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On Page 11 Line 25 Please Read
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THE MOTION TO DECLARE
GUYANA A REPUBLIC
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1970o.
WHEREAS the Constitution of Guyana makes provision in
paragraph (5) of article 73 thereof whereby Guyana may become
a Republic and accordingly cease to be part of Her Majesty's dominions
pursuant to alterations to the Constitution set out in the Second
AND WHEREAS such provision requires a resolution of the
National Assembly, upon a motion introduced by the Prime Minister,
that Guyana shall becoine a Republic and that the said alterations to
the Constitution shall have effect on such day after the passing of the
resolution as may be specified therein;
AND WHEREAS by virtue of such provision notice of such a
motion may be given on or after ist January, 1969, but not less than
three months before the National Assembly proceeds upon the motion;
AND WHEREAS in fulfilment of the processes of National
Independence it is fitting that Guyana should become a Republic
pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution;
AND WHEREAS the twenty-third day of February in each year
commemorates the revolt of enslaved peoples on that day in the year
one thousand seven hundred and sixty-three in the then Colony of
Berbice-being the first significant blow struck for freedom in the
territory .now comprised in the State of Guyana;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by this National
Assembly in pursuance of paragraph (5) of article 73 of the Constitu-
tion of Guyana that on the twenty-third day of February in the year
one thousand nine hundred and seventy Guyana shall become a
Republic and accordingly cease to be part of Her Majesty's dominions
and for that purpose the alterations to the Constitution of Guyana
set out in the Second Schedule to the said Constitution shall have
TEXT OF THE SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER,
MR. FORBES BURNHAM, IN MOVING THE MOTION
IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON THURSDAY,
N1 AUGUST 28, 1969.
PROVISION FOR REPUBLIC
Mr. Speaker, sir, on the morning of Friday, 19th November,
1965, in London, to be precise at Lancaster House, a Report was
signed. That Report was of the British Guiana Independence
Conference of 1965, the last of three, the two others having proved
abortive. The Report was signed, sir, by the representatives of the
People's National Congress and the former leader of the United
Force. Among those present were my learned and hon. Friend, Mr.
Feilden Singh, and my hon. Friend, Mr. Randolph Cheeks, and at
paragraph 13 of the Report, one finds the following sentence:
"There will be provision for the Parliament of the new
State, if it so wishes, after Ist January, 1969, to bring into opera-
tion scheduled amendments establishing a Republic on the
Subsequent to the Report, the Guyana Constitution was pro-
mulgated and one finds that in article 73 paragraph (5) provision is
made for the National Assembly, upon a Motion introduced by the
Prime Minister and supported by the votes of a majority of all the
elected members of the National Assembly, to pass a Resolution
declaring Guyana a Republic as from a given date subsequent to the
passage of the Resolution. There were two provisos however,
to paragraph (5) of article 73 of the Constitution. The first one was
that the Motion seeking to have the House agree to the declaration
of a Republic should lie, so to speak, in the House for a period of
not less than three months, and the second proviso was to the effect
that notice of the Motion should not be given in the House prior
to the ist January, 1969.
As one of those present at the Conference, Your Honour, my
recollection is that both of those provisos had specific significance,
the one with respect to the three-month period was put into the
Constitution to ensure that the public of Guyana would have had a
reasonably long time to discuss the pros and cons of Guyana's be-
coming a Republic as against a monarchy. The other proviso which
relates to the Motion not being tabled before the Ist January, 1969,
was intended to give the electors of Guyana an opportunity at the
election, either directly or inferentially, to express their preference
for the monarchical or the republican system. Notice of this Motion,
Mr. Speaker, was given on the 20th March of this year and today,
over five months after, I seek to have the House agree to the Motion.
