− claims provision not exclusionaryIncumbent Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan has justified his intention to serve another term as leader of the party, if so nominated by delegates, despite the fact that this will breach the party’s constitution.According to Ramjattan, the provision in AFC’s constitution is not exclusionary in any way.According to Article 19 (1) of the AFC’s Constitution, no leader would be allowed to serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office, in the interest of “a broader activism in leadership positions by the membership.”Not excluded! AFC Leader Khemraj RamjattanWhen contacted for a comment on his direct breach of the party’s constitution, Ramjattan stated that the provision cited was not exclusionary in any way. According to him, the provision does not mandate that he cannot run again.Ramjattan was elected as AFC Leader in 2012, his term lasting for four years, or the equivalent of two terms. According to Article 7 of the party’s constitution, “A national convention shall be held every two years at a place and time decided by the National Executive Committee.”Though Ramjattan will be looking to be re-elected to serve in the leadership capacity, he is expected to face stiff competition for the post at the upcoming elections, which will be held at the party’s National Executive Conference (NEC) later this month.In addition to Ramjattan, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes are seen as contenders for the post.The AFC’s NEC will be hosted on January 28 at the Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) – the party’s first NEC outside of Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).The NEC will include elections for the positions of the party Leader, Chairman, Vice Chairman, General Secretary and 12 National Executive Members.Contender for the top spot; Public Telecommunications Minister, Cathy HughesThe AFC was formed by Ramjattan, current Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and the late Sheila Holder, in 2005. Trotman became the leader, but a power sharing agreement was enacted that would see the leadership being rotated.It was with this formula, and the constitution it enacted, that the AFC contested subsequent elections. It has since been subsumed by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition, a step taken in order to contest the 2015 General Elections.The AFC has faced criticism from political activist Dr David Hinds for its perceived silence on controversial issues, including the Minister’s salary hike and the sugar industry. According to Hinds, the party appeared to be suffering from apathy and was disconnected from its support base. Dr Hinds had noted that after the promise of transformation it came with, the party seemed to have shifted away from its transformative agenda. In response, the party had stated that it remained committed to change and transformation.
At a Los Angeles movie theater recently, the predominantly African-American audience cheered throughout “Akeelah and the Bee,” a wonderful fairy tale about an 11-year-old black girl who takes command of her life by taking command of the English language. “Akeelah” was released nationwide on the same day that President George W. Bush struck a nerve by dismissing a Spanish-language version of the national anthem. The controversy re-ignited when the Senate approved one bill making English the country’s “national language” and another calling for the government to “preserve and enhance the role of English as the common and unifying language of America.” Amid the current immigration controversy, such statements can seem condescending and racist, especially when promoted by whites. But they carry truth nonetheless. I once saw a banner in South Los Angeles complaining, “English = Whites Only.” I beg to differ: English = Good for Everyone. My father, from a rural Pakistani village, looks back with minimal regret on not teaching his own children his native Urdu tongue. “I never wanted my children to be behind other children in any way,” he would tell me years later. “It would be OK if you did not learn Urdu, but I wanted you to speak perfect English, so that you wouldn’t be second-class in the classroom compared to the white children.” Sociologists would note that my parents were like many other first-generation immigrants, willing to trade off cultural background for children’s welfare. Undocumented Mexican immigrants have for various reasons not always made the same tradeoff; but for activists to discourage them from doing so is to ignore such families’ best long-term interests. America is the nation that we immigrants chose to pursue, for the sake of opportunity. Yet, such opportunity only exists if we choose to employ the tools at hand within this country. “Akeelah” was not the first movie in recent years to celebrate English as the quintessential American tool for success. The 2003 documentary “Spellbound” was, as its title suggests, a spellbinding depiction of several children’s efforts to achieve spelling-bee glory. A number of the children were of Indian, Mexican or African ancestry, whose families understood the power of excelling in America’s common language. By capturing this, the documentary served as a stirring testament to America’s greatness. The notion of a separate national anthem sung in Spanish, one with altered lyrics about “breaking chains,” defeats the whole idea of being one nation. It is an unfortunate new example of what historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who was special assistant to President John F. Kennedy, decried as a “cult of ethnicity,” a cult that “belittles unum and glorifies pluribus.” Nation-states that house different regions with different dominant languages often suffer through separatist movements. If you force such groups to cohere when they don’t share a common language or culture, resentment mounts then come the protests, kidnappings, violence and strife. It happens far away in my Pakistani homeland, it happens next door in Quebec. It is liberalism’s noble compulsion to sniff out injustices such as racism and classism. But in this case, it is deeply unhelpful to characterize English as a weapon of the white man. For white and brown alike, English is our friend, not our enemy. And no matter how proudly you sing the national anthem, if you sing it in another language, you are not celebrating American unity. Our goal need not be about a cramming a white man’s language down the throats of immigrants. Social critic Neil Postman observed that English is the most diverse language of all, comprising words from every corner of the globe. Appreciating it helps us appreciate our cultural variety while reminding us of our unity. E Pluribus Unum, indeed: Out of Many, One. Rob Asghar is a writer based in Los Angeles. His Web site is www.AmericaBug.Typepad.com. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!