69 people who are born losers
Freddie Kissoon Column
March 17, 2007
I don't get upset when I hear the anger or see the tremor in the criticism of ruling politicians against the media.
The more you write about the wrongdoings of presidents, prime ministers and powerful policy-makers, the more they attack you. The media is always viewed by powerful men and women who run society as their nemesis.
We are not politicians so they can't easily paint us as opposition leaders who are out to score points.
Recently, President Jagdeo directed some emotionally charged comments on the media. Speaking to the officers of the GDF, he pointed to rumour-mongering in the media. He castigated the media for being lazy and for not reading enough. Then, at Dr. Jagan's death anniversary, he told his listeners that recently the media was distorting the history of the party (PPP) and the struggles of Dr. Jagan.
This is how he put it in reference to the media; “What is at stake here is the image of our party and our history. We cannot allow these fools and these people to distort what we stand for. Couple days ago some of them were angry with me when I say (sic) they were lazy. They would not research. Some of them think that because they are (sic) media, they are always right. That is not true.”
There was a part of the President's address to the army two Thursdays ago to which people in journalism ought to respond whenever they see or hear the President attacking the media. President Jagdeo told the soldiers that he doesn't care about the rumours. He said that if you are positive you can overcome anything in this world.
That is a perfect statement which I urge my colleagues in the media to adopt. Just be positive, understand that ruling politicians are insecure people that will hound you down when you expose them and just get on with bringing information to the people of Guyana that they ought to know about.
Information that will make them better informed about the country in which they live and in which they bring up their children.
Media functionaries should know that the same politicians that derogate you are the very people that are stingy with the flow of information. The same people that tell the media that they do not dig and that they do not research are the same people who have it in their power to accept one of the newest guarantees of a democratic society, the Freedom of Information Act, yet show no interest in it.
Ruling politicians in this country are responsible for whatever cynicism exists in the media community. They speak to you when it suits their purpose. They would love to be interviewed at any hour if it is to talk about their accomplishments. But they hide from you when controversy is in the air.
We can write how much we want about powerful policy-makers who behave worse than rum-shot louts. Next day, we hear that they are promoted to even ministerial positions. We can write how much we want about how unfair the treatment is of Celina's Atlantic Resort, with regards to parking arrangement, no one in the halls of power will find it shameful.
We can write how much we want about wrong people given top class jobs and whose competence will set back Guyana for years (as in the case of UG) but the ideology of “jobs for the boys” will not be abandoned even for the future of Guyana
I would urge my colleagues in the media to keep on writing and don't be daunted by confrontational language by those who possess power. The media will get it wrong and when it does, apologies are in order.
We have a party that has been in power for 15 years, yet we in the media are accused of rumour-mongering when in those fifteen years, despite all the evidence that have surfaced on corruption not one second-tier leader of the government has faced an inquiry much less those at the top.
Remember that famous saying; “damn if you do, damn if you don't.” The best attitude to adopt is the one the President enunciated when he spoke to the army. Be positive and just get along with what you believe in. And this is what I am doing as a media operative. I will keep digging to unearth the truths of my country.
Here is one such truth. Seven persons since last year spoke to me about promises by Food for the Poor (FFTP) to build houses free for them but it hasn't happened as yet because FFTP cannot get permission from Government.
I found this strange. Why would FFTP need permission when you are doing a phenomenally brilliant task of building houses for the needy classes?
These seven poor persons showed me their successful applications. For the entire period of 2006, officials of FFTP refused to speak to me saying that they represent a charity organisation that avoids controversy. I merely wanted to know the facts of the situation.
Early this year, I learnt from one of the complainants that about fifty persons are waiting for their little dwelling quarters. Officials of Food for the Poor were very brief. I was told that 69 persons will be given free houses but the organisation cannot go ahead in the Diamond and Grove housing estates because it has written to the Ministry for approval for their model.
Food for the Poor would like to know if the designs meet the code of the Ministry in those two areas. For more than three years, it has not heard from the Ministry of Housing. The members told me as soon as permission is given, construction will begin immediately.
But something weird happened. Once you are given a low income house-lot, a structure must be in place before one year. After a year, if there is no house, the Ministry refunds you a percentage of the money and reclaims the land. These 69 persons just haven't got any luck; they are born losers.
I tried for two weeks to get Ministry officials to speak to me but was told that I have to discuss it with the Minister. I have failed to get the Minister on the phone for two months now. I have given the media something to work on. Let's help these poor people.
Now is this housing issue a fact or is it a rumour? I guess the answer depends on where you stand.