It was the attempt to represent the plight of sugar workers which led to the Speaker ordering me to take my seat

Dear Editor,

I would be grateful for your publication of my letter which seeks to clarify two issues currently circulating in the media.

Firstly, in the Saturday edition of Stabroek News dated June 17, 2017 under an article captioned `Speaker walks out of House after Opposition disobedience’, I wish to state categorically and unequivocally that paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of the article are an egregious mischaracterization of what transpired.

Paragraph Three says “This latest confrontation between Scotland and the Opposition Members of Parliament started when opposition backbencher Nigel Dharamlall refused to withdraw his statement that the Government of Guyana was `decimating’ the Indigenous People…” This is not correct!

Paragraph Four says: “Dharamlall was repeatedly cautioned to withdraw his statement by the Speaker and when he continuously refused he was asked to take his seat so that the next speaker, Minister of Social Cohesion…” This is also incorrect!

Paragraph Five says: “This directive did not find favour with the opposition MPs who stood en mass in the Chamber to protest the action.” This is also not correct!

Only recently, I participated in an outreach with the Leader of the Opposition, visiting many Amerindian villages across Region 9, and there is stark evidence of the decimation of Amerindian livelihood caused by the insidious policies of the Government towards our First Peoples.

Secondly, on the website of the Department of Public Information, there is a short video interview of the Honourable Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, which is a gross misrepresentation of the occurrences that transpired in the House on June 16.

The recording shows the Prime Minister deceptively saying that my use of the term “decimate” caused the furore. This is a blatant untruth echoed by the Leader of the House and amounts to high irresponsibility and contempt.

The fact of the matter is, there was obvious discomfort expressed by the Government side of the House when I sought to represent the plight of the 17,000 sugar workers within the context of the Terms of Reference of the CoI.

The unrepentant and inhumane policy to close sugar estates rendering thousands of workers jobless and without significant opportunities of gainful employment must be addressed within the context of their need to own and access lands as a means of securing a livelihood.

Unfortunately, I was not allowed by the Speaker to make this justification since I was ordered to take my seat.

I look forward to your kind cooperation.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Dharamlall

Member of Parliament


Editor’s note: Stabroek News regrets the misrepresentation.