Kaieteur News editorial misleading
Kaieteur News editorial of Tuesday, June 20, 2017 is misleading and needs to be corrected to reflect the real reason why Opposition Parliamentarians stood up in protest of the Speaker’s decision to silence one of their own. This incident occurred during the debate on the revocation of the Commission of Inquiry surrounding the claims of Amerindian Land Titling, and the Joint or Communal Ownership of Lands Acquired by Free Africans and Any Other Land Titling in Guyana.
According to the Kaieteur News editorial, “The incident that prompted the Speaker to vacate Parliament stemmed from the opposition MP, Nigel Dharamlall’s refusal to obey the directives of the Speaker. He was asked to use another term instead of ‘decimate’ but he chose to refuse, thus showing his contempt for the House.” This is the same propaganda that was fed to the press corp by Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, which was obviously parroted by the news media without checking the facts.
Nagamootoo’s press statement was maliciously misleading as he was there, he knew what happened.
An article with a similar explanation was published in the Stabroek News on June 17, but an apology was given by the editor for the “misrepresentation” after my colleague, the Hon Nigel Dharamlall had written a letter in which he articulated the facts.
I am aware that the editor of Kaieteur News had also received Dharamlall’s letter, as it was published in the same edition as the misleading editorial to which I refer.
But the bigger story that needs to be told is that of the Speaker of the National Assembly, whose rulings have now become blatantly bias against Members of the the Parliamentary Opposition. To put it simply, our actions can be best compared to the eruption of a volcano after the lava within has reached its boiling point.
As one of the few moderates in the House, the Speaker should now be concerned that I have have chosen to publicly condemn this partisan behaviour, which frankly has now become quite overbearing.
My friend and colleague, the Hon Nigel Dharamlall gave an eloquent explanation in the letter he wrote which states, “The fact of the matter is there was obvious discomfort expressed by the Government side of the House when I sought to represent the plight of the 17,000 sugar workers within the context of the Terms of Reference of the CoI. The unrepentant and inhumane policy to close sugar estates rendering thousands of workers jobless and without significant opportunities of gainful employment must be addressed within the context of their need to own and access lands as a means of securing a livelihood. Unfortunately, I was not allowed by the Speaker to make this justification since I was ordered to take my seat.”
It is true that earlier, Minister Harmon correctly objected to Dharamlall’s use of the derogatory word “decimate”, but after he was instructed by the Speaker to withdraw this adjective, he did so and replaced it with a less offensive word.
But it was his reference to land for sugar workers that caused the speaker to remind Dharamlall that he should be relevant to the Motion being debated.
Dharamlall insisted that land for sugar workers was relevant in his interpretation of the COL Terms of Reference which reads, “to examine and make recommendations to resolve all issues and uncertainties surrounding the claims of Amerindian land titling, the individual, joint or communal ownership
of lands acquired by freed Africans and any matters relating to land titling in Guyana.”
It was at this point that the Speaker asked Dharamlall to take his seat. This was immediately followed by the rise of every Opposition Parliamentarian to protest what was perceived to be a vindictive act by the Speaker of the National Assembly.
For less than 24 hours earlier, the Hon Raphael Trotman unmasked his usual calm, distinguished image to unleash a blistering personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition without any interference by Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland. Trotman was not even told once to direct his comments to the Speaker as Members of the Opposition are often told to do. Speaker Scotland allowed the irate Trotman to “decimate” the decorum of the Na- tional Assembly, which I believe encouraged the making of the disgraceful satire video by a sitting Minister which has now gone viral in the social media. I await the Speaker’s condemnation of the making of this video by its actor/director and producer Minister Simona Broomes, and urge that she be sent to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges to prevent any further attempt to use the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly to denigrate the Leader of the Opposition or any other Member this August House.
The Speaker of the National Assembly cannot have it both ways, respect is earned, it should not be taken for granted.
HARRY GILL, MP PPP/C Member of Parliament