The Stadium cometh! Frankly Speaking
By A.A. Fenty
Stabroek News
March 26, 2004

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Hello - hello - hello, friend and foe. Just brief - and I hope "cerebrally-provocative" - comments on various issues.

Now, take my bad caption above. Somehow my gut feeling, based on the very public declarations, the signed agreements and the practical preparations already in train by the Ministry of Sport, my instinct is that we are actually going to get an international stadium for cricket and other games this time around.

Therefore one would think that this is positive, non-partisan and welcome news. Why can't, why won't that be so. Because this is post-1997 Guyana. Everything from beauty pageants to ice-cream to stadia can provoke "controversy"! Just think about it: like a proper recording-studio, an international swimming pool, an acceptable cycle track, a real State-of-the-Art Convention Centre, a factory to make bath soap or safety matches, a reliable electricity supply for coastal Georgetown and an international Olympic-standard Stadium - all these decades- overdue necessities we living here do not have the privilege of enjoying. As for elevators, traffic lights and trouble-free cellular-telephone service we have to visit, live or long for in other people's countries to enjoy what others take for granted.

I had always felt that unlike the normal folks in nearby Cayenne, we would have never experienced any satellite-launching centre such as the Texan Beal deal proposed for the North West District a few years ago. We have become at the selfish political level, too fractious, contentious and blighted a would-be nation.

So what can go wrong with the Indian-assisted stadium slated for Diamond on the East Bank of the Demerara? What can the professional Opposition find to protest about with regard to this project? (Incidentally, seven stadia were built in neighbouring Trinidad for a soccer World Cup Series when Mr. Panday governed - compliments of Jack Warner whom I'll comment on much further below.) I heard Colin Croft and his fellow-commentators discussing how prescient, business-like and action-oriented many countries are years before any international sporting event comes to their nation's venues. Planning and implementation is a top priority.

Not here these days. There is bound to be contention over the overdue stadium. How I'd love to be proven wrong. So then, can't the politically-savvy Minister of Sport call in the would-be stakeholders now? Lessen the potential concerns. Who's best equipped to supply the cement, the steel, the sand, the glass, the lumber, the transportation, the telecommunication, the labour, the new technologies - even the food?

Because of the state of things; the organisation of wealth, qualifications and "position", there are bound to be those who will be in a letter position than others to be the importers, suppliers, entrepreneurs and providers when the Construction of the Stadium gets underway. But can't some capable have-nots benefit. Let all who qualify stand a chance, authorities. Let the procedure be transparent. In a project such as the Stadium will be, arrange openly for as many as possible to benefit from it.

Perhaps we'll hear something from the Umana Yana on Tuesday. (I'm more interested in the reality of the stadium in front of hosting the World Cup, strangely.) Remove the blight! The Stadium cometh!

Gajraj rescues the PNC?

Just as the local Associated Press correspondent had an African-American newspaper report a few weeks ago, so too a Hackney Black Peoples Association meeting in the United Kingdom decided on March 7 last: that Home Affairs Minister Gajraj - they spelt it "Gagrag" heads a "Phantom Death Squad" that probably "slaughtered" "400 Guyanese Africans". Wow!

This "solidarity with Africans in Guyana Meeting" at Stoke Newington Road, London, even associated the allegation that "the Hindu religion sanctions the slaughter of Africans" with the beleaguered Minister. I repeat these extreme declarations to expose them for what they are. For whatever may be Gajraj's proven sins, he could not have invoked any Hindu philosophy to sanction the "killings" of "Africans". But with the presence of Ras Tom Dalgety and the "teachings" from the Kean Gibson book, other London-based Africans were appropriately misled.

That's why I state that the PNC especially has used the allegations against the Home Affairs Minister to erase - from the minds and conscience of the uninformed - the multitude of very real, past crimes of the very PNC. Only the wary, the experienced and those with the memories would easily recall the multitude of excesses committed by pro-PNC enforcers, special squads and party thugs. Happily for the Sophia fellows all sins were, have always been, and are Gajraj's.

But I understand some of the success of that campaign might be wearing thin, especially in the areas where the bandits have resumed their rampage! You can't bad-talk Gajraj to any of the communities now victim to bandits who, incidentally, are not likely to vote PPP/C if in fact they do vote. Why, I understand that there are silent calls for the resurgence and "effectiveness" of certain protective squads to balance the violence of the well-armed criminals. Where do we go from here, commissioner?

More Guyana today...

1) What the bandits do - do you read those gory accounts of what the armed criminals do to innocent, unarmed working-class victims in their homes and business-places during the robberies? Beating and humiliating females; brutalising young males and related atrocities?

Even if those victims were your very own, if you were/are moralistic and a rule-of-law believer, you would want those criminals to be apprehended, prosecuted within our judicial system and their legal rights.

Others, understandably, now prefer speedier, grass-roots justice!

2) My ridiculous analogy? Insurgent guerrilla warfare in Baghdad threatens the American soldiers. Undercover Phantom Squad techniques here threaten Bandits - and others marked for punishment. Which is not acceptable?

3) Will that bridge at Prospect on the East Bank of Demerara ever be completed?

4) Next week: How free should be public health care?

5) On football: FIFA's Blatter, Jack Warner and Colin Klass are seemingly unbeatable. Do you know the salaries for the Guyana Football Federation's General Secretary, his typists and office assistants? Do you know where our football is?

6) On Cricket: I give up with LBW decisions - I leave it to the poor umpires who don't see the technology till afterwards. It's not that the ball would hit the wicket as when I was little. It's now the pitch and height!

Well-well-well. The (Muslim) women's Pakistani Cricket Team has to be most interesting. Could the Saudis or Iranians field a women's team?

'Til next week!