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Minister's head on photo of flag

Opposition wants plan in place to protect national symbols

Thursday, August 09, 2012    

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OPPOSITION Leader Andrew Holness wants Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to make a definitive statement on what the Government intends to do to protect and preserve Jamaica's national symbols.

In a statement yesterday, the opposition leader said he had written to Simpson Miller on the issue, and would also be writing to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to advise him on his concerns about disregard for the protocols surrounding the symbols.

Holness' letter to the prime minister, dated August 7, was triggered by the distribution of bookmarkers to schools celebrating Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence on Monday, which have a photograph of Education Minister Ronald Thwaites superimposed on the national flag.

This is the second time since this year that Holness has written to the prime minister about the treatment of national symbols. In April, he asked her to condemn the manner in which the swearing-in ceremonies for newly elected parish councillors were being conducted. Holness penned the letter after the colour green was omitted from a background depicting the national flag at the swearing-in of mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris.

In relation to the bookmarkers with Thwaites' photo, the opposition leader said that aside from the wasted resources, disposal of the offensive bookmakers and the cost of reprinting, following detection of the breach, the Ministry of Education has a fundamental duty to reinforce civic protocol relating to the use of national symbols.

"I would also like to bring to your attention a billboard that was erected in the constituency of South St Catherine in honour of Jamaica 50 where, once again, an unrelated colour was imposed on a national symbol," Holness wrote.

He said that the leaders of the country have a duty to protect and preserve national symbols that define its nationhood.

"We must not allow our symbols to be defiled. We must not allow the protocols that surround the use and display of those symbols to be disregarded with impunity. We must not allow them to be varied and changed conveniently. We must now allow other symbols to be infused in them, no matter how subtle the infusion," Holness said.

He said that if the changes are signals of "political thinking" within the Government, for changes to the symbols and colours, the people should be consulted. He also stated that the "silence, inaction and lack of condemnation" of the trend suggested acceptance and instrumentality.

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