National Assembly members vote to approve a national award system |23 May 2022
The National Assembly has considered and approved for the setting up of a national award system.
This follows the approval of the National Awards Bill presented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde.
Members voted 21 votes for, none against with eight abstention to support the system.
In his presentation of the Bill, Minister Radegonde stressed on its importance, noting that it is for the first time in the history of our country that a system to establish a national decoration or distinction for the Republic of Seychelles is being proposed. These will recognise officially and legally individuals, both Seychellois and foreigners, for their action of excellence, merit, courage, effort and service towards and for our country.
“Many countries big and small have a system of National Order. In France for instance there is the Légion d’Honneur, our close neighbour Mauritius has what is called the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean and there are similar Orders in other small island states like Ste Lucia, Jamaica, Bahamas to name but a few,” Minister Radegonde highlighted in his presentation on the Bill.
He further pointed out that since our independence in June 1976, Seychelles has never had a national recognition system such as a decoration, distinction to recognise and valorise the contributions and services based on the merit of those individuals who have distinguished themselves in our society.
“This Bill being proposed will address this shortcoming by putting in place an Order or a medal system which would be the highest recognition that the State could award any of its deserving citizens or foreigners,” said Minister Radegonde.
Regarding the set up and function of the proposed National Order, Minister Radegonde explained that the Bill is proposing that there would be a chancellor who would be the President of the Republic who would be responsible for the function or administration of the Order. The chancellor will appoint a secretary to the Order and as per the Bill this would be the Cabinet secretary. The latter will be responsible for all administrative arrangements of the Order.
The Bill is also proposing a national awards committee which will comprise six members appointed by the Chancellor and whose responsibility would be to consider nominations for the recognition and decoration before submitting their recommendations to the Chancellor. The Bill is also proposing that the award is attributed every year on June 29 which is our National Day or another date to be determined by the Chancellor through an order which would be published in the Official Gazette.
Minister Radegonde explained that the Bill is proposing three different medals;
- a Medal of the Republic of Seychelles which will be reserved for the President of the Republic which will be awarded by the Chief Justice when the president is sworn in at the start of his or her mandate. The president can also be awarded the medal at any moment during his or her mandate. The Chancellor can also award the medal to a former president. The medal can also be awarded on an honorific basis to a foreign head of state or head of government whose government had made an important contribution in the development of Seychelles and this would also mark our link of friendship or strengthen our diplomatic relations.
- a Medal of Honour of the Republic of Seychelles to recognise an individual for an exceptional service rendered to the country and who has earned the respect and appreciation of the government and the people of Seychelles or an individual who has accomplished an action of bravery with compassion or humanity.
- a Medal of Merit of the Republic of Seychelles which would recognise an individual for his or her long service rendered with loyalty and devotion or any remarkable service for the country or the people of Seychelles. The award can also be conferred to an individual posthumously and in this case this would be decided by the Chancellor.
“The Bill is giving the Chancellor the power to award the medals, it also gives him the power to withdraw the medals from individuals who engage in dishonourable behaviour that tarnish the reputation of Seychelles,” Minister Radegonde pointed out.
He further stressed that recognition and distinction awarded to an individual through a medal is not a reward and there would be no special privileges or monetary benefits or other associated with a medal.
The medals will not be reserved for any specific groups, category or class.
“All citizens of Seychelles can be recognised and decorated for services or remarkable and exceptional actions for the country. There are many Seychellois who have done remarkable actions both in Seychelles and abroad and it is time that our country recognises them in a formal way and through an established legal framework,” Minister Radegonde stated.
He said it is the firm expectation and wish of the government that the decoration and distinction system not only encourages and motivate our citizen especially our young people to accomplish more for our country, but that it will also help boost our pride and national unity.
Members of both parties in the House welcomed the initiative but while members of the majority LDS party believes it was high time that such a system is set up like MNA Gervais Henrie who noted that Seychelles will now join other Commonwealth countries which are already recognising the good deeds of their citizens, US minority members believe the timing is not at all appropriate.
MNA Wallace Cosgrow for instance noted that the initiative is a good one and he even proposed that not only individuals but different groups like NGOs in different sectors should also be included for the recognition and distinction. He also noted that the criteria should be clear. But he went on to stress that the timing to set up the system is not appropriate because there are at present more important, pressing and real issues affecting our people that the Assembly members should be addressing to find solutions to.
But other LDS members stressed that the US party has never considered a recognition system for its citizens as a national priority and insisted that we cannot, as a nation, continue to live in negativity and setting up such a system does not mean that the government is ignoring or turning a blind eye on the difficulties being faced by our people. They went on to highlight the accomplishments of the new government in the few months that it has been in office.
Marie- Anne Lepathy