PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, June 28, 2007 Media Centre Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR wishes to state that it looks forward to the continued development of mutually beneficial relations between the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China and the continued strengthening of relations between the CPC and the PNCR; .
• The Constitution states that the President must consult the Leader of the Opposition and have agreement on the appointment of the Chancellor. These consultations have been marred by tardiness; the red herring that the President had to create a search committee to look for a nominee to fill the post of Chief Justice and the clear reluctance of the President to allow this process to work;
• PPP/C Government ordered all Cable television Operators in Guyana, with the exception of Atlantic Cable Network, to close down their operations within three days or risk seizure of their equipment;
• The PNCR has noted the publication of the book by Gregory Smith and edited by Anne Wagner entitled “Assassination Cry of a Failed Revolution”;
• The Party’s Congress which will be held under the theme “PNCR – United, Rejuvenated and Re-positioned for the next 50 years” is occurring at a time when the situation internationally and nationally are both challenging.

35TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF RELATIONS BETWEEN THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA AND THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

The 35th Anniversary of the establishment of relations between the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China is for the People's National Congress Reform an occasion for reflection as well as satisfaction, for during this period the relations between the two countries have expanded and broadened in a manner that redounds to the benefit of both Governments and peoples.

The People's National Congress Reform is particularly pleased at these developments as it played an unambiguous role in the forging of relations between Guyana and China at a time when the international environment was both challenging and delicate. It would be appropriate to pass, in review, some of the important milestones along the way to the establishment of full diplomatic relations.

In 1971 Guyana and China signed an Agreement on the Mutual Establishment of Commercial Offices. A Commercial Office was established in 1972. Diplomatic relations were established on June 27, 1972 between the People's Republic of China and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. China opened its embassy in Guyana on the same day. In October 1973 Guyana set up its embassy in China. Since that time, the two countries have exchanged some ten Ambassadors. Building on these foundations, relations have expanded to embrace the domains of culture, commercial and trade ties, medical assistance, training, and the coordination of diplomatic activities in important international forums. Along with this, relations between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) continue to flourish as is exemplified by the visit of the Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, and a delegation in June of 2005.

In the meantime, the PNCR cannot but express its admiration for China’s emergence as one of the principal states in the international system. This is attributable to the multi-dimensional development of China and particularly the remarkable development of the Chinese economy. China’s economy has now been growing by some 10% per annum for the last two decades and is now one of the world’s largest economies.

The PNCR, therefore, wishes to state that it looks forward to the continued development of mutually beneficial relations between the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China and the continued strengthening of relations between the CPC and the PNCR.

CHANCELLOR OF THE JUDICIARY

The unilateral announcement by President Jagdeo that some of the functions of the Chief Justice would be transferred to the Chancellor of the Judiciary followed by the submission of a Bill to Parliament to give effect to this announcement is yet another example of the duplicity of this regime that proclaim inclusive and transparent governance. The PNCR believes that this course of action is fraught with danger and implications for the long term peace and stability of the nation. The decision to repose the powers of the Chief Justice in the position of the Chancellor makes a mockery of the structure of the Constitution which identified distinct roles for the two (2) positions. Early attempts by the regime to pursue this matter caused the PNCR to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court for a determination as to whether this was a violation of the constitution. At the first Court appearance the Attorney General gave the assurance to the Court that the Government would not proceed while the matter engaged its attention. But the 8th Parliament came to an end without that determination.

It is therefore unacceptable for President Jagdeo or the Government to again violate such an undertaking by pursuing essentially the same issue under disguise. More unacceptable is the fact that the Government feels it could proceed without any consultation.

The entire charade is part of President Jagdeo scheme to avoid using the Constitutional procedure for the appointment of a Chancellor. The Constitution states that the President must consult the Leader of the Opposition and have agreement on the appointment of the Chancellor. These consultations have been marred by tardiness; the red herring that the President had to create a search committee to look for a nominee to fill the post of Chief Justice; and the clear reluctance of the President to allow this process to work. In other words, the consultation process has been deliberately avoided.

The PNCR therefore condemns this latest attempt to violate the Constitution and will seek redress in the Courts.

THE CLOSURE OF CABLE TV OPERATIONS IS THE LATEST ACT OF INJUSTICE WHICH SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO PASS UNCHALLENGED

During the last week, the Government ordered all Cable television Operators in Guyana, with the exception of Atlantic Cable Network, to close down their operations within three days or risk seizure of their equipment. The notice served on the Atlantic Cable Network (ACN) directed the Company to cease expanding its network and to limit operations to two villages along the East Bank of Demerara.

