Fired Chronicle Columnists call Gov’t spiteful, petty

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By Devina Samaroo

Sacked Guyana Chronicle columnists, Dr David Hinds and Lincoln Lewis believe the decision to terminate their contracts with the State-newspaper came from authorities with greater power than the Editor-in-Chief, Nigel Williams.

Hinds, a Political Science Professor and executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), told News Room today that the Government and certain individual members within the administration need to “clean up their act” as he called for those who gave the directive to come forward.

“I strongly believe that the Editor of the Chronicle would not make such a decision on his own–it is a political decision and he would have to get such directive from above. I understand the situation that the Editor finds himself in, and he has my sympathy.

Editor-in-Chief, Nigel Williams.

“That is why I think those who gave him the directive should come out in the open and let the public know that they are the real authors of the move,” Hinds told News Room.

In calling on the Government to “clean up your act”, Hinds pointedly urged that they cease being “spiteful and small-minded.”

“There are more pressing problems to be addressed and solved than to worry about the columns by Hinds and Lewis. We have been down this road from 1966 and I thought with this Government we had turned the corner. But apparently, we have not–this Government seems determined to go the unkind and ugly way of those before it,” Hinds stated.

Similarly, Lewis in a statement to the media expressed that: “It would be naïve to think that the Editor-in-Chief Nigel Williams unilaterally disposed of myself and David Hinds as columnists in the state newspaper. Hopefully, he will not be made the fall guy for adhering to what is evidently political interference.”

Lewis labeled some Government officials as “thin-skin and petty” as he spoke of their inability to accept constructive criticisms.

Hinds and Lewis, in their weekly writings, have been very critical of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government.

Several days ago, the writers received letters from the Editor-in-Chief informing them that their contracts will be terminated effective March 12, 2018, in an effort to “rebrand” the Guyana Chronicle.

“The Guyana Chronicle as it continues with its rebranding would like to focus on new areas which require specialist interventions at this time,” the letter from Williams stated.

The WPA Executive Member explained that he is a supporter of the coalition administration – as his political party forms part of the Government structure – but he lamented that his independent views are not tolerated in “our elite political culture which demands uncritical loyalty from supporters”.

Hinds said he is aware that attempts were previously made to stop his columns from being published in the State newspaper.

“I am aware that there have always been pressures on the Editor from higher-ups to stop the column and feeble attempts in this direction have been made in the past. I suppose they have now decided to make a definitive move,” he expressed.

Hinds explained that the denial by the State newspaper to grant him and any other citizen the right to express their views amounts to a clear human rights violation of a sacred civil liberty.

“I do feel strongly that 52 years after independence, our leaderships still cannot deal with dissent,” he said, adding “what signals are we sending to young people who are already alienated from the political process?”

Lewis, a trade unionist, said he understands the right of an employer to terminate a contract but he is bothered by what seems to be political interference in the State newspaper.

Chair of the Board of Directors, Geeta Chandan-Edmond

“It is time for change where every citizen and group, regardless of political affiliation, be given un-biased access and coverage in the people’s organ… in reality, this government’s weakness is its inability to avoid public consternation on basic matters and requirements that speak to good governance. In fact, many in this government is thin-skin and petty,” Lewis said.

Board divided

Meanwhile, News Room understands that the Board of Directors of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited – the publishers of the Guyana Chronicle – is divided on the decision to sack the two columnists.

Directors Ruel Johnson, Bert Wilkinson, Karen Davis and Tabitha Sarabo-Halley wanted the two columnists to be reinstated, however, the other directors including the Chairman Geeta Chandan-Edmond voted for the writers to remain terminated.

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