What should I write?
Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
January 3, 2003

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Ten thousand pardons, sincere apologies to this column's fans especially - for beginning this tenth year's offerings with definite uncertainty, burn-out and journalistic saturation.

The truth is, as I would admit from time to time, the "popular" or current issues are so negative, so depressing that they already attract expert attention from professional journalists and habitual writers. Everyone is writing about everything. This democracy - under daily pressure - allows "a thousand views" to contend. The only reason, sometimes, that I do not allow this saturation to get to me is the encouragement from many, mixed with the fact that this offering represents the premier discipline in my scheme of things. So to keep my record intact, a few brief views follow.

I'm no hyprocrite

The next time I hear any People's National Congress (PNC) person criticize this newspaper - the Stabroek News I'll be harsh with him or her. Why? Well, even in the context of our culture which demands that we speak no ill of the dead, I experienced the Stabroek churning out numerous positive news-stories, tributes, obituaries, letters, articles, analyses and editorials which all, by and large, were in fulsome praise of the late PNC Leader Mr Desmond Hoyte. To me, the Stabroek out-did itself. As I've mentioned, our own Western Christian culture advises that only good things be spoken of the departed, in the immediate period of the funeral and its aftermath. But sometimes I nearly didn't recognize the saint-like, accomplished person being described. I suppose you may blame my own shortcomings for that even as you yourself would concede that there is hardly any man - dead or alive - of whom only good things may be said.

Even though asked and encouraged, I could not be hypocritical. The respectful thing to do was to keep my mouth shut and my pen on the desk or in my pocket. I did notice the Stabroek allowing one or two letters representing views against Mr Hoyte's tenure and policies. I did appreciate Tyrone Ferguson's obituary which touched on a few of Mr Hoyte's human frailties. For my part I know enough of Mr Hoyte's latter years to be in fulsome praise. All I'll do again is risk a repeat of questions I'd like some fair-minded analyst to assist me with. They follow:

"What would have become of Hoyte if Burnham had lived for another decade? Why did Burnham elevate Hoyte instead of the faithful Hammie? What virtue was politically at work - why did Hoyte reverse Burnham's restrictions on foodstuff from abroad?

If Hoyte inherited and won suspect electoral victories, how highly should you rate his attraction of investment (Omai, Barama) during his administration? (Should I dare link the politics of the assumption of power to investments by outsiders who care not about that?) What outside influences shoved Hoyte towards his ERP? Would you say that it was not Burnham's policies alone, especially at home, that occasioned Hoyte's ERP?

The best tribute that could be paid to anyone - including a late leader - is to be honest about it. Since I might be (deemed) biased, let me experience an honest assessment of Mr Hoyte at the appropriate time. And even as I hope that his Soul and Spirit "Rest In Peace", I am fully aware that it is not in my domain to determine that. I can only wish it. As I so do.

Free, until guilty?

As mentioned last week, I appreciate Mr Bertwald Bradshaw's explanations and response with regard to the question of bail being granted to persons merely accused and charged.

Believe me Sir, although not at all "learned in the law", I think I understand the purpose of bail. I appreciate too, the amount of discretion allowed a magistrate in this matter, as against what the law sometimes insists upon as regards bailable offences. And I consider too all you explain in your correspondence published in the Stabroek of Saturday December 21, 2002.

All I say now is this: that though "bail is a traditional right to freedom before conviction" and though "anticipated criminal activity alone cannot stand as a ground for the denial of bail", I, as a fearful law-abiding citizen, can demand that magistrates take into account the prevailing high levels of violent crime in my society as they relate to the reasonable suspicion and charges attracted by certain accused. Whilst the law exists for justice to be done to all, does it not also exist for the greater good of the wider law-abiding society?

I do appreciate all the niceties or legal technicalities and the criteria a magistrate has to consider, but I think that whether two youths are the sons of a Roman Catholic priest or four suspects sit on the Board of Directors of the Central Bank, once they were properly caught committing robbery under arms or with firearms and grenades by the Public Buildings, they should not be allowed pre-trial freedom in this environment.

I do learn from your mini-treatises, Mr Bradshaw. So stay safe. Stay secure. Especially from those dangerous accused now out on bail. (What a freedom-loving society we still enjoy.)

The New Church

Again, I'll hold this subject over for another time. But here is what the November 2002 Guyana Review wrote about the new popular Pentecostal churches and their ability to raise money - and their structures. "Churches obtain money through the payment of tithes (one-tenth of one's gross earnings) by members. Owing to the serious responsibility of handling money, each church has a Finance Committee which generally consists of a treasurer and two other members. Church members are expected to give regularly, individually, systematically, proportionately and loyally. Apart from tithes, members are often asked to contribute to a variety of "causes". Colourful names are given to the money demanded. These include love, seed, gift and offering.

Pastor O'Brian Welch of Gospel Beacon Mission Ministries explained that each church has its own organizational structure. Generally, there is a leader who may call himself or herself Pastor, Reverend, Bishop, Prophet, Elder, Mother and Apostle. That leader is often advised by a Council. However, the reality is that many small churches have a dictatorial system of government/administration.

Welcome 2003

We shall return to this soon.

1) Could you identify a true Hero or Heroine, from your community or in the wider society, for 2002?

2) I liked No Big Ting on Radio GBC this year. However, even as I appreciate that we enjoy - or endure - survival humour and tragic-comedy - for our sanity's sake, I sympathise with those victims who endure laughs made out of their tragedies. Life goes on, I guess.

3) Mr Hoyte, no mean raconteur himself, once jocularly offered to manage me and my short-story telling.

4) What type of welcome did LFS accord Dessie as they embraced?

'Til next week!

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