OPINION: Guyana is in a dark and dirty place

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 June 2024, 20:25 by Writer

by GHK Lall

Corruption is more than a cancer. Corruption is more killing Guyanese by a thousand cuts. Corruption is embalming Guyana while its citizens are still alive. First, the vital national organs are removed. What this country has left is the people that fall under the shell of inhabitants. Citizens are too high a branch to be aimed for, to harbor any hope of touching. In moving forward, I accuse no one, nor condemn and judge anyone.

The critics were roundly booed for highlighting corruption, its incredible scale, the insidious reach of its tentacles, the heights to which it soared. Those not ignored were targeted and attempts made to mash out of public existence. Then the Americans came with their announcement. I have never seen such an overnight conversion among political heavyweights. They are now holier than me, which is rather easy to achieve. But in all their newfound integrity about corruption in Guyana’s top political presences, there is still the greatest reluctance to let yesterday be a culture of the past. Not a past just denied or attempted to evade, but a past truly and comprehensively abandoned with the life stamped out of it and, for good measure, strangled to the last breath squeezed. From my interpretation of post US Treasury Department via OFAC developments, some elements were conspicuous. Nobody in the PPP Government denied or dismissed or sought to minimize what was tabled. It is good. What would be better is if the PPP leaders who are making so many impressive speeches about what they are planning to do about corruption mean what they say. That is, follow through with energy and passion on their public commitments. Corruption is such an addiction for the PPP that discovering principles is not enough, though a good start. The party’s top brass must clean up the group’s act, not just its image. All the rum bottles and other temptations (think of corrupting people) must be thrown away, with a steely mind and unflagging determination. The PPP as a party and a government have been given a chance at rehab. Neither has checked in yet, and if it is done, the issue is how long that will last, if the will is there. Public anticorruption oaths must be powered by private anticorruption resolve. If not, it is the same way, same leadership contradictions and trickeries, same political sicknesses plus crimes.

Next, the PNC readies for its internal elections. And what do Guyanese hear about again? Allegations of corruption dogging PNC internal business and processes. Records are not available or not produced. Plus, lack of accountability. So, what else is new? When the major opposition party is in this questionable state, as alleged by a ranking insider, then there is scant confidence in what to expect next year, if not likely more of the same. This is not a polity. It is a national pestilence, and it has one root and one trunk. Corruption, as alleged, as reported, as perceived by citizens of both the PPP and PNC. But there are stupid people like me who hope for a better Guyana. There is willingness to concede that the problem lies on this side of the street.

Next, following a Financial Times article, President Alistair Routledge of Exxon has the unmitigated gall to pronounce critically, contemptuously, and carelessly that Mr. Glenn Lall, the publisher of Kaieteur News as a “political aspirant.” Whether Lall is or isn’t, Mr. Routledge overstepped his boundaries, and was arrogant enough to interfere in a purely domestic development that may or may not be. By what right did Mr. Routledge arrogate that posture to himself, make that call? By whose wink and nod, whose leadership feebleness, can this American come here and does not give a damn about how he shatters whatever vestiges of self-respect Guyana has left? Only in a thoroughly lost country, one willing to subject itself to any kind of kick with a smile, could something as what Mr. Routledge did ever cross his mind. What dastardly corrupt national culture and corrupt governmental processes give a visitor, a guest, a noncitizen such as Mr. Alistair Routledge this vulgar smugness to take it upon himself to meddle in matters purely Guyanese? When a country is allowed to fall this low, because its government is lower, then there is no pride left, no rights of citizenship remaining. (More on this obscenity from Mr. Routledge later.)

Lastly, 10 new puisne judges have been announced. There is passing acquaintance with two of the names. Names only, not the individuals. They enter under a judiciary portal that has seen better seasons re competence, ethics, and expectations. I wish them well, that they will make a different kind of contribution, lift the bar. To manage expectations, however, when the degree of ethics present in the realms of the judiciary is subject to critical scrutiny and unsatisfied states of mind, then it is an extension of the reality of how high and how deep the corruption scourge has devastated Guyana. From sitting government to leading opposition to the local oil supremacist, to even the judiciary, corruption is no longer crime, culture, or crippling cardiac condition. In Guyana, corruption is the national religion. Corruption is the one God worshipped. And loved. And obeyed. Corruption is the only reality.