Today thousands of citizens and well-wishers in the region and diaspora will join the country’s leaders to celebrate and mark Guyana’s 52nd Independence Anniversary.The celebrations will no doubt be grand in certain parts of the country, despite the fact that the Government has abandoned the traditional and midnight flag raising ceremony which was the feature event for decades, since it was symbolic with the events which took place back in 1966.Even as Guyanese celebrate, there is need for urgent introspection and reflection on the gains that have made on the country’s long road to independence, and the consistent strides that have been secured in Guyana’s turbulent and dynamic post-Independence history.Recall, that upon attainment of Independence, Guyana became the only English-speaking country on the South American continent and the 24th member of the then British Commonwealth of Nations, despite the struggles faced in the early 1950s and its nationalist movement which birthed the original People’s Progressive Party under the leadership of the Late Presidents Dr Cheddi B. Jagan and Forbes Burnham.At that time, both leaders pursued a menu of noble, democratic and visionary policies aimed at the attainment of national unity and internal self-government. As Dr Tota Mangar wrote in one of his literary pieces, “their resounding victory at the 1953 general elections under adult suffrage astounded many, including local reactionaries, the Colonial Office, and moreso the US State Department”. It was the crowning achievement of how a people could rally against oppression if they were hungry for the right to determine their own destinies.Dr Mangar also notes in his writings that “the mass-based party’s tenure in office was only short-lived, as Great Britain, under considerable American pressure, suspended the Constitution and overthrew the legally elected Government under the guise of preventing the establishment of a communist state in the then British Guiana.An interim Government was imposed, and it comprised of many individuals, who themselves suffered humiliating defeat at the hands of the toppled nationalist candidates. As if that setback was not enough, the nationalist movement itself became severely fractured in 1955 into Jaganite and Burnhamite factions of the PPP and the eventual emergence of the People’s National Congress two years later. This development paved the way for the subsequent intense political rivalry between our two foremost leaders – Dr Jagan and Mr Burnham.It was no doubt at this point that Guyana’s history became even more interesting and intriguing in the lead up to Independence, because the split between the two leaders led to many of the problems which characterized Independent Guyana in her post-Independence years, which were also considered as the “dark years”.As history would have it, Burnham would lead the first coalition Government in 1964 with the United Force, while Dr Jagan continued his activism and work in Opposition, notwithstanding the fact that he led the first national Government.The ultimate movement of triumph of patriotism, unity and togetherness came when, in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Kent; Sir Richard Luyt, the first Governor-General of Guyana; former Conservative Colonial Secretary Duncan Sandys, and Colonial Secretary Anthony Greenwood, and 62 delegates from 47 countries worldwide, Dr Jagan and Burnham embraced each other in what appeared to be an emotionally charged hug.Fifty-two years after the event, Guyana is still facing some of the same challenges faced then. This country is toying and experimenting with various models of governance that could lead to inclusivity and the achievement of national unity. The country is still racially polarized and divided despite the advancement of legislation and other events that took place, which were aimed at creating national healing, consensus-building, and inclusivity.Leaders are still locked in a heated debate about the kind of Guyana that is needed in order to transform the lives of the ordinary men and their standard of living. The same threats that existed in the pre- and post-colonial days appear to be resurfacing disguised as new wine, but many of those who lived through the fifties recognize the old bottles and know too well the dangers that may lie ahead if a decision is not paid to change course.We must work together to accomplish a lot more by the time the country celebrates its next Independence Anniversary. Citizens must take pride in being Guyanese, and must understand that they are the only ones that could truly redefine this country’s destiny, but they must not barter their rights and freedoms in order to live a good life. They must defend those freedoms zealously, while demanding that those in power who have access to the public purse fulfill their mandate as promised.
Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and EvaluationReconciling and uniting people who lived as adversaries for many years was always going to be a painful and difficult task. Reconciliation affects every aspect of our life as a country. It is not a once-off event, but a process. It demands that we work together and look beyond our differences. This is the legacy our founding father and former president Nelson Mandela left us with.On 16 December this year we observed National Reconciliation Day without Madiba for the second time, but his legacy of a united and prosperous country lives on in each and every one of us. Tata was laid to rest on 15 December 2013 and we honoured his memory a day later with the unveiling of a nine-metre statue at the Union Buildings. He, along with other leaders, made enormous sacrifices for our country. Some paid with their lives so that we may be free and celebrate this day.Together they achieved the impossible by convincing those who did not see eye to eye prior to 1994 to find each other and work towards building a country based on the values of our Constitution. Our Constitution lays the foundation for an open society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights and is regarded around the world as very progressive.December 16 is used to foster reconciliation and national unity in the true spirit of our late icon as he had envisaged at the start of our democracy. It also serves as a reminder of how far we have come in uniting the country and of the challenges that still lie ahead. This year’s commemoration under the theme: “Social Cohesion, Reconciliation and National Unity in the 20 years of Democracy” coincides with South Africa celebrating 20 Years of Freedom.As a nation, we have come a long way in healing the wounds of the past and in building an inclusive society. The government has over the last 20 years provided leadership in creating an enabling environment for achieving this. It successfully laid the foundation for the removal of obstacles that divided our people on the basis of race, culture, religion or language.As part of our reconciliation we began to ensure the equal spread of national resources. The government started to provide basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity, houses, health and education for those who were deprived prior to 1994.Reconciliation also required government to tackle the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. We have taken decisive steps to promote the economic growth through the implementation of the National Development Plan, the National Infrastructure Plan, the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan.But the task of reconciling a nation is not merely the duty of government alone but a societal responsibility. Through our collective effort and perseverance that we can achieve the social harmony former President Nelson Mandela spoke about and are able to advance national reconciliation. As citizens we need to reach out to each other and break down the barriers that still define us 20 years into our democracy.We need to ask ourselves whether we have done enough to confront and overcome the stereotypes and myths that were entrenched over years under colonisation and apartheid. We remain concerned over the racism-related incidents across the country. They are unacceptable and go against our goal of building a society based on the ethos of Ubuntu where everyone feels valued, respected and safe.Reconciliation requires of us to confront our past and educate fellow South Africans of the past wrongs committed against black people. A major step towards reconciliation is to acknowledge that apartheid was a crime against humanity.Addressing the National Council of Provinces in 1998, former President Nelson Mandela said: “What has been revealed in the TRC shows not only what human beings can do to other human beings, but has actually confirmed the condemnation by the international community that apartheid was a crime against humanity. To kill people without bringing them before a court of law; to bury them secretly, this is an illustration of how apartheid is an evil against humanity.”It is disheartening that the 2014 South African Reconciliation Barometer published by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, shows that 25% of South Africans believe apartheid was not a crime against humanity. We should take this survey as a call to action to do more in educating and raising awareness about the injustices and violence that were perpetrated by the apartheid regime against the majority of people. The youth, in particular, should know our history to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.
The Hugin autonomous underwater vehicles used to search for MH370. Photo: Ocean Infinity. The sophisticated ship tasked with finding missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 expects to “hit the ground running” as it steams towards the search area after conducting a series of sea trials off the coast of Africa.The trials included testing the ability of Seabed Constructor’s Hugin autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) to detect targets and debris as well as a dive to more than 5800m (19,029ft) to check new additions to its flotilla of eight torpedo-shaped submersibles.Deep sea search company Ocean Infinity also ran a test with all eight AUVs operating simultaneously from the ship, the Seabed Constructor.“Essentially we needed to put everything through the paces before we got to the MH370 site,’’ a report from the ship sent Thursday and posted by MH370 independent group member Victor Iannello said. “We’ve found and corrected a few issues, which makes this well worth the time spent.