Politicians interact informally with youths

Stabroek News
April 11, 2000

A handful of politicians from the parliamentary parties, including Prime Minister Sam Hinds, spent Sunday afternoon playing indoor games and exchanging views with youths and members of the media in a relaxed atmosphere.

The activity, which caused the youthful organisers some anxious moments before the first party of politicians arrived some 40 minutes after the activity was scheduled to start at the Ocean View Hotel, Liliendaal, was successful but not well attended.

The first politicians to arrive were Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and Eusi Kwayana of the Working People's Alliance (WPA). They were the only senior politicians who took along representatives of the youth membership of their party.

The get-together was organised by the newly-formed Guyberclub, the youth membership of Guybernet to launch a week of activities to mark Global Youth Service Day on April 15. The week of activities includes cleaning of schools, feeding the poor, road signs painting and visits to the elderly, disabled and orphans.

Club Chairman, Marc McArthur of Queen's College, in welcoming those gathered in the informal setting said he was encouraged by the participation in spite of the day being a wet one.

McArthur said that the club had deliberated on a number of ideas to mark Global Youth Service Day, before deciding to focus on peace and bringing the political parties together in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. The feeling among young people, he said, was that the relationships among politicians were poor but in discussions with representatives of the various political parties present he understood that this was not the case. But "How is John Public to know this?," he asked, when in public they are constantly at loggerheads with each other.

Generally at elections time, he said, young people have noted the tensions that build up because of prejudices and feel that this should not be the case with the elections due in the near future. Guyberclub, he said, believes that "unity is achievable even from opposite ends."

Parties represented at the event were the PPP/Civic, the PNC, the WPA and The United Force (TUF). Others invited but not present were A Good and Green Guyana (GGG), Justice For All (JFA), Rise Organise And Rally (ROAR), the Guyana Democratic Party (GDP), and the Guyana's Alliance for Progress. In brief remarks Prime Minister Hinds and PNC Members of Parliament Joseph Hamilton and Raphael Trotman lauded the action taken by the young people in bringing the politicians together. They felt that there was need for more such activities but not only among politicians but among people of different religions, geographical and cultural backgrounds so that they could better learn to appreciate each other's customs and values.

Hamilton also felt that young people, who represent more than 60% of the country's population, needed to get more involved in the country's politics instead of sitting on the sidelines criticising the older politicians.

Congratulating the young people for taking the initiative, Trotman said that the experience was a fantastic one for him. In that setting he was able to interact with the Prime Minister in a manner he had never done before. (Miranda La Rose)