I have seen the Belize Press Office’s response to Amandala’s article regarding the arrival of Republic of China (Taiwan) president Tsai Ing-wen, and I do not intend to waste my time responding in toto.
There are a few points, however, that need clarification. The release said that “An information officer in the Press Office contacted every major media house in Belize in an effort to provide [Mr. Hoare] with the aforementioned list. A representative from the Amandala could not be reached.”
Really? Our offices were open all that day, Thursday. Our office phones were not malfunctioning. My phone was not malfunctioning. Our reporter’s two phones weren’t malfunctioning. So, how could we not be reached?
And Dorian Pakeman, Director of the Government of Belize Press Office, needs to make up his mind what his excuse really is. In his release, he says our reporter “was late.”
Our reporter, Rowland Parks, said that when he arrived at the airport, he was not late; the plane had not yet landed, although a few reporters had already passed through, to the tarmac. He said that he was told that he was denied entry, however, because his name was not on the list, and this is confirmed by Mr. Pakeman’s release.
The Press Office release says, “Mr. Pakeman received a phone call from Roland Parks asking why his name is not on the list and why he is not being allowed to the tarmac.”
Now, why wasn’t our reporter’s name on the list, because, out of Mr. Pakeman’s own mouth (so to speak), in his release, come these words: “At 10:27 AM the news director at Krem contacted the press office informing that Rowland Parks would be representing Amandala at the ceremony scheduled to begin at 2:30 PM. An email was then sent to Mr. Hoare informing him of the same three minutes later at 10:30 AM, after which he acknowledged receipt.”
So, according to the honorable gentleman, in his own words, Parks’ name had been submitted, and confirmed to be on the list a full FOUR hours before President Tsai Ing-Wen’s plane touched down at the Philip Goldson.
So, why was our reporter refused access to the tarmac? It can’t be “because he was late;” he was not; and not because “his name was not on the list;” his name was supposedly on the list four hours earlier, by Pakeman’s own admission.
From our article in the Friday, August 17, 2018 issue of Amandala, it is worthwhile to excerpt the comments of the Chief Security for the Belize Airport Concession Company, Glenford Reid, who told us that “someone from the Press Office should have been at the entrance to the tarmac, just in case anyone turned up late.”
Also, Pakeman told us that he had had an officer stationed there, but the person left around 2:25 p.m., “just before the plane touched down.”
Now, why did that official leave before the plane touched down?
And yes, I was aggressive, very much so, because it was an important story, and we were not being allowed to cover it because of what we believe to be political foolishness. What is indisputable is that the Government Press Office, on behalf of the UDP administration, is no friend of Amandala. Is the honorable Director of the Government of Belize Press Office not aware of his government’s persecution of this 49-year-old institution simply because we have a strong difference of opinion concerning the manifest corruption, the horrible scandals, the worthless behavior of some of his ministers that have apparently become the hallmark of his government?
I do not know Mr. Pakeman personally, but I will allow that he may be a good person in a different situation. Having to sing for your political supper, however, is known to make many a good man forget his integrity, and many other important things. My father, Mr. Pakeman, used to tell me that a good name is better than money.
I hope that one day, you will find out the truth of that statement.