Parliament reconvenes tomorrow Friday 8th September and I am calling on Speaker Bridget Anisette-George to “cool it” with her habit of inserting herself incessantly, intrusively and systematically in ongoing debates and doing so in a manner which some may see as not unbiased.
I may be wrong but this is the view of many.
I wish once again, to remind her that the Speaker’s job is to facilitate and not obstruct debates so that the population gets a fair idea of Government’s position as well as that of the Opposition. The only way that we can assess whether we are properly represented is if elected MPs are allowed to speak.
I have heard voters ask of their MP why points given to them by constituents were not raised in Parliament. Their response to the man or woman, especially if they are on the opposition bench, is that the Speaker simply does not allow them to so do.
Each MP is elected by a majority of voters in a constituency and by many thousands of voters. The Speaker is elected solely by the Government in power. MPs therefore must be given free rein to express themselves unless they slander others, use foul language, provide false information, or are disrespectful.
As a citizen, I want to hear the views of my MP and not what the Speaker deems fit for me to hear. Further, no one elected the Speaker and her voice must be heard very minimally in Parliament.
Let me judge whether my MP is being repetitious and not you, Madame Speaker.
Let me hear questions asked by MPs, not those approved by you, Madame Speaker. I recall an MP insisting that he reads the question he submitted rather than the version you had approved. You demanded that he read the version you had approved.
I am told by many MPs that questions submitted are routinely reworded by you to make them look foolish and that very probing and embarrassing questions against the State are simply not allowed. That is their view.
You should not allow yourself to be seen, especially by opposition MPs, as being the unelected 24th PNM MP in the Lower House.
I have repeated called for constitutional reform to make our parliament a truly independent, transparent and unbiased oversight institution.
This can only be achieved if Speakers are elected by a three fifths majority. This ensures that the office of Speaker would be seen as a creature of the House and not the beneficiary of patronage from the party in power and therefore beholden to the Government.
Until this is done we have to depend on the integrity, judgment and maturity of the person holding the office.
I am not saying that you are biased but if you speak to many opposition MPs and the 300,000 plus voters they represent, you will be surprised to hear the negative views they have of your antics in parliament.
My advice in the circumstances is to cool yourself, maintain the dignity of the House because that is your job; but for God’s sake let’s hear our MPS and not your continuous interventions.