New Year Address To the Nation By Mr. Robert H O Corbin, MP Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform & Leader of the Opposition Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fellow Guyanese

Happy New Year!

May the New Year bring improvement in the quality of life for all Guyanese and may God grant this dear land of Guyana social stability and economic progress. May the rulers of our country be enlightened and display qualities of wisdom and a sense of caring and compassion for those in distress and need. After visiting with so many citizens, who, because of the adverse effects of the floods, have had no Christmas season, these are my heartfelt and fervent New Year wishes for our country.

Stability, national cohesiveness and a collective sense of purpose and direction remain the greatest need in our quest to take our country forward. Regrettably, at the dawn of yet another New Year, these essentials remain elusive. The year we have left behind has served as a reminder of their absence and of the state of drift in which our country finds itself. Beneath the thin layer of window dressing that passes for normalcy lie tensions, anger and a sense of anxiety as to where the winds of fortune will take us next.

2008 has been a year of extreme difficulty for citizens: the Value Added Tax; the economic situation; the torture of our citizens; the consequences of the heavy rainfall and poor management of our conservancy; disregard for the poor and powerless of this society; increasing and continued executive lawlessness; wanton destruction of our environment; the growing scourge of illiteracy; our collapsing education system; the fragility of our medical sector; the calculated destruction of the trade union movement; and the growing disenchantment of our young people with the politics of our nation. The arbitrariness and dictatorial tendency of the Jagdeo Administration during the past year is a threat to the rule of law in Guyana.

Our people will not be fooled by the frequent pronouncements about progress and development. They are far to preoccupied with the reality of their own difficult circumstances. Those circumstances make a mockery of the ceaseless declaration that the Government has the situation under control. The crisis that is afflicting our country cannot be wished away by colourful propaganda and elaborate “spin”: it is real for all to see. I saw for myself today at Victoria and Mahaica Creek.

Every Guyanese is aware that poverty and hard times persist, that crime and corruption have become uncontrollable concerns that the relentless flight of skills from our country continues, that there is a sense of frustration among our young people who are unemployed and cannot satisfy their aspirations. These concerns and anxieties cannot be glossed over by hollow-sounding pronouncements. They hang like the proverbial sword of Damocles over our heads. The façade of progress which the Government is seeking so desperately to sustain continues to be exposed for what it is – a mere chimera.

Far from being my wish to be negative on this the first day of the New Year, I seek only to speak the stark truth, cost it what it will, the reality that all of us must face.

As we begin the year 2009 we need to question whether we have the will, the courage and the capacity to transform our country? There is no question in the collective mind of the People’s National Congress Reform that we can. We are a people of resilience, a people of fortitude. We are used to confronting and overcoming adversity. The New Year must bring with it a fresh sense of hope and a renewed resolve that, together, we will turn that corner. All of us must direct our energies towards the achievement of that goal in the year that lies ahead of us.

Those who govern this country must awaken to the reality of our circumstances. They must seek to acquire the wisdom and insight that are necessary to make the decisions that matter. They must cease burying their heads in the sand as our country drifts aimlessly on a highway to nowhere.

Fellow Guyanese!

2009 must mark a decisive shift towards genuine national unity through shared governance. This will mark the start of the journey towards the goal of development. The Government must strip itself of its pretense and its inward-looking political posture and listen to the voices of the people. On this first day of the New Year, I wish to urge upon the Jagdeo Administration that it alone cannot bring progress to this troubled country of ours.

For our part, we in the People’s National Congress Reform pledge to rededicate our energies to that healing progress, which alone can set us on the road to progress. I am once again calling for a genuine inclusiveness that embraces all the stakeholders in our society in the process of building this nation. The prevailing exclusionary approach to governing Guyana will bring us nothing, but disappointment and disaster.

Fellow Guyanese!

Our nation needs to recover from the consequences of the drug trade, rampant criminality, the imperfections of the political system and finally begin to make its way as a tolerant, humane society in which every citizen can realise his or her fullest potential.

May God grant us the wisdom to see the virtues in collective effort and the commitment to pursue with vigour and determination that objective of working together. For us as a country there is simply no other choice.

Happy New Year to all Guyanese and May God bless Guyana.

Robert H. O. Corbin, MP
Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform &
Leader of the Opposition
Congress Place, Sophia
January 1, 2009