Kai­eteur News ed­i­to­rial mis­lead­ing

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Editor,

The

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

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