Monday, October 12, 2009

Let us all close our eyes, plug our ears, stifle our thoughts and just believe

Stabroek News letter. October 12, 2009. Let us all close our eyes, plug our ears, stifle our thoughts and just believe.

Dear Editor,

Guyana has entered a Golden Age of governance. All is bright and beautiful in the land: today there is milk, tomorrow honey. The present and future have never been rosier in this paradise, where dreams of a visa or winning the Lotto no longer have the significance that they once did.

First, the air resonates with freedom. Citizens can speak and write their souls, as long as whatever is aired is favourable to the governing class. There are rewards and recognition for those who speak and spread the gospel of good governance. On the other hand, those infidels who dare to question “official truths” are condemned to a government sponsored purgatory of ostracism and strident denunciation. Recalcitrant individuals and entities have discovered that coercion into the acquiescence of silence has become the order of the day. Nothing and no one will be allowed to dull the lustre of the manufactured gloss that coats this age of governance.

Second, there is the favourable business climate. Well heeled deportees, budding and established drug lords, and enterprising laundrymen have all found heaven-and a haven-in the welcoming and receptive environment made possible by this golden age. There is a waiting and willing bureaucracy complete with forms and stamps and ushers to enable erection of buildings, passage of imports (and exports), and delivery of firearms. There is insulation from domestic interference-be it the law, politics, or courts. Further, there is no need to worry about the gringos: citizens are protected; intelligence is shared; and due process is observed to the most excruciating detail, when it serves certain purposes. In return, all that is asked is the generosity of a pittance in the forms of donations, intermediation, and garbage removal. Stated differently: pay the asking price, get in the middle when needed, and get rid of undesirables, when seen fit.

A third example of the golden age of governance prevailing is in the doling out of government contracts. Builders and contracting units have found it is very easy to do business with the people’s representatives. There is a minimum of paperwork and official fees. Of course, there is a separate “alignment and recognition” fee of 10% of the amount to be contracted. In the pursuit of a paperless society, no receipt is provided. In the interest of transparency, conceal the 10% in plain sight through overbidding (no problem); or embed into cost overruns. Not a problem, either.

Next, this era-the seventeen years of good governance-has resulted in the virtual elimination of crime and ethnic tension. Reports to the contrary can be attributed to sensationalism, fear mongers, and extremist opposition forces. The power elite can take special pride in eliminating perpetrators, sanitizing press reports under its control, and deriding naysayers. These days, crime exists only in the minds of the imaginative and other unsavory characters.

Fifth, thanks to good governance, the country has been host to one vast washing and cleaning exercise. Dollars have been washed behind barricaded doors; the blood of “unfortunates” has been washed away from the streets; and the flotsam of human detritus only wash up at inopportune times.

Then, there is the prosperity evidenced in shopping and dining. Shopping and dining that eludes 95% of the population. When a dinner for four costs north of twenty thousand Guyana dollars, and an item of evening attire starts in the same vicinity, then there must be optimism on joining the exclusive 5% club. After all, 5% is a start and indication of what lies ahead. Things are so wondrous in Guyana, that carpetbaggers and imported salesmen (used car?) write glowing travelogues on the ambience that awaits.

Yes, after 28 years of darkness, there is the light and radiance exuded by the happily governed. Guyanese have never had such good governance. It is so golden that the opposition has been brought over to participate in the good times. This is shared governance at the highest levels. Only it has not been made official. Now let us all close our eyes, plug our ears, and stifle our thoughts, and just believe. Just believe.

Yours faithfully,
GHK Lall
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