Ralph Ramkarran, Stabroek

The politics of abuse

By  stabroek news december 3, 2017

Minister Khemraj Ramjattan responded to my article last Sunday, entitled, ‘To preserve itself, the AFC must resign from the government,’  with the following epithets – “nonsensical”; “vacuous chatter”; “idiotic”; “we are not going to block [the] chatterati”; “foolish”; “Ralph kept his mouth shut then he got shelved now he is talking plenty”; “if he wants to be a politician he should go form a party then know what it is”; “these fellas love to talk from a distance like parrot, you know parrot telling donkey how to bat but stays up in the tree, they want to stay up in the tree and not do the batting themselves, you write exactly what I say there.” Sadly, by succumbing to the temptation of the politics of abuse, Mr Ramjattan exposes the inability of the AFC to answer serious questions about its political posture.

Would you believe that this was the same Khemraj Ramjattan who embraced me at the post 2015 election celebration at the Pegasus Hotel in congratulation for what he believed was my contribution to the victory of the APNU+AFC coalition? Well, he did. At the same event, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo thanked me in the presence of several persons. Now Minister Ramjattan is abusive and PM Nagamootoo uses the Chronicle to denigrate me.

Minister Ramjattan does his high political status no justice invoking abuse as a political response to what he feels is criticism, but he is in deadly error when he assumes that I write or speak with his or his government’s sufferance. “We are going to allow the chatterati to continue to chat and we are not going to block them,” he says, referring to me. Minister Ramjattan, a lawyer of some consequence in the past, apparently does not know that neither he or nor his government has the power to ‘block’ me from speaking or writing. He should have known better but since he did not; he is now advised.

I have no political axe to grind and do not care who holds political office in Guyana. I have criticized both the government, APNU, the PPP and indeed the AFC in the past. I will continue to do so. I will also cooperate or assist and work with any political party, once it is the interest of Guyana, as I perceive it. Although I am motivated to write about a wide variety of issues, I generally emphasize politics. In relation to politics I write often about constitutional reform as a means by which Guyana can overcome the politics of ethno-political dominance to which both parties adhere as policy. The end of ethno-political dominance through political reform is my goal. My criticism of the AFC is that they subscribed to the same goal but are now allowing it to lapse. I saw the AFC as a powerful and critical political instrument in achieving our shared objective, which I believe is in the interest of all Guyana. Bringing the AFC back to its original intent was what my article was all about.

My idea is that AFC ministers should resign from the government and the AFC MPs should sit on the back benches. They should then negotiate a programme with the government for constitutional reform. They would be in a better position to pressure the government to implement such a programme because the threat of not supporting the government’s parliamentary agenda would be more real.

In writing the article I thought that APNU would be more inclined to take exception. But, instead, to my surprise, it is the AFC that took umbrage at my effort to stimulate their integrity by urging them to stand up for what they promised all of us. And I pointed a way in which this can be done without bringing down the government. Minister Ramjattan and PM Nagamootoo are deeply bothered by it. Why? And why not respond in a constructive, rather than an abusive manner?

Guyana faces a future as an oil producing country. There are many countries in the world where oil resources are dissipated because the countries cannot get their politics right. We read constantly about Nigeria. We have been recently reading about Angola where the daughter of the former president is the richest woman in Africa and was recently dismissed as the head of the state oil company which is experiencing great difficulties. We have the example of Trinidad next door.

This is what Guyana faces because of its distorted politics. This will result in endless controversy in relation to the management of its oil resources and the expenditure of its oil income. Guyana has the opportunity now to solve its political problems and then to deal in a consensual way with the issues that will arise from oil. This will stop massive leakages from corruption and mismanagement. Within the next two years the AFC can play a decisive role in solving these political problems. But it can only do so if it reverts back to its original credo, stop treating itself as an appendage to APNU and understand that it holds a trump card to the future of Guyana.

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