If the President refuses to return State House to its original colour the matter should be taken to court

Dear Editor,

The painting or re-painting of State House in green, the colour of APNU, has raised widespread criticism. The building is a historic treasure and it has been so recognized.  The outcry is understandable and justified. This building is not just part of our history and the culture of our people; it is not the property of the President, for him to decide what colour it should be, nor is it the property of the party in government. It is the people’s property. The preservation of this building is of great importance. That is why it was put into the National Trust as a heritage building. It was seen as culturally important to all our people. It was seen also as a historical monument to our past.

Historians, that is good historians, would advise the regime how important it is for a people, to know their history and to preserve what can be preserved for now and future generations.

For those reasons, the building is maintained by the Treasury of the country. The whole idea is to preserve it in its original form. It is a taxpayer’s expense.

Indeed, over the years a lot of work was done to State House.  However, care was always taken to preserve the building in its original form.

Our National Assembly recognizing the vital need to preserve heritage buildings and sites, had legislation passed to preserve them. The National Trust Act states that, “Any person who disturbs, undermines, defaces or in any manner damages or interferes with any national monument or anything therein or thereupon otherwise than in accordance with the written permission of the National Trust is liable on summary conviction…”  I have quoted this, because the President, who is obliged to uphold the law, is reported to have said that he has not broken any law.  He is not a lawyer, but ignorance of the law is no excuse. Even if no law existed he is expected to appreciate the historical significance and cultural importance of the building.

The painting of State House in green is defacing a National Monu-ment. Moreover, the regime had no permission to do so when the law states that it must have. The Presi-dent, as the Chief Guardian of our laws, must correct this and return State House to its original colour, white.  Even he is not above the law.

If he continues to refuse to do so this matter should be taken to court so that the injury inflicted on all our people by this action would be reversed.

It is time for some of the towering figures in culture and their organisations, to take a stand. Not hearing from many of them raises other issues. It tells us that fear is once more creeping into our land. People are being forced to shut up for fear of victimization, or the fear that some relative could be victimized, lose their job, be frustrated in one way or the other.

For me, there is an even more disturbing aspect. It indicates that we are going rapidly into dictatorial rule. Dictatorship always seeks symbols to express its power. The PNC dictatorship had many. The paramountcy of the party was demonstrated in many ways. One had to get a PNC membership card to obtain some items, even toilet paper. It reached its zenith with the PNC had its flag flown above the Guyana Flag in the compound of the Court of Appeal.

This painting of government buildings in green speaks of the same old PNC mentality. The office of the President’s fence was taken down.  It is now replaced by a huge solid cast concrete fence. It is painted in green with yellow trimmings. This is the early symbol of paramountcy. We know where it is leading. All the signs are there.

Corruption is sweeping through every aspect of government. The disregard for the tender procedures, the violation of laws and the use of single suppliers raises alarm bells. Many of the cases in court involving the funds and property of government are being quietly settled.  The public is blissfully unaware of the terms of the settlement. The regime is not budging and continues this deplorable practice. Public employees are being replaced by PNC hacks. This is going back to the PNC past when the public service was seen as an arm of PNC.  Professionalism is being murdered. In the meantime, the bureaucracy has grown many times over and much bigger salaries are paid to the elite. It should be noted too that we are resorting to the old PNC days when one ethnic group dominated public life.

This is a tactic to divide the Guyanese population in order to give the dictators some amount of public support. It is an effort to hoodwink some to make them psychologically feel empowered. Experience has taught us that in the end we all suffer equally. This is another characteristic of oppressive dictatorial regimes. All of them ended as economic and political disasters. This PNC/APNU regime would be no different.

The green paint is another ominous sign.

Yours faithfully,

Donald Ramotar

Former President


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