Gov’t will not intervene in sacking of Chronicle columnists – Harmon
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has made it clear that the APNU/AFC Government, which had championed the cause of press freedom, will not intervene to reinstate two columnists who were fired by the state-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper.
The columnists – Dr David Hinds and labour rights giant Lincoln Lewis – were fired by the Editor-in-Chief, Nigel Williams, who informed them that the decision was taken at the “highest level of the company” in keeping with its rebranding.
Dr Hinds and Mr Lewis – who are both supporters of the coalition Government – have often times been critical of some of the policies and decisions of the administration.
As a matter of fact, Dr Hinds is an executive member of the Working Peoples’ Alliance (WPA), which makes up a small faction of the APNU/AFC.
But Minister Harmon, when questioned on the issue Thursday morning at the sidelines of an event at the Guyana Marriott was explicit that the Government will not intervene even while he noted that there are some members of Cabinet who are dissatisfied with the constant criticism by the columnists against the Government.
“We’ve always encouraged freedom of the press, freedom of expressions and so on, so certainly for my part, I’ve never had a discomfort, in fact, I welcome those types of criticisms, because it makes you better and stronger,” he told media operatives on the sidelines of an event at the Marriott Hotel.
He added that the decision “was never a matter of policy that was discussed.”
“There may have been some persons who might have been uncomfortable but I cannot say specifically whether there were persons who are at discomfort about it. That’s a matter for the Board of Chronicle and the management of the newspaper, that’s their business,” Harmon said.
Both columnists believe that the decision to terminate their contracts with the State-newspaper came from authorities with greater power than the Editor-in-Chief.
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 Chandran-Edmond voted for the writers to remain terminated.