Encouraging Events, Disturbing Developments
By GHK Lall
Kaieteur News – Tuesday’s protest on the East Coast looked bad, was bad. There are no two ways about that, and let it be said. I don’t understand how attacking persons, and damaging and looting property brings justice for Quindon Bacchus, dead by police bullets in highly troubling circumstances.
The protest was ill-conceived and ill-planned, and should never have deteriorated, as it did. One possible crime cannot be justified by the commission of numerous other definite ones, as occurred on Tuesday.
What the lower East Coast lived through was not a protest, but a rampaging mob. All the underpinnings generated by the questionable killing of Quindon Bacchus were demolished by the actions of those committing mayhem. Legitimate protest is given a bad name.
It disturbed that so many protestors engaged in what they did, and how they achieved their criminal goals. I must ask if this was the primary objective of coming out on the road. If the objective is to pressure a dirty government, then maximise the pressure brought to bear on it.
Don’t target fellow citizens. Guyanese have become accustomed to roadway blockages and bonfires, as employed by both sides of the political divide. Do that. Protest to get voices heard, not hands stained.
Now there are other concerning issues I put before citizens. The Guyana Police Force was a study in stillness, until the worst was over. When our police is politicised as it has been (even more blatantly recently), then there could be the reasonable expectation of either sloth, or on-the-ground assessment failures in the heat of the moment, or purposeful tactical approaches that delayed or neglected, until it was too late.
I read that President Ali went into the so-called lion’s den, but with an army of defenders. This informs ordinary Guyanese, especially battered ones from Tuesday, about who gets protection, and who doesn’t.
Certainly, the President is entitled to a security blanket, but such a heavy duty one raises eyebrows, and provokes bitterness at the inequities heaped upon law-abiding Guyanese. The President was quick to speak of some silly parliamentary tabling of the violence, as if that is going to resolve anything.
He needs to stop playing politics (and cards) and be brave enough and honest enough to face up to what citizens must face in day-to-day Guyana. More than financial and physical damage was done, longstanding psychological ones were restored also. The sharply contentious sides of Guyanese politics and its divide are not going to benefit from leadership sound bites, and temporary social poultices.
All of this disturbs immensely, and I have warned that we sit on an active volcano. I think that the ugly developments on the East Coast furnish a glimpse of the uselessness of the ‘One Guyana’ slogan and its visions.
What this country needs is deep and genuine soul-searching, and willingness to come to grips with its age-old demons. Our governance system is not working. Our public protective institutions have been weakened, and public confidence in them is in tatters. Hence, we live with another familiar episode along the East Coast.
We can talk till the cows come home about democracy and free and fair, but then we have to deal with what is the real Guyana at the core. We must stop fooling ourselves that what we have as a governance system is nationally constructive, is accepted across the board. Whenever we do so, we are burying our heads in the sand, while the wantonness and barbarities of Guyana pass us by. We continue with what we have, and we reap what we get in pieces, or the long-expected swarm later.
I need some air, and Minister Vindhya Persaud helped with news of the ‘Every Child Safe’ competition. Awareness protects our vulnerable children, information about follow-up action strengthens, and engaging them inspires them. This heartens.
Another Minister noted that State Accounting Officers could be penalised for dodging the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). They oversee spending of the people’s money, and the PAC checks and pushes for answers. Their appearance is a must, and if they don’t, then deal with them. This hiding in plain sight must cease if we are to get anywhere.
(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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