National Symbols

first_imgThis year, Guyana celebrated its 52nd Independence Anniversary with a number of events being held to mark the auspicious occasion, ranging from the Government’s staging of a concert and cultural extravaganza which saw over 2,000 youths in attendance, to the staging of a ‘Guyana Carnival’ event by a private group, which featured a parade and a “Stink n Dutty” party among other things.As expected, the country’s national flag, The Golden Arrow Head, was hoisted in the presence of those at the multi-billion-dollar D’Urban Park, Georgetown, and thousands around the world who joined in via various live television and social media feeds.But as the flag was being hoisted, something seemed amiss, as it appeared to have not the regular five, but six colours. This led to many Guyanese mounting their own investigations and sharing their findings on social media. It wasn’t long before the matter drew the attention of the politicians, and then rightly so, the media.The opposition Peoples Progressive Party charged on Tuesday that there was a “despicable and unconstitutional alteration of Guyana’s national flag” as it called for answers and lambasted the Government. Among other things, the PPP argued that there were examples in the past where national symbols were being treated as the property of the APNU/AFC Administration, before pointing out that the Constitution clearly describes the colours and its shades that constitute the national flag.The opposition also charged that the alleged altercation “connects one of Guyana’s most significant national symbols to the People’s National Congress Reform” via the inclusion of that party colour along the end of the flag, and it was reminiscent of “the repressive regime of the PNC pre-1992.”The Guyana Defence Force, upon the inquiry of the media, and not independently from the outset, was forced to admit that the flag was indeed altered and repaired at the ends since it was badly damaged and shredded. The GDF’s argument is that it did not want to hoist a damaged flag, hence it repainted the ends in green even though it resulted in a darker shade.Also, the Government seemed not to be aware that the flag had had an alteration, since the Social Cohesion Minister admitted that he only learnt of the ensuing controversy via the media. The minister conceded that a damaged flag should not have been hoisted, while his more senior colleague, the State Minister, is reported as distancing the governing coalition from the issue, but not before calling the opposition “foolish” to suggest the APNU/AFC’s deliberate involvement and desire to change the flag’s colours.It cannot be credibly asserted that the PPP’s response was over the top, given Guyana’s political history, wherein the PNC’s flag was once flown over the Appellate Court, and the current political culture that obtains. Also, the GDF, as the guardian of Guyana’s sovereignty, cannot be so cavalier with our flag, which represents that sovereignty.And the Ministers’ response to the PPP’s concerns, which were shared by Guyanese at home and abroad, in the absence of any official statement from the GDF or Government before or immediately after the hoisting of the flag, confirms the notion that Guyanese are still suspicious of the Coalition’s political ambition, because its main actor is still the PNC which is associated with some serious transgressions against the State during its tenure.In the end, there are still serious questions to be answered about the saga. Why was it not recognised at rehearsals, or prior to the staging of the mega event, that the flag was in a state of deterioration? Why wasn’t a newer flag borrowed or sourced? Is it that the GDF or Govt felt that no flag raising event would have been held? Who made the decision to alter the flag and hoist what still was a damaged flag? Why wasn’t the Government informed immediately? Why wasn’t an apology issued soon after? The truth is, the country’s National symbols and Flag cannot be treated in an ‘anyhow’ manner. They must be properly maintained, stored, and displayed with the honour benefiting of national symbols. They must not be displayed when damaged, or even when poor remedial work is done, as was allegedly the case with the flag at Durban Park when the country was turning 52.The Government ought to address the issue more seriously, and must ensure that at least ten flags of varying or same size are kept at Durban Park and other important mega-Parks/Centers whenever they need to be hoisted or displayed.To dismiss the PPP’s concerns and those of Guyanese as a trivial matter is not the right approach to good governance. Like all Guyanese, the Government has a responsibility to ensure that it pays keen attention to not just the use and treatment of stamps, but all symbols and monuments associated with nationhood.last_img

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