THE MAIN CHANGES
In paragraph (5) of article 73 of the Constitution, reference is
made to the Amendments to the Constitution concomitant on the
passage of the Motion which is now before the House. Those
Amendments are set out in detail in the Second Schedule to the Con-
stitution of Guyana and since it is not my intention to make of this
discussion a legalistic argument or a foray into the field of legalism,
I would content myself with alluding to the main Amendments which
will flow if this Motion were to be passed. "If", I said, Mr. Speaker.
But I would recall or note that under paragraph 5 of Article 73, all
that is required is a simple majority of elected Members of this
Mr. Speaker, if this Motion is passed and the day proposed
in the Motion sees the fulfilment of our intention, there will cease
to be a Governor-General in Guyana and in his place as titular Head
of State, there will be substituted a President. The President, who
will have to be a Guyanese citizen, not disqualified from being a
Member of this Assembly, and of the age of 40 or over, will be elected
by the Parliament by secret ballot.
Looking at it as a matter of mere words and lifeless form, one
would come to the conclusion that all that would have been done was
to substitute a President for a Governor-General, except of course
that whereas the Governor-General is appointed by Her Majesty
the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, the President will
be elected by the National Assembly by secret ballot.
The powers of the President as proposed in Schedule II of the
Constitution will be no. greater and no less, as I understand it, than
the powers of the Governor-General. But when one departs from
the mere form, I would submit, sir, that there will be a difference
between Guyana, a Monarchy, and Guyana a Republic. In the first
place, though we accept the fact that Her Gracious Majesty Queen
Elizabeth II is Queen of Guyana merely titularly and exercises no
executive powers within her Dominion of Guyana, though we accept
the fact that Her Majesty's representative the Governor-General
performs his duties in the name of Her Majesty the Queen but again
on the advice, which has to be taken, of the elected Ministers of the
Government, one must confess that looking at the history of Guyana,
looking at our own former connection to a relationship with the
United Kingdom, a natural fulfilment of our history should be the
cutting of even formal ties with the Queen or the Royal House of
Great Britain. Now that we have matured, the element of bitterness
has lessened, if not disappeared, but I would submit, that in the con-
text of Guyana there is an indescribable incongruity between having
the Queen of Great Britain, the Queen of Guyana.
Moving to the status of a Republic represents, to my mind,
a further step in the direction of self-reliance and self-confidence.
It is to be noted that there have been other Constitutions promulgated
within the Caribbean and outside of the Caribbean before and sub-
sequent to the Guyana Constitution. It is to be further noted that
in most of those Constitutions the monarchy has been retained. And
in moving this Motion, I desire to make a special point. We, in
Guyana, have decided that the monarchy should go. But we do not 3
criticize anyone more knowledgeable of his own circumstances and
environment outside of Guyana who wants to retain for his particular
country, the monarchical system, because every politician, every
Leader of a country, must be deemed to be more conversant with his
own circumstances and attendant facts than outsiders.
I should merely remark that whereas in many other constitutions,
a change from the monarchical system to the republican system
requires a special majority, or in some cases a referendum, in the case
of Guyana, it requires a simple majority of elected Members of the
House. This is so because those who were involved in the drafting
of the Constitution from the very beginning forecast our moving
to the status of republicanism.
As we look around the walls of this Assembly, we see brilliant
examples of photographic and painting art, but with one exception
the physiognomies there set out do not seem to be familiar in the
context of Guyana. In fact, one particular picture reminds us of
that part of our history when Guyana and several parts of the Caribbean
were merely settled for the pillage and the loot with which another
country could have been enriched. I say this merely to attempt a
broad historical narrative; not in any bitterness, because those days
are past. Naturally, when we become a Republic we will not dispose
of these pictures. What we will do and I am sure that I will have the
support of the majority, except for one of this House, will be to put
these into a special place in our Museum reminding us of the past
to which we must not and cannot return.
COFFY, OUR NATIONAL HERO
It is the contention of the Party in Government that the establish-
ment of the Republic of Guyana should coincide with the celebration
and/or anniversary of an event of peculiar Guyanese significance.
When we were younger we remember being told about Henry V
attacking at Agincourt and saying something about England and St.
