OPINION: We must go beyond apologies and condemnations, all must rise

Last Updated on Friday, 21 April 2023, 18:47 by Denis Chabrol

by GHK Lall

I note that PNC streetfighter, Ms. Carol Joseph, has issued an apology to Chronicle Reporter, Ms. Tamica Garnett.  Though the apology was of the conditioned variety (sort of sort of….), I applaud the development, especially the immediacy of it.  Ms. Joseph lost her head, but quickly found her manners, tongue, the necessary humility.  I note also that Vice President, Dr. Bharat Jagdeo, came out with a public condemnation of what was dished out to lash Ms. Davina Bagot, reporter for KN.  I commend this step by the PPP Government’s Vice President, and the party’s all-powerful General Secretary.  Though a little late in the day, I thank the Hon VP and GS for doing the right thing.  At the end of the day, all that the likes of Ms. Bagot, Ms. Wilburg, and Ms. Garnett are doing is their jobs, and rather insistently and sometimes assertively, all considered.  For this they should be respected, no matter how pushy they come across, however uncomfortable the questioning.

Now, I would like to take this a few steps higher.  It would have been helpful, most constructive, if the VP and GS had the presence of mind to issue a frank apology for what was meted out to Ms. Bagot.  I take Dr. Jagdeo’s sincerity and authenticity for granted relative to his Facebook condemnation of what happened to her.  I believe that an apology is necessary because that online site is believed to be owned and operated by agents of Dr. Jagdeo’s own People’s Progressive Party.  Regarding the funding, the backing, and the intellectual authorship of its reprehensible activities, most recently Ms. Bagot’s grievous reputational wounding, I leave those untouched today, in a spirit of peace, and of looking the other way.

The second place that I push forward with this in the raw, roiling, and raucous political, racial and now industrial (oil) contexts of Guyana is to the party and leadership levels.  Dr. Jagdeo has taken a significant first step, as both a government and party leader.  He and His Excellency Ali must now draw a line internally with hard policies that it must not be crossed under any circumstances.  It must be an immovable red line written in stone (not sand) and a straight one.  It must not be tampered with, or violated, notwithstanding what may be correctly or incorrectly interpreted as extreme provocations.  Government and ruling party have a duty to set the unbreachable standards in this regard, for sitting governments do not attack citizens found disagreeable, especially when they are doing an honest job.

Hard questions that cause consternation, even personal agitation, must never degrade to the point where the retaliatory is decided to be the response, solution.  To my brothers, President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo, honorable leaders, self-respecting men, never degrade to the obnoxious, the vicious, and the malicious.  In sum, they must each pass the word: not on my watch.  Not under this government.  Not on anything.  Let the questioners and critics and carpers carry on.  I, President Ali, I, Vice President and General Secretary Jagdeo, will not condone, will condemn.  I/we will go further: we will correct, and clean house, if it comes to that, with even those who believe that they are untouchable to be taught lessons, if such must be the case.

In parallel appeal and persistence, I call on Opposition Leader, Mr. Aubrey Norton, another Guyanese brother, to calm the troops, to quiet the uncontrolled, and to raise the bar on his own people.  We, the PNC, will not go there!  We will not be near certain kinds of conduct.  We will lay the groundwork, and build and project an infrastructure of mutual respect, of recognition for differences of approach and thinking, and we will hew to line, without fail.  The PNC Opposition has to do its part; this starts with the Hon. Leader of the Opposition.  His temperature is that of his people.  If he rages or curses or is the epitome of vehemence, then they will also be about the savaging and scurrilous, what is utterly condemnable, without qualification.

In general terms, our communication standards have been littered with the abusive and aggressive, appalling and atrocious.  I get snippets occasionally of what festers and flares on social media, and I am grateful that there is the good sense to keep my distance from that arcadian grove of reciprocal regard by Guyanese for Guyanese.  Our foreign friends, more likely fiends, must be laughing over their Johnnie Walker Blue, at how they have sewn up Guyanese and got them to unconsciously do their dirty work to bring down one another.

Last, I believe it is acceptable to be vigorous in communication, but it must never border on the barbarous or malodorous.  It is where the highest, most demanding, denominator must be used, and from which none must be found wanting.  Not PPP.  Not PNC.  And so help me God, hopefully, not I.  If in the course of my sharing, I have been too scorching, I am sorry.  No qualification, I regret.  No offense was ever intended.  Hold me thus.