Youth Parliament sends strong signal to politicians
President By Neil Marks
Guyana Chronicle
May 30, 2002

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“we need many similar activities across our country…that bring people generally together, so that they can understand each other…hopefully, that will set the stage for a Guyana that is different from today’s Guyana” - President Bharrat Jagdeo

THE third National Youth Parliament (NYP) convened at Le Meridien Pegasus yesterday, with President Bharrat Jagdeo praising the initiative and recognising it as “very, very” strong signal to the country’s parliamentarians that the place to do business is across the table and not on the streets.

The Guyana Youth Development Association (GUYDA) organised the event and the youth parliamentarians debated the motion: “There should be tighter restrictions on public access to pornography in Guyana”.

President Jagdeo said, “we need many similar activities across our country, activities that bring young people together, activities that bring people generally together, so that they can understand each other, sit across the table and engage in civilised debate. They can break down stereotypes of each other and hopefully, that will set the stage for a Guyana that is different from today’s Guyana”.

Congratulating the participants and organisers of the event, President Jagdeo said the NYP is a good inspiration to youths across Guyana.

He said also that it sends a message to parliamentarians and all Guyanese that young people want to see a change in the behaviour that has pervaded the country for years.

Mr. Jagdeo said Parliament is an institution of a democratic country, where laws are made and issues debated, and where policy positions are taken that influence the lives and future of the people of a country.

However, he said that once you live in a democracy “you have to subscribe to (democratic) principles, you have to respect the rule of law, there must be civility in interactions, and though the engagements you have can be difficult, they must not be done out of hostility or out of having enemy images of each other”.

The NYP 2002 was officially launched on March 21 to encourage participation, especially from youths outside of Georgetown.

To qualify as a youth parliamentarian, participants had to write an essay on “Youth participation in the eradication of poverty in Guyana”.

Forty-eight essays were submitted to the NYP Secretariat and were screened on April 27 by a panel of judges comprising of Ms. Patricia Woolford, Ms. Nicolette Pierre, Mr. Ruel Johnson and Mr. Wilfred Cameron.

The judges selected 30 parliamentarians for this year’s sitting.

For yesterday’s debate, Opposition Leader, Ms. Rosalinda Rasul introduced the motion and the Government side led by Prime Minister Ms. Shion Thomas, opposed it.

Local professionals, University of Guyana lecturer, Mr. Freddie Kissoon, attorneys-at-law, Ms. Priya Manikchand and Mr. Raphael Trotman, and Mr. Bert White, were the judges.

The debate was lively and informative and though it was not meant for the NYP to have all the features of a real sitting of the National Assembly, it sure came close, given the strong arguments, heckling and a stern speaker who suspended one member of the opposition for two minutes!

GUYDA said the NYP provides excellent opportunities for young people to groom themselves into mature, responsible, aggressive, objective and pragmatic members of society.