George. That was part of our education. Our own history was
neglected, if not vilified. In fact, some of those who instructed us
made a point, sometimes subtly, sometimes clumsily, of establishing
to us that we had no history.
A country without its own history, without its own heroes,
without its own legends, I contend, would find it difficult to survive.
There will be nothing to look to, nothing to admire, nothing to write
or sing about. Looking over our historical landscape we came upon
what is undeniably a most significant event, the slave rebellion, as it is
called by some, the slave revolution, as it was called by others, which
started on the 23rd February, 1763, at Magdalenenberg in Berbice.
I may observe, en passant, that Berbice has given us not only
our Leader of the Opposition, but also our national hero.
Coffy led that revolt. That revolt was different from many
an uprising which had taken place in Guyana. There had been
previous uprisings but those were, so to speak, flashes in the pan.
Those were, so to speak, merely spasmodic reactions to cruelty. In
4 the case of the Berbice revolt, we found that for the first time the slaves,
under a leader, decided not only that they should end their slavery
but that they should run the country and though, in their tradition
of reasonableness, they suggested that perhaps a partition of Guyana
between the whites and blacks was desirable, through their leader
Coffy they made it pellucidly clear that there was no intention, desire
or willingness, on their part, to return to the system of slavery and
that what they saw as the future of the country was the existence of two
separate and independent nations.
I earlier observed that some people call it a revolt and other
people a revolution, but I think that it would be an exercise in seman-
tics if we insisted that it was a revolt. There is one school of thought
which says that a revolt or a rebellion is an unsuccessful uprising and a
revolution is an uprising which is successful; but another school of
thought differentiates between the two concepts by emphasizing
that in the case of a revolution what is intended is a basic and radical
change and even though, at the physical level, success may not attend
the efforts of votaries of such revolution, it is nonetheless a revolution
if it is based on a new radical concept.
No one will disagree that the revolution in Berbice, which started
on 23rd February, 1763, differed from previous uprisings and was
the forerunner of the much better known one led by Toussaint
I'Overture some 30 years after, in what is now the Republic of Haiti.
It was decided to propose that Coffy become our national hero
and that the 207th anniversary of the revolution which he led should
coincide with the date on which Guyana becomes a Republic. We
do not envy the English their St. George. We will not beatify Coffy,
but at least we can respect him, respect the statesmanship and insight
which he showed when he led the revolution.
Coffy's efforts, may I note by the way, were all the more im-
pressive in the context of the existing social structure of the time when
one remembers that he was a house slave as distinct from a plantation
slave. He would have belonged to that group that would have been
treated less badly. He would have belonged to the group that got
the few crumbs and paltry favours, and the fact that at that time he was
the leader showed that his spirit was such that he could not be bought
with the crumbs and the favours.
One may remark on the dignity and the presence of Atta and
Accabre, but had there not been a Coffy there might not have been an
Accabre. I think the majority of Members of this Assembly share
the recognition of the sterling worth of men like Coffy and Accabre.
I cannot speak for the minority but if, as we expect, this Motion
were to be passed, if, as we expect, the 23rd February will be Republic
Day, it is more, I contend, than merely changing St. George for Coffy.
If we are to give any substance and content to the concept of inde-
pendence and mature nationhood what better opportunity is there than
the 23rd February, 1970, for giving the new content which we, the
majority, concede is necessary.
CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC WITHIN COMMONWEALTH
The Party to which I belong is a Socialist Party. The Party 5
to which I belong, which I have the honour to lead-as Leader,
not General Secretary-believes that the instrument which can, and
ought to, in the context of Guyana, be used for bringing in socialism
is the co-operative. Bona fide co-operatives is our ideal. To this
end, at the practical level, the Co-operative Department has been
reorganized; but, at the philosophical level, a campaign within and
without the Party has been carried out and is being carried out as
part of a process of re-education and re-orientation of the people
pointing out (a) the advantages of the co-operative as an institution
in ordinary, practical, day to day terms; and also (b) its importance
and significance in bringing about a change in the social and economic
relationships in this country.
