This 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.
“No-confidence motions” are an integral aspect of parliamentary democracy, since it tests the legitimacy of the government by ensuring they have majority support in the Assembly. It was entrenched in our Constitution in Article 106 (6) and (7). But to hear representatives of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), including the Prime Minister, tell it, it is tantamount to an illegitimate overthrow of the Government. But as the courts deal with the rearguard action by the PNC/AFC combine to hold on to power, we need to grapple with the fundamental contradictions of our political system that sustain their actions.Way back in 1963, the Secretary of the State for the Colonies stated the problem concisely, after the leaders of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP); PNC and United Force (UF) could not reach agreement on a way forward on constitutional measures after ethnic violence had wracked the country:“…the Premier (Dr Jagan) told me that if the British troops were withdrawn, the situation would get completely out of control. The root of the trouble lies entirely in the development of party politics along racial lines….Both parties (PPP and PNC) have, for their political ends, fanned the racial emotions of their followers, with the result that each has come to be regarded as the champion of one race and the enemy of the other.“The Africans accuse the Government party of governing in the interests only of the Indians, and demand a share in political decisions. On the other side, the Indians accuse the Police, which is mainly African, of partiality towards the Africans and demand the creation of a separate defence force, recruited more extensively from the Indian community, to counterbalance the Police.”In its proposals, the British pointed out that there was the need, in general, “to protect minorities” and in particular, to address “the racial nature of the problem”. For the latter problem, “the Government should endeavour to rule with the general consent of the population … (and a new armed force) …should be constituted before Independence by the Governor, who would endeavour to ensure that recruits were not drawn predominantly from any one racial group.”The British recognised that under present conditions, neither the PPP or PNC would be able “to increase appreciably its following among the other racial groups”. They then submitted, “…it must be our deliberate aim to stimulate a radical change in the present pattern of racial alignments. It was therefore my duty to choose the electoral system which would be most likely to encourage inter-party coalitions and multi-racial groupings”. Finally, they concluded, “proportional representation would be likely to result in the formation of a coalition government of parties supported by different races, and that this would go some way towards reducing the present tension.”Sadly, while the British had a very good diagnosis of what ailed Guyana, their prescription of “proportional representation” alone was inadequate to fulfil the stated goals. The proposals were fatally flawed because of the British’s prior agreement with the Americans to remove Dr Jagan and the PPP from office. There were no structural changes that went to the nature of the conflict – PR, on its own, was simply a device to allow the PNC and the UF to coalesce and elbow out the PPP. As a consequence of the “Mexican stand-off” that has existed over the last half century, Guyanese politics has become so divisive that today the country teeters on the precipice of becoming a failed state.In terms of its passage towards democracy, Guyana has now gone backwards by every objective standard, after the gains after 1992 under the PPP regime, which replaced the PNC 28-year dictatorship. The PPP, under President Bharrat Jagdeo, for instance, had worked to eliminate the US$2.1 billion debt that had crippled the economy and returned sustained growth. The refusal of the PNC/AFC coalition to adhere to democratic norms puts Guyana at risk of sliding back into anarchy and poverty.All Guyanese must practise militant democracy to prevent this possibility, but also insist that going forward our democratic institutions are inclusive of all groups.
Concerned that Angelenos selling their condos have been hit with a $150 fee under an old, unused affordable-housing ordinance, the City Council voted Wednesday to study whether to update or repeal the law. Under the 33-year-old ordinance, the city has the right of first refusal to buy condos built after 1974. But with little extra money, the city has almost always waived its right to purchase units. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Housing Authority enacted a $150 fee to process the waivers. But Realtors and some builders have questioned why the city would choose to keep – and charge a fee – under a useless law. firstname.lastname@example.org (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Councilwoman Janice Hahn said she wants the fee stopped and the law repealed. “We get a lot of complaints about fees and taxes on residents. This, in my opinion, is just one more of those unjustified fees we place on people. It causes more of that anger toward City Hall,” she said. Housing Department General Manager Mercedes Marquez said she will study whether the law can be changed to help middle-class families afford to buy a condo with city-sponsored, low-interest loans. “Given the way the market is dropping now, there may be a way to take advantage of it,” Marquez said. “Is it possible to modify the law? If not, we would come back and probably recommend that it be repealed. If you’re not going to use it, it makes no sense for it to exist.”