Hinds’Sight , guyana chronicle January 23, 2016
THE PPP IS UP TO ITS OLD TRICKS: The Wales closure, National Service and the Guyana Times by Dr. David Hinds
THE PPP was in full flight this week: it was up to its old tricks — fooling, race-ing, manipulating. It got what it thinks is a gift from the Government — the closure of the Wales Estate. This is what the PPP was waiting for. Its leaders so badly wanted to prove to their constituency that this Government plans to crush them that they were falling over themselves to get to Wales. Mr. Jagdeo was in his element. He immediately declared that the closure was aimed at weakening PPP people economically.
This is all part of the rhetoric of witch-hunting and ethnic cleansing. Some of the workers bought the bait. When your job is on the line, I suppose any bearer of sympathy and conspiracy theory is welcome.
There were demonstrations at Wales and in Georgetown. I want to note, with much relief, that there were no arrests, beatings or shootings by the police. This must be a lesson for the PPP, which lost no opportunity during its tenure in office to facilitate the brutalization of protestors.
Who can forget the police shooting pellets at APNU supporters peacefully marching shortly after the 2011 election, or the fatal shooting of protestors at Linden in 2012? Some of us were charged and hauled before the courts after the December 2011 shootings. The PPP must be reminded of these incidents every time it turns out to protest.
Many may not remember that in that same Wales community, a young man was fatally shot by the police in 2010 for allegedly loitering in front of a school. When Mark Benschop, Freddie Kissoon, Lincoln Lewis and I joined residents to highlight the incident and schoolchildren came to Georgetown to picket the Brickdam Police Station, Mark was arrested, the canter which transported the children was seized by the police, and the owner was charged.
All of this happened under the PPP, which was this week championing causes and leading protests. Sometimes I wonder if these politicians remember what they did when they held power.
I am confident this Government will not emulate the PPP and criminalize protest. One of the reasons I am so confident is that some of us who support them would not stand idly by and allow them to make that error.
Now to the Wales Estate closure. The sugar industry has, for a long time, been a drain on the country’s meagre resources. Something had to give. The PPP wrecked the industry to satisfy its narrow agenda; we know of all the mismanagement and clientelism that went on. They turned the industry into an ethnic football. When the Government changed, the PPP went into blackmail mode. The new Government moved to keep the industry afloat in the short term, but this cannot continue indefinitely.
We cannot shut down the entire industry just like that, it makes no economic or political sense; but, in the interest of the country — and particularly the sugar workers — we need to find both short and long term solutions. Many of our CARICOM sister countries have long done this; we have to catch up.
Sugar, in its present state is vulnerable. Why does the PPP want sugar workers to be forever vulnerable? Why don’t they want a stable industry? The answer is because they want to continue to use sugar workers for political benefit.
Our sugar industry, as it is, cannot compete with other sugar-producing countries, and Jagdeo knows this. He knows that closing Wales Estate is the least painful action that can be taken in the short term, yet he opposes it. He refuses to let the workers know that this would benefit the industry and the country in the long term.
Why would a Government that bailed out the sugar industry to ensure that workers were paid be interested in punishing those very workers? Score political points, but don’t lie so barefacedly. No worker wants to know that he or she will lose his or her job. These are poor people who do not have ready replacement. We do not have a robust private sector to absorb the labour being let go.
I am sure the Government thought of this and does have plans to assist in this regard. Its representatives have met with the union, but we know that GAWU is the PPP and it would carry out the PPP’s agenda. The Government must therefore go directly to the affected workers. And lest we all fall for the PPP’s propaganda, it should be known that the Wales Estate employs a fair bit of non-East Indian workers.
No Mr. Jagdeo, it’s not only PPP supporters who are affected.
Bring Back National Service
For this 50th Independence anniversary, the Government must do something big for poor people.
I humbly submit that Government should look at the return of the National Service. Some will invoke the Burnham jumbie; that’s their hobby and their right, but too many poor young people are falling by the wayside. The NGOs are trying the NGO-thing, but those are minor Band-Aids at best. Some well-meaning rich people are trying some philanthropy, but they are helping individuals rather than communities.
The Government must step in and do what governments like ours must do — give the weak a lift up. Bring back the National Service as an institution of Cultural Values and Economic Preparation and Opportunity; I don’t recommend the military aspect. Get our young people off the streets and prepare them for national development.
We complain about the lack of national pride, of national values, of falling moral standards, of the drift among the youth to drugs and crime. Well, give them a national alternative. Guyana has vast amounts of land. Restore the National Service and give the young people land to work again. Perhaps Aubrey Norton’s Youth Empowerment can be transitioned into the agency to oversee the return of the National Service.
The Government has had to take the Guyana Times to task for publishing misleading headlines at least three times recently. At this rate, the Government would have to set up a Guyana Times Desk. The ‘Times’ has set itself a specific role in relation to Government — irritate it. In such a situation, truthful reporting is off the table. I feel sorry for the reporters who must engage in that obscenity for a living. My advice to the Government is to continue to point out the lies of the Times, but you would be better served by going straight to the people to whom the Times propaganda is aimed.
Come on, Bros Nagamootoo, Ramjattan and perhaps Roopnaraine, start doing your own bottom-house meetings in Annandale, Tain, Zeeburg, Grove and Bush Lot — that’s where the difference would be made.
More of Dr. Hinds’ writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com.
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