It is noteworthy perhaps that this position was taken by this
Party, publicly, way back in the early 'sixties, and equally noteworthy
is a resolution adopted by UNESCO Council in December of last
year urging, if I may put it this way, a proliferation of co-operatives
in the underdeveloped and undeveloped world. It is not for me to
expand greatly on this subject, that will be done by my most competent
colleague, the hon. Minister of Education, Mrs. Patterson.
So pari passu with the establishment of the Republic it is
proposed that a serious and earnest effort be made to establish firmly
and irrevocably the. co-operative as the means of making the small
man a real man and changing, in a revolutionary fashion, the
social and economic relationships to which we have been
heir as part of our monarchical legacy.
I shall deal briefly with certain attendant questions because
there is today a certain naivety or knavery masquerading as learning.
There are a few who argue that a Republican Guyana can no longer
be a member of the Commonwealth. It is interesting to note.that,
unless I am completely mistaken, there are more republics than
monarchies in the Commonwealth, and at least one of the monarchies
is not British-the Malaysian monarchy. The Government of
Guyana has indicated to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth
its intention of having Guyana a Republic and, at the same time,
having Guyana remain a member of the Commonwealth.
May I, without attempting to cause any offence one way or
another, put my Government's position with respect to the Common-
wealth very simply. On economic grounds, our continued member-
ship of the Commonwealth is justified. There are some who would
explain their membership in terms of philosophy, concept, West-
minster model, but this sometimes seems empty when one looks
at the different and differing constitutional and parliamentary systems
to be found in the Commonwealth. Most of those who speak on
this subject will admit that, economically, it is advantageous to be a
member of the Commonwealth. It may be that some day membership
of the Commonwealth would have some new dimension attached to it,
maybe, but as I see it-and speaking for myself and, I believe, the
majority of my colleagues-the economic justification is predominant.
6 And I may remark that there is no difficulty in our remaining a member
of the Commonwealth.
It has been suggested in some quarters that the republican system
as envisaged in Guyana removes the protection of Her Majesty the
Queen, of her loyal subjects in her dominion of Guyana. That is a
good reason for ending the monarchy in Guyana because, psychologi-
cally, there are so many unemancipated minds who still believe that
protection can come from without an independent country. It
is in their interest and the interest of the progress of the country
that the monarchy be removed so that there can be no illusions and it
can be recognized that power and protection are to be found here in
COURT OF APPEAL
There is one other question to which, in deference to my learned
and hon. Friend who will speak after me, I should allude. Tradition-
ally, our final Court of Appeal has been Her Majesty in Council
or the Judicial Committee of the Privy, Council.
Lest there be any illusions, lest there be any suggestions that
the cards were not put on the table, and today is the day for putting
the cards on the table, let me first observe that there is an inherent
inconsistency behind Guyana becoming a Republic and Guyana
still having Her Majesty's Privy Council, the Judicial Committee or
what have you, as the final Court of Appeal.
To continue to have the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
as the final Court of Appeal is to admit our inferiority which our
erstwhile masters have attempted to instil in us, it is to admit that we
are incapable of finding within the boundaries of our country such
legal talent and such sense of justice as would lead us to leave the
final arbitrament of matters legal to our fellow Guyanese.
Far be it from -me, Mr. Speaker, to suggest .that the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council does not consist of eminent lawyers.
Far be it from me to attempt to suggest that it might not be the font
of justice, but far be it from me, a nationalist, to tolerate this incon-
sistency, this incongruity so far as I have any power to bring it to an
end. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
A perusal of article 92 will show that there are basically two
types of appeal to the Privy Council. In certain constitutional
matters there is one category including questions affecting compensa-
tion on the compulsory acquisition of property. Then there is
another group of cases identical with the group that existed before
Independence. There is a third group of cases, relating to special
leave, but that is not important in the context of what I am about to
say. The first group of matters is entrenched. In the case of the
second and third, in the Constitution itself, those rights are the subject
matter of an ordinary parliamentary decision. In so far as any
law passed by the Parliament is inconsistent with that right in cases 7
two and three, the parliamentary decision will take precedence. In
the case of the first category, however, a two-thirds majority of the
National Assembly will be necessary.
