This is dishonest commentary
The Freddie Kissoon column
Kaieteur News
January 26, 2007

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I don't pay attention to political commentary that comes from political parties, Governments, and their spokespersons. When I was small, I liked listening to the Voice of America, but the propaganda drove me away. The Voice of America offers the perspectives of the American Government.

The most boring newspaper is Granma, of the Cuban Government. Granma is free because, if it weren't, no Cuban would buy it. I doubt Fidel Castro reads Granma.

Sometimes, partisan commentary comes from so-called independent news media. Tony Vieira's commentary is so scatologically inane that only the converted would believe its content. Guyanese expect better social analysis from news houses, like the Kaieteur News and the Stabroek News.

You may not agree with the editorials in those newspapers, but at least you expect a position that is plausible, well argued, and one that seeks to achieve balance.

The Stabroek News has found itself in a large quarrel with the government over the distribution of advertisements. Even though the government argues that it is not economically feasible to allocate a majority of its placements with SN, there are those who believe that SN is on a crusade to hunt the government in that it sees no positive achievement by the PPP-led Administration, and that it goes out of its way to be nasty and unkind.

No matter how much a media house finds a government unacceptable in the way it carries out its mandate from the electorate, a news organisation has to preserve its professional integrity by accepting the facts as they unfold. To do otherwise is to jeopardise one's independent perspective.

Yesterday's editorial in the Stabroek News was unbelievably venomous against the government. Nothing is wrong with that. This writer has been accused of composing acidic assessments of the ruling PPP. Maybe I have been venomous. Maybe there is more like that to come.

However tempestuous is the critique of the government, it must not fall into the category of the talk-show hosts whom we saw on Channel 9 years ago.

Yesterday's SN editorial certainly dragged down the credibility of that paper, and may have exacerbated the conflict with the government. If the government was inclined to reconsidered its stance on the advertisement disagreement, after the President and his Ministers and the Freedom House princes read yesterday's editorial, they must have had a re-think on the rethink.

The editorial is on the University of Guyana and is titled, “ The Turkeyen Tragedy .” If there is anything in this life that I have some competent knowledge about, it is the University of Guyana. If you write about the University of Guyana, I can tell whether you are lying, trying to please the government, trying to blame the government, or talking the truth. The SN editorial was just a nasty piece of propaganda against the PPP.

The government was cited as the cause of UG's downfall rather than as a collaborator in the Turkeyen tragedy. There has been more than one actor in the Turkeyen tragedy. So much has been written on the Turkeyen tragedy that I don't believe the Stabroek News is not aware of it.

I will begin my criticism of that commentary in the SN by reference to a conversation I had with the young PPP Parliamentarian Irfan Ally, who is on the Council of the University representing the Ministry of Finance.

I told Mr. Ally that it is expected around the world, without any exception, that a government will put its own allies in important positions. No country, whether the US, Canada, the UK, Barbados, India, or any other enduring democracy has been the exception to this convention. What ruling parties do, however, is that they put their own people, who must have the required qualifications, and the definite expectation, is that they must perform.

The Stabroek News completely ignores this valuable lesson in politics in its assessment of the fall of UG.

I ask readers to ask themselves, even if the government controls the university, how can it be responsible for toilets that have not worked for months when all that is needed to get them going is some cheap PVC pipes and a plumber? The key for one of the main doors in the Faculty of Social Sciences went missing. That door remained closed for over one month. Surely, you can blame the government for political control, but administrators at the Turkeyen campus have abandoned every principle that informs the role of management.

Mischievously, the SN editorial dedicated not even a line to UG Administrators that don't care a damn about the institution.

“At present, the government seems to be blind to the shoddy conditions on campus, deaf to the pleas for help, and dumb in enunciating a practical plan to move UG out of its slough. It's (the Government) simple strategy has been to control the 21-member Council, and hence, the all powerful Finance and General Purpose Committee.”

This is a dishonest analysis, made worse by the fact that the editorial went on to praise the very people who have participated in the ruin of UG. This is mind-boggling nastiness. Even though the PPP put its henchmen at UG, what those henchmen found was unbearable, and they tried to correct it.

This writer is not a supporter of the government. This writer is not uncomfortable being classified as a government critic. But I know that it is wrong and dishonest to lay the blame for the decapitation of UG on the Guyana Government alone.

The Stabroek News referred to the 21 members of the Council of the University being controlled by the government, but even that PPP-dominated body, which also has a student representative, and this writer from the campus trade union, was disgusted at what they found at UG.

What the Stabroek didn't tell us is that, in seeking to control UG, the government installed some people at UG who cannot even run a 10th grade salt goods shop. But it serves the Stabroek's interest not to mention them in its poisonous editorial. So much for freedom of the press.