PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, December 23, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




Summary:
• PNCR Observes 2nd Death Anniversary of Late Leader Desmond Hoyte: Pays Tribute in Ceremony at Seven Ponds - Place of Heroes;
• PNCR extends Christmas Greetings to All Guyanese;
• PNCR engaged in extensive Christmas Outreach programme taking cheer to the children and elderly around Guyana;
• Debates between the President and the Leader of the Opposition would have been a continuous feature of public life had Jagdeo implemented the Communique decision on equitable time for Parliamentary parties on State Media: Democracy must not be a periodic experience to be initiated at President’s whims and Fancies; and
• PNCR will reserve its observations on the latest antics of the PPP/C in relation to Constitutional Reform and Election Issues for its Post Christmas Press Conferences.


PNCR OBSERVES 2ND DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF MR. HUGH DESMOND HOYTE

Yesterday Wednesday December 22, the People’s National Congress Reform observed the 2nd Death Anniversary of Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, its immediate past Leader and a former President of Guyana with a laying of floral tributes ceremony at his place of interment, Seven Ponds – Place Of Heroes, Botanical Gardens, Georgetown.

Participating in the ceremony were Mrs. Joyce Hoyte, widow of the Party Leader, the sisters of Mr. Hoyte, Party Leader Robert Corbin and several Executive Members of the Party, representatives of several Guyanese organizations and members of the public.

The ceremony which commenced at 7:00 AM was chaired by Mr. Winston Murray, CCH, MP Chairman of the PNCR and included prayers by representatives of the Christian, Hindu and Moslem faiths in the persons of Rev. Geoffrey Thompson, Mr. Bharrat Kissoon and Mr. Roshan Kahn. Then followed, the opening statement by the Chairman, who recalled, with nostalgia, some of the sterling qualities and achievements of the late Leader and President.

The congregation was led in the singing of the National Song, “Hymn for Guyana’s Children” by Capt. Edward Richards, trumpeter, of the Salvation Army. Party Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin in his statement called on the congregation to preserve the memory of his late predecessor by striving to achieve the goal of national unity which was a cornerstone of his labours for a better Guyana. The Party he opined has been intensifying efforts to build bridges and to unite the Guyanese people.

Thereafter, floral tributes were laid by the widow of the late Leader and President, Mrs. Joyce Hoyte, Rona and Gloria Hoyte, his surviving sisters and a cross section of Guyanese organisations representing Cultural, Religious, Business, Trades Union and political as well as members of the public.

The curtains came down, on this simple but impressive ceremony, with words of appreciation by Mrs. Clarissa Riehl, MP, member of the Central Executive Committee of the Party and the singing of our National Anthem.


PNCR EXTENDS CHRISTMAS GREETINGS TO ALL GUYANESE

The PNCR wishes to extend sincere greetings to all Guyanese for a peaceful and God-filled Christmas and for a productive year 2005. Our people have fortunately been able to overcome the many challenges faced during 2004 and the fabric of our Nation has been held together. During this season, therefore, we need to thank God that, as a people and as a Nation, we have survived.

During the past year, the crime and security situation continued to be a major concern of all Guyanese. While little progress was made in the death squad investigations, sufficient has already been revealed to expose the truthfulness of the original allegations. The narco trade escalated to give our nation further notoriety overseas. Corruption in high places continued unabated with little evidence of any sanctions by the Administration to curb these abuses. Our economic performance did not improve as several businesses declined, but thanks to donor funds, the Government has been able to boast of some projects being undertaken. The cost of living continued to escalate beyond reason with the miserly 5% increase in Government wages and salaries having no real impact on workers welfare. The Government refused to implement important decisions of the Communique and further undermined the Parliamentary process. However, as the year came to a close there were promising announcements of new investments and it is to be hoped that this will be the trend in the New Year.

As we approach this festive season, the Party is deeply conscious of the fact that most Guyanese will not enjoy the bright and beautiful Christmas that many dream about. This, however, is the season of goodwill and it is hoped that Guyanese will focus at this time on the true meaning of Christmas. It is in this spirit that the PNCR extends Christmas greetings to all and hope that God will grant all Guyanese the privilege to enjoy good health and peace during this season.


PNCR ENGAGED IN EXTENSIVE CHRISTMAS OUTREACH PROGRAMME TAKING CHEER TO CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY AROUND GUYANA

Over the past weeks the PNCR embarked on an extensive Christmas outreach programme aimed at bringing cheer to the needy, senior citizens and the young people of our Nation. The programme organized mainly by the Human Services department of the party, involved the holding of several luncheons and parties for senior citizens and young Children, the distribution of food hampers, toys and other gifts to children.

The programme was launched on Sunday December 5th, 2004 with the Party’s annual Christmas Luncheon for senior citizens that was held this year at Mahaicony Secondary School for senior Citizens in Region 5, Mahaica/Berbice. This was followed by the NCW’s Annual Children’s Christmas Party held, this year on The 11th December at the New Amsterdam Town Hall for children in Region 6, East Berbice. Since then the Party’s leadership team led by the Party Leader has been reaching out to children and the elderly in communities around the country. On Sunday December 12, the Party team toured Riverview, Kartabo, Karraw and Batavia in the Essequibo River. Similar exercises were held at Kwakwani, Ituni, Christianburg and Amelia’s Ward in Region 10, Timehri on the East Bank of Demerara, Sisters Village, West Bank, Demerara, Riverview, Ruimveldt, Laing Avenue, West La Penitence “the Island” and Container City in the Georgetown area. On Sunday last Executive members of the Party including Party Chairman, Winston Murray spent the entire morning visiting old stalwarts of the Party in the Beterverwagting area taking hampers to them for the season and on Monday last the Leader of the party hosted a luncheon for Senior citizens in his home town, Christianburg, Linden. This exercise will continue at various locations until Christmas day where the Party Leader will spend time with the children in Sophia Housing areas.

