Letter: Send a strong message to MPs

0

Dear Editor,

I join the Government’s call “…for (some serious) consequences against some members of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition over their ‘terrorist’ actions in the National Assembly, during Wednesday’s debate of the Natural Resource Fund Bill”.

My take is that APNU/AFC and their few followers are still in the “rigging mode” that was manifested during the post-March 2, 2020 period, when they tried to steal the Guyana elections. During that time, they were brazened, shameless and totally unruly. On Wednesday, these traits came to the fore, when they sought to block the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill. They did everything that gives credence to the word “terrorism”, as used by Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Gail Teixeira when she echoed the call for censuring.

According to Gail Teixeira, who expressed concerns over the “no-boundary” posture of the coalition Opposition, “This display that we witnessed must not be taken lightly by anybody whether they like the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) or not, whether they like the Government or not, whether they like the bills or not. The issue is that the National Assembly, the legislature of the Guyana Parliament, was violated. It was defiled repeatedly with the worst thing happening nearly at the end, and that is, the seizure, attempt to steal the Mace of the Guyana Parliament”.

I recall, back in in 1992, Former Indian President, KR Narayanan described indiscipline and disorder in the legislative bodies as “infantile disorders or the measles of the middle-age,” which “…are bound to pass, but pass they must, otherwise the system will be in mortal danger”. At the time, an unholy disruption had taken place, and consequently, the Speaker of India’s Parliament suspended 25 Opposition MPs for “causing grave disruption”. Before that, the MPs, who had been protesting with placards in the well of the House, were warned and verbally reprimanded.

On the day in question here, Opposition Members of Parliament protested the hearing of the NRF Bill, which they wanted to be sent to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee for review. However, in being overruled, they resorted to disrupting the session. As was witnessed on the occasion and which can now be seen on social media, coalition MPs stood banging on their desks when the bill was called up for debate and subsequently gathered in the pit of the Dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), where National Assembly sittings are now being held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill was eventually passed, but the Opposition’s protest escalated into a physical confrontation with Parliament staff, after one of the coalition MPs snatched the Parliament Mace from in front of the Speaker. I remind our readers that “…no matter where Parliament sessions are being held, the space in the middle between the Government and Opposition sides is sacred ground and a peace zone”. Therefore, it is forbidden territory and no one is ever allowed to be in that area. However, it was stormed by the Opposition’s MPs and supporters, who threateningly surrounded presenter of the bill, Dr Ashni Singh, in an intimidating and physically violent manner. The behaviour was so raucous, it resulted in the compromising of the Control Room, as the internet was disconnected and the loudspeaker system shut down.

I concur with the Parliamentary Affairs Minister that the “…events in the National Assembly were not spontaneous but were pre-planned, organised and orchestrated prior with the aim of delaying the passage of the NRF Bill”. I also believe “…there must be consequences … whether it’s a civil court, whether it’s a criminal court or whether it’s a ruling of the Speaker”. I think too that the discipline must be meted out in a just and prompt manner.

Yours truly,
Attiya Baksh