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Repeat Offenders Print E-mail
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Written by Jamil Matar   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00

If one would take a few seconds and mentally depict the political landscape of the print and electronic media in Belize one would no doubt wonder how is it that the United Democratic Party has so successfully withstood the heavy artillery it is constantly being assailed with from all corners of our country.

The UDP has only about four media outlets, which I am aware of, that directly support Government’s policies. Two of these stations, Wave and the Guardian, are owned by the Party, while the other two, Sugar City Radio and Northern Cable, are in private hands.

The media houses which, in my opinion, are openly pro-PUP are listed as follows: Radio Bajia, CTV3, San Pedro Sun, Fiesta FM, Krem, Belize Times, FM 2000, Love, Channel Fox, Plus TV, and PGTV. Note that these Opposition agents host several talk shows and news programs each day where the shade of blue is on the heavy side of dark, be it related to new items or editorial opinions.

Some have said that the most popular news outlet, Channel 7, is pro-UDP, but I consider it neutral. They hit as hard as or harder than Fox when they are on to a story, and don’t accept “no comment” for an answer. Definitely not in the red corner, trust me.

Amandala, which is said to be the most widely circulated newspaper in Belize, was also once deemed neutral, but with the re-entrance of Cordel Hyde into electoral politics, this paper has since been perceptively slanting towards the PUP in its editorials.

No one whom I spoke with can define the Reporter and it’s difficult to put this paper in any category, so I won’t even try.

With that perspective (and a very lengthy introduction), I was not in the least surprised to note that after the Court threw out the Penner case, the political aspirants in COLA were invited to several TV talk shows to describe how “patriotic” they were in prosecuting this issue and how conspiring the Government and the Police acted.

I will not go into the merits on the Penner matter, since I think that horse is still being flogged long after its death. But I recognize that it’s a floating twig that the PUP is grasping at even as they attempt to distract the people from the disgraceful performance of their present leaders when they were in Government.

The main concern I wanted to bring to the front is that public officers and teachers have just recently received a salary increase of 6%, retroactive to 1 April, plus adjustments in travelling, housing and subsistence allowances, yet all these benefits are being treated by the media as  non-issues. That is even after knowing the plight of other Caribbean Governments who are engaging Unions in austerity measures and retrenchment.

I want to go even further in describing the apathy of the PUP-sympathetic media. Recently the Government transferred some $3.6 million to the trustees of the Public Sector Worker’s Trust for the benefit of Public Officers and Teachers who were affected by the increment freeze between 1995 and 1997. The affected public servants have only heard an unofficial announcement from a BNTU official that the Unions intend to invest these monies in projects which the Trust will finance and the Unions will front.

Look, my brothers, this is not the way how an employee trust works. These trusts are established to receive and distribute dividends to beneficiaries who are entitled; not to invest on their behalf without a clear path of return to them. Give these people their money. No Union should directly and institutionally benefit from an employee trust. While some may argue that their intention is not illegal, it is certainly not proper. That is my take on this important concern.