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—Ming holds out hope for Ali, Norton to pursue a new path
–says two leaders have what it takes to move Guyana forward
By Svetlana Marshall
At a time when Guyana remains deeply divided along racial and political lines, Businessman Stanley Ming is challenging President Irfaan Ali and the newly elected Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Aubrey Norton to end the animosity, warning that continuous division does not augur well for the future of Guyana.
Ming, a former Member of Parliament said both leaders have shown a genuine interest in developing Guyana for the benefit of its people. “I would encourage both Ali and Norton to start a new concept of engagement rather than trying to create a lot of animosity between the two political groups,” Ming said while emphasising the need for there to be an end to the antagonistic behavior that has been on display in the Guyanese society for decades.
Ming, at the time, was speaking on Politics 101, a virtual programme hosted by Political Scientist, Dr. David Hinds. Ming said Norton, who is known for being a man of his word, must now build on that fact by fulfilling his commitment to advance the interest of Guyanese on the national and international stage. But this he says, requires consultation.
Further, he warned that Guyana cannot develop as a divided State, as such there ought to be consultation and compromise among the country’s leaders. “What we have right now is a system that says 51% is equal to 100% and 49% equals zero, that is the mathematics of what we have. The Government has control of everything, and the Opposition, which is almost the same amount 49% has nothing and that is a recipe for disaster,” he the businessman said.
He said it is imperative for President Ali and Norton to sit at the negotiating table and discuss, meaningfully, the development of Guyana. Guyanese, Ming posited, want to know that regardless of their ethnicity, political persuasion, creed or culture, that they have a stake in Guyana.
“Guyanese want to educate their children, they want to be able to put food on their tables, and they want to be able to go home at nights and sleep in comfort and in security. Guyanese are very simple people, and I know of no Guyanese who is not willing to work,” he reasoned.
Citing the case of the Rwanda Civil War in 1994, Ming pointed out that in a period of three months more than 800,000 persons were killed in the tribal war with the Tutsis, a minority ethnic group, accounting for the majority of the deaths.
He said notwithstanding Rwanda’s tragic history, its President Paul Kagame brought the tribes together and transformed Rwanda into the “Singapore of Africa.”
“If anybody wants to see what they have done, they have done nothing short of a miracle and why because they have come together as a people. Two tribes that killed 900,000 of each other are now working together to build that country and to make it great,” Ming posited, calling on the Leader’s to ‘take a page out of Kagame’s book.’ Ming said that the political leaders in the country must desist from objecting to projects and programmes simply because they originated from another political party.
Citing another example, Ming pointed to the Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue Road Expansion Project. He said the project was originally designed under the PNC in 1970, however, when there was a change in government in 1992, the project was shelved by the PPP/C merely because it was a concept developed by the PNC. According to Ming, shortly after President Ali took office in August 2020, he discussed the project with him, providing the requisite data, and the President embraced the project. “He doesn’t care whether it was under Burnham or Hoyte, and there are many other things I know that are happening that he is trying his best to get it done, not for him or for me or for you but for Guyana,” Ming said.
However, while President Ali has come in for high praises from Ming, he has thus far failed to engage in any meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon because the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), for which PNCR forms a major bloc, does not acknowledge the PPP/C as a legitimate government.
Failure to consult with the Opposition Leader has stalled major constitutional appointments. That aside, Ming also made a case for Guyanese at home to support the return of overseas-based Guyanese, Caribbean nationals, and even those from Guyana’s neighbouring countries. He said with a population of just 750,000 people, Guyana cannot develop its rich resources on its own.
“Dubai in 1970 had a population of 270,000 people…that’s when they discovered oil, and the people of Dubai and the Government of Dubai knew that they could not develop the resources that were there and they invited, the world but their conditions were stringent,” he further pointed out.
Today, United Arab Emirates, for which Dubai is an Emirate, has a population of approximately 10 million people, however, 8.7 million account for foreign nationals. “Those people came in with their knowledge and expertise and capital, they invested with the Emiratis and they are very stringent rules about that, the local people got to be involved in every level in terms of investment,” Ming said, adding that “they have transformed the country from being totally dependent on oil to now almost no dependence on oil.” Electorally, Ming underscored the need for a modernized electoral system that would give rise to a new National Register of Registrants, and ultimately a new Voters’ List.