The two party ethnic division is the sickness of the society
Stabroek News
January 18, 2002

Dear Editor,

I read with glee Mr. Jerome Khan's letter congratulating Dr. Kenneth King on his appointment, but was taken aback by the cynicism of his comments relating to the Stabroek News editorial on this issue.

Let me say at the outset that the views expressed by your editorial "Crossing ethnic boundaries" were heart warming and perhaps should allow for some opening of discussion and dialogue on how to tackle the conundrum of ethnic and other divides that have forestalled development over the last fifty years. The main question at this juncture for the development of the country is - How to deal with the political divide which has stymied progress and which has contributed in large measure to the underdevelopment of the country. In this regard both the ruling party and the party represented by Mr. Khan are guilty of fostering this divide and thus the underdevelopment of the country and the people.

In this context I would like Mr. Khan to explain the difference between the PNC/R programme of "market approach to development" and the PPP/Civic program of "market approach to development". I suspect that there is no real or perceived difference between the two.

Secondly, I am taken aback by Mr. Khan's claim that somehow his group embraces the "Put Guyana First" slogan. How can this be true in light of their approach to the election results of March and the subsequent destruction of parts of the city and its attendant mayhem. If his group is interested in putting Guyana first, then they would be making proposals to deal with the divide. They would try to find a workable political solution to the conflict instead of fighting for power. What does Mr. Khan mean by "principle over profit"-I hope he does not mean adherence to ethnic cleavage and allegiance, or to party loyalty. Party loyalty is the sickness of the society. I would like to see young people like Mr. Khan break with party loyalty. I would like to see people like him introduce a new culture for the parliament, a culture where people debate based on their convictions, on their principles, and vote based on these convictions and principles. If Mr. Khan is truly interested in fostering an approach of the primacy of principle over profit then he should move to bell the cat and promote votes of conscience rather than party loyalty in the highest forum of the nation, the Parliament. Someone has to bell the cat.

Somehow I like the spirit demonstrated by people like Khan, but I think he is confused. He has to be to feel that somehow if the PNC/R replaces the PPP/Civic, Guyana can have and that this see-saw politics can and will change the dynamic of Guyana. I think people like Khan and others should find the orientation and approach that will help them to find a solution out of the debacle of either or(the PPP or the PNC). This either or approach will not solve the dilemma, but lead to the continuation and worsening of the situation in the country. This either or approach has drowned the country for several decades.

There is no difference in the economic program and development agenda of the two parties, both of them speak about market approach to development. But what each of them lack is the absence of the people in their programs. Their programs are party based, rather than people based. This is the essential dilemma of the country.

Yours faithfully,

Odaipaul Singh