Quality heckling is a matter of wit

Dear Editor,

 

The Sunday Stabroek’s April 13 editorial ‘Vulgarity,’ is timely, and hopefully enough of our leaders everywhere would read it, digest it, then turn away to do all things necessary to arrest this sad decline taking place in our highest forum.  The National Assembly is clearly influencing our society generally.

I hope the remark made by a retired public servant, who, when we talked about this matter, quipped that the majority of MPs may not know what to do to arrest this decline, is not valid, since I do not share such pessimism.

I attended some sessions of the National Assembly recently and was rather disappointed by the level of debate coming from all sides of the House. As for reading their presentations, I was amazed that this now seems to be the norm and was surprised that the Speaker did not deal with this unacceptable turn of events. Imagine Speakers the likes of A P ‘Ochro’ Alleyne, R B Gajraj, or Sase Narine allowing these 100% reading sessions to go unnoticed?

As for heckling, it is a matter of wit, knowledge and skill that produces quality heckling and repartee.  There was a time when students and visitors from abroad came to the National Assembly to listen to vintage debates.

Our Chamber must feel denied when it can no longer hear extempore deliveries from persons such as LFS Burnham, Cheddi Jagan, Shirley Field-Ridley,  Sir Shridath  Ramphal, Rashleigh Jackson and BS Rai, and the verbal punches by Harry Lall, Fred Wills, Cammie Ramsaroop and Desmond Hoyte, among others.

The PPP side once invited Malcolm Corrica MP (Lord Canary) to sing a kaiso, not speak.

Where are the relevant quotes from Khalil Gibran, Shakespeare, Keats, Martin Carter, Winston Churchill, et al?

Has time destroyed some of this?  When MPs would bow and apologize for any indiscreet remark made – oft times ‘cum grano salis,’ but nevertheless, it preserved the dignity of the honourable House.

The earlier MPs were not saints, but neither were they vulgar or arrogant.  Recall Frank Hope, as Minister of Finance, describing his budget as being an “austere Budget,” and Boysie Ramkarran softly from his seat quipping, he means an “ass tear Budget.”

Or where a PNC MP was making a long speech, a certain Minister said that his dream of Paradise was when the MP was struck dumb. Remember when Forbes Burnham gave a Latin quote, PPP member, Mr EMG ‘Coco’ Wilson asked if that was a new sweet drink.

To help, I suggest that the Speaker arranges a seminar for all MPs, drill them on the rules, what decorum is needed and most of all, help them read and do some research, so when they speak, they         do so with confidence.

Please send an extract to every MP – thank you Stabroek News.

 

Yours faithfully,
Hamilton Green, JP

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