Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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Promises, Promises
(Aired 29 October 2001)

   We have a young and vibrant President whose experience may be questioned but his enthusiasm and his apparent willingness to compromise and cooperate has made him very popular. Before the last election in a survey, done by a civic group of Guyanese calling themselves the Initiative, told us that this president was more popular than the PPP itself, it is probably why they were re-elected, people voted for him because he promised that things will be better, that things will change, that corruption and incompetence will be dealt with that there will be new inclusion.

  From day one, after he was sworn in I saw that this was not to be so, I saw clearly that he wanted our Foreign Affairs Ministry in different hands but he was overruled by Freedom House and now as a compromise we have two Ministers of Foreign Affairs, many other glaring examples are there, anyone with half a brain and one eye can see for themselves.

    I have called this commentary promises, promises; since I see our young President on a path of danger which he must be made aware of, if you give your word that you will do something you should see to it that it is done, it is called credibility....  It is very important this matter of credibility ladies and gentlemen, it is what makes the difference between a great President and a poor one. A great MAN and a shady character, so tonight let us look at this President's credibility.

    He promised us that things will change if elected, it has not, he promised that corruption will be eliminated, it has not, no credible evidence exists that he has even tried, the law contracts scandal for example, he promised that we will have more competent ministers to manage our affairs he could not, apart from Mr. Insanalli no credible changes have been made to our cabinet, in addition to the above let me list a few of the promises that were made to our people which have not been kept, some by this President and some by his predecessors but since 1999 this President was obligated by virtue of his office to ensure that all promises made to his people by anyone in his government, were discharged expeditiously.  

  In August 2001 the President promised us that an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting of three young men on Mandela Ave. would be done, nothing has been heard since. Too numerous to list individually, were over two dozen other extra judicial killings, which have never been investigated.

   In June 2001 we were promised by the President that a fair investigation would be mounted into the shooting of a man in front of the Albion police station, nothing further has happened.

   In July 2001 we were promised an investigation into the killing of three alleged smugglers by BASS, we have heard nothing further.

  In July 2001 we were promised a full investigation of the events at the BASS headquarters at Corriverton in which three onlookers were killed, we have heard nothing further.

   In June 2001 the office of the president promised us that an investigation would be launched into the circumstances regarding certain irregularities with contracts which involved the attorney general's chambers, nothing has been heard since.

   In March 2000 the police and the Ministry of Home Affairs promised an investigation into the incidents surrounding the apparent public execution of one Linden Blackie London, nothing further has been heard.

   In 2000 after floods destroyed several hundred acres of rice lands in West Berbice, we were promised an investigation into the poor management of the situation by the Drainage and Irrigation board, nothing has been heard since.

   In 1999 the government promised an investigation into the mysterious fire at the Ministry of Education, we have heard nothing further.

  In 1998 the government promised us an investigation into the mysterious fire at the Ministry of Finance, specifically that part of the ministry where all the government contracts were stored, when this President was Minister of Finance, nothing has been heard since.

   No one I have spoken to can remember anytime in our history when a series of fires in less than 5 years [1996-2000] destroyed so much important government documentation.

   In 1996 the late president Jagan himself promised us an investigation into widespread corruption in the government he told us that, and I quote him "this rascality must stop" it did not, and there was never any investigation.

In 1996 after a state of emergency was declared in all ten regions as a result of flooding, due to poor drainage we were told that an investigation will be mounted to investigate the literally hundreds of complaints by farmers who had lost several million dollars from these floods, nothing further has ever been heard. I have decided to tell you more about the functioning of our drainage and irrigation board and its chairman... so stay tuned.

  In 1996 a mysterious fire destroyed the ministry of works, where most of the paperwork of that ministry was kept, the late Dr. Jagan promised us that a full investigation will be mounted into this mysterious fire, there has been no report to date. I could go on and on, but let these suffice for now.

   There is little question that corruption is rampant in this country today, the PPP's own supporters are aware of it and privately they are as fed up with it, as the rest of us are, they have seen their Ministers, their other Government functionaries, their Regional Chairmen display a sudden and inexplicable acquisition of wealth, whilst they themselves are driven further and further into poverty. Incidentally and incredibly this was the one investigation we heard of, Dr. Luncheon has assured us that a complete investigation was done by a committee and no member of our government was found to be in possession of inexplicable wealth, who were the members of this committee again Dr. Roger? The three blind mice? As to the question of their competence I need hardly say anything at all.

    President Jagdeo, you are a popular President elected by a majority of votes in a democratic election, but you are losing ground because your credibility is now in question, your citizens, all of them, are now quite fed up with the situation in this country, they perceive that promises are being made to defuse rather than heal and to remedy, you have to do something to repair that perception.

   At the beginning of this comment I said that this path is laden with danger, IT IS, the post election events have sent a number of warnings to us, we should heed them.      

   Before I close tonight I want to refer to a letter from a Mr. Leon Suseran that was printed in the Stabroek News of Tuesday Oct. 2nd 2001 congratulating us for the good job we are doing in Berbice, I would like Leon to know that the Program Manager of VCT is yours truly. In fact it was I who personally designed, redesigned and engineered the Berbice system for three long, hard years to get it right, it was the hardest thing I ever did. VCT runs 6 transmitters to take this service to our friends in Berbice so the signal has to be perfect going into the system and I would like to assure Mr. Suseran that we are aware of the problem of the jumping of The Evening News broadcast in Berbice and that we are working on it. 

   We try very hard ladies and gentlemen, given the poor nature of our resources, I am not a person that accepts too many excuses, I insist at all times that we at VCT try to treat our viewers with the respect they deserve, if one of the VCT operators treats the public with contempt by having a blank screen on the air for more than 15 seconds they hear from me. Don't even ask what happens around here everytime the news is late.

    VCT will never put up a sign for 5 minutes telling the public that so and so is coming up NEXT. Or a sign telling the public to stay tuned for this or that program, with 10 channels to choose from which broadcaster in his right mind will do his viewers and his advertisers such a great disservice? that is why we have the most sophisticated satellite dish system in the Caribbean. You play signal from one dish and the other is on the channel you are going to next. Sometimes the VCT operators get a little confused because our satellite guide tells us that one thing is coming up but something else entirely appears, so there is a short delay whilst they consult me since between 8PM to 11 PM the VCT operators are not allowed to use any initiative whatsoever to change programs they must consult me. During non prime periods they are allowed to do so, after 11 PM and during the day. 

    Thank you Leon it is feedback like yours which makes it all worth while. And no, John Mair AKA Bill Cotton, who in our weekly email exchange has accused me of writing letters of praise to myself. I did not write that letter John.