Jul 17, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – A BBC online article dated June 14 titled, “Joel Glazer told Manchester United a ‘laughing stock’ at fans forum” contained a few things which, if paid attention to, can help Guyana’s top three political leaders, salvage something out of the mess that they and their parties have made with the oil and the country. Guyana’s President, Vice President, and Leader of the Opposition, all have much to learn, and this will only happen, if they humble themselves to stop believing that they know everything. Or that they are fooling the people. It is ironic that from the arena of British football, that the messages are coming, which have meaning for leaders here.
The context and circumstances came about when “Manchester United co-chairman, Joel Glazer, was told the club had become ‘a laughing stock’ when he made his first appearance at a gathering of fans. Manchester United is no ordinary English soccer club, but one with global recognition and iconic status from Bulawayo to Buenos Aires. Even in cricket mad India, the fabled English club has its faithful. That alone should tell of the reputation of this legendary club. But in the past several years, the club has fallen upon hard times, with a slew of dismal performances, which is what made the not-to-be-dismissed legions of British fans to stick it to the absentee American owner. As they saw it, he was too busy bleeding the club dry, and not caring about building a quality product, or lifting the organisation up.
To knowing Guyanese that should sound all too familiar. For here is Guyana, gifted with so much wealth, so much promise, and still it is always underperforming because self-centred leaders, with their questionable approaches and secret operations, have diminished this country’s prospects. Our leaders might as well be absent, for all the response and truths that can be squeezed out of them. Despite numerous appeals, well meaning and patriotic, those making them are quickly dismissed as chronic complainers and demonised.
In Guyana, where there is little by the way of robust and sustained accountability, political leaders can get away with such disdain for objectors. They do, which is why they continue with silence that indicates the suspicious, maintain relationships that rip at the guts of this society, while pretending that they know what is best, and that they could care less what well-intentioned Guyanese have to offer about the nation’s newfound oil wealth.
Guyanese leaders can do so, and still flourish. But in something that is of way less standing, a football club, paying and loyal fans can take a billionaire American owner to task, and force him to own up to the failures that have dogged the club’s fortunes. A majority owner does not usually operate like a democracy, but the owner of the club, who enjoys near monopoly power, still is humble enough to pay heed with an eye to what works, what is acceptable. How much of a far cry is that from what prevails here!
Among the caustic comments coming out of the owner-fan virtual meeting were: “We used to be the club that others measured themselves by – on the field and off the field.” But today, “people are laughing at us, Joel. We’ve become a laughing stock. There are memes on the internet all the time. And there’s nothing worse. People say bad things about you, but there’s nothing worse than being laughed at.” Guyanese can identify well with that: we are the envy of neighbours, yet we are the butt of derogatory comments near and far.
Former United captain, Gary Neville, voiced that the owners were detached from the “ethos and the passion the supporters feel” for the club. The owner said he was committed to improving, and added: “Gary has been pretty hard on us.” And then offered this bit of wisdom, which Doctors Ali and Jagdeo do well to take to heart: “You can just shut the person out because they are not saying something nice about you…you can pause and listen. And, “You can’t ignore people since some have good ideas, good thoughts.”
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Opposition Leaders: are you listening? Are you going to do something different?
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