Bizarre ex­hi­bi­tion by Min­is­ter Broomes

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL - By Mo­habir Anil Nand­lall MP. At­tor­ney-at -Law


civilised demo­cratic na­tions a Par­lia­ment is al­ways a very high de­lib­er­a­tive fo­rum where laws are passed and the most im­por­tant is­sues af­fect­ing peo­ple, both na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, are ar­tic­u­lated.

It is for these rea­sons that the precincts of our Par­lia­ment and its cham­bers are re­garded as hal­lowed and sacro­sanct. It is of lit­tle dif­fer­ence whether there are actual pro­ceed­ings tak­ing place at the time. Over cen­turies, an en­tire com­pendium of con­ven­tions, cus­toms and prac­tices have evolved, all in­tended and de­signed to pro­tect and pre­serve the majesty of that in­sti­tu­tion called Par­lia­ment.

They are all ap­pli­ca­ble and are in­voked dur­ing Par­lia­men­tary ses­sions and most specif­i­cally, when there is a sit­ting of the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

These con­ven­tions, cus­toms and prac­tices find ex­pres­sion in the Con­sti­tu­tion, the laws, Stand­ing Or­ders and all lead­ing texts deal­ing with Par­lia­ments. They in­clude cer­tain priv­i­leges and im­mu­nites with which Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans are clothed when they are on their way to Par­lia­ment, within the precincts of Par­lia­ment or while they speak or act in the Cham­bers of Par­lia­ment. These in­clude im­mu­nity from ar­rest, ser­vice of le­gal process and from suit for anything done or said in Par­lia­ment. In­deed within the precincts and Cham­bers of Par­lia­ment, Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and mem­bers of the pub­lic are en­joined to adopt a sober mode of at­tire and the con­tent of speeches in the Na­tional As­sem­bly are reg­u­lated by rules which pro­hibit the use of cer­tain ex­pres­sions which are deemed “un­par­lia­men­tary”.

It is against this back­drop that the un­par­al­leled ex­hi­bi­tion of Min­is­ter Si­mona Broomes, a sit­ting mem­ber of the House, must be viewed.

It is dif­fi­cult to de­ci­pher whether the Honor­able mem­ber was en­gaged in an act of hu­mour or whether she was se­ri­ous. Those of us who troll the so­cial me­dia would know that she was mim­ick­ing the an­tics of a Guyanese hol­i­day­ing in Paris us­ing the sacro­sanct and sa­cred cham­bers of the Na­tional As­sem­bly as her stage. What is per­haps most be­fud­dling is that the Honor­able mem­ber ob­vi­ously did not think that what she was do­ing was at a min­i­mum ab­nor­mal, if not heretic, be­cause she took the lib­erty of shar­ing it with the world via the so­cial medium of Face­book.

This bizarre act of a mem­ber of the House and a min­is­ter of the Gov­ern­ment must be con­demned in the strong­est pos­si­ble man­ner. It sim­ply can­not be jus­ti­fied. Ir­re­spec­tive of which side of the po­lit­i­cal aisle one is, one will be forced to ac­cept that such an ex­hi­bi­tion can only bring odium and ridicule to the hal­lowed halls of the House and lower it as an in­sti­tu­tion in the es­ti­ma­tion of right think­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic.

The Speaker is re­spon­si­ble for order and deco­rum in the house. Reg­u­larly, Mem­bers, in par­tic­u­lar, in the Op­po­si­tion, are up­braided for their be­hav­ior in the House. I was re­strained sev­eral times from merely al­lud­ing to mat- ters pend­ing in the court, though I had no in­ten­tion of dis­cussing the mer­its of the case in a way that may prej­u­dice its out­come--which is the ra­tio­nale for not dis­cussing mat­ters which are the sub­ject of pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion. In one in­stance, I was pro­hib­ited from com­plet­ing my pre­sen­ta­tion be­cause I re­ferred to a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle which I did not have on me at the time. Only re­cently the Speaker with­held his con­sent from the Eco­nomic Ser­vices Com­mit­tee vis­it­ing com­mu­ni­ties and hold­ing dis­cus­sions with cit­i­zens on the fu­ture of the sugar in­dus­try. The Speaker did so on the ba­sis that he can­not be sat­is­fied that the deco­rum at­ten­dant to the pro­ceed­ings of Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tees would be ob­served. More to the point, Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment were treated to a scathing lec­ture by the Speaker, not so long ago for us­ing their phones to take pic­tures in the House. Now we have an en­tire movie broad­cast to the cy­ber world, filmed, nar­rated , di­rected, edited, chore­ographed and pro­duced by Ms. Si­mona Broomes.

Against this back­ground, and based upon the sen­ti­ments of thou­sands of Guyanese ex­pressed in the so­cial me­dia and else­where, a na­tion awaits to see how the Speaker will treat with this mat­ter.

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