“This testing is due to be wrapped up late tonight or early tomorrow morning, we will then steam to the ATSB box and hit the ground running.”The ship is due to arrive at the search area late next week and, under a deal struck with the Malaysian Government, US-based Ocean Infinity will not receive any compensation unless it finds the wreckage of the plane within 90 days.The bridge of the Seabed Constructor. Photo: Ocean Infinity video.It will begin in a 25,000 sq, km area defined in 2016 by a meeting of experts in Australia and later refined by drift analysis from the CSIRO.The experts recommended that the first search continue but a tripartite meeting of government ministers from Malaysia, China, and Australia shut it down in January last year.They vowed not to resume search unless there was credible new information which could be used to identify the aircraft’s position, although they failed to define what this meant.The Malaysian Government has since had change of heart with Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai telling reporters this week there was an 85 percent probability of finding the wreckage in the search zone.Drift modeling and an analysis of satellite imagery by a team headed by CSIRO scientist Dr David Griffin significantly boosted confidence among Australian experts that the wreckage of the Boeing 777, which went missing in March 2014, is in the southern half of a 25,000 sq. km.The scientists identified a location at latitude 35.6°S and longitude 92.8°E, near the seventh arc defined by satellite data, as the most likely location for the missing plane and the search is expected to start in this area. This is just outside an area already searched.They said other nearby locations east off the 7th arc were also possible and there were a range of less likely locations on the western side of the arc, near 34.7°S 92.6°E and 35.3°S 91.8°E.The deal is structured so the company receives $US20 million if it finds the plane in a 5000 sq. km primary search area, $US30m if it finds it in a subsequent 10,000 sq. km secondary search area and $US50m if it finds it another 10,000 sq km tertiary search area.The company says it is capable of scanning 1200 sq. kms per day using the eight Hugin AUVs equipped with an array of sophisticated sensors that include side scan and synthetic aperture sonar, a multi-beam echo sounder, a sub-bottom profiler and an HD camera.A similar submersible was used in the previous search but in this case up to eight will be launched and search in parallel.The Hugins, described as highly maneuverable and stable, will be launched directly from the mothership which will use an acoustic modem to communicate with them as they search for the debris field.Each submersible is powered by lithium polymer batteries that allows them to remain on station for up to 60 hours.Apart from occasional pings to update the Hugin’s inertial navigation systems and keep them on course, the AUVs will keep their findings stored on an onboard hard-drive to be downloaded on their return.The use of the multiple submersibles means Ocean Infinity could feasibly, subject to the areas sometimes fierce weather and the need to resupply, complete a search of the ATSB’s 25,000 sq. kms in the first month. This gives it the to option to move into other areas if the plane is not found.Some experts have suggested the debris may be north of the 25,000 sq. km zone, possibly to an area around 30°S, and if a wider search proves necessary the Malaysians have agreed to pay Ocean Infinity $US70m if the plane is found.The Seabed Constructor is capable of recovering debris from the ocean floor but a decision on whether it proceeds to do so is up to the Malaysians.The Seabed Constructor. Photo: Ocean Infinity.Top priority will be given to recovering the so-called “black boxes” – the cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder and the quick access recorder.Using the Seabed Constructor to do this would be a logical move and having the ship already on station makes it what experts describe as an “asset of opportunity” if the black boxes are to be retrieved before the winter weather sets in.Although they have been at the bottom of the sea for almost four years under immense pressure, the recorders are built to withstand extremes and experts believe it will be possible to extract data from them and probably other memory chips in the the Boeing 777s avionics.Flight data recorders are usually double-wrapped in titanium or stainless steel and tested to withstand up to 1500 times the force of gravity and to be able to withstand water pressure at 20,000ft (6096m) for 30 days.There are also precedents for this sort of situation.The recorders from Air France flight 447, An Airbus A330 which plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, were readable despite being at a depth of 3980m (13,000 feet) for almost two years.Pressure is the biggest problem: at a depth of 5000m (16,404ft) it is 500 times the pressure at sea level or 7114 lbs per square inch. The lack of currents, low levels of oxygen and cold temperatures at such great depths