Frankly Speaking
By A.A. Fenty
Stabroek News
March 12, 2004

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No contact has been made yet but I expect it soon and I can imagine my acquaintance from fairly far up in the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) reacting as he would to an apparently on-going series in the Stabroek News and Sunday Stabroek.

You see, I have for many years, engaged both fellows from the PPP and the PNC, with respect to the "treatment" their respective parties receive from this my favourite newspaper. From time to time it is manifestly evident that both parties find strong bias, partisanship and "anti-PPP", "anti-PNC" sentiments in certain editorials, consistent letters published and slants in articles and news stories.

Frankly speaking, for my part, I've read editorials in SN reminding the society of the PNC's worst excesses and mis-management including both its crude and sophisticated corrupt practices - as well as its current criticisms of what it perceives to be the frequent or continual blundering of this Jagdeo administration. When PNC leader Hoyte died two Decembers ago, I dared the PNC General Secretary or any PNC faithful to fault the Stabroek's coverage. For days the paper devoted thousands of column inches to the Departed Desmond. What was or is partisan about that?

But on television and in print, I've heard Publisher/Editor-in-Chief David de Caires' views and assessment of what he feels to be the legacy of both Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham. And Mr de Caires often says words to the effect that "if they both are equally upset, we (SN) must be doing something right." As I tried to discern the SN Publishers' bias from time to time, I veer towards the view that, if anything political, this paper would favour the now-nebulous third force. (Say an original WPA, ROAR, or an "Alliance" of patriotic dissidents, young Turks and "civic society"?)

But hey! Back to my caption - "the Stabroek and the Phantoms". Though my PPP man has not called yet, some of us were discussing the Stabroek "Series" (of articles) on the alleged activities of the alleged phantom killer-gang. Merely great investigative work? Much of that and more. Informants obviously trust the Stabroek's editors and journalists. And any self-respecting paper in a society under siege, such as this one appears to be, or is made out to be, has a duty, I suppose, to expose wrong-doing at all levels. (A few editorials do upbraid the PNC on various "positions" too).

My PPP die-hard, however, would see it differently I suppose. The Stabroek's Axel Williams/Ronald Gajraj "series" would surely be viewed as fashioned to be supportive of the PNC's associated-groups' calls for resignations, dismissals and enquiries. The Stabroek News pieces could be easily construed as presenting the public and the world with the body of evidence openly there to indict! Perhaps the Police should show more active interest in these pieces. I suppose I can anticipate the problem with the Stabroek News investigation and exposures, as against the police prosecutors' need for witnesses and evidence to present - in Court!

Oh well, I tell my PPP friend, when he calls, that he should appreciate that the Stabroek does carry Chronicle-like good news development stories from time to time. And if he - my PPP die-hard - wishes to be upset with any media or journalist, he should not even bother with the usual Idi Amins' of local television. Rather he should concentrate on the work being done by two top journalistic executives: Enrico and Adam.

Enrico can really dig! He unearths governmental and official wrong doings allegedly executed by Administration operatives. His investigations and findings suggest official involvement or complicity sometimes. Enrico's investigations have him roaming foreign capitals and other cities. Apparently, like any good journalist, Enrico has his impeccable "sources" - in the Embassy, Telephone House - and all the Ministries. His colleague Adam can be as subtle too, and seemingly "Got de police (sources) lock!"

"Please, Mr Immigration man"

If no reason is found to revoke or "cancel without prejudice" my US "visitors visa", when next I present myself to the immigration officer at New York's JFK International Airport, certain thoughts are likely to flash through my mind.

It's not that despite my beard and Indian appearance and my looking like an Islamic, Arabic "Mohammed", I feel that the officer might deem me "Terrorist".

Rather it is the fact that my passport will always be a Guyana passport. I'll be thinking: Please Mr Officer, not because I'm Guyanese to the core, still living in the land of my birth, means that I'm into cocaine trafficking! No Mr Officer this particular proud sixty-year old knows it is too late to now start that type of thing to improve my deplorable financial status. No Sir, believe me. I'm as upset with those Guyanese couriers and baggage handlers at the airport as your government is. I abhor what they are doing to the name and image of my relatively-innocent country. So please, whether openly or in your mind, don't lump me with those hustlers.

Trust me, Mr Immigration Man, I'm here once again to apply for entry for two-three weeks to visit my cousin, who came here nearly forty years ago, and contributed legally, to making your country the place that it is. Thank you Mr Officer. And, of course, I will return to my Guyana, where my "navel-string" should be.

Things as they areā€¦

1) Whatever reasons the foreign missions have for revoking the visas of the government ministers and the police officers, I am wondering what the US embassy has against Minister Gajraj's wife.

2) So the Trades Unions Congress has not accommodated GAWU's concerns.

3) Both GAWU and the Private Sector will favour a significantly higher tax threshold so that the working class could take home more actual pay.

4) When do libel cases get heard in these parts?

5) Commissioner Felix has had his type of negative welcome of sorts: a berserk ex-cop kills and some of his officers reportedly have their visas revoked. Welcome to this Guyana world, Sir.

6) Stabroek's "note to letter writers": "Please keep them as short as possible and to the point". I smile wryly as I note many apparently tough-to-edit contributions from some regular locals and, increasingly, overseas-based professional writers. What length!

7) Banks DIH Managing Director Clifford Reis has me feeling so much like an unpatriotic traitor. Reason? I'm really off my locally-produced Banks Beer these days. But surely the Ministries concerned should take action on what's happening to our local beer.

`Til next week!