Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Glenn Lall’s emotional outburst embarrasses business community

Guyana Chronicle: Glenn Lall’s uncontrolled emotional outburst reported in Kaieteur News on Sunday August 30 is indicative of both the freedoms Guyanese have, and simultaneously, the abuse of those freedoms.

Kaieteur News reported this sad contradiction where Glenn Lall, the publisher of the same newspaper, violated both the spirit and essence of protocol.

Lall’s tirade against President Jagdeo was an oral continuation of a systematic campaign waged by his newspaper to ruin the image of this country. It is difficult to recall any instance where a senior member of the Guyanese business community displayed such brazen arrogance and disrespect for the Office of the President.

Mr. Lall should do the right thing and immediately apologise to President Jagdeo. The Guyanese people will no longer tolerate this kind of bullying from Mr. Lall and his advisers.

Lall’s major complaint is that the current administration is upset because of stories carried by Kaieteur News.

That is frankly a bold faced lie. President Jagdeo was specific about his concerns with press reports that consistently valorise crime in the country, and about stories that have not been properly vetted for accuracy.

The President specifically pointed to the case where Kaieteur News falsely reported that one of the Coast Guard ranks implicated in the Ramdass robbery/murder was also at Lindo Creek.

The President cautioned that this kind of irresponsible reporting is not helpful, and that while the press is free to report, it should do so within the ambit of responsible journalism. President Jagdeo also pointed to another case where Kaieteur News published a misleading story on the whereabouts of Fine Man (Rondell Rawlins).

How in the world do these observations constitute an attack on Kaieteur News? Even if Lall felt that the stories identified by President Jagdeo were contestable, he should have said so and produce corroborating evidence for the said stories. Instead, Glenn Lall apparently felt that he is the final authority on the truth in Guyana.

Glenn Lall came up with a flimsy challenge by asking the President to dispute stories regarding “(1) Murdered granny…; (2) “Child rescued…; and (3) Bandits flee roadblock… (KN, August 30). The challenge, when looked at carefully, however, is demonstrable proof of the very point made by President Jagdeo. Instead of dealing with the main concern of President Jagdeo, namely, the sensationalisation of crime, Lall comes up with a little gimmick. This is a typical KN strategy which is to distort but always have a modicum of plausible deniability.

Anyone who read the report in question last Sunday would no doubt recall President Jagdeo clearly stated that he holds a fundamental belief in the freedom of the press, and this, notwithstanding the propensity for some elements in the media to engage in willful distortions. How, by any stretch of the imagination, can any reasonably intelligent person arrive at the conclusion that President Jagdeo is carrying out an attack against a newspaper after his statement on press freedom? What more does Glenn Lall want that he does not already have?

There is more to this than meets the eye. Glenn Lall has people working for him who openly justify and thereby support murder in Guyana. One Kaieteur News writer recently justified politically motivated killings on the basis of the usual wild accusations of drug lords and corruption.

This much should be clear – there is a clear and unmitigated call to political violence, all in the name of bolstering the chances of opposition parties doing better at the next elections. There is no inference here, as Kaieteur News openly and regularly calls for the removal of the current government. In most democratic countries in the world these writers would probably be investigated for aiding and abetting violence. In most countries in the world, after such publications, a newspaper would have its license revoked, and no adviser would be able to help.

But there is still more. Kaieteur News is the number one instrument for fostering ethnic tensions in this country. The paper publishes letters from known racists and supporters of political violence. I challenge Glenn Lall and his advisers to show the Guyanese people where else in the world a newspaper publishes the kind of incendiary material that Kaieteur News publishes as a matter of routine. His advisers should take a look at what might be the legal consequences for a publisher in Malaysia or Singapore if he engaged in the blood journalism that has become the signature of Kaieteur News.

Let it be clear – no Guyanese is so big and powerful that he can disrespect the Office of the President. Guyanese must see Glenn Lall’s emotional outburst as arrogance backed by enormous wealth, and a news machine that can create information mayhem at moments of its own choosing. Glenn Lall himself should, however, be mindful of the fact that while he is responsible for profits at Kaieteur News, President Jagdeo is responsible for peace and security throughout this country. Mr. Lall should never underestimate the President’s commitment to his responsibilities.

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