– PNCR-1G councillors miffed
This year, Mashramani celebrations would be held at the Blairmont Community Centre Ground in Region Five for the first time in about 20 years but PNCR-1G councillors are displeased with the way that venue was chosen.
PNCR-1G councillor, Carol Joseph told Stabroek News in a recent interview that the region’s National Events Committee (NEC) of which she is a part had made recommendations at a meeting on October 14 for the event to be held on February 21 at Mahaicony Community Centre Ground.
According to her the event was supposed to have commenced at the Blairmont Community Centre Ground and conclude at the Mahaicony ground. The 10 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDC) and the private sector were also supposed to be part of the activity.
Joseph pointed out that in previous years, persons had to be transported to Georgetown to be a part of the celebrations there but this year, because of financial constraints the decision was taken for the region to have its own celebration.
She said that at the NEC meeting all of the members had agreed to the suggestions which had subsequently been approved two days later at a Regional Democratic Council (RDC) meeting. She said as is customary, the flag-raising ceremony was supposed to be held in the RDC compound at Fort Wellington on February 22.
However, she said during a RDC meeting earlier this month, the chairman of the NEC, Karran Persaud Deokarran said that at another meeting held in November it was suggested that the Mash be held at the Blairmont Ground instead.
Joseph said she and the other members were not informed about a meeting in November. She said the flag-raising ceremony was always held at the “administration complex. So why now this sinister move to remove a national event and take it to a PPP stronghold?”
She said the proposal made at the RDC meeting by the PPP councillors was for persons to assemble at the Mahaica Bridge at 2 pm on February 22. They would then proceed to Blairmont for a cultural programme followed by the flag-raising ceremony at the same venue.
According to her the hoisting of the flag “should not go to an individual ground” but it should either be held at the RDC sub-office at Mahaicony or the RDC, Fort Wellington. She noted too that Mahaicony would normally have its own flag-raising ceremony.
Further, she said “The RDC cannot rescind … a decision six months later but yet they approved another recommendation on January 15. I know we can’t outvote them in the house but it is the principle involved.”
Contacted, Deokarran who is also regional vice chairman of the RDC told Stabroek News that the NEC meets to discuss planning and suggestions. He said there were suggestions for the celebrations to go to Mahaicony as well as for it to go to Blairmont.
He said the suggestions went to the RDC on January 15 and were put to a vote where the majority agreed that it should go to Blairmont.
“There would also be a motorcade with floats and the best float would be given a prize. There would also be entertainment by the New Melody Makers Band string orchestra,” he said.
He pointed out that “at no time the regional sub-committees can make a final decision on anything. All recommendations go to the RDC for ratification and national events are no different.
He denied that the RDC approved the recommendations on October 16 and said “the RDC reserves the right [to make] a final decision.”
According to the chairman it was decided to have the flag-raising at Blairmont because of previous boycotts by the PNCR-1G supporters. “Last year when the region was about to hoist the flag the residents of Hopetown walked out. In my view there would be more support at Blairmont.”
He also said that “it is not like we are rejecting everything that they ask for,” noting that the “Calypso Finals would be held on January 31 as well as the old folks get-together would also be held at Mahaicony.”
Deokarran also said that “we are willing to consult with the opposition but they cannot dictate what decisions to take. We decide what is best.”
The chairman said, “The PNCR openly said it would boycott the Mash if it is not at Mahaicony and I told the RDC that the PNCR boycott the Carifesta and it was still a huge success” and if they do the same to the Mash it doesn’t mean that it would not be a success.