conference participation, Jagan unabashedly joined hands where he felt such would have served his interest and advanced the trades union position. But from Ramotar’s perspective such would be unlikely. See what I’m getting at and developing zero tolerance for.
Then there is Seeram. He is not only taking time to scour my facebook page, but to ensure his nasty little pieces are placed on it. To him I am a “PNC/APNU yes man” because I advocate respect for Item 7 in the 12th July CCJ ruling that the National Assembly is among the constitutional stakeholders with “responsibilities that impact on the precise timing of the elections which must be held.”
Holding the Opposition and Coalition accountable to return to Parliament consistent with this ruling means I must be a “PNC yes man.” He failed to provide any evidence to refute my position, failed to objectively examine the ruling or the Opposition refusal to return to Parliament but has concluded. There exists doubt, based on his rantings, he has the capacity for objectivity on the issue. Thus, he masks his inability by giving me a political tag
Though the Constitution of Guyana guarantees the right to freedom of association, which includes belonging to a political party of choice, some believe this right is only for those who associate with the PPP. This is underpinned by arrogance that others do not have a right to freely associate or can only associate with a particular group.
In their minds, you cannot be PPP and support a PNC person or his/her position (as with Belgrave/Denny). Or you have to be PNC to take a position that differs from theirs or may not reflect negatively on the PNC.
I can’t stand the nonsense any longer. For them there is no space for principled position, objectivity, independence of thought or value in working across the aisle. Were Jagan alive he would have been disappointed in the very people who profess admiration for his beliefs and work.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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