My Response to “What’s a Bad Law: A Commentary on Gok State Taxation Act, 2016”

Posted: February 19, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in Columnists, Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala Uganda

freedom-of-speech-in-south-sudan

February 19, 2017 (SSB) — Please Editor, allow me to respond to the response of Mathiang or Majuec Jalap to my Article entitled: What’s a Bad Law: A Commentary on Gok State Taxation Act, 2016, published on your Newspaper, the Dawn on 4th February, 2016 and Mathiang’s response to that Article was published on Dawn Newspaper on February 8, 2017.

In that article, I was writing about the bad taxation law in Gok State that is oppressive; a law that causes injustice; dumb laws, which are particularly bizarre; a law that is erroneous or a law where an attempted statement of the law is inaccurate or non-law.  As I explained in that article the reasons I called a bad law are that it imposes 1000 SSP, three tins of durra and three tins of groundnut to be paid by a tax payer. Then I concluded that that Taxation Act, 2016 of Gok State is a bad law because it met the characteristics of the bad law as stated in this paragraph.

In response to my article, Mathiang Jalap formerly known as Majuec Jalap, a name that I will continually use in this response attacked me and I need to summarize his main points below—

First of all, Majuec told me that I was misinformed about tax law of Gok State; second to it he said that the people have agreed to be taxed and because of that they were not forced; thirdly, he said that the money was being collected for development as the state authorities could not wait for handout from Juba, fourthly, that I was misleading the public of Gok State, fifthly, that I was sitting in Kampala writing nonsense with the aim of inciting the people against their government and  six and final he said that my writing was the whole propaganda.

Though initially I did not have any intention to reply to Majuec Jalap’s article because in our Dinka language there are some people one should not response to because they have to be ignored as they have nothing to offer to the society. However, I decided against that decision to take my precious time to reply to majuec for the sake of the Gok people and the Public of South Sudan to ensure that not to be led by his article.

Thus, I would like to respond to Majuec Jalap by dissecting his points as listed above compendiously.  Hence, I would like begin by stating clearly that Majuec Jalap is not a lawyer and therefore he does not know whether the law is good or bad, so I will not argue with him much about a law because he will abuse me as he will not understand my point. This because when talking sense to a fool he calls a person foolish, thus I will leave it at that point.

Majuec Jalap further attacked me by telling me that I was misinformed and because of that I was not basing my argument on any ground but baseless ground. It appears that Majuec does not understand the meaning of misinformation. Had he understood it, he would have not used it in his article.

For that reason, I need to explain to him the meaning of misinformed or Misinformation. Misinformed comes from the verb to misinform, which means giving spurious or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive. Looking at the meaning of misinformed, it is not applicable to my article. This is because I verified the information I published in it before I wrote about the Taxation Act, 2016 of Gok State.

In relation to the above, I would like to tell Majuec where I got the information from. I wrote the article in response to the News carried in Radio Tamazuji which reported the News from Gok State on Feb 2, 2017 that and I quote in verbatim—

“Authorities in Gok state have arrested a youth leader allegedly for diverting public attention during a peace and reconciliation campaign to complain against the introduction of taxation bill, which imposes huge sum of taxation fees. Abraham Ater Dut Dong was arrested on Wednesday on directives of Wat Adol County commissioner after he used the opportunity to speak during a public rally to complain against introduction of huge taxation by the State Governor. He told Radio Tamazuj that he was arrested for commenting on the taxation Act 2016, that imposed 1000 SSP, three tins of durra and three tins of groundnut to be paid by a tax payer.”

When I got the above information on the site of Radio Tamazuji, I directly called Ater Dut, the one who was arrested because of the Taxation Act as I have his contact and he confirmed to me the news of his arrest because of his complaint to the government about the Taxation law which is harsh on the people of Gok State.

After I talked to him, I tried to contact the authorities to tell them that the Taxation Act was a bad law and they should not allow it to operate but I could get through. For that reason, I decided to write a commentary on the Taxation Act. Therefore, my question goes directly to Majuec jalap, Mr. Majuec, what is misinformation in that article?

In fact, it is now clear that Mr. Majuec is the one misinformed because he was writing of what he did not know. Misinformation or being misinformed means giving false information. False information or disinformation means intentionally false or misleading information that is spread in a calculated way to deceive target audience.

In relation to my article, it was based on facts as they prevailed on the ground as supported by the evidence from the report of Radio Tamazuji and Ater Dut Dong who was arrested because of that law. Hence, the point of misinformation of which Majuec accused me of is a farce or ridiculous and baseless. I would like therefore to tell South Sudanese that Majuec wanted only to reap political benefit out of the miseries of the people of Gok State and sell me for his personal unbridled benefit.

 Another very interesting point and accusation Majuec made against me is that I sit in Kampala writing nonsense. Majuec seems to use English term that he is not conversant with. Nonsense is a communication, through speech, writing, or any other symbolic system, that lacks any coherent meaning. Sometimes in ordinary usage, nonsense is synonymous with absurdity or the ridiculous.

In the philosophy of language and philosophy of science, nonsense is distinguished from sense or meaningfulness, and attempts have been made to come up with a coherent and consistent method of distinguishing sense from nonsense.  In short, nonsense means spoken or written words that have no meaning or make no sense.

