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Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Natasha Singh-Lewis has accused the President Irfaan Ali Administration of plagiarizing former President David Granger’s vision for social cohesion in the recently launched ‘One Guyana’ project.
The President launched the project in February and elaborated on it further in his Republic Day address. This is even as the former Ministry/Department of Social Cohesion set up by the previous Administration was immediately dismantled when the current Government took office.
The Ministry was intended to foster greater religious and racial respect and cooperation among Guyanese. However, PPP/C Member, Clement Rohee told the media since in 2015 that his party would do all in its power to ensure the “so-called Ministry of Social Cohesion does not succeed in its divisive manipulative, deceitful and bribe-sharing efforts to divide Guyanese socially, politically along religious line ostensibly for electoral purposes.”
President Ali’s current ‘One Guyana’ project now seeks to rid Guyana of the vices of ethnic rancour, hatred and divisiveness; breaking down barriers of mistrust, suspicion, and stereotypes; and fostering greater tolerance and understanding.
In her presentation at Wednesday’s budget debate, Singh-Lewis said: “Comrade Speaker, from the onset, let me make it clear that the oneness Guyana concept is a plagiarized concept of the David Arthur Granger concept of social cohesion for Guyana…the author of the oneness Guyana concept, even though we know it’s a plagiarized document which mirrors David Granger’s concept, did not provide a background so that we as Guyanese can contextualize what the concept really speaks to.”
MP Singh-Lewis said that there has been no structure outlined by the President for the implementation of the ‘One Guyana’ project which leads her to believe that the same will be unsuccessful. Similarly, she noted that no implementation plan was presented by Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh in his presentation of Budget 2021 wherein he referred to the ‘oneness’ vision for Guyana.
Furthermore, she stated that if it is the Government’s goal that Guyanese live in cohesive communities Budget 2021 should have been crafted with steps for inclusive growth and reduce socio-economic inequalities; social inclusion and acceptance of diversity; the enhancement of citizen and community safety and security; the enhancement of citizen participation in political processes and decision-making; and the promotion of a culture of peace, reconciliation, harmony, and trust.
“Just coming here and standing up for however long and speaking boisterously about nation-building is not going to cut it,” MP Singh-Lewis said.
“The establishment of an entire department for Social Cohesion, the development of a five-year strategic plan for the implementation of social cohesion in Guyana. That, Mr. Speaker, is action taken by the APNU+AFC…the PPP is ashamed to use the word social cohesion because they dismantled the entire department that had the mandate to build a harmonious Guyana. That’s your loss, shame on you.”
Meanwhile, President Ali has also spoken to the establishment of a ‘One Guyana Commission’ which he said will be given legislative effect.
“The purpose of the Commission would be to try to do just that in relation to the practical steps we can take to cement our one society, encompassing and respecting the diversity from which our ‘oneness’ springs. The Commission will foster the free contention of our people’s voices, honour our ancestral heritage while celebrating our multiculturalism,” he said.