Kaieteur News – I have a nephew visiting and while driving, I told him that Guyanese have an evocative sense of humour you do not find among other nationalities except maybe Jamaicans. He smilingly said that is understandable given what all Guyanese have been through you would expect them to be humorous people.
That is so, so true. If it wasn’t for the natural willingness to laugh then all Guyanese living here would have ended up either in the rum-shop, the madhouse or dead. This is a funny land. Everything and everybody make you laugh. My Sunday column was already in when I read the Saturday editorial of the Stabroek News (SN).
I read the editorial Saturday night about 8:30. By that time my Sunday column was long submitted but I was annoyed at myself. If I have perused that SN commentary early Saturday morning this column here would have been my Sunday piece, (yesterday that is, naturally).
When I digested it, I was laughing then I rushed to the keyboard. Let me quote the most hilarious part that is going to galvanize you to say, “Oh God, Freddie, yuh so right.” Looking at the national outreach by the Ministry of Finance for the countless souls that have complaints against the NIS, the SN noted, “These complaints pertain in large part to a section of the population of advanced age, many with infirmities, unable to commute back and forth to NIS offices and in some cases living on their own without others to help them. They need assistance to be able to succeed in their cases. They need an advocate on their side.”
Please pay attention to the following words of SN, “They need an advocate on their side.” What is so funny, comical and hilarious about these words of SN? We have had in this country a private human rights body known as the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) for over 45 years. About 15 years now the GHRA became defunct. But guess who in Guyana keeps the GHRA alive? The Stabroek News.
The SN continues to give wide front page coverage to this dead organism. Please see my column of Wednesday, July 7, 2021, “The Stabroek News, GHRA and Guyana’s surreal existence.” So if this body is alive, why do the NIS pensioners need an advocate? Why don’t the GHRA do what it was born to do? Help those whose rights are not being recognised by state and non-state actors?
I have made representation to the NIS on behalf of people every year that I can remember including one such case from Berbice last month. I can remember many times Adam Harris when he was the editor of Kaieteur News, calling up the NIS on behalf of those very pensioners of advanced age.
The GHRA does not exist. Guyanese know this. That is why people seek out other social activists to complaint against the NIS and the letter section of the newspapers. Here are the words of SN itself that exposes the non-existence of the GHRA, “Stabroek News has received and published large numbers of letters from contributors to the NIS about the enduring problems in obtaining service and satisfaction.”
So then we can conclude from that SN editorial that the GHRA is not functioning. Why then give it consistent font page comment? Well I found the answer last week. After my column, “The Stabroek News, the GHRA and Guyana’s surreal existence” was published on July 7, guess what happened? I received very confidential information from a well-placed source that I trust.
A very big, big person in the defunct GHRA writes editorials for the SN. Well it now makes sense and if it wasn’t for that hypocritical outpouring by the SN in its Saturday editorial, I would have just let this information slide. But it is overbearing that the SN can give consistent front page to an organisation that exists on paper only. But I guess its hands are tied. If a man or a woman who has a non-functioning entity writing editorials for a newspaper that is one of the most prominent in the country, that person is going to ask for favours in return.
I could not understand why those small political parties and other paper organisations do not get press coverage from SN but the GHRA always does. Now it makes sense. Let me end with an obvious fact. All newspapers, all over the world solicit editorials from outside their boardroom. But they have to be careful who writes for them. The SN should drop that person from the GHRA for the sake of its credibility.
(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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