In 2001 after the last election, the
government and the opposition agreed to a series of consultations as agreed to
by President Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Hoyte to address the concerns of the
Afro Guyanese and to move the country forward.
In the three years since then, nothing
has happened! The Dialog broke down and the Communiqué followed in short order.
Over and over again I have told you that
these talks broke down because the PPP agrees to one thing and something else
completely different happens. Take the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting. The
ACB which was supposed to be a temporary body [like the procurement
Administration] but which the PPP will keep in perpetuity because it fits in
with their plan to fetter free speech in this country just as the Procurement Administration
which is not yet implemented I repeat it is not yet implemented facilitates
corruption in the awarding of contracts.
The VCT license to broadcast contains
the following provisions as a prerequisite to being granted a license to
broadcast television signals, and it is written on the license itself, so by
paying the license fee I am agreeing to these conditions automatically. Here
are these repressive conditions.
The licensee shall ensure that nothing included
in programmes which offends against good taste or decency or is likely to
encourage or incite racial hatred or incite crime or lead to public disorder or
to be offensive to public feeling.
The licensee, acting reasonably and in good
faith shall ensure that any news given (in whatever form) in the programme of
the licensee is presented with due accuracy and impartiality.
The licensee shall ensure that due impartiality
is preserved by the person providing the service in regard to matters of
political or industrial controversy or relating to public policy.
The licensee shall ensure that due responsibility
is exercised with respect to content of any religious programmes of the
licensee and that in particular any such programmes does not involve any
abusive or derogatory treatment of the religious views and beliefs of persons
belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination.
The programmes broadcast by the licensee shall
be of the highest possible standard.
The licensee shall provide a reasonable
opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views
on matters of public interest
The Licensee shall transmit on frequencies
granted by the NFMU and at such standards approved by the NFMU
The license is not transferable without the
prior consent in writing of the Minister.
How far does this nonsense go towards
infringing our rights to free speech? Well lets look at a recent letter from
the ACB to VCT which states inter alia that in a commentary recently aired I
said that "the political currency of the Amerindian community is increasing
daily and with the right leaders, they are in a position to call the shots in
the next elections. But they must stand as one people united by their
organisations the Amerindian Association of Guyana and the organisation of
indigenous peoples, because if they do they can determine the outcome of the next
Here is what the ACB had to say about
this simple observation aimed at alerting the Amerindians in this country that
the PNC left office with 78% of them living below the poverty line and the PPP
has increased that figure to 98% of them living below the poverty line but that
they were in a position now to demand more say now to better their condition.
The ACB tells me in the masterpiece of
nonsense they wrote me, that the advocacy of politics of one racial group
voting racially as a unified racial group could obviously be replicated in
every ethnic group in Guyana as
for example the African and East Indian ethnic groups.
This advocacy of racist and divisive
politics offends against good taste and is offensive to public feeling and as
such infringes 23 (A) (a) of your license.
According to these geniuses there is no
racial politics in Guyana,
Vieira is the only one who is fuelling it. And by doing so I have offended all
of you ladies and gentlemen and breached my license. Now contrary to all legal
norms here we have two people sitting in judgement on what I am saying and
without a hearing are deciding unilaterally what part of this broadcast license
I breached, one a 70 odd year old PPP history teacher at the UG getting $2000
US per month to do this nonsense and the other a former announcer of GBC now
aligned to the PPP, neither of whom are competent to decide these matters, the
third Mr. Ron Case the PNC's nominee to the ACB but whose name has been
withdrawn by the PNC, the government however with their usual contempt for the opposition
have refused to remove him from the ACB. Without this third nominee there is no
ACB. But they still keep collecting our money $2000 US each a month and are still
telling us how unfair and unbalanced we are, instructed by their bosses the
Well ladies and gentlemen I have decided
not to pay my license fee for this year since all of these provisions offends
my constitutional right to freedom of speech. The International Human Rights
Association identifies free speech as follows:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom
of expression this right shall include freedom to seek receive and impart
information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in
writing or in print in the form of art or through any other media of his
choice. The exceptions to this general principle carries with it the certain
restriction but these are only such that are provided by law and are
necessary: the international association recognises these two restrictions and
only these two restrictions to freedom of speech:
(a) For the respect of the rights or reputations of others.
(b) For the protection of national security or for public order or of
public health or morals.
Where is all of this nonsense of fair
and balance and with due impartiality coming from? I'll tell you where it is
coming from, it is coming from a group of people who were educated in the USSR and betrayed the dialog and the
recommendations of the bipartisan board on broadcasting to do one thing, to
muzzle the television broadcasters and to strip them of the right to free
speech. The PPP still has die-hards writing trash in the newspapers that the
dialog was sabotaged by the PNC, I say that it was sabotaged by the PPP who will
not negotiate in good faith, and if we have established anything so far we have
established that I do not lie.
In a case in the European court of the
Sunday Times newspaper Vs the United Kingdom the following decision was handed down on 26th November 1991.
Freedom of expression constitutes one of
the essential foundations of a democratic society. It is applicable not only to
information and ideas which are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive
but also to those that offend shock or disturb. Such are the demands of that
pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic
This is what free speech in a plural
society is all about, not the nonsense attached to my license, by paying for it
I will be putting myself under the obligation to listen to the political clap
trap of the PPP's ACB, this is certainly not an impartial body and I will not be
paying any license fee until these restrictions are removed from my license.
Let us go to court and sort out this mess now.