An apology Editorial

Stabroek News

September 21, 2003


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One recognizes that the highest officials of the land are busy people; inevitably there will be occasions - not too many - when they will be unavoidably detained and unable to keep an appointment. But certainly the absence of the high representatives of the President from the stakeholdersí briefing on Friday is difficult to explain away.

The briefing of stakeholders, who include representatives of the international and bilateral donor agencies, as well as the Guyana Bar Association, the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Trades Union Congress and the major religious bodies, is intended as one of the mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the various agreements between President Jagdeo and PNCR Leader Robert Corbin. This particular meeting was to allow the high representatives of the President and Mr Corbin to report on the status of agreement implementation in the context of the sixteen-point statement which the two leaders had issued on Monday.

The venue for the briefing was the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Brickdam, and the various representatives, including senior diplomats and Mr Carberry of the PNCR duly assembled and sat down to wait for the Presidentís rep(s) to appear. But none of the Presidentís men turned up. In our edition yesterday we reported that a phone call to the Office of the President had elicited the information that Dr Roger Luncheon, who heads the Presidentís team of representatives, was aware of the time of the meeting. Later, however, the Office informed the UNDP that Dr Luncheon would not be attending.

One hopes that some kind of muddle on the Government side is responsible for this faux-pas, rather than active misjudgement. If muddle is indeed the source of the problem, then it says very little for the organizational capacities of the political bureaucracy. However, it has to be said that it is difficult to understand how it was that only the Presidentís representatives should have been unaware that they were supposed to attend the briefing; who was it, one wonders, that asked the UNDP to convene the meeting in the first place?

If, as we reported, the Office of the President first indicated that Dr Luncheon knew the time of the meeting, and then said that he would not be attending, does that not imply that there was an awareness at some level in New Garden street that the briefing would be taking place? But even supposing that by some strange quirk, the Office of the President was only enlightened about the briefing after it had been contacted on the matter, should it not have zipped into action right away to round up a high representative to dispatch to Brickdam - along with a suitable apology, of course?

What is particularly unfortunate is that this is the second occasion on which a stakeholdersí briefing had to be aborted on account of the absence of the Presidentís representatives. Whether they intend it or not, such behaviour sends a damaging message. The first time can be excused as a mistake, but it will be hard for the Government to persuade people that they made a mistake twice in a row - even if that is in fact the case. And if they did make a mistake, why did they not issue an apology immediately?

If, conversely, they did know about the briefing, but there was no intention to attend, then that should have been conveyed to the UNDP beforehand so no invitations were sent out. It is absolutely unacceptable to have representatives, diplomatic and otherwise, sitting waiting for a briefing which is not going to happen; it bespeaks contempt of the highest order.

Up to the time of writing, the Office of the President had issued no statement on the matter. At this late stage, an explanation is not called for; what is required is an apology. (Back to top)

Correction

In last weekís editorial of September 14, we inadvertently cited the Mathematics figures for the English A figures (Grades 1-3). The editorial should have read: 5,474 candidates sat English A in 2002 of whom 34.5% gained Grades 1-3, and in 2003, 7,749 candidates were entered, of whom 37.4% passed with Grades 1-3. These higher figures, however, do not alter the overall conclusions of the editorial. We apologize for the error.

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