Green missing from Jâ™can flag backdrop at swearing-in ceremony; MoBay mayor apologises
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chairman of the St James Parish Council Glendon Harris has apologised for a foul-up in the decoration of the historic Montego Bay Civic Centre for the recent swearing-in of newly elected councillors in which the colour green was left out of a backdrop designed to depict the Jamaican flag.
“I think somebody messed up and I want to apologise publicly,” said Harris, who was sworn in as mayor of Montego Bay during the ceremony.
“Someone was contracted to do the decoration, and the only time I knew that was when I was authorising the payment for it. So I have nothing to do with it (the decoration),” said Harris.
A close look at the backdrop revealed a huge piece of black cloth with a gold saltire, which divided it into four sections, similar to the Jamaican flag.
The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), as well as members of the public have been critical of the backdrop with some charging that the People’s National Partycontrolled Council was being petty and tribalistic because green is the colour of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Former mayor of Montego Bay Charles Sinclair believes that the omission of the green in the decoration was deliberate.
“What was confirmed to me was that the backdrop was to have been the Jamaican flag, but the decision was that the green was not to be in there... and seeing how some PNP activists operate, I believe it was deliberate,” Sinclair told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Harris said however, that while he could not “speak to” whether the omission of the green from the backdrop was “deliberate”, care should have been taken to ensure that all the “Jamaican colours” were used.
“It was a civic function, and so if it’s the Jamaican colours that are being used, then it should be all the Jamaican colours,” he argued.
He pointed out that he was told by his technical staff that the persons contracted to do the job had said that “they ran short of material”.
He however promised that there would not be a recurrence.
“I have spoken to my technical staff and I will ensure that something like that will not happen again,” said the veteran PNP councillor.
Seventeen elected councillors (13 for the PNP and four for the JLP) were sworn in during the ceremony which saw rowdy PNP supporters at times booing the JLP councillors.
Meanwhile, JLP Deputy Leader Senator Christopher Tufton said care should be taken to avoid “our most popular national symbol” from being corrupted or used in a partisan political way.
“Our flag should always be a symbol of pride and national unity,” he argued.
“Whether in this case it was intended or unintended, the perception of our flag being corrupted and used in a partisan way seems to have been strong enough to cause discomfort, and this justifies a clarification on the issue and an apology to those who were offended,” said Tufton.
He said, in the future the Government must establish clear protocol guidelines for the use of our flag to avoid even the appearance of political partisanship and more generally the compromising of our most significant national symbol.