Aug 03, 2017  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

Generally, citizens feel that a party should not govern for too long. There is no time frame, but after three five-year terms, voters become fatigued and instinctively yearn for new faces. When the PNC lost power in 1992, even those who supported the PNC felt it was time for a change.
About half the population, in 1992, the year when the PNC lost power, were not thirty years of age. It meant the only party in authority in their country that they knew was the PNC. The PNC entered office in 1964.
The country generally felt that the new president and his party should be given a chance. In fact, when the young Bharrat Jagdeo replaced Janet Jagan in 1999, Guyanese icon, Eusi Kwayana, wrote a letter in the newspaper urging Guyanese to give him a chance. Such were the sentiments of the population about a new government.
One of the wishes of every human in the country after 1992 was that the new administration would ensure the fear, silence and injustices of the Burnham era would be dissolved, never to be returned. It wasn’t to be.
Big and bad government returned with President Jagdeo who went far into undemocratic directions that even Burnham would not have contemplated. And why was big and bad governance allowed to settle in? Because crucial stakeholders refused to learn the lessons of history. Several of these stakeholders were the organizations representing the business community.
We knew what suppression of the press meant under Burmham. The business organizations lived with this travesty. Yet under Jagdeo, these stakeholders remained silent as Jagdeo continued in the vein of Burnham.
Advertisements were taken away from the Stabroek News and Kaieteur News. Journalists were intimated, dismissed from the state media and those from the private media had attempts made on their lives. So excessive were the crudities of Jagdeo that at an official dinner of the Manufacturers’ Association in which the feature address was given by President Jagdeo, he urged the business community to boycott the Kaieteur News. Jagdeo was bold enough to actually say that. The Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Manufacturers’ Association and the Chamber of Commerce uttered not even a whisper of condemnation.
For the fifteen years, Messrs Jagdeo and Ramotar ruled this nation, the face, pen and voice of these organizational representatives of our business sector had disappeared. Sadly, they learnt not one damn thing from the Burnham era. In fact, one of the former presidents of the Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Urling, became a candidate for the ruling PPP party in the 2015 elections.
The PSC was so partisan to the then ruling regime that it has lost the respect of the nation. When the police shot three unarmed protestors in July 2012 in Linden over the hike in electricity rates, the opposition refused the PAC’s request to be a referee in the negotiations between the state and the opposition.
freddie-kissoon-300x273During the Jagdeo/Ramotar reign, the business community had representatives in the Ethnic Relations Commission and UG Council. In both instances, these delegates acted as surrogates for the ruling cabals.
How can this young nation have respect for these three business stakeholders when young people look at how they sided with and became sycophants of the Jagdeo/Ramotar cabals? This fifteen-year period was a horrible experience in post-colonial Guyana. And important civil society groupings encouraged the abuse of power that was even more depraved that under President Burnham.
Suddenly, these three business associations have found their voice. The GCCI wants to have a member on the board of sixteen state enterprises, two of which is the GPL and the Georgetown Public Hospital. Why in 2017 and not before? Why not when Messrs. Jagdeo and Ramotar were in power?
GPL did not perform under Jagdeo. Did the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GGGI) ask for a board seat back then? The Georgetown Public Hospital has been a boiling cauldron of death and sadness and actually limped along during the fifteen years of Jagdeo and Ramotar. Did the GCCI ask for a board seat back then?
The country’s only university fell down under both Jagdeo and Ramotar. As the county’s only university it is therefore a priceless institution. The country didn’t hear the voice of the GCCI when UG was dying. In fact, in 2012, the then President of the GCCI told me at the Texaco Gas Station on Vlissengen Road, the GCCI would come up with a statement on the termination of my UG contract. It never did. The GCCI was a political ally of the PPP Govt. It behaves like a political party; it should contest elections in 2020.