Minister of State, Joseph Harmon on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of government asking the State-owned Guyana Chronicle to revisit the removal of Professor David Hinds and trade unionist Lincoln Lewis as columnists in that publication.
“I would not want to say that. That is a matter for the board and the Chronicle- the management of the newspapers- that’s their business,” he told reporters after a prayer breakfast for parliamentarians held at the Marriott Hotel.
The State Minister said he was not aware of any decision by the executive to ban the columnists from writing in the publication. Harmon said he was unable to say whether there was any discomfort by government or sections of the administration about the contents of the usually harshly critical columns of the administration, but he later said that others might have been discomforted.
“Certainly, from my part I have never had a discomfort. In fact, I welcome those kinds of criticisms because it makes you better and stronger and on many occasions responded to them,” he said. Asked whether there was any discomfort by other members of the executive about the writings of Hinds and Lewis, he told Demerara Waves Online News, “I can’t say because it was never a matter of policy that was discussed. There may have been some persons who might have been uncomfortable but I cannot say specifically whether there were actually persons who were discomforted by it.”
The Guyana Press Association, United States-based former journalist and investment broker, Wesley Kirton and the Working People’s Alliance have all criticised the decision that Editor-in-Chief, Nigel Williams said he made in his own deliberate judgement.
The Board of Directors of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited- publishers of the Chronicle- earlier this week upheld Williams decision by a slim 5-4 majority.
The Working People’s Alliance, of which Hinds is an executive member, has also condemned government, saying the move against Hinds and Lewis was repressive.
The columnists have said that they have sufficient basis to conclude that their removal from the pages of the government-controlled publication was politically directed.
However, the State Minister said that the governing APNU+AFC coalition has “always encouraged” freedom of press and freedom of expression.