In respect to my article that I wrote about that bad taxation law there was evidence and facts to prove its existence as he himself has pointed in his article that and I quote: “After the people have assented (this is wrong used of words as it is supposed to be after people have “consented”)… the Ministry drafted the law and it was passed into law”.

 As seen in his Statement that it “was passed into the law” though he has contradicted his first statement in paragraph two, line three of his article that as he stated that “the fact is that it is still a draft”. Whether it is still a draft or pass into law it proves my statement that there is a bad law and therefore my article was not nonsense.

In addition, Majuec seems not to know the difference between the real law and draft one as he interchangeably uses the two terms as if they are one. This supports my previous argument that he is a lay person who does not know what the good law is but according to him the good law is the law that makes people to pay a lot of money.

In the same article Majuec defended Taxation Act of Gok State that it was passed in order to tax people to get money for development as the State could not wait for handout from Juba. From the foregoing statement, it appears that Majuec seems not to have understood the meaning of development.

Concept development defines development as a set of activities that are carried out early in the systems engineering life cycle to collect and prioritize operational needs and challenges, develop alternative concepts to meet the needs, and select a preferred one as the basis for subsequent system or capability development. The economy defines development as quantity and qualitative.

In other words, qualitative is relating to measuring or measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity. The purpose of development is therefore to improve welfare of the citizens and taxing people to the point of leaving them poor is not a way to development.

What Majuec has not understood is the difference between physical infrastructure and development. Development does not mean construction of roads, offices and other infrastructures, but it means improving welfare of the people which further means that if people do not have income or less income then they should not be taxed.

However, not being a lawyer Majuec sees nothing wrong with such a law and vehemently supports that bizarre and odious law which is exploitative to the people whom it is being applied to.

Finally, Majuec stated that I just sat in Kampala doing nothing and write propaganda to incite Gok State people against the Government. Again, Majuec has used propaganda wrongly in this context, which shows that he does not know well its meaning.

Majuec must understand that propaganda is “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view”. Propaganda is often associated with the psychological mechanisms of influencing and altering the attitude of a population toward a specific cause, position or political agenda in an effort to form a consensus to a standard set of belief patterns.

Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded messages or “loaded language” to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups and companies can also produce propaganda.

In the 2010s, the term propaganda is associated with a manipulative approach, but propaganda historically was a neutral descriptive term. A wide range of materials and media are used for conveying propaganda messages, which changed as new technologies were invented, including paintings, cartoons, posters, pamphlets, films, radio shows, TV shows, and websites.

Looking at the meaning of propaganda above, it is true to state that my article does not fit into the category of propaganda but it is his article which he is using for propaganda as he seeks for political benefits from the authorities.

Why my article is not propaganda based is that it did not select any point which was against the government and it was not intended to mislead the public or incite the public against the government of Gok State but it was based on the facts as he himself admitted as quoted above. Hence, his point that my article was intended for propaganda is simply not true.

In addition, Majuec accused me of sitting in Kampala just to make nonsense. I think what Majuec failed to distinguish between him and me is that whereas he himself was in KIU studying economic or business course, I was in Makerere offering law and I finished but whether he finished his course or not is another matter that I cannot go into but many students in Kampala know me and him and they are witnesses.

However, I should not be quoted as if I am undermining KIU and the students who are studying there. I respect all the universities because universities are the same. What I was trying to say was that I was in different university from where he was so he could not have judged me to be in Kampala idly while making nonsense.

Perhaps, if he were idly in Kampala when he was in KIU then he should not imagine that those in Kampala always sit idly and make nonsense. That was just a missed used point and I dismissed it entirely.

What I wanted to tell Majuec is that he has to respect others if he is to be respected. This is because when someone lacks prospicience, he does not care for future and welfare of the people. What he or she only thinks is how to get the opportunity and it does not matter under what circumstance such an opportunity avails it as what he or she cares is how to get an opportunity and use it to his or her advantage.

Hence, such people are those who live from hand to month as they don’t think about the goodness of others but only know how to destroy them to get as much as they can out of their destruction. This is what we see in South Sudan today and it is the main root cause of our entire problem and unless the government identifies the snobbish and miscreant within its system and dismiss them, South Sudan will never progress.

In summary, I have today realized the truth of the saying that “talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish”. I am not saying that Majuec is a fool but the way he responded to my article shows that he does not understand what I was writing about.

He did not understand that I was not making a political point but I writing in defense of the rights of Gok State citizens. Majuec must understand my principle that when it comes to the welfare of the people I don’t entertain nonsense because our people have suffered under Arabs and we should not turn ourselves into black Arabs to exploit our people.

I was born in Gok State, I grew up there upto this stage. I know how they have suffered under the SPLA during the liberation struggle which every woman in Gok area becomes a mother of a daughter “Maan Nya” though she has never given birth a girl. The term “maan Nya” was devised by the SPLA as the easiest way of calling women to provide food to rebel.

Therefore, Majuec must understand that not everybody who defends the government is a member of the government but not everybody who criticizes the government is an enemy of the government. People may defend the government because they expect something from the government but people may criticize the government because they want the government to improve and to continue being a good government. You got!

NB//: the Author is a lawyer residing in Kampala and can be reached through: juoldaniel@yahoo.com or +25678357256

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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