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Nothing wrong with decorations in national colours
On the eve of the jubilee celebration of T&T's Independence, several government offices as well as private businesses have joined in the patriotic spirit and adorned their buildings with decorations using the colours of the national flag. But according to Mayor of Port-of-Spain Louis Lee Sing, these decorations were not representative of the flag.
Although the mayor said he was no authority on flags, he believed the offices and businesses were simply using the national colours—red, white and black—and, as far as he was aware, there was nothing wrong with that. Director of corporate communications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kendall Fontenelle, shares the mayor’s belief. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, Fontenelle said the decorations were not national flags but just a creative use of the national colours.
"These are just representations of our national colours. They are not meant to take the place of the national flag," he said. A spokesman for emblem and flag company in east Trinidad, who wished to remain anonymous, said the company had not received requests for national flags. The representative said the company had however received requests for buntings (flags and other colourful festive decorations), banners, balloons, pennants (a type of decorative flag) and rosettes.
However, many people have complained about the use of the flag outside of buildings such as the Eric Williams Financial Complex and the Hyatt Regency Hotel, both situated in Port-of-Spain. One local manufacturer of national flags, who did not wish to be named, said that he believed the decorative flags were illegal. He claimed in a brief telephone interview that the decorations were being imported from China.
He said he was thankful they were not affecting his business because, "most people want legal flags." "They are unfit and improper. They are just not right. We have specific dimensions for making our flags," he said. Rules for use of the national flag posted on the government's news Web site, however, prohibits use of the flag as an adornment or part of an advertisement.
The Web site states:
•The National Flag should not be used for purposes of adornment or advertising. It should not be printed or embroidered otherwise reproduced on such articles as handkerchiefs, uniforms or clothing of any kind, or furniture, cushions, etc. It should not be printed or otherwise impressed on paper boxes or napkins or anything intended for temporary use and discarded. It should not be used as any part of a disguise costume.
• The Flag should not have placed on it or attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, work, figure, design, picture or drawing. It should not be used as a commercial trade mark. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the national flag is flown.
• The Flag should not to be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything.
• The Flag should not be festooned over doorways, arches, etc., or tied in a bowknot, or fashioned into a rosette, or used as drapings.
It should not be drawn back or drawn up in folds but always allowed to fall free.
The National Emblems of Trinidad And Tobago (Regulation) Act Chapter 19:04 which governs the use and dimension of the flag states : "Any person who mutilates, cuts or tears or in any way printing or stamping thereon or otherwise without lawful authority defaces the Coat of Arms or the National Flag, whether by writing, or excuse, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of seven hundred and fifty dollars or to imprisonment for six months."
Another part states that the national flag must be made within certain and specific dimensions. A communications representative at the Hyatt Regency said that it was the Ministry of Tourism who had put the flags up and she did not want to comment on the issue. When the Ministry of Tourism was contacted by telephone we were told that both Minister of Tourism Stephen Cadiz and his communication representative were at meetings.
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