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The decision by President Irfaan Ali’s government to NOT present the 2020 National Awards to recipients in person is unacceptable. This publication was reliably informed that the OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT’S Protocol Division, has been contacting recipients and inviting them to visit the Division to uplift their award.
The recipients of National Awards, irrespective of which administration they are identified, should receive them in the customary Award Ceremony. It is up to the recipient whether he or she wants to be physically present to have that symbol conferred on him or her. But it is not up to the Ggovernment to deprive the bestowal by cancelling the ceremony.
It is said the excuse for not holding the ceremony, traditionally held at the National Culture Centre, is a precautionary measure given the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). This is flimsy and obviously untrue.
Everyday government officials, from President Ali to his junior ministers, are hosting and attending functions with sizable gatherings. Many are not heeding COVID-19 guidelines save for wearing masks. They are seen greeting people and in close proximity to each other. Hosting national events is not unusual presently. The same way the National Assembly continues to sit, at a more spacious venue at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, the same protocol could be observed for the Awards ceremony.
No clear-eyed person will believe, given what is seen every day, this year’s ceremony will not be held because of COVID-19. People are more inclined to believe the refusal to hold the ceremony has to do with the fact that the awardees were identified during the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change Coalition Government.
The excuse is an insult to Guyanese collective intelligence. The Culture Centre has the capacity to host the ceremony and observe all COVID-19 guidelines. Not holding the ceremony showcases the rudeness of the Government than slight to the recipients. It communicates juvenileness and inability to rise above partisanship even on national issues. Better should be expected of adults particularly those who have offered themselves to be in service to the people.
Had the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government announced those awards and conferral was calendar during the Coalition Government, if the Coalition had failed to have the ceremony the PPP/C would not have accepted it. They would not have only sought to expose a wicked and partisan decision but also seek political mileage.
A National Award ceremony should be above the fray, the petty political partisanship. The 14 orders, medals and decorations of Guyana have been part of the national culture since Independence. The 2020 Awardees are Guyanese who their fellow Guyanese have recommended, having found them so deserving. The awardees should have the national recognition and be conferred with their awards at the traditional ceremony.
Guyana’s political culture continues to nosedive. This is most unfortunate if not sickening and disgusting. It appears the more things change, the more they remain the same or get worse. President Ali in his first address to the nation said he will be a President for all. He continues to repeat what has now become a trite expression and to act opposite.