Media should do more on parliamentary impasse - President
Stabroek News
May 11, 2002

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President Bharrat Jagdeo lambasted the media at the opening of the annual army officers' conference on Thursday, saying it only wanted to sensationalise issues instead of engaging in constructive debate.

Speaking about the current parliamentary impasse, the reasons behind it and the impact it had on the establishment of commissions, he opined that the media did not follow up this angle because "it requires too much work and research." The President did not single out any media house.

At the start of his address, the President told the conference that there were issues he would like deal with but would do so when the media was not present because he did not want his statements to be distorted in the news. "If the media distorts what I had to say, then I will have to live with it," the President said at the end of his address. He added: "They would say I bashed the media today, but I don't care."

President Jagdeo stated that there were no debates on why the parliamentary commissions were not established. He noted that the constitutional changes effected recently departed radically from countries which used the Westminster model of Parliament.

This brought about the institutionalising of the Human Rights Commission, the Indigenous Rights Commission, the Gender and Equality Commission, the Ethnic Relations Commission, and the Commission for the Rights of the Child. He said these commissions had far-reaching powers, which could be used for the benefit of the people.

He declared that his government was ready to establish the commissions but the process has been stalled. The service commissions have also not been established.

The President stated that the inter-party dialogue was important to a country like Guyana.

He said even though the experiment of multi-party governments in South Africa, Yugoslavia, and Ireland failed miserably these could only thrive where there was trust and the rule of law. He said Guyana had a wonderful opportunity at the level of Parliament but this has not been taken up.

Speaking about the crime situation and related matters, President Jagdeo noted that Guyanese had strong feelings about preserving the country's territorial integrity but lamented that Guyana was being destroyed from within. "Many things are happening. Guyana is gradually sliding into chaos if (these are) not addressed," he said.

The head of state declared that enclaves for criminals must not be allowed.

He said it was a recipe for disaster and stated that if criminals were allowed to be the new heroes for the children then Guyana was in a bad shape.

He said it would haunt whoever was in government and the society would never realise its true potential.