In the National Assembly last week, an Opposition PPP MP, Alister Charlie, criticized the use by the Government of green and yellow as the colours to paint various public objects, such as car tyres around plants and trees. The criticism was that these were the colours of APNU and AFC and their use reflects the reintroduction of the doctrine of paramountcy of the 1970s whereby the ruling Party held dominance over the state. The Opposition expressed fears that soon, just as the PNC flag was flown at the Court of Appeal, the colours of APNU and AFC, green and yellow, would be used to paint public buildings.
The Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland, would have none of it. He ruled that green and yellow are the colours of the national flag, the Golden Arrowhead, and cannot therefore be the object of ‘lampooning’ in the House. ‘Lampooning’ appears to have been used in a broad sense, meaning “criticizing” or “objecting to.” Decisions of the Speaker are final. There is no appeal. But because there was no detailed rationale by the Speaker for his decision, we are left to wonder whether his ruling means that no criticism can ever be made of the use of the colours green and yellow at all in the House, or whether criticism of the use of the colours would only be disallowed if it relates to the Government use of them to paint public objects. The Speaker’s decision was vigorously criticized by the Opposition.
(Kamal Ramkarran is the author of the original and longer version of this 2009 article, which has been abridged and amended by me with his permission).
The swizzle is Guyana’s long lost, but once favourite, alcoholic beverage. Even though it was synonymous with Demerara and had enjoyed worldwide fame, it is now almost unknown in the country which gave it birth. In the 1800s and up to the mid 1900s, the drinking of swizzles was an established custom, even passion, among Demerara’s upper strata. It became the preferred cocktail of the day, long before the combination of rum and coke was ever discovered.
It is only fair that the traditional honeymoon period of three months of the new APNU+AFC administration be exhausted before its performance is assessed. The Government has a plan against which a judgment will be made. It is called the hundred-day programme. Little is heard of it nowadays but we, the people, who are intended to be its beneficiaries, are looking forward anxiously to its fulfillment.
The public is not familiar with the inner workings of Governments and we acknowledge that urgent events are demanding attention. Last week it was the heavy rains and flooding which required top priority – a 4 am Cabinet meeting. It is not known if all Ministers were able to make it. During the time of the previous government, attendance would not have posed a problem. Much of the Cabinet would have been making their way home at that time. All that would have been required was a diversion to State House, which is just a drink away from Palm Court.
The OAS Observer Mission, the British High Commissioner, the United States Representative and the Private Sector Commission have all publicly raised concerns about the dangers of inflammatory language being used in the election campaign in Guyana. The US representative went further and pointed out that the consequences that such language could endanger post-election peace and stability.
The pit bull politics of aggression and personal villification were launched this elections season, as it was at the last elections, with Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo. The elections of 2011 were characterized by the excessive use of hostile and accusatory language, focused mainly on the PNCR’s past and abuse of political opponents.
I must confess that I have had an ambivalent attitude to ethnicity for most of my life. My mother was a Hindu and so were all my relatives on both sides of my family. I grew up in the midst of celebrations of Hindu religious festivals, tempered by the dominant influence of the Lutheran Church in my mixed community, as in much of Guyana. Even though I was socialized as a Hindu and, therefore, considered myself, whatever the reality, as Indian by race, my approach to my own ethnicity was determined by factors that had little to do with high principle.
In my mid to late teenage years after I discovered girls, I unconsciously developed a certain approach on the issue of ethnicity, dictated by my dark complexion and curly hair which caused me to be viewed in a particular way. I would defend my Indian ethnicity to certain girls, if asked, and refrain from explaining to other girls, if asked, that I looked like my father, who in turn looked like his mother, who in turn looked like her parents, who came to British Guiana from Bihar. As soon as I adopted this strategy I gained entrée to a much wider community of girls than my friends whose ethnicities were more easily determinable. This doubling up of my opportunities allowed me to stay ahead in the boasting competition in relation to these matters that is part of teenage life.