‘Set examples for elected Parliamentarians’
--President tells Youth Parliament 2004
Guyana Chronicle
May 28, 2004

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President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday challenged participants of the National Youth Parliament (NYP) to set an example for elected Parliamentarians. The President was at the time delivering the keynote address at the Fifth Sitting of the National Youth Parliament held at Le Meridien Pegasus.

The Guyanese Head of state suggested that one of the ways in which the youths could lead the way was by emphasising the importance of debate and argument as mechanisms for the settling of disputes.

Mr. Jagdeo told the participants that the National Youth Parliament 2004 is challenged to demonstrate that through respectful dialogue, differences can be overcome in a civilised way, rather than through forceful and abusive exchanges

National Youth Parliament, the President pointed out, is a serious institution and is not just an exercise in role-playing or imitating the highest institution of the land.

Mr Jagdeo urged that all those participating in yesterday's sitting to be mindful of the significance of their deliberations.

"You, the young Parliamentarians, are challenged to set an example for elected Parliamentarians," he said adding that yesterday's deliberations are viewed as important and are intended to involve the young people in making a valuable contribution to the social, economic and political life of Guyana.

Reiterating some of his remarks made at last year's NYP sitting, Mr. Jagdeo noted that young people of Guyana, by the civility of their exchanges could set an example to the elected representatives.

He stressed that differences among politicians need not lead to enmity and bitterness. When debate is marked by respect and tolerance it fosters better relations between political adversaries, and also enhances the legitimacy of public institutions, the President noted.

"Young people are important stakeholders to this country and their views on issues, their dreams and aspirations cannot be ignored," he pointed out.

The civility that will mark the debates among the two sides of NYP should not only be an example for Parliamentarians, it must be an example for “our country in all spheres of activity -- at the level of business, the family, and within religious institutions,” Mr Jagdeo stated.

If this is applied in all these spheres, then the country will have a more positive outlook. This approach is very important for national development, the President said.

National Youth Parliament is one of the main activities organised by the Guyana Youth Development Association (GYDA) since it was established in 1999 in an effort to groom young people to take up leadership roles.

GYDA Executive Director, Mr. Kwame McCoy, in his opening remarks at the sitting, stressed that some aspects of young people's development lie within them. But, he noted, this is not realised because of a lack of commitment. It takes hard work, commitment and dedication, he advised, for full development to flower.

McCoy noted that there are too many persons who do not want to face the challenges for their own development.

Apart from hosting the National Youth Parliament, the GYDA plans taking the institution to other phases, which include initiatives such as crime prevention.

"We will be looking at ways of reforming young people, who are already involved in crime," McKoy noted.

Over the years, the National Youth Parliament has brought about an increased recognition of the innate abilities and overall potential of the youth population. The initiative has also helped to widen the scope for youth to express their views, ideas and opinions on national issues; to advocate and propose innovations, and, sometimes, radical changes to policies and systems that are negatively affecting the development of young people in Guyana.

Also in attendance at yesterday’s event, were senior Government officials, representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, and schoolchildren. (Jaime Hall)