The policies of potential leaders need to be examined
Stabroek News
April 4, 2002

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Dear Editor,

The calls for a new leader of the PNC are amusing. I have heard the names mentioned but never have I read about the policy attributes that make any of these candidates qualified to be Guyana's president. Qualification does not mean that a person has just received a "law degree" nor does it mean that a person is so qualified because he/she has been a practicing attorney for a number of years with impeccable party affiliation. We have seen the results and works of those of whom many felt were very qualified to govern Guyana. For the past three decades we have seen the nondescript policies that have led to economic and political inhibitors that stifled Guyana's growth. We have seen and heard inflammatory statements emanating from the minds of those we deemed as qualified.

Guyana is a racially diverse society and as such must select a leader that is sensitive to the aspirations of the entire citizenry. The leader must have a vision of inclusion and should never alienate a certain sector of the population to gain favor with other groups for political superiority. That leader must have a specific plan for developing the nation as a whole, with the entire nation's interest being paramount. That leader must be flexible and be able to accept constructive criticism and suppress his/her vindictive urge.

Guyana's leader, and the leader of the major political parties must be able to review and change "policy path" if and when necessary. Also of importance, the electorate must induce the aspiring leader/leaders to divulge his or her proposal for development and national unity. It is not adequate to claim that jobs will be created, a leader must explicitly explain how and where those jobs will materialize. A leader must explain how and from where the finances will come and on what infrastructure investments will be made. Placing the country in deeper debt by borrowing and investing in projects that will not yield a positive return on investments will not suffice. By knowing what and how things will be done, the electorate will be more informed and knowledgeable to make decisions about which policy advocate gives Guyana the best chance for development.

Leadership Selection Process

Members of all ethnic groups should be considered for party leadership. The supporting public must be given the opportunity to ask questions of the leader, before the elections, only then will weaknesses or strengths surface, and thus allow for an informed decision. To have a closed party selection process only continues the race based decision making. An open selection process will also negate the need to continue voting along racial lines, because if each candidate is given an equal chance to emerge as the party's leader a wider acceptance by the electorate is possible. To have candidates selected by the outgoing leadership lends to favoritism and nepotism. Qualified candidates who may have criticized party stalwarts will never ascend to party leadership under the current system of choosing party leaders.

Who Really are They

I am not implying that the names mentioned are not qualified to be the leader of the PNC and maybe the President of Guyana, but I am not certain that I have heard a description of what they stand for. How do they plan to develop Guyana? Is it that their physical outlook and youthful posture are the only attributes for leadership. Why is it that so much emphasis is placed on the candidates age. Does being young and inexperienced qualify one for leadership? What about valid ideas that will be the deciding factor to spur economic growth. History is replete with errors of political leaders, many of whom have taken their country down the path of negative growth. Do the supporters of the PNC/R know how these candidates hope to solve the crisis of qualified high schoolers and university graduates not being able to find jobs? How do they plan to grow the economy and stem the tide of continuous migration? What plans do they have to entice qualified Guyanese abroad to return home, instead of calling on the more expensive expertise of foreign nationals? How do they feel about the destruction of Guyana's natural environment?

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Barker