Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 May 2022, 12:44 by Writer
by GHK Lall
On the grand occasion of the celebration of Indian Arrival Day, the PPP Government initiated what comes across as the curious celebration of its own. It came in the form of “Gov signals intent to “streamline” social media news entities” (Demerara Waves, May 5). On the face of it, this intent signaled from the Hon. Prime Minister’s office looks innocent and insightful at first, and then one that is intricately laced with what could be far from constructive, and mostly treacherous. Treacherous to press freedoms, treacherous to free speech in general, and treacherous to the ideals of fair play and all those other playthings of democracy with which PPP leadership toys mischievously, self-servingly.
My first take was simple: where are these guys in the PPP brain trust going with this? What have they concocted now in that busy insider’s laboratory that dream up these things to put the squeeze on Guyanese? After that early rush, things settled down, and I came to three places, as to where the PPP Government could be going, what it is planning, and how it is preparing the field for its next move(s).
First, it was that this notice of a coming exercise to “streamline” social media news entities had in its sights those channels and presences in cyberspace that expose the deceptions of the PPP’s relentless propaganda machinery present just about everywhere. To elaborate, I think what is on the drawing board in Freedom House, using the official conduit of the Prime Minister’s office, could include how to narrow their field of operations; how to minimize to some extent, via some tricky way, the reach and countering influence of such presences; how to police them without appearing to be too vindictive or punitive. In this instance, the PPP Government cannot be accused of being secretive since it gave early notice of what is in store. Yet, the more I think of that specific aspect of minimizing and squeezing social media news entities known for candor and straight positions, the more I discern serious troubles in the making for this government should it get it in its head to run down that road.
In view of the layered and loaded contents of that World Freedom of the Press Day joint statement from the ABCEU ambassadors, moving to limit the local press in any way would result in a stink, a sleeping dog kicked, and sharp reactions from all corners, both local and foreign. Two sections of the independent press, one with a significant social media news presence, have already made their positions clear, and not in what could be considered a mild-mannered way. It was: get out of here! Get off that horse! Get going somewhere else with that sneaky, slinky one. Stabroek News and Demerara Waves have registered their sharp reactions.
The second place that I see the PPP Government going with this so-called intent—really, this spit bubble testing the atmosphere—is no less scurrilous and underhanded. I sense that this business of devoting energies and scarce brain cells to “streamline” is a tricky, backdoor vision baring the true intention of the Government. It is to bring under the broad social media tent, those discredited outlier outfits, those disreputable guttersnipe operations, and those fly-by-night social media concerns to give to them a sheen of legitimacy and respectability, and some traces of standing and dignity. Things are so bad, and mainly within the social media cabals and assemblies that the PPP strings together, even the usually placid and tame Guyana Press Association was compelled to call them by the most disparaging of descriptions. Those included: challenges with the English Language, which is the worst of insults, given it is the mother tongue; incompetence, and not worth the space they occupy, or the attention lavished upon them by a crafty leadership council in the PPP. It couldn’t get worse than that, which I think accelerated the push of the Government to table this intent to “streamline” social media news outlet earlier than at a date in the making.
As I put this before the public, it must always be remembered, never be forgotten, that whatever the leaders in the PPP Government come up with, it is usually a two-edged sword, a double-headed snake. Nothing is as it seems, or made to appear, on the surface. Thus, to announce readying to “streamline” social media news entities is not to put that unruly, largely unmanaged, rat’s nest in order. And since it has earned a stellar reputation for being a party obsessed with total control, this is as good a way to get closer to that ultimate goal.
Third, and last, I detect this prepping to “streamline” cyber media agencies focusing on the news may possess some financial considerations. It is to lay some fees (additional) on those that are going concerns, to make them pay for the privilege of operating in the local social media space. The end game would be to make the financial realities of their business more demanding. It would be a clever way of forcing them out of business. Then, it would be a smooth, under the table, way of inserting the borderline social media barkers into the cyber mainstream, and possibly advertising cash flows, compliments of a thankful party and state. Since they are suspected to be huge beneficiaries of PPP sponsorship (another propaganda arm), the only ones paying/losing from their own dollars would be those operating as unsubsidized businesses.
As said, to streamline doesn’t have to rise to this level of concern, thoughts going in these dark places. But Guyanese have come to appreciate that they are not dealing with a government or leaders that are either pure or patriotic people. This will be confirmed as I assert, or otherwise, soon enough.