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OPINION: Presidents and former presidents must be diligent with truth and abandon the injurious

By GHK Lall

I have come to associate serial deception as part of the political games played recklessly and injuriously in this country. Yet there has to be some limit; some personal defining line that some of us will not cross, regardless of the media mileage. Or the political and racial leverages that may intrigue and compel others to besmirch others wrongfully. Greater care and personal principle have to be exhibited. But is there any such interest? Or is that part of the price for those who dare to engage in honest servanthood to country.

I read of the disclosures from a former president involving sizable plots of land awarded to Guyanese. If accurate, then there are serious problems, as to processes, awards, and recipients. Right off the bat, I say this: anyone who gets lands improperly or illegally should be exposed. I say this whether the awardees are PPP people or PNC people or Indo-Guyanese or Afro-Guyanese; or anyone else. I notice that the former president (an Indian former president) went to great lengths to tar and feather publicly and jarringly the targeted, who are almost all, if not all, Afro-Guyanese. In the interests of full disclosure, I share that a few of the named Afro-Guyanese are known to me; I consider them more than acquaintances.

Now I have little patience or tolerance for anyone—be he or she Afro-Guyanese or otherwise—who jumps the line, seizes opportunities unfairly, and benefits handsomely. It does not appear that any of those conditions applies to the awards made and received, as identified by the former president.

Even at this early stage, I think that the men have made a credible effort, through going to great and immediate lengths, to set the records straight. Except that in the minds of many, those records remain crooked: damage done, and which cannot be undone. I think that that is part of strategy and tactic: set a wildfire and then withdraw. There ought to be harsh penalties for such behavior.

From my standpoint, it is imperative that in the routine day-to-day of ordinary citizen interfaces and intercourses, certain minimum standards and sustained homage paid to facts and accuracy. And if that is what is expected-nay, demanded-of the man-in-the-street (the small man, the poor man, the working man, the young man and woman), then so much more has to be an integral aspect, nondebatable and nonnegotiable, for sure-of the verbal decorum and character comportment of presidents, whether present or past.

I am concerned to offer that, even as I can appreciate that such, most likely, falls on deaf ears. That is the risk run, and part of the high probability embedded. I don’t care if the rest of this country applauds such standards; I will stand for contrary truth. My expectations are rock-bottom, since there has been an easy willingness on the part of the former president to be negligent with truth, to be unfamiliar with things honorable. There are what could be delicately termed as priors. I suppose that is a constitutional right, though it does unerringly indicate some pathologies of a particularly revealing kind. That is regrettable.

In a race sensitive environment, an ultrasensitive one, taking to task and bringing down the maleficent is a justified and commendable objective. But it cannot be whimsically or capriciously, as those taints, do not fade easily, if ever. Moreover, in an all but official campaign season that promises to be both unprecedentedly scorching and scurrilous, the clear racial thrusts and stains cannot-and should not-be overlooked, regardless of the author, and how well-meaning the exercises and objectives. Motives and agendas have to be more tempered with religious devotion to truth. In view of my own observations, I am most unconvinced as to the genuineness in those regards with reference to the initiator and deliverer of these types of messages.

For the former president, there is no Geneva Convention; there is no responsibility towards enemies; there is no prioritization of what should be prudent; and which is so direly needed in this country. I sense that it is winning by any means for any ends. Nothing (in my book) is worth descending to the bottom of the bottom of the septic tank. My apprehension is that it is so effortless in this society for the tit-for-tat of reciprocal racial animosities and the accompanying social disintegration. Indeed, it is ice with a saran wrap texture: unpromising, rupturing, spilling.

There is this relentless drive and buildup to preconceived flashpoints on the part of the former president for special objectives, not so mysterious. This is playing with fire. Nero should be remembered. He, too, was a man untroubled by untruth.

Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.