Whatever may be our differences, there cannot be differences
between the majority in this House as to the suitability, desirability,
of having a British court decide for us in Guyana. Whatever may
be our differences, I would hope and expect that the same over-
whelming majority, which will pass this Resolution will pass any
proposed Amendment to the Constitution brought to let the right of
appeal inhere in the Court of Appeal of Guyana.
My learned and hon. Friend (Mr. D. Jagan) for whom I have the
highest regard in all fields has suggested sotto voce that we can
have a West Indian Court of Appeal. We can discuss. Our minds
are open but on one question I believe, we have closed minds, that is,
continuing to have the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the
final Court of Appeal.
COMMUNITY OF CO-OPERATION
Mr. Speaker, I would submit that this is not a Motion which
should engender any sharp differences of opinion. There may be
differences of opinion as to tactics and details, not substance, not
important things, because both of the larger Parties are pledged and
have been pledged for years to republicanism.
I recall that at the 1962 Conference which was the first of the
abortive Conferences, the only difference of opinion between the other
large Party and the P.N.C. was that of timing. The other large Party,
an integral part of our parliamentary institution, argued for the Re-
public being the first stage, in other words, moving to the republican
stage immediately after Independence. The Party which I led and
lead, argued for a phasing in the context of what we considered the
realities of Guyana; therefore, I cannot see any difference of sub-
stance. I agree that there will be differences so far as the details
are concerned. I do not think there can be any argument about the
date because I recall that last year the hon. Leader of the Opposition,
Dr. Jagan, said that the 23rd of February should be a holiday every
year. We are not only concurring with that but we are going further
and making it a national holiday of the highest significance. There
can be no disagreement on the choice of hero for it was the Leader
of the Opposition in 1963 who thought officially to celebrate the
events of 1763.
There can be no difference of opinion between thinking Guyanese
because as Verq Daly, historian, remarked, regardless of ethnic origin,
ours has been a history of community of suffering. Let us therefore,
conscious of our community of suffering, undertake a community of
cooperation to make of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana an
institution which can change vitally our social and economic relations
and ensure any real progress and socialism.
Text of the speech by The Prime Minister.
Mr. Forbes Burnham, winding up the Debate in the
National Assembly, on Friday August 29, z969, on
the Motion to declare Guyana a Republic on February
Mr. Speaker, on the question of Guyana's becoming a Republic
on Monday, 23rd February, 1970, there seems to be virtual unanimity.
I say "virtual unanimity" for I am thinking of the country as a whole,
rather than merely the National Assembly where a small group of
three opposes the change.
Red herrings have been dragged across the trail, but there is no
one with a modicum of intelligence and desire for truthfulness who
will deny that the P.N.C. and the P.P.P., whatever the permutations
and combinations, speak for almost 90 per cent of the population of
Guyana. In view of the fact that neither party has other than stated
quite clearly its support of a Republic, it is safe to say that the over-
whelming majority of the people in Guyana accept the change.
The other section of the Opposition, apart from the P.P.P.,
has put forward some ingenious but unconvincing arguments against.
the main subject matter of the Motion. At first it was averred by
my hon. Friends of the U.F. that, constitutionally, there is no differ-
ence, and then we were informed that to become a Republic would
mean our embarking upon uncharted seas. There is an inconsistency
between the two statements which in other cases I would have
pardoned, but when it is palpable in a debate of this importance, all
I can do at this stage is to quote a short passage from A Short History
Of The Guyanese People by Vere T. Daly at page 125:
"Cuffy had trouble with the faithful slaves. Faithful slaves
were really those who were beginning to assimilate the
culture of the Europeans and felt that they would lose their
status in a revolutionised society."