It does not matter what lame or implausible excuses are offered by the Government. The fact of the matter is that these developments constitute an assault on the right of the Guyanese people to access information. They are in keeping with the recent actions of the PPP/C Government to try to starve the Stabroek News into submission and prevent it from opposing the Government by refusing to give that newspaper advertisements. It seems that the PPP/C Government in its mad rush to control the media is prepared to violate not only the rights of the people of Guyana but also well known international agreements that it has freely entered to.

The explanation given by Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, that the absence of Broadcast Legislation is responsible for the order is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Guyana and should be condemned. What ever the real reason for the order, the actions of the Government is most reprehensible, unreasonable and unjust. The laws of natural justice required that, at the very least, there should have been adequate notice as well as consultation. The Government had by their previous inaction and, in some cases collaboration, acquiesced to their operation and condoned their business.

The closure of the operations of the two Cable operators at Linden has more far reaching implications in the context of Government’s refusal to permit existing Licenced TV Owners extending their signals to this Community where there is a monopoly of NCN Radio and Television. Such actions in the Linden Community constitute an assault on their right to freedom of information and are a direct attempt to continue state controlled information and propaganda to the people.

It is well known that the decision to have Broadcast Legislation to facilitate the operations of private radio and television was made more than seven years ago between the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte and President Bharrat Jagdeo. The Final Report of the Joint Committee on Radio Monopoly, Non-Partisan Boards and Broadcasting Legislation which was issued in December 2001 had envisaged that, “the radio spectrum be opened to other licensees where technically and otherwise possible.”

On May 6th 2003, President Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin agreed that the Legislation would be available for implementation within four months of the signing of the Communiqué. The first draft Broadcast Legislation totally disregarded all the recommendations of the task force and was correctly rejected. Since then it was obvious that the PPP/C Administration had no serious intention to allow private radio or to allow TV operators to extend their signals as they failed to pursue this matter any further. The remarks reportedly made by Prime Minister Sam Hinds that Guyana is not ready for private radio have exposed the real intentions of the Government over the past years. For Government therefore to claim that the closure of Cable TV is related to the absence of Legislation is an obvious attempt to deceive the people of Guyana.

Many of these Cable operators were known to be operating in Guyana for several years with the quiet approval of the Government and in one case, allegedly, by the direct approval of President Jagdeo. In 2006, prior to the last General and Regional Elections, the Government invited all the cable operators to a consultation during which they acknowledged their operations and agreed that they should continue to operate, provided they did not transmit any local programming. It was clear that the PPP/C’s only concern then was that these cable operators did not use their services for promoting the election campaign of any other political party even though they acknowledged that some of the operators were already airing GINA programmes. If the Government did not want these operators to continue why did they make this a condition in 2006? It was this silent agreement which motivated many of these operators to invest millions of dollars in bringing their operations to state of the art technology. The closure without notice is also a serious assault on the economic interests of citizens.

The people of Linden sees this recent action however as a direct attack on their community and the deprivation of their right to have access to information. In a Town meeting held last evening at Silver City School hosted by Leader of the Opposition, the residents passed a resolution demanding that the Regional Administration and the PNCR vigorously pursue these matters with the Government. They further resolved to prevent the Government disposing of a satellite TV Dish which is the property of the Community and former workers of Linmine, It is understood that the Government is engaged in secret negotiations with a PPP/C supporter to sell this dish which was annexed by the state and assigned to be managed by NCN.

The people of Guyana need to ensure that the Government is not allowed to continue these excesses.



BOOK BY GREGORY SMITH

The PNCR has noted the publication of the book by Gregory Smith and edited by Anne Wagner entitled “Assassination Cry of a Failed Revolution.” From everything this Party has been able to gather, the contention made by Smith and Anne Wagner is that Walter Rodney was not assassinated. The Party notes that the assertion made by Smith, contradicts the popular notion that the PNC was involved with Rodney’s death. We hope that those who have rush to judgement would take account of these new facts and be guided by them in making statements in the future.

The PNCR intends to study the contents of Gregory Smith’s book and intends to make further comments in the future, where necessary.

CONGRESS UPDATE

The PNCR has already announced that it will be holding its 15th Biennial Congress from July 20th to July 22nd at the Party’s Press Conference on May 10, 2007. Since that time the Congress Committee of the Party has been working assiduously to put in place the measures and mechanisms not only to ensure the success of the Congress but also that all procedures and regulations are carried out in accordance with its Constitution.

The Congress which will be held under the theme “PNCR – United, Rejuvenated and Re-positioned for the next 50 years” is occurring at a time when the situation internationally and nationally are both challenging. However, over the last 50 years the Party has acquired the experience, the knowledge and the human resources to confront and overcome any situation thrown up in the course of its pursuit of the rights, entitlements and dreams of the Guyanese people.

A special Press Conference will be hosted next week.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday, June 28, 2007