The PNCR would like to express sincere thanks to all it supporters and well-wishers both local and overseas who contributed generously to make this programme the success that it is.


DEBATES BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION WOULD HAVE BEEN A CONTINUOUS FEATURE OF PUBLIC LIFE: DEMOCRACY MUST NOT BE A PERIODIC EXPERIENCE TO BE INITIATED AT THE PRESIDENT’S WHIMS AND FANCIES

The PNCR has become aware, through press reports, that President Jagdeo believes it is necessary that he debates the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin. This latest act of gimmickry from Mr. Jagdeo would be amusing, were the idea not a further reflection of the serious distortions and confusion in the President's mind of what are the country's priorities and what constitutes good governance.
Let us state for the record that Mr. Robert Corbin can debate the President anywhere, anytime and on any national subject. Mr. Jagdeo's discomfort and difficulty in answering questions from the private media over the years clearly demonstrate his lack of acumen, honesty and preparedness. He has not shown a propensity to string together a sequence of coherent thoughts on critical and complex issues affecting the nation. No wonder he has sought refuge in the orchestrated press interviews by the State media.
The PNCR's foremost interest, however, is not in showmanship and gamesmanship. The multitude of problems confronting our nation demand serious and determined approaches. Poverty, bad governance, corruption, crime, the drug trade, declining health and education standards are only a few examples. Solutions to these chronic problems demand a studied, creative and multi-pronged approach. This is beyond the capacity of the Jagdeo's PPP. His government has therefore resorted to PR gimmickry, dishonesty and distractions.
Were President Jadgeo truly interested in either, (i) allowing the Guyanese public the opportunity to hear Mr. Robert Corbin's views and those of his party on national matters, or (ii) in national discussions at the highest level, then he would have long ago agreed to:
1. Implement the letter and spirit of the inter-party discussions on broadcasting by granting fair, routine and equitable access to the State Media to the Opposition parties and to civil society organisations such as the Trade Unions.
2. Accept the proposal made by Mr. Corbin in his address to the nation on March 31, 2004, that there should be national consultations involving at minimum all the parliamentary parties to find solutions to the country's problems.
In that address Mr. Corbin stated,
“The only reasonable course of action is to search for new ways of working together to identify problems, to examine options, to take decisions about agreed solutions and to monitor performance in the best interests of all of Guyana’s citizens. For the future then, we will NOT engage President Jagdeo in any further bi-lateral discussions save and except those required under the constitution. The plight of our country can no longer be addressed only by the leadership of the ruling party, the government and the Opposition. Future discussions of urgent and critically important national issues must also engage the parliamentary political parties and civil society organizations. Of course, there are difficulties in how we design such a consultative arrangement. We will have to ensure that civil society organizations and individuals are not mere mouthpieces of any political party. We will have to find ways of involving those, including religious bodies, which are genuinely concerned about: the rule of law; the business environment; the protection of workers’ rights; the contributions of service organizations and other NGOs; the conditions in our hinterland communities; and how gender issues are being addressed.”

Mr. Jagdeo has steadfastly refused to respond to these basic and reasonable suggestions. Instead he chooses the occasion of his visit to New York to make suggestions about political debates. This could not be a President serious about building good governance and promoting harmony.

The hard times confronting the Guyanese people demand approaches that can impact positively on the lives of Guyanese. If anyone holds the view that debates are worthwhile and could take this country somewhere, they need only look at the outcomes of the debates in the country's Parliament. The Jagdeo Government refuses to accept, or to even consider, the countless useful suggestions on national policy made by the Opposition Members of Parliament.

In any event, Democracy must not be a periodic experience to be initiated at the whims and fancies of Presidents. Debates on issues affecting the Nation ought to be a continuous exercise in a functioning democracy. The implementation of the decision on equitable time for all parties on State media will certainly facilitate this exercise.

Can the Guyanese people therefore expect a more genuine approach to governance in the New Year from Mr. Jagdeo or more PR gimmicks?


PNCR WILL RESERVE ITS OBSERVATIONS ON THE LATEST ANTICS OF THE PPP/C IN RELATION TO CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM AND ELECTION ISSUES FOR ITS POST CHRISTMAS PRESS CONFERENCES

The latest antics by the PPP/C to avoid commitments made during the Constitutional Reform process is part of a continuous course of conduct by that Party over the years. The use of their Parliamentary majority to undermine the work of the Constitutional Reform Committee of the Parliament is the latest example of, the lengths to which that party would go to undermine the democratic process. The recent Statement by the PPP General Secretary on Electoral Reform, which completely distorts the work and decisions of the Constitutional Reform Committee, has not gone unnoticed by the PNCR. However, the PNCR, in this season of goodwill to all men, will refrain at this time from joining issue on this important matter. It is sufficient to state that the PNCR rejects entirely the recent Statement from the PPP and hopes that the Season will enable those in Freedom House to allow truth to prevail in the New Year. The PNCR will deal with these and other matters after the holiday Season.

We therefore take this opportunity to wish the entire Leadership of the PPP and indeed all other Political parties in Guyana a happy Christmas and a prosperous and productive New Year 2005.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown
December 23, 2004