So yesterday was “World Press Freedom Day”. As a card-carrying member of the fraternity, your Eyewitness followed the messages by the big ones a bit desultorily to see where the wind was blowing. Why “desultorily” you ask, Dear Reader? Well, let’s face it…everybody and their uncle know that press freedom is one of the prime indices in measuring freedom and everybody’s gonna be politically correct!!
So, rather than go by their words, let’s look at their actions. And your Eyewitness isn’t going to return to the bad old days when the PNC of Burnham banned newsprint –- and in effect closed down all other presses than the Chronicle they’d nationalised. And used as their mouthpiece! Ordinary folks used it as toilet paper – and not only because that item was banned. Since that rag was filled with news of the PNC leaders’ doings, it was certain that when used in morning ablutions, one of the latter faces would be appropriately smeared! Passive-aggressive maybe…but quite satisfying!
Anyhow, of recent we could see that the PNC hadn’t changed their spots towards the press. This was seemingly ironic since their leader Granger had received a scholarship in his dotage in 1996 to study “Journalism” in America. He returned and produced a magazine called Guyana Review – which was basically used to publish pieces from his history studies at UG, on African Guyanese.
But maybe it was because he studied journalism in America that he realised how powerful the press can be towards exposing the hypocrisy and cant of political leaders. There, of course, the role of the press is openly acknowledged. It’s promoted as the protector of the interests of the people against an always potentially tyrannical Government. The press actually gets rewarded for exposing governmental excesses. Granger would’ve been taught – as he sat in his classroom – of the Washington Post getting America’s highest journalism prize – the Pulitzer – for revealing that the Watergate break-in of the Democratic Party Campaign HQ was linked to the Govt. Gave the suffix to all future Govt scandals – like Braceletgate!!
Anyhow, now you know why Granger only held three press conferences while in office for five years!! Scared stiff! Compare that with President Ali already hosting several formal and informal ones. But our local press need to follow the path blazed by the Americans. They don’t have to practise yellow journalism, but they certainly should pull off some scabs from sores that are being covered up by the “big ones” in society. And even their own.
Wasn’t there that story of one “Facebook” broadcaster who was kidnapped? Who followed up? Especially since this was used to illustrate that kidnapping was on the rise in Guyana!
The press must press more.
…Indian Arrival Day
There’s this saying, “if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s most likely a duck”! And along these lines, your Eyewitness believes that if – after eight years of commemorating what the Government insisted on calling “Arrival Day” – only people who look “Indian”, sing “Indian”, dance “Indian” and talk about their “fore-parents” from India – isn’t it time the Government acknowledges the public holiday as “Indian Arrival Day”?
OK, OK, your Eyewitness gets it. Being an Indian-backed Government in ethnically-divided Guyana, the PPP didn’t want to be seen as “favouring” their own at the expense of the “other” indentureds. But isn’t lumping Chinese arrival (Jan 12) and Portuguese Arrival (May 3), with that of Indians (May 5), still “favouring” the last group??
After 2015, the PNC recognised “Chinese and Portuguese Days” on the dates of their actual arrivals, but not as Public Holidays. They referred to May 5th as “Indian Arrival Day”.
Why not just make this official?
…defenders of democracy
The President had said his Government would be officially recognising those who defended our democracy when it came under attack by the PNC between March 3 and August 2, 2020.
We’d better hurry up before Sarah-Ann leaves.