by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 27 April 2006)
I was absolutely shocked to see a letter to the Editor in the Wednesday issue of Kaieteur News that associated me with some sort of conspiracy of wanting to hurt the President of Guyana. I emphatically reject such nonsense as pure hogwash.
The letter said, "My concerns began to increase when I saw Stella Ramsaroop and her group; the guyanagazette.net crowd along with all the opposition parties circle around the President, his Government, and the PPP/C."
After also including Adam Harris in this baseless accusation, the writer then said, "These people want what they want, and will stop at nothing. What I mean is that they will do anything, and I mean anything to get their way."
First of all, I would never hurt so much as a caterpillar, much less a human being. Secondly, I do not associate with anyone who deserves to be suspected of even considering such drivel. The Guyanese with whom I associate are respectable citizens and good people who would never think of hurting another person.
However, the most alarming aspect of this letter is the fact that it was ever written in the first place. Every single person mentioned in this letter, directly or indirectly, are guilty of nothing more than pointing out the weaknesses of the government and challenging the nation's leaders to a higher standard.
Never, I repeat never, has there ever been even one word from my letter writer friends or myself that would give a rational person a reason to think the President's safety is in jeopardy. I may not like the government's incompetence, complacency and big houses from small salaries, but I believe the best way to deal with these shortcomings is in the voting booth.
Furthermore, the party that wins the majority vote in the next elections can expect the same type of scrutiny from me, which proves that my interests are not partisan. In fact, the PNC/R and the AFC (as well as other parties) have also been the subjects of my columns, more often in a disapproving light than otherwise.
Such blind devotion, the kind that produces such outrageous letters as this one, comes from people who do not understand the need for the media, as well as ordinary people, to keep a watch on the government and point out irregularities so the people are constantly informed of what their leaders are doing.
It is the responsibility of the people to keep the government in check. The people are the ones who give their leaders the authority to function in their official roles. If the leaders abuse their position of power, the people are then responsible for removing them from their positions.
I have nothing personally against anyone in the PPP. I do not even know these leaders on a personal level and do not judge their personal lives. I judge their actions as government officials and the extent to which they effectively execute their roles as leaders.
I am sure many of these leaders are all nice people who also want the best for Guyana. However, actions speak louder than words and when it comes to governing, words are often empty. A government is therefore judged by its effectiveness in dealing with the overall management of the nation.
Often a government is judged by how it responds to crises as well, such as floods and crime sprees. Such events, and the overall management of the country, are the basis by which I evaluate any government. No government deserves blind loyalty.
Blind loyalty is a sure way to end up with corrupt leaders. If they think they can get away with anything and the people will still vote for them, then you can bet your bottom dollar that corruption will overtake even the best of intentions.
Which is why the people have a responsibility to keep the government on their toes. When I write columns that criticise the PPP or any other party, I am not threatening them physically. I would never, ever do such a thing. My columns serve no other purpose than to point out the obvious and to hold the leaders accountable to the people who put them in their official positions.
Let me put it this way. I have never met the President, but my husband had a brief encounter with him once. My husband went on and on about how nice Jagdeo was and how genuine he seemed. The President made quite an impression on my husband. Since I respect my husband's judgement, I cannot help but think Jagdeo is probably a nice guy.
However, being a nice guy does not make a person a good leader – just look at George Bush if you need anymore proof. Bush's approval ratings are at an all time low and continue to decrease with each poll. If such a poll were taken in Guyana, where would Jagdeo's rating fall?
I would venture to say that Jagdeo and Bush would be running a close race on who's country was more unhappy with their president's accomplishments over the last year. So if a leader is not doing his job and the country is not progressing, should the media and letter writers applaud their incompetence?
The long and short of it is this, democracy demands that people talk about their leaders and discuss whether those leaders should be allowed to continue in their roles. This does not equate to intending physical harm on the leaders.
We are civilised and educated people, not cave people who resort to violence when we disagree with someone.