How the Civic responds

Stabroek News
March 27, 1998

Whether you think that the PPP/Civic should be the legitimate government or not, it should be of some significant interest to you how both that party and administration respond to the charges, threats and plain day-to-day national issues it must confront. It is to me.

I note the ruling Party's Freedom House releases and reactions. I listen to top party functionaries at important events - including those gentlemen who are sometimes described as "hard-liners" (?) And as representative of the national government, I heed the pronouncements of President Janet Jagan, Dr Roger Luncheon and the various ministers responsible for superintending the State's affairs. Whether you "like" them or not, they play important roles in determining a significant aspect of our present and future. In other words, their official business is really ours.

And just who challenges, attacks, accuses and threatens the government? Well, various parties do - sometimes justifiably, sometimes unnecessarily and vindictively. Right now, lined up against the Civic are opposition political parties - understandably so - certain trade unions, consumer advocate groups, some big business, some know-it-all professionals and intellectuals and, of course, sections of the popular media with vested interests.

The allegations and issues thrust against the PPP and the government are now quite familiar. But I'm contending and suggesting that some focus should be put on just how the Civic reacts and responds to their accusers and to challenges. Often, as with past administrations, I find them coming from behind to fire-fight. I find the Civic wasting time to respond to mischief-making commentators and even creating unnecessary heroes and controversies - falling into political traps set by clever opponents and Dirty Tricks specialists. And too often, I find the Civic too soft and indecisive.

Mind you, I appreciate, for example, the complexities and sensitivities attached to the Herdmanston Accord - the super con job initiated and inspired by the PNC. I've read the PPP/C rationale for signing. I am quite familiar with the fact that the opposition - whether political party, trade union or television station - can afford to be far less responsible than an incumbent government and the party which constitutes it.

But since the "professional " opposition here is committed to oppose, expose and, if possible, depose the government, I posit that the Civic should be much more proactive and pre-emptive. From the allocation of television air-space to explaining consequences of Monday's Budget, this government needs to be firm, fearless and decisive. For it is said and well-known: the ability to win the Presidency is only but one major characteristic of the governmental power struggle - or game.

Beginning next week I'll invite examination of Civic responses to specific issues - to include the roles of the Powerful Dr Luncheon, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and the G.I.S.

Hoyte accuses...
Somewhat related to all of the above, I repeat I cannot help but admire the gumption, bravado and effectiveness of the Sophia Think-Tank Boys and their conduits - led by Mr Hoyte himself. Last week was time to hit the political road with gusto and aggression.

The Leader and Past President, predictably, told the nation via his Press Conference, that he never took the local Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) "seriously". To his political credit Mr Hoyte had said so, up front. That is one example of consistency. Strangely, at political gamesmanship level, I admire this ability of Mr Hoyte to stand firm with a no-nonsense profile, bordering sometimes on arrogance. Great stuff!

After all, Dessie will not tolerate, at this stage of his own political career, even the present Roman Catholic Pope pronouncing on the elections results or the political situation here. Much less Mr Simon who represents "merely" President Clinton. As one writer noted, neither does Desmond have time for the opinions of former Elections Chief Rudy Collins or his own Stanley Singh.

But poor mischievous me, I'm curious. How does Mr Hoyte assess Mr Hugh Cholmondeley, the Caricom facilitator who actually headed the EAB's efforts this time around? Look, I'm old enough to remember my own Uncle A.B.C, having the late H.M.E Cholmondeley as a pal. H.M.E, Hugh's father, was one of Founder-Leader Burnham's Confidante-Advisers.

Anyhow, as I've recorded, I admire Mr Hoyte from time to time. He dismissed the criticism of Lech Walesa, President George Bush - and Queen Elizabeth (in our Parliament). So who are these local pipsqueaks? What's that you say? How did the foreigner Jimmy Carter succeed? That's another story, man!

Stabroek accused ...
Recall that on three occasions in the past this column wondered, nay, agonised over the fact that the PPP/Civic often accuses the Stabroek News of being anti-government, anti-PPP. I have asked for real consistent evidence to support this stand. For I remember the anti-dictatorial role played by this paper in the pre-1992 period.

Besides the usual letters-to-the-editor, I've noted the past issues cited by the Civic: Cheddi and Venezuela, perceived PPP leadership vacuum, criticism of Foreign Minister, etc. etc. But to me, apart from the odd editorial, the sometimes "intellectual" criticism of or opposition to a government position, and an occasional (partial) preference to and for "the WPA position", the Stabroek can't be dubbed anti-government as yet.

So even now, as Prime Minister Hinds accuses the Stabroek of promoting "divisiveness" over a simple news item, I stand in my sandals and I wonder. After all, even I can take liberties - herein.

Hail up ...
1) My own special welcome to Caricom Audit Commissioner Mr Noel Lee from Jamaica. Mr Lee can certainly share personal experiences with our Mr Doodnauth Singh - after the audit.

2) Hammie told me, on television, that Dessie sent his Regional Officials to be sworn in by the illegal-impostor President Jagan recently. Naughty Hammie. Or naughty Dessie?
3) One on One, Solutions 2000, Eyewitness, Come Home To (Handsome) Roger, Guardian Magazine, Time-Out, Eye On The Issues, Freddie Kissoon Notebook, Commentary, Plain Talk, Cross Talk, Allan Being Frank, Candid Conversation. Yes, I know I missed out some of the television talks shows. But isn't this Freedom-of-Expression - Fuh So!?
4) You can win lottery tickets on my new GBC Radio Show promoting patriotism, from next week.
5) And you can witness The fellas by Stabroek Square confronting me on the next Candid Conversation on T.V.
6) Mark Ramprakash - a "half Guyanese" made a century for England during the Test series. But don't think I'll be insular. I am not going to mention that only the three Guyanese made centuries for the West Indies. Never!

Til next week!