Stabroek News Sunday

PNCR wants day of remembranc­e for Mahdia fire victims

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The main opposition party, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) is calling for an annual national day of remembranc­e honouring the victims of the Mahdia Secondary School Dormitory fire.

On May 22, the first anniversar­y of the devastatin­g Mahdia Secondary School Dormitory fire, which claimed the lives of 20 children last year, was observed. To commemorat­e the anniversar­y, Prime Minister Mark Phillips; Ministers of Labour Joseph Hamilton; Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond; and Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues journeyed to Micobie for a memorial service and wreath laying ceremony for the 12 children from the Region Eight village who died in the fire.

“We noted the announceme­nt of the government on Monday, in the person of Prime Minister Mark Phillips, that a memorial site will be establishe­d in Region #8 to honour the lost lives. We suspect that this site will likely be a small space and physical structure, visible only to those who happen to pass by. However, while supporting this belated proposal for a memorial, we wish to adopt a more serious approach,” the party said in a statement, read on Friday by Member of Parliament (MP) Ganesh Mahipaul.

In its statement the Opposition joined in the remembranc­e and commemorat­ion of the tragedy, extending its thoughts and support to the families and communitie­s affected by the disaster. The Opposition further expressed the belief that the government’s plans for a memorial site would not suffice to keep the memory of the tragedy alive.

“We believe that we must memorializ­e the event in a manner that will not cause it to slip out of the national memory and consciousn­ess due to time, or lack of visibility and prominence,” the statement said.

As such, the Opposition recommende­d that May 22nd, the anniversar­y of the fire, be designated as Mahdia children fire victims’ day. This annual observance, it pointed out, would provide a fitting opportunit­y for the nation to collective­ly remember the tragedy and its victims, and recommit to higher standards of public administra­tion, moral duty, profession­al conduct, and government­al responsibi­lity and accountabi­lity.

“These twenty young lives must not be lost in vain. To honour them truly and meaningful­ly, the country must be made a better, safer, and more caring place for children and all other vulnerable and dependent citizens. To continue as before or with mere cosmetic changes is to dishonour them,” it noted.

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