There are limits to democratic oppositon
Stabroek News
April 5, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Most of the analysts in our society acknowledge the fact that unity is the only means towards building a Guyana that will serve all Guyanese. Our culture is diverse, but it is this very diversity and the fact that we operate in a democracy that present the dangers that we must now grapple with. There is the danger of the promotion of sectional interest above the interest of the nation. There is the danger that criticism, so necessary to a free society, can degenerate into spiteful invective.

We have recently seen ample evidence of this as the various opposition groups mounted their attack on the 2002 budget culminating in the declaration of the PNC/R that they will embark on a course of active non-cooperation. Guyanese were alerted to this course of action by warnings of he "writing on the wall" and the dangers ahead some days prior to this announcement.

The Minister of Trade in his budget speech pointed out the effects of the last campaign of slow fire and more fire on the number of persons who stayed away from Guyana and the resultant slump in tourism earnings. In some months during these campaigns the number of arrivals at our airport was cut in half or more. One has to wonder in these circumstances if the strategy of the PNC/R is aimed at promoting the national interest or if it is geared to securing power at all costs.

Any politician who tells you that he does not want power is either a fool or a rascal; however, the important thing is what he will do with the power that he wants. Is it power to roll people's heads or discriminate against people or to hand out the plums to political cronies and friends? In view of the predominant claim that the priority of the PNC/R is to represent the 48% of the population who did not vote for the PPP/C, what conclusion are we to reach?".

Should it not be the power to weld the people together into one mass by inspiring them to loyalty to Guyana? Should it not be a power to build an economy that is aimed at serving the people and distributing its products to all of the people and not a few? In the final analysis the Government's budget is a social budget and strives to do just that. It proposes to spend the revenues acquired for the benefit of all by providing free education, medical and other social services while spending to build infrastructure for sustainable development for the benefit of all Guyanese.

The price of economic freedom, however, must be paid in our effort at nation building. There are still some among us who do not yet appreciate that the building of a country is primarily the task of its own people. A country like Guyana cannot afford the parasite, the lazy, the inefficient and he who hopes that someone will till and feed him. We look with envy and admiration at the economic power of nations in the developed world but this did not come by wishing or seat warming. There are still too many among us who would like to see overnight the structures, institutions and standards of luxury which are to be found in North America and Europe, without realizing how much hardship and sacrifice went into providing these. In looking at these economies we will find one common trend; that is that hard work, sacrifice and the imagination of a people are the prerequisite of economic development.

Is this policy of active non-cooperation going to motivate the masses to shoulder the responsibility of nation building or is it that nation building must be put on hold until such time as the PNC/R finds a way to assume control of our democracy? Can that be accomplished by democratic means? Those of us who live in Georgetown must have noticed by now that investors have already taken note of the propensity for violence in the capital city. Some of the large business entities have already moved their operations out of town. Investors have located their properties in Berbice and Essequibo in preference to Georgetown. Is this how the PNC/R proposes to represent its supporters.?

As a developing country we have our problems but as Guyanese we should all be aware that violence is not the answer and will probably destroy us all. We must all understand that this country will never go forward until all of the various races cooperate on the basis of one people, one nation, one destiny.

Let us get it straight once and for all Guyana belongs to all Guyanese. We cannot do without the other people in the country and the other people cannot do without us. When anyone attempts to separate us, think carefully what plan he has in mind for us and ask yourself if he does not remind you of those who kept this country where it has been for all these years. We want this country for all of us and we can only achieve this through national unity and not some obscure policy of non co-operation.

Yours faithfully,

Eddie Newman