Jul 13, 2013 News
By Abena Rockcliffe
The media turned out yesterday at Public Buildings for the second successive day to witness the scheduled handing over of the first volume of the published parliamentary speeches of late President Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.
However, for the second time in two days the ceremony was called off because of the no-show of David Dabydeen.
Dabydeen, the Executive Director of Caribbean Press, the entity that has published the compilation, was slated to present the books to the Speaker of the National Assembly at Parliament yesterday. He was scheduled to do so the day before, too.
The Ambassador had a room of people awaiting his arrival.
On Thursday, after an approximately 15-minute wait, Trotman left the room to make inquiries, and about 10 minutes later, the Speaker returned saying that he contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was told that it was making every effort to ensure Dabydeen’s presence at the then stalled ceremony.
He said, too, that according to the information relayed to him, the Ambassador confirmed with Foreign Affairs Ministry at about 02:00hrs Thursday morning that he would have handed over the compilation at the scheduled time (11:00hrs).
There representing the main parliamentary opposition party – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), were party leader, Brigadier Retired David Granger, Basil Williams, Winston Felix, Ronald Bulkan and Volda Lawrence, all of whom are serving Members of Parliament.
Secondary school students were also present. However the other two political parties represented in the National Assembly – the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) – were absent.
However, the state of affairs changed yesterday as the media turned up to see a room occupied only by secondary school students. Kaieteur News understands that because of what occurred that day before, APNU refused to attend the forum.
After an approximate 25 minutes wait, Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs told the Press that the presentation ceremony was once again cancelled as Dabydeen told him that because of a “Cock up,” he won’t be in a position to attend.
Isaacs said that Trotman left the Building angry at what happened. Questioned on the absence of government officials on Thursday, Trotman said that he wasn’t about to have a “press conference” on the issue. When asked the same question, Opposition Leader Granger’s only response was “that’s typical.”
At a subsequent press conference, in defence of its no-show, the AFC said that the party wasn’t aware of any official invitation.
The decision to compile, edit and publish the speeches of all presidents came about following the adoption of a Resolution in a parliamentary motion.
This resolution was passed by the National Assembly on August 7, 2008, after which the House took measures to have the verbatim records of the late Presidents compiled.
The motion was piloted to give due recognition to Guyana’s first Executive President Forbes Burnham, 55 years after he first entered the National Assembly, then as a representative of the People’s Progressive Party in 1953 and 23 years after his death in 1985.
That motion had called on Members of the House to request the “National Assembly to designate a state institution to be responsible for historical research and documentation to chronicle and archive all of the works of each of the Presidents of Guyana for the benefit of future generations of Guyanese.”
During the debate, different perspectives were shared on Burnham’s contribution to Guyana in the field of trade unionism, as a nationalist, a politician and a diplomat.
The motion had received the full support of both sides of the House and the debate chronicled the political involvement of Burnham in Guyana.
As a result of the motion, Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, along with the Staff of the Parliament Office, transferred the hard copies of the verbatim records to soft copies and compiled the first volume of the late President’s speeches.
To date, the Caribbean Press, under the directorship of Professor Dabydeen, has printed, published and presented the speeches of former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
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