On what ground of logic is there opposition? My hon. and
learned Friend (Mr. Feilden Singh), to use his phrasing, my erstwhile
colleague, asked us why do we become a Republic when our CARIFTA
brethren are still monarchies. Now may I ask him, because of his 9
obvious cultural background, in the context of my quotation, why is
Britain, a monarchy, seeking to become a part of E.C.M., the majority
of whose members are not monarchies ?
Such absolute rot-pardon me, sir, I do not know if it is a banned
word-is not what we expect in this the highest Chamber of the land.
If we had heard from the United Force that it is completely opposed
to there being a Republic because a Republic is a place where there is
going to be anarchy, where there is violence ex mero motu, where
there is going to be disregard for human rights, at least we would
have pardoned its simplicity.
If the members had said so in argument, one would have sym-
pathized. But we hear that we must have national unity before we
have a Republic. Those devotees of the American system do not
realize that according to their own prescription, the United States
of America should have had a few hundred years as a Monarchy
before it became a Republic. The community of the U.S.A. consists
of a number of minorities and one sees it in the presidential elections
and in the national elections. No one in the U.S.A. thought, "Let us
wait until we become one people either by inter-marriage or mis-
cegenation." To say this is to abuse the intelligence of this House
and insult its Members.
It is not my proposal to indulge in any bitter answers to the
points raised by my hon. Friends. As a politician, I appreciate the
necessity for my friends to have their names marked as present on
this historic day and the surest way is to have a little speech in the
Hansard which can be attributed to them. I forgive them. My
unwillingness to be bitter is part of the Government's attitude on
this question. We do not make a song and dance about ending the
monarchy, or as one of my young friends said, abolishing the monarchy.
We are doing away with the monarchy so far as Guyana is concerned.
ADVANTAGES OF CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC
What are the advantages ? I have said there are advantages.
That has been admitted on both sides. What is the content of the
Republic is the question on which there has been some debate, debate
worthy of answer. I have been told that what we need to make a
success of the Republic is to adopt scientific socialism. It all depends
on which is your dictionary and which is your bible. Everyone who
claims to be a socialist claims that his particular brand of socialism
is true socialism.
In these days it has become popular in one political party to say
that the scriptures are the tablets, as handed down by Marx, amended
by Lenin, brought up to date by Stalin, with some erasures by
Khrushchev, and further elucidated by Brezhnev-these tablets
represent true scientific socialism. There will be others who will
tell you that the only true socialism is the socialism of Mr. Harold
Wilson, though some will say that Mr. Harold Wilson's socialism
10 was right when he was the President of the Board of Trade and not
when he became Prime Minister. And so we can go on with a long
set of arguments.
I want to plead with my younger friends for whom I have the
utmost affection. I know because I have been that way before. I
know as a youth, either chronologically as in the case of some or
intellectually as in the case of others, one calls for a bible: Youth
calls for answers laid down, and brain-washed as we have been by the
European influence of one type or another, we at a youthful stage
find answers that may be very relevant to, may be the perfect answers
in, the European context, in circumstances and environments which
are different from ours.
Now the Government of Guyana, when it attempts to make the
little man a real man, when it attempts to give to the little man, to the
working class, that economic power which is commensurate with his
political power, wants first of all to analyse and understand Guyana's
own history, its own environment, its own circumstances, and as far
as possible to use the institutions for which there is historical justifi-
cation, as has been pointed out by he hon. Minister of Education
We do not claim omniscience. We know we are moving towards
our goal. We know we shall have to experiment with one institution
or another. We know that we can learn from the experience of others
but we can never achieve by copying absolutely from any part of the
world outside Guyana, like certain dogmatists. The dogmatist is an
ignoramus and he is usually a dogmatist because he is afraid of his
own capacity to think, therefore he accepts dogma and shuts out
everything. He parades as reason what other people have written
down in the catechism, which he, like the intellectual infant he is,
learns by rote.
