Corbin acknowledges protests damaged image of PNCR
By Daniel DaCosta
April 1, 2003
PNCR leader Robert Corbin has acknowledged that his party’s image may have been damaged by its street protests “in the eyes of some people.”
He however argued that “at the same time it helped to galvanise our supporters to let them understand that this is a struggle and if we stayed passive the situation would have been infinitely worse today. The regime would have felt emboldened to break and breach the laws of the country in ways one could not contemplate.”
“It is true that we might have damaged our image but I would urge citizens to think what would have happened if the PNC wasn’t arguing about extra-judicial killings, if the Government did not understand that the PNC had a response to defend its supporters... I do not apologise for that.”
Corbin was at the time responding to a question by this journalist during an interview on LRTVS Channel 10 in New Amsterdam recently.
Were some radical elements within the party and criminal elements emboldened by the late leader, Desmond Hoyte’s statement of making the country ungovernable? “Mr Hoyte was misunderstood when he said the country would become ungovernable. He was predicting what would happen if you marginalise a large section of your society and behave as if 52 percent of votes won at elections is equivalent to 100 percent and totally disregard the views, aspirations and involvement of the other declared 42 percent. It is bound to happen and it has happened in almost every part of the world and history has taught us this,” was Corbin’s response.
Expanding on his explanation for the present crisis, the party leader said “the basis of our problem has been our inability to have a proper economic programme, to find jobs for our youths, to expand our economy, to invite foreign investment, to get new industries started and to promote proper social development programmes...so you have the effects of bad governance and this is what we are experiencing.”
The problem, he maintained, is not Hoyte’s “ungovernable” statement but the failure of the economy to perform.
What would be his strategy to address the present crime wave if he became President? “The first thing I would do is forge an alliance across all political, religious, business and social/cultural organisations. I would seek to bring everyone to the table in mutual respect. I would listen to them and map out a programme that is agreeable to all.”
According to the former party chairman: “I believe the crime situation is a common denominator and has no race, creed or colour. I would also involve the police and security forces and try to get communities involved also in the programme. We need a professionally trained Police Force with a good intelligence network. We need policemen who can endear themselves to the community and who understand that their duty is service and protection. But first we have to find out from policemen/women through an Inquiry what is going wrong in the Force and I believe a lot of them would have a lot to tell and how they can perform better.”
However, President Bharrat Jagdeo in an earlier interview with this newspaper argued that “we cannot bring in investments if every day people see an opposition that threatens to burn and destroy if they do not get what they want, saying there will be no peace, scaring investors away. That’s the problem we face. So if the money doesn’t come in we cannot generate jobs. Therefore our discussions with the opposition must be based on trust and love for country and with the understanding that Guyana belongs to all Guyanese who have equal rights...”
Referring to the unemployment question, the Head of State had said that a number of young people who are unemployed have refused to join the Police Force and/or other arms of the Security Services saying the salaries are too small even though they are earning nothing at the moment.
Jagdeo had also refuted claims that some areas were being neglected and marginalised, saying the government had spent millions of dollars in communities considered as PNCR strongholds since it assumed office.
But the president admitted that salaries within the Police Force and the wider Public Service were still low, noting that “we are still a very poor country but we have made a significant effort to improve the situation.”