Guyana Chronicle
September 21, 2003

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THE Guyana Police Force (GPF) has done itself and the country a service by its very firm, unequivocal condemnation of the recent slanderous, racist propaganda to which it has been subjected by allegations made on Channels Nine and Six about an ethnic recruitment plan.

But it should not have been left just for the GPF to challenge what it found necessary to dismiss as "ill-conceived, malicious and extremely crass" statements on these TV outfits, known for their constant crude political and race-hate propaganda.

The governing and opposition parties should also have considered it appropriate to join in the condemnation of this latest, clear attempt to undermine the integrity of the hierarchy of the GPF, and to generate further racial divisions amid ongoing high-level efforts to improve governance and foster social harmony.

It could perhaps be said that spokesmen of both the government and ruling PPP/C have had good cause to previously criticise the political mischief, the race-oriented harangue that are standard practices of Channel Nine especially. Therefore, that party would readily support the stand taken by the GPF.

But the PNC/R cannot pretend to be unaware of the serious implications of the allegations made against the GPF about a claimed decision to engage in ethnic recruitment in favour of Guyanese of East Indian origin. Hence, the PNC/R's failure to even issue a mild rebuke to Channels Nine and Six could be further exploited by those bent on engaging in political mischief and racial/cultural slander.

The Reality
There is, of course, the dilemma for the PNC/R in taking issue with Channel Nine when, for a start, the very official name of that commercial entity is taken into consideration.

Nevertheless, the "reckless and preposterous" statements, to quote the GPF, made on those television channels without offering a scintilla of evidence, without any attempt to separate rumours from facts, should also be taken into consideration by the Disciplined Forces Commission in the fulfilment of its current mandate.

The reality of the politics and culture, the factors of racial insecurity and need for confidence-building in key national institutions, like the disciplined forces, would suggest the need for serious reappraisals in their structures and functioning to better respond to today's challenges.

This cannot be achieved by sacrificing fundamental principles on the altar of political expediency or by adopting myopic and band-aid responses.

Now that the major and minor political parties, as well as civil society groups have made their submissions to the Disciplined Forces Commission, those not bent on spreading political and racial divisions should await the findings and recommendations of the Commission.

Maligning the GPF, as the two television channels have done, could simply be part of a political strategy to scare that institution away from any serious effort to critically review its recruitment policy and practices.

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