Because of the history of our peoples, we have decided that we
will use the instrument of the co-operative. There again we do not
approach it dogmatically. We do not join with those who say no
good things come from the West nor do we join with those who say
no good things come from the East. We recognize that in the western
world, the co-operative is an appendage to a given capitalist system.
We recognize that the co-operative is an appendage to a given system
of state monopoly. We are not prepared to sell ourselves short.
We feel that we are capable of using the co-operative as the main
institution in our economic progress and in our attempt, desire and
irreversible goal to make the small man a real man. For instance,
in the case of the establishment of our Co-operative Bank, the pros-
pective officers who are going to man this institution are being sent
to the West Indies and Israel where there have been Co-operative
Banks, and to Yugoslavia. We want to see what we can learn and
what we can adopt. We have no illusions. One thing we are con-
fident of is that whether it be Nixon or Brezhnev, none of them can
lay down the law for Guyana and our quest for what we want for
Guyana. All I ask my honourable Friends is "for goodness sake,
do not be influenced by a little holiday on the Black Sea!"
Sir, if by any chance, I uttered any word or any sentiment which
seems harsh, I want to apologize. This is not the moment when I 11
should slaughter or enter into recriminations with those who originally
made their contribution but, alas, what do we see here today ? Ignor-
ance and senility taking their toll.
We were asked, "Why the rush?" The answer is there is
no rush. Guyana has been independent since May 1966. The
United Force leader as he then was, the one at the steering wheel,
agreed that, subsequent to the ist January, the Motion could be
introduced: Naturally, human beings are allowed to change their
minds. We do not quarrel, but do not come here and say that there
is a rush. There is no rush about it. This Motion could have come
up in June but we allowed all the time for discussion. I am sure that
the honourable Member Mr. Sutton could have used his position
as a member of the Georgetown Town Council to have called a meeting
at the City Hall and have the matter debated. I am sure that he
would have had the facilities of the National Park and Independence
Square to debate this question. This mealey-mouthed support of,
and fear for democracy can sometimes be a little exasperating. Six
months nearly are given, nothing done, no debate, no attempt to get
to the public to explain a different point of view and then you come
in here and accuse the Government of rushing the measure through.
MAKING THE REPUBLIC WORK
However, there are redeeming features, even with the United
Force, and I am really saying this from the bottom of my heart. They
have recognized the inevitability of a Republic and they have under-
taken to help to make the Republic work, and strange as it may seem,
that is one of the most heartening declarations we have had from the
Opposition Benches-their willingness to help in making the Republic
When all the shouting is done; when all the lines dictated by
pre-arranged positions are finished; when we have ended all our
posturing on both sides, let us be frank for the benefit of our supporters.
Let us understand that if the Republic of Guyana fails there will be
little solace for one group or another attempting in the tradition of
Adam and Eve to cast the blame on the other. We have our differ-
ences-. As I understand it, the ideological orientation of the PPP is
different from that of the PNC, and of the UF, but I cannot bring
myself to believe that there is anyone amongst my honourable
Colleagues whq does not hold his first loyalty to Guyana. We may
have our differences. We may even have our humorists at concert
time but, despite our aberrations, despite our mental and intellectual
weaknesses, we must understand that Guyana needs all of us.
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy that my young and honourable
Friend Mr. Balchand Persaud has at least recognized that the hero is
properly chosen. There are some who would prefer, perhaps, that
we should have kept Boadicea or Caractacus as our heroes of struggle.
1,2 But even they will come around. As I said yesterday, when I was
opening this debate, let us all understand that, in spite of some of
the habits we have assimilated, in spite of the strange notions which
some of us have inculcated, all of us in this House, without exception,
are descended from people who have had a community of suffering.
Mr. Speaker, I think that in spite of our problems, great though
they may be, we have the capacity to laugh at ourselves and with
each other. I hope that as the morning of the 23rd February, 1970
dawns, we will not lose our sense of humour and at the same time not
lose our sense of dedication.
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