No room for anti-national behaviour by Robert Persaud
Guyana Chronicle
July 25, 2004

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THE defence and advocacy of the virtues of one’s country is a task for each citizen. Every citizen owes that much to his or her country. To act contrary, would be tantamount to an abdication of a national task. A very simple chore every Guyanese should do is to ask oneself: what can I do today, to make my country a better place?

Our political culture requires greater emphasis on doing things that will benefit Guyana: not only for any individual cause or a particular political party. Guyanese should be above partisan or group interests. Developing this attitude or posture requires the involvement of the homes, places of worship, schools, community groups, the media and yes, political parties.

The level of contribution of these entities in inculcating such national values and feelings is debatable. The education system from the Nursery level must play a central role in moulding students and adults-to-be with feelings of national responsibility and pride. If the schools are left out of this process then there is much to lose later by creating a population that is not fully nationally self-aware and responsible. With an increasing number of private schools, efforts should be intensified to ensure that these institutions play their part in educating a population about its national responsibilities and loyalty to one’s country.

The skeptics about the need for loyalty to one’s country may ask: is there any relevance of national responsibility in the context of a global environment? The answer is a resounding: yes! This is more so needed with an ever-globalising environment and world. It must be made clear that national feelings and loyalty to country is not the same as being parochial and insular. That’s the old form of nationalism which rejected everything from the outside. There is no contradiction in being a fierce nationalist and a global realist or internationalist. The two are complementary. It’s simple: a nationalist and global realist would ensure that the country is prepared for the global realities and that Guyana stakes its rightful claim.

Guyana has suffered because some forces have refused to put country above their self-interest and hunger for power. The Government has for the past several years been working hard to lift Guyana out of poverty and the poor governance it inherited from the former regime. There have been much recorded progress, but work still continues. There is hard work to make Guyana a better country or a shining example of a bankrupt state now standing firm on its own economic feet in a competitive economic environment.

A certain opposition party in 1997, feeling guilty of the stigma of its being anti-national, proclaimed as its campaign slogan – Putting Guyana First. This was merely sloganeering rather than resolve to act. This Party and its acolytes have nevertheless embarked on a campaign locally and overseas to `badmouth’ Guyana.

When the President of Guyana and the administration act in the national interest, they are criticised by these individuals. This group, contrary to the wishes of its supporters, does little or nothing to promote the country or support national projects and initiatives. For them, if Guyana looks good, then the government would be seen in a better light. But while this may be true, it’s the people of Guyana who gain from the results of development. That is more important than the government looking good. This anti-national behaviour saw certain opposition-controlled regions, in the early days of the PPP/C government, delaying and preventing development taking place in these different regions. This group would fly to Washington to lobby the international agencies not to support poverty reduction projects or debt write-off for Guyana. They have even sought to block investment planned for communities which are their traditional support base.

A recent manifestation of this anti-national stand by the main opposition is the lack of support for the government’s efforts to oppose a proposal to change the European Union sugar regime. They take umbrage at the President of Guyana’s frank and well-articulated strong comments against the proposal which would harm our sugar industry in the long term. Instead of rallying behind this national effort, this group attempts to undermine the lobbying campaign. We all remember the recent infamous border Memorandum of Understanding between the PNCR and a Surinamese opposition party led by Desi Bouterse.

It’s time some political operatives match deeds with their words. They pay lip service to the national interest, but do everything to harm this very interest.

The government has led the way in advancing and preserving the national interest. It is time the opposition and others who adopt anti-national positions get in line for the good of Guyana.
Robert M. Persaud