are expected to help preserve other parts of the plane as well as the bodies of the 239 passengers and crew.The move by Ocean Infinity to take on the MH370 search is not so much a roll of the dice as an informed bet, although one with high stakes. One “rough estimate’ puts the daily operating costs of the ship, personnel, and the sophisticated Hugin robots at about $US150,000 a day.As the video below shows, it is an impressive operation.The move comes after the company was extensively briefed on the data gleaned during the ATSB’s initial two-year search as well as the projections of others such as University of Western Australia Professor of coastal oceanography Charitha Pattiaratchi and the Independent group of experts.The initial 120,000 sq. km search failed to find the plane but this was in an area defined before the arrival of debris allowed more informed drift modeling.While there is some variance in where the parties think the debris field lies, they all point to the same general area.Dr Griffin says nothing has come to light since last year to affect the CSIRO findings on the most likely site for the MH370 wreckage.“From everything that we’ve done, that is the most likely place,’’ he told AirlineRatings, noting it was not possible to say where the plane was with absolute certainty.“It’s impossible to know what could possibly be wrong with any of the clues that we used.“They’ve all got assumptions which could turn out to be false, but we know it’s the best shot at it and that’s it’s worth doing.”Among those most desperate for answers —and an end to the speculation and wild theories regarding the plane’s disappearance — are the families of the MH370 victims.Support group MH370 has applauded the Malaysian Government for concluding the agreement and Ocean Infinity for its “bold offer” to search on a “no cure, no fee” basis.“It is our fervent hope that the search yields results, MH370 said in a statement. “While it may not bring our loved ones back into our midst, we wish for the answers that will let matters rest, and to make civil aviation safer.’’The group called on the Malaysian Government to provide regular updates and to consult with families on a recovery effort if the aircraft is found.“In the event the search by Ocean Infinity is unfruitful, we ask of the Malaysia to be open to a similar “no cure, no fee” search proposals from other parties or initiate a prepaid search if new evidence is found,’’ they added.The sad fact is, however, that if this search is unsuccessful the trail will have grown well and truly cold.
Photo: Qatar Qatar Airways is celebrating 10 years serving Australia this month with some amazing fare deals to Europe’s top destinations.Bookings are open from December 3 until December 31, 2019, and return fares (Economy Class) include Sydney to Rome from $1,189*, Melbourne to Athens from $1,279*, Adelaide to Paris from $1,219* and Perth to Dublin from $1,129*.And it’s amazing to look back at where the airline has come from in such a short time.But going further back in time Qatar Airways took a very conservative approach to its growth starting with one Airbus A310 and one Boeing 767 and 75 staff on November 22, 1993.Operations began on January 20, 1994, and the first services were to Amman in Jordan in May of that year.By April 1995 the network included destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Cairo, Dubai, Khartoum, Kuwait, Madras, Manila, Muscat, Sharjah, Taipei, Tokyo, and Trivandrum.To start with the airline used leased aircraft for its considered expansion but in 1998 it placed a firm order with Airbus for six Airbus A320s.However, with the basis of a solid airline proven, in 2001 Qatar Airways became Airbus’s ninth customer for the A380 with an order for two and two options.But that was just a taste of what was to come.At the 2003 Paris Air Show, Qatar Airways placed an order with Airbus valued at US$5.1 billion for 18 aircraft and in the same year it became the first airline to be audited under the new IATA operational safety audit (IOSA) program.In 2007 the airline stamped itself as major global player with an order for 80 Airbus A350 XWBs and 65 Boeing 787s and 27 777s and these are the fleets that have been the bedrock of the airline’s expansion over the past 10 years.With the best from Airbus and Boeing, the airline turned to its in-flight product and again excellence is not negotiable.Qatar Airways has won countless prestigious Skytrax awards for its service and overall product with four Airline of The Year awards and World’s Best Business Class six times.The flagship Qsuite business class, which won the highly-prized Airlineratings.com Best Business Class for 2019 and 2020, is a standout product that sets the airline apart from all others.Qsuite is spacious, private, well-designed and is packed with features designed to make travel more productive and comfortable.The suite is dominated by a giant, 21.5-inch high definition touch screen that is both crisp and responsive.It is complemented by a pair of decent noise-canceling headphones, and the latest version of Qatar Airways’ Oryx system has some 4000 options, including a good selection of movies.Qsuite is being progressively introduced on the airline’s A350s