EDITOR, The Tribune.
The image on the television news of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dr. Kendal Major, standing patiently on the side while Dr Andre Rollins was interviewed by the news media and then afterwards fondly embracing him spoke volumes. This image was shot immediately after last Wednesday night’s debacle when the Speaker facilitated Dr Rollins making his contribution to the debate on the national budget contrary to the Rules of the House.
The Speaker allowed Dr Rollins to speak possibly knowing that Dr Rollins deliberately stayed away from the House to avoid being slotted in to speak earlier. Dr Rollins must have felt that he was a leader in the House and that what he had to say was important enough for him to speak just before the Prime Minister. What an ego!
The DPM explained that the Rule 33(3) gave three reasons the Speaker could refuse to put the motion to close the debate. The motion for closure had to be an abuse of the House Rules, it had to infringe the rights of the minority or the Speaker had to conclude that the budget had not been sufficiently aired. This move by the DPM to end the debate violated none of these scenarios. The move did not abuse any Rule of the House, it did not infringe the rights of the minority as Dr Rollins at the time was still a member of the PLP, and it certainly was sufficiently aired as the debate was going on for some three weeks and all of the opposition members had spoken. By ignoring the Rules of the House and allowing Dr Rollins to speak the Speaker must have been saying emphatically that the PLP leaders in the House had abused the Rules of the House.
So why would the Speaker ignore the Rules of the House? Why would he defy the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister who have been in the House much longer than he has and have seen this Rule applied on several occasions by Hubert Ingraham during the Budget? Did the public hear this outcry when this Rule was applied against the PLP? Was it democratic at that time?
But why would the Speaker go against tradition and advice from his colleagues? Could it be that the Speaker was looking out for his legacy? Could it be that the Speaker permitted his personal feelings to cloud his judgment when he said that his heart would not let him deny Dr Rollins from speaking? It had nothing to do with his heart but it had everything to do with following the Rules of the House. Could it be that the Speaker was looking out for his political buddy? The image of him standing there waiting to congratulate Dr Rollins was indeed compelling.
Both Dr Rollins and Renward Wells have mentioned in the House before that the Speaker was a part of their political movement, the NDP, and they had in fact met several times at his office or home. All three of these politicians who often invoke biblical references have a sort of hubris; they seem wrapped up in their own self-importance that mitigates against teamwork and cooperation which are essential in a political party or in any social grouping.
So Dr Rollins’ idea of democracy is being free to say whatever he wants. The Speaker’s mantra is that of serving his personal feelings rather than the Rules he was mandated to enforce.
Like I said, that image of the Speaker waiting to embrace Dr Rollins was a real eye opener.
July 1, 2015.