I take my right to freedom of speech
very seriously. I will not allow anyone to take it away from me; we have the
Caribbean Court of Justice [the CCJ] now, so whenever anyone in this country
seeks to remove my right to free speech I will take them to the CCJ. On that
you have my word and I will not be taking them alone I have the assurances of
the other broadcasters including channels 6, 7, 9, 13 etc that they are behind
me on this issue, so the PPP may as well take heed.
We will not countenance any Broadcast
Legislation which seeks to restrict our freedom of speech and which seeks to
enshrine special treatment in the regulations for the government owned media as
compared to the private owned media, on this there will be no compromise.
So anyone who became a public figure in
this country for the sole purpose of filling their pockets must allow
themselves to be scrutinised closely by the media.
No more of this nonsense of fair and
balanced reporting being enshrined in our broadcast licenses, since I believe
that it is unconstitutional. I don't have to be fair and balanced in anything I
say for the simple reason that it is not my function to do so, I must give the
public the facts and my interpretation of them and if the government does not
like it, then they can use their newspaper, their TV station and their monopoly
in radio to give their side of the story, and the public will decide who is
lying and who is telling the truth.
I have told you before that in 1982 the
opposition in Trinidad the UNC, Mr. Panday's Party, took the government to
court since the government at that time was operating Trinidad and Tobago
Television [TTT] as a monopoly and in addition they were operating it as if it
were the property of the party in power and not a state owned media entity owned
by all the people, so the Indo Trinidadians, Mr. Panday's supporters, were not
getting time to address their constituents, very much the same thing that is
happening in Guyana today with the PNC and the AFC being denied access to the
state owned media, so the opposition in this country even though they hold 29
seats in the parliament since you can't call Nadir opposition, versus the PPP's
35 seats get no time on the state owned media notwithstanding that there is
ample evidence that their supporters are paying a major portion of the taxes
that is used to run these state owned media houses. At the end of the trial in
Trinidad it was decided that no one not even a minister, a Permanent Secretary,
a political activist of the government's party could use the state owned media
to put the government's or its party's position to the public unless the
opposition was given equal time, in keeping with their seats in the Parliament,
This ruling meant that Ministers, including
the Prime Minister, every government functionary or party official were all considered
as giving government propaganda, there were no exceptions; the opposition in
this country should not be operating as if they have no constituents, they have
over 45% of the voter's support so why do they have to be begging the
government for time on a media where their supporters are making significant
contributions to operate it with their taxes. Actually in the TTT matter the
government did show that the government was not giving the TTT station any
subventions, it was, they alleged, operating like an independent state
corporation, so the Guyana situation is much, much worse since every year at
budget time 80 plus million dollars is allocated to run NCN from the
Mr. Hoyte and now Mr. Corbin and the
AFC's call for equal time on the state owned media became the law in Trinidad 29
years ago, and there is no question that if we had a functioning judicial
system in this country that they would be entitled to the same treatment based
on this Trinidad precedent case but rest assured were we to get this matter out
of the Guyana legal jurisdiction to the CCJ in Trinidad there would only be one
decision. Why the opposition have not mounted this case in Guyana is beyond me
and they knew about it for over 11 years since I personally gave Mr. Hoyte the
judge's decision in the matter since around 1999. The PNC government when in
power did not spend so much time and money making the huge propaganda machine
which this PPP communist government is spending to exclude the opposition from
having the opportunity of communicating their thoughts and ideas to the public,
when put this way the opposition are being denied their fundamental right to
free speech in this country which is unconstitutional.
Now let me tell you in more detail about
the matter that went to the Trinidad court over 29 years ago between Mr.
Surujrattan Rambachand v Trinidad and Tobago Television Company and the Attorney
General of Trinidad and Tobago.
Rambachand one of Mr. Panday's Members
of Parliament claimed that the provisions of section 4 of the T&T
constitution has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to
him for redress in accordance of section 14 of the same constitution.
The Judge in this matter [notwithstanding
that the government in power derived most of its support from the Afro
Trinidadians] was an Indo Trinidadian named Lennox Deyalsingh and his ultimate
judgement tells us that notwithstanding T&T's similarities to us racially,
they still have a functioning judicial system, it is probably why they still
function as a viable nation compared to us.
During this trial the question of
freedom of speech came up with particular reference to public functionaries in
In the judge's summation which is
recorded under case number 4789 of 1982 he said on page 54 of his summation and
I quote him "dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources
is essential to the welfare of the public. For it is only through free debate
and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsible to the will of
the people and peaceful change is affected" end quote we have a racial problem
in this country and it is being fed by forces up to today especially at
elections time, to deny that this is so is dangerous and can blow up into an
uncontrollable violent process, but to fuel the dissatisfaction even further by
silencing anyone who speaks about it, is foolhardy and ultimately can lead to even
greater civil strife.
Judge Deyalsingh in summing up this
case tells us that "The government in a free society, must have no control over
the press and especially in the modern world over the electronic press. Any
control leads to censorship in one form or the other, openly or subtly... but in
whatever form or in whatever way, it remains censorship nevertheless. As Douglas
J. in Columbia Broadcasting [supra] said the government's power to censor the
press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the
government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of
government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can
effectively expose deception in Government. And paramount among the
responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the
Government from deceiving the public...'
"The government must not, no matter how
much and no matter in what manner it is criticized, succumb to the temptation
to criticize the press" end quote our President should be informed about this,
he is obviously not on the same page with main stream democratic principles,
but it is that same blind racial voting rather than voting on the issues and
lack of performance which elects the PPP in this country again and again, which
makes him uncaring in his excesses and which keeps the country divided and
The press, the Trinidadian judge
continues in his summation, has a fundamental right to criticize the
government; the government has no corresponding right to criticize the press.
It can only defend its policies and its performance and depend on the good
sense of the people to discern the true from the scurrilous. People in public
life must be prepared to leave to public opinion attacks or comments which are
derogatory or scandalous to them; even the courts do. Justice is not a
cloistered virtue said lord Atkin in Ambard V A. G. of Trinidad and Tobago so too public life is not a cloistered virtue and she must be allowed to suffer
the scrutiny and even the scandalous comments of the press"
There you have it ladies and gentlemen
over and over again we see it, that in a free and democratic society the press must
be free to criticise any public functionary or situation as distinct from
private individuals where the laws of libel and defamation are far stricter.
This is real democracy and rule of law
at work; Ladies and gentlemen I wonder how you will react now that I have made
it known that what this government is doing is against right thinking
democratic governments almost everywhere and that since most of them are
trained in the former USSR they actually don't understand it themselves which
makes the situation all the more frightening.
I will say it again "evil triumphs when
good men do nothing"