Following the destruction of the once iconic World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, a war on Iraq was launched. It was premised primarily on information suggesting that Iraq, at the time led by Saddam Hussein, had possessed weapons of mass destruction. That information was also used to convince the United States Congress, its people and allied nations.
In the end, Saddam was toppled and the USA for a brief period took control of the country. What happened afterwards came as a shock to many, if not all, around the globe. It was revealed the Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction as the information was proven to be wrong. That was after all the bombings and lives lost.
While there were many theories articulated as to the real reason for that war, as time progressed, it can be construed as fake news used for a particular outcome. This is no way condoning the atrocities Saddam inflicted on his own people over time. From this, one can theorise that some politicians would not hesitate to make certain utterances or take particular action at the expense of others knowing fully that its premise is flawed.
During the course of the 2019 Budget Debates in the National Assembly here, a senior Government Minister boldly proclaimed that the previous Government did not conduct any feasibility study for major projects it undertook. His comments was in defence of not just the need for such studies currently, but the high cost and manner in which one in particular was awarded for which the oversight Procurement Commission was asked to investigate.
Almost immediately, the Opposition point man on financed and who was accused of not conducting the necessary feasibility studies, declared that a lie is being peddled. He said the studies were done and made reference as where they could be found. Subsequently, it was reported that they were presented to the Minister who allegedly refused to apologise even though the information purportedly debunking his accusation was at hand.
What can now be deemed as fake news regarding the pronouncement that the studies were not conducted, was fact checked and proven wrong. That seems to have now simmered into a non-issue. It is therefore believable that had the senior official not been confronted with the relevant information, misinformation would have taken a stranglehold with the possibility of that falsehood morphing into a fact.
Similarly, the Prime Minister, during the said debate, noted, as reported by the State’s information agency, that Guyana has never been safer, more secure or stronger than she is today. With regard to criminal activities, some weeks ago, the Police reported increases in crimes; armed robberies, robberies with violence and burglaries. That official announcement does not include the numerous crimes that go unreported daily.
In October this year, some sections of the media provided coverage of a report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which claimed Guyana’s capacity to investigate and prosecute crime is below average. In addition, every day there are many media reports of heinous crimes, some of which resulted in victims being severely beaten or killed. Many have and continue to suffer at the hands of criminals and their stories are nothing short of being heart-wrenching. Daily this is lamented throughout the country as fear is infused.
Given what is known about criminal activities, from both the media reports and victims who do not file a report, the ordinary citizen is convinced that crime has not only increased, but that their security has been severely compromised. In other words, they do not feel safe. It should not be forgotten that the main prison in the City was burnt and the one on the East Coast has experienced a number jailbreaks.
With safety is major factor for those who seek a way out to another land, obvious questions one may be tempted to ask are, is the Prime Minister aware of what is happening in the country with regard to crime and whether he is familiar with the reports of the Police. Given his level of seniority in the government one cannot doubt that he is aware. With the benefit of the doubt, it becomes bewildering to understand what could have caused him to boast as he did.
Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, wants to live in a safe country where fear of criminals does not bombard their mindsets. They would want to see the Police and the Government of the day succeed in their efforts to combat crime. Very likely the citizenry will not be encouraged when such statements, like the Prime Minister’s in question and which they believe to be untrue, are imposed upon them in an attempt to try and score political points. In their minds, it’s fake news at their expense.
One possible explanation is that the results of November 12, 2018 Local Government Elections have caused some to be self-pressured and more vociferous in making statements to bolster relevancy. The elusive good life may present a relevant example.