and 777s and a slightly modified version is to be installed in the airline’s A380s and 787s.The airline also excels in catering with premium classes getting restaurant standard delivery and this also sets a higher bar for the service and food in economy.Qatar Airways is totally committed to the Australian market with its flagship A380 aircraft on 3 of its 6 Australia and New Zealand destinations.It was the first airline to introduce the A350 into Australia with services to AdelaideTo celebrate its 10 years of service in Australia, Qatar Airways has launched a commemorative inflight menu on all Australian routes to Doha from December to January.The menu celebrates Australia’s rich produce and all ingredients are sourced locally.Ingredients includeYellowfin Tuna from Coral Bay, West AustralianKing Prawns from QueenslandLamb from Gippsland, VictoriaBlue Eye-Cod from Portland, Victoria.As well as flavorsome fresh berries for a classic Australian Pavlova.Shiraz wines from McLaren Vale, South Australia.Qatar Airways first flight to Australia was to Melbourne on December 6, 2009. Perth was added in July 2010, Sydney in March 2016, Adelaide in May 2016, and finally Canberra in February 2018.Since launching, Qatar Airways has carried over 5.2 million passengers from Australia to Doha and beyond.The airline has also launched the flagship Qsuite on Australian routes this year, and this was also voted World’s Best Business Class by Skytrax, as well as Airlineraings.com.Qatar Airways’ current operations are:Melbourne: 7 flights per week – Currently operate A380Perth: 7 flights per week – Currently operate A380Sydney: 14 flights per week – Currently operate A380 & A350-1000Adelaide: 7 flights per week – Currently operate A350-900Canberra via Sydney: 7 flights per week – Currently operate A350-1000Since operations started the airline has carried over 5 million passengers into and out of Australia.And Australian’s most popular destination is London (Heathrow), followed by Athens.*Terms and Conditions apply.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte got the upper hand on Jose Mourinho for the second time this season as his double-chasing side beat 10-man Manchester United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to reach the FA Cup semi-finals on Monday.N’Golo Kante’s precise 51st minute strike was enough for Conte’s team to break United’s hold on the Cup after the visitors had Ander Herrera sent off after 35 minutes for a second yellow card — both for fouls on Eden Hazard.Premier League leaders’ Chelsea’s reward is a Wembley clash with Tottenham Hotspur next month, while the other semi-final will be between Arsenal and Manchester City.United, who face a Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday against Russian side Rostov, were missing the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic and injured Wayne Rooney and offered little threat once Kante had beaten David de Gea with a precise low shot.Mourinho was spared the humiliation of the 4-0 thrashing his old club dished out in October’s league meeting — his first return to Stamford Bridge since being sacked last season — but his United side were again found wanting.Mourinho’s frustration boiled over at times and the Portuguese and Italian Conte had to be separated after an angry exchange shortly after Herrera’s sending off.”The game was completely under control (before the red card),” Mourinho, whose players targeted Hazard for especially close attention, told reporters. “They couldn’t find what is their game. I cannot be more proud of the players.”Chelsea, chasing the Premier League/FA Cup double they last achieved in 2010, dominated possession and could have scored more goals, though holders United had their moments.advertisementLIVEWIRE HAZARDMuch was made of United’s lack of striking options ahead of the game but Mourinho’s somewhat depleted side started in confident fashion and Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired just wide in the 13th minute following a strong run by Rashford.That escape sparked Chelsea into life though, particularly Hazard who was soon skipping his way past defenders to force De Gea into a great save from his deflected shot.United’s keeper then did equally well to claw out Nemanja Matic’s low shot from the resulting corner.Herrera then took matters into his own hands with two ill-judged tackles on Hazard, both punished with yellow cards by referee Michael Oliver.Mourinho reacted to the dismissal by hauling off Mkhitaryan and sending on the combative Marouane Fellaini.It was a tactic designed to frustrate Chelsea but the irrepressible Kante opened them up six minutes after the break, delivering a right-foot shot of unerring accuracy past De Gea.Diego Costa should have made it 2-0 but United should have levelled when the galloping Rashford left David Luiz and Gary Cahill trailing but shot straight at Thibaut Courtois.Chelsea were relatively untroubled, though, as they set up a juicy-looking semi-final against London rivals Spurs — the last team to beat them in any competition.”We must be pleased because to arrive in the semi-finals and play at Wembley gives us great satisfaction,” Conte said. “It’s another tough game against a strong team.”