The boys at the bar Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
October 18, 2002

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(No! I’m not referring to the recent admission to the local Bar of those numerous West Indian-trained lawyers, so proudly proclaimed in the local media. Lawyers/Attorneys fuh so!)

Rather, I’m indulging in a levity-mode reportage of the views of some of the fellows I sat with at a popular watering-hole some time ago. These guys are quite knowledgeable of most subjects in the world, all local issues and full of informed opinion. Their expertise is either actual, real, or alleged.

Many years ago, when one of Guyana’s most versatile journalists, Henry Walter Josiah, was teaching me, unintentionally, to live in sin at various rum-shops and “liquor restaurants” he would never-the-less, insist on one condition - that intelligent, enlightening or intellectually provocative conversation must accompany the “drinks”. And so it was the other day as the fellows, many with actual experience, previous or contemporary knowledge expounded. Actually, it reminded me of a series I did for radio years ago. That was called “The boys at the bar.”

Now you decide how seriously you must take today’s offering. If you read the local newspapers with any consistency, you might have a minor dilemma in deciding. There are so many other peculiar features and “columns” on other days, in this paper - and in others. It’s all up to you. Now separate the sublime from the ridiculous; the serious from the humorous.

The Media at crime scenes
I raised this with the fellows - some of them being “media operatives” at one time or the other. Trying to save the remarks from being all farce - on this issue - I voiced my disapproval of enthusiastic reporters invading fresh crime scenes and trampling on or interfering otherwise with vital evidence that the law enforcement officers need to hear or analyse.

Naturally, one observation from the fellows had to do with the ridiculous response time of our police: the media get to the scene long before the investigators. Eye-witnesses are glad to speak to the television cameras instead of the police - even though the police are still summoned to assist. My view was/is that the media should be kept at safe distances away until investigations are completed and all evidence gathered. Conclusion? Both media and police need more training in how to treat crime scenes. But how do we deal with the over-enthusiasm, the indiscipline, the conventional ignorance? And who can stop today’s newspapers? From investigating the crime on the front pages?

The president, poverty and politics (PPP?)
I supported my President fully. No profound analysis necessary - if you know what he knows - or have the accounts or intelligence shared with me. Even as the fellows berated me - most were not fans of Bharrat Jagdeo - I stood firm with the President’s observation: certain destabiliser/politicians are exploiting people’s status of need, sometimes poverty to sow the seeds, or heighten dissident behaviour. These out-of-power politicians play - and prey - on poor people’s problems. It’s easy to blame the incumbent administration for all of society’s ills.

As the President explained, there was always poverty; there still is; but banditry and murder did not feature in such an organised manner - under the “motivation” of marginalisation. How will this eradicate the poverty? By forcing the hand of the government? I, however, am of the same opinion still.

On the escapees’ ‘achievements’
One of my closer friends - a pal who exasperated me months ago by insinuating that the five murderous fugitives had “a story to tell.” He had tended to play down their nefarious banditry; perhaps their role on behalf of political destabilisers - and the influence and “inspiration” they provided initially to the lesser criminal lights outside the prison.

Again, the other day this professional had a curious spin on the “achievements” of the escapees. It was not Mr. Hoyte’s $250M demand. There was an open mind on that one. But in declaring that “the bandits were making things happen”, my friend pointed to the wake-up call now jolting the government into providing the police force with all its needs, as never before. I could have responded about the price being paid, the lives lost. Instead I downed another drink.

On `certain’ businessmen
We touched on the shutdown in the commercial area last week Wednesday and Thursday. I appreciated its intention but pointed out the peculiar spin put on it by the opposition media.

One guy ignored all that and asked me whether I knew that certain big businessmen - with guilt on their record and souls - are being called by bandits in the know - or are they former colleagues? The businessmen are being made to pay ransoms in advance! Threats of abductions of loved ones are being thrown around with abandon and precision. And the guilty are paying up, it is alleged.

And some businessmen are applying for more weapons and for permission to carry some. What is the `Ministuh’ going to do, I’m asked. I promised to find out....

Poor Panday
When I voiced my sympathy for Trinidad’s Basdeo Panday, the fellows swooped on me. (They didn’t happen to be fans of the Bas’).

I recalled A.N.R Robinson assisting Panday to assume power when the PNM was deposed. Made President, Robinson consulted God last year, or earlier this year when he installed Manning, effectively making Manning’s 18 seats more than Panday’s 18 seats. Now incumbency and the various developments worked against Basdeo. He’s now “out like south.” The boys were unkind.

Noting President Jagdeo’s normal congratulations to Manning last week, they asked: what was Panday doing here - at Le Meridien and at certain homes - raising funds for his campaign? And amongst Indo-Guyanese in Queens, New York?

Even as I spoke about Basdeo’s right to get help from friends, I downed another drink. The boys at the bar are something else!

See you....
1) Should the cameras be allowed into hospital emergency units?
2) When Mr. Hoyte asked for the $250M for Buxton last week, a PPP fellow suggested that the PNC itself might be able to assist, from donations recently received - before, during and after its Congress earlier this year.

3) Remember my placard for months now? “Support Six-Head, back Braithwaite, hang in with Harris.” Two world champs in a week!

`Til next week!