ED­I­TO­RIAL Flag colours

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

On the af­ter­noon of May 25th, in what was a de­par­ture from the cus­tom, the Golden Ar­row­head was hoisted at D’Ur­ban Park in an event spe­cially sched­uled to ac­com­mo­date hun­dreds of chil­dren. The mati­nee flag-rais­ing was not the only de­par­ture from cus­tom; there was a far more egre­gious one and one for which an ac­count­ing is still to be given by the au­thor­i­ties. In­stead of the cus­tom­ary five colours, the ex­tralarge flag boasted a sixth hue, a for­est green strip on the side that rides on the wind.

Given the solem­nity of the oc­ca­sion, the reen­act­ment of the day in 1966 when Guyana gained its in­de­pen­dence from the United King­dom, one would have ex­pected that the flag that as­cended the flag­pole in the pres­ence of the Pres­i­dent, who is also the Head of State and the Com­man­der-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, would have been in pris­tine con­di­tion and in com­pli­ance with its con­sti­tu­tion­ally in­scribed di­men­sions. It was not.

The na­tional flag, as one of the piv­otal sym­bols of the state, is ref­er­enced in Ar­ti­cle 4 of the Guyana Con­sti­tu­tion and de­scribed in de­tail in the Sec­ond Sched­ule of that doc­u­ment. The Sec­ond Sched­ule says in part: “The green back­ground sym­bol­izes the agri­cul­tural and forested na­ture of Guyana.

“The white sym­bol­izes its wa­ters and rivers po­ten­tial.

“The golden ar­row sym­bol­izes Guyana’s min­eral wealth and its for­ward thrust.

“The black bor­der the en­durance that will sus­tain the golden ar­row’s for­ward thrust into the fu­ture.

“The red tri­an­gle rep­re­sents the zeal and dy­namic na­ture of the na­tion build­ing that lies be­fore this young and in­de­pen­dent coun­try”.

Each colour in its right pro­por­tion and place­ment is piv­otal to the in­tegrity of the flag. The ap­pear­ance of the dark green strip was there­fore rep­re­hen­si­ble and should not have been per­mit­ted at all. It may have been that the flag may have be­gun to show signs of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion or was fray­ing at the edges. What­ever, the rea­son, and it is still to be pro­vided by the Min­istry of the Pres­i­dency or those who or­gan­ised the cer­e­monies, the flag with the ad­di­tional hue should not have been per­mit­ted.

Ar­ti­cle 7 of the Con­sti­tu­tion speaks to the duty of all ci­ti­zens of Guyana to re­spect the na­tional sym­bols. The rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the flag on the af­ter­noon of May 25th did not con­vey this re­spect and must have con­fused chil­dren who have had to learn the de­tails of the na­tional stan­dard in their so­cial sci­ence classes.

The dark green strip may have been a wellmean­ing at­tempt by some­one in­volved in the cer­e­mony to rem­edy some de­fect but what about the su­pe­rior to this per­son and the oth­ers in hi­er­ar­chi­cal or­der? Were they not aware that there was a gross breach and de­file­ment of the flag

in­tegrity and one that should not be coun­te­nanced in the gaze of the hun­dreds of school­child­ren, ci­ti­zens and for­eign dig­ni­taries present?

The de­par­ture from the flag tra­di­tion is all the more galling as just days be­fore there was jus­ti­fied and fer­vent in­dig­na­tion at the ap­pear­ance of maps with­out the county of Esse­quibo in­clud­ing on the web­site of the state-owned news­pa­per, the Guyana Chron­i­cle. This elicited a stream of na­tion­al­ist sentiment and a state­ment from the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs de­plor­ing the mu­ti­la­tion of the map on the oc­ca­sion of the in­de­pen­dence of the coun­try. Both the flag and the map are equally sacro­sanct and de­mand­ing of the most fas­tid­i­ous rev­er­ence.

The in­ter­lop­ing green also at­tracted the ire of the op­po­si­tion PPP which pointed out that that shade has long been as­so­ci­ated with the PNC – now the PNCR and the main com­po­nent of the gov­ern­ing APNU+AFC coali­tion. The op­po­si­tion party harked back to the pe­riod of the PNC’s his­tory where it flaunted paramountcy of the party and its

flag flew at the Guyana Court of Ap­peal.

While one strip of dark green on the na­tional flag may not be enough to pon­der a case of the re­assert­ing of paramountcy it would be re­mem­bered that the ad­vent of APNU+AFC into of­fice was ac­com­pa­nied by a ver­i­ta­ble flood of ef­forts to re­make colours in the like­ness of those of APNU and the AFC. This was com­pounded by Pres­i­dent Granger’s in­ex­pli­ca­ble de­ci­sion to re­paint State House in the hue of green as­so­ci­ated with APNU and dis­mis­sively brush­ing it off with the re­mark that all of Guyana is go­ing green. The Min­istry of the Pres­i­dency has also been vis­ited with the same jar­ring green and was at one point also to be favoured with a sliver of the AFC’s ca­nary yel­low. That colour scheme was ap­par­ently canned.

Three years on, the gov­ern­ing coali­tion has ex­hib­ited trou­bling signs in var­i­ous are­nas which re­quire closer ex­am­i­na­tion in­clud­ing its dis­po­si­tion to­wards de­ci­sions of the court. For now, it must ex­plain its bungling of the colours of the flag and en­sure that there is no re­peat of this.

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