Death and Death by Violent Means1625 30 Jul, 2012
Mrs. Chandarpal: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise to speak on the motion by the Hon. Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier (Ret’d) Granger. I firsltly would like to express sympathy to the relatives and friends of Shemroy Bouyea, Ivan Lewis and Ron Somerset who were shot and killed on Wednesday 18th July, 2012.
It is indeed unfortunate and regrettable. In looking at this issue, I would like to go back to the issue that created the event at Linden. The electricity issue has been a challenge for us for a very long time. Every effort was made and has been made to come to grips with this issue. The Hon. Prime Minister himself has spoken extensively on this. He spoke about the decline of bauxite and the impact it had on the community. I can recall my earlier period in the Cabinet when the question of electricity and the implication and the impact for Linden was raised. It has always been a question of affordability; it was then and it still is now.
However, when this matter was brought to the Assembly and indications were given that the time has come and that we have to deal with this matter in a progressive way, meaning that people at a certain level will have to pay a smaller percentage and so on, the indication or the mindset was one that said, “no, we are not going to pay”. As such, the dilemma we have is that Linden for the longest while has had a difficulty in terms of electricity and bauxite and the decline in the industry itself. We know that in all extractive industries, not only in Guyana but all over the world, there comes a time when you have these problems and you have to be looking at alternative ways of finding employment for the people there. That is what the Government, in looking and assessing the situation, came up with the realisation that they need to intervene in Linden. Thus, leave and leap and lend and the interaction with BOSAI were all intended to help to alleviate the problems, because the Government recognised that the people needed help and that was their way of providing assistance.
We recognise that not only Linden is affected by poverty; all over this country there are pockets of poverty where people are unemployed. It is not a situation where only Linden is affected by all these problems. All over this country is affected by these problems, but at the same time, there are many communities which even though they were poor and depressed have still taken care of their electricity bill. I want to ask that the engagement with the people in Linden and the Government must continue so as to find ways and means of seeing how we can reduce the impact of electricity on one hand, recognising that the people have problems. This is the engagement I know that the Prime Minister is committed to.
The other issue I want to raise, and I have gone to Linden many times, and I am always amazed that people have their lights on during the day. I have spoken to many people and asked, “How is it that you can afford to have your electrical lights on when those of us who live on the coastland have to exercise responsibility in ensuring that we take off our lights?” A lot of people have said that we have been accustomed to it and that it is okay. It is no longer okay, because it is the question of affordability. Therefore, we need to change the attitude and the mindset of people as to the way that they will utilise electricity. Somebody has to pay for it and it is unfair to ask all of the people who are exercising discretion to pay while others are wasting. I am not saying that it is everybody, but there are people who are wasting.
I also want to say that reference was made by the Hon. Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud, when he spoke about the impact of what the present situation in Linden or its implication on different sectors in our country. It is for the people of Linden to analyse what they are continuing to do and whether they will disengage from the process and the impact of what they are doing presently will have on their wellbeing. That is the responsibility of the leaders who are giving guidance. If you are unable to disengage in a timely way, it means that it will have economic implications for the people of Linden; that is something that I believe we need to consider.
Hon. Ms. Africo Selman and the Hon. Member Winston Felix spoke about 1998 and went on to sight all the different transgressions. Hon. Member Africo Selman referred to the “dark days”. My dear, we do not live in the “dark days”. We on this side have lived under the “dark days”. I go to Linden and I know – I have many friends in Linden – what is happening in Linden. I live in Guyana so I have a right to know. The question of rights and responsibility- for those of you who do not know and are here for the first time and you pretend as though you do not know about the past- the people of Guyana did not have the right or the freedom to travel. They did not have it, because many of us who live on the coastland could not have gone into the riverine interior communities. [Interruption] No, I am talking about this motion. The two Hon. Members referred to the question of rights and responsibilities. You are talking about lack of freedom? Today, we have more freedom. There was a time we did not have the right the vote, we did not have the right to travel and we did not have the right to even print a newspaper! We did not have the right to eat what we want! We did not have the right to take out a little pittance out of this country! Today we have those rights!
[Ms. Ally: Yes, punish them. Kill them.] I am not saying to kill them. I believe in democracy. We on this side believe in democracy. We fought for those things that you are now talking about.
Mr. Speaker, I want to remind Members of the last Parliamentary Management Committee (PMC) meeting that you chaired. Hon. Member Backer will recall the discussions we had when we were talking about what we can do collectively as the PMC to show unity in the country. I want to remind us about that discourse. The 18th July was the same day we discussed what we can do collectively to unify our people. We took some decisions. Hon. Member Backer and I decided we will take up an initiative to lead this process so that people can see that we are unified. I believe that is something we still need to work towards. I still believe it is something we need to work towards Mrs. Debroah Backer.
I want to conclude by saying that I support the amendment by the Hon. Prime Minister. I also want to say that I do not support the call for the Minister of Home Affairs to resign.
I thank you. [Applause]
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