Regardless of the fact that the allotted time for questions on the budget was not extended, Juan Edghill was out of order. He was not afforded that courtesy by the Speaker of the House. By all indications, the Speaker was most polite in requesting that Mr Edghill take his seat. While Mr Edghill’s concerns are legitimate, his refusal to heed the request of the Speaker was unparliamentary.
Parliamentary rules allowed for the Speaker, Mr Barton Scotland, to call upon the Sergeant at Arms to have Mr Edghill removed from the house. That being said, recent past incidents, yesterday’s uncalled ruckus and the ensuing unprofessional police response is a reflection of the sad reality of the partisanship and nasty politics in the hallowed Chamber.
The Speaker having thus far handled the matter graciously, erred by not taking the appropriate steps to immediately adjourn the hearings, suspend Mr Edghill and call the party whips into his chambers to lay down the rules. The Speaker may also have erred in his instructions to the Sergeant at Arms. Reports in the local and social media suggest that allegedly the Sergeant at Arms acted on the Speaker’s instruction called in the police unit.
This was a procedural issue that should have seen Mr Edghill censured. It’s no criminal matter. It did not compromise security or safety and well-being. And that is where the double standard is so odious and obvious.
Given that the Speaker is in control of the House and its proceedings, the recent Santa Clauscapade in the House was a security breach that was dismissed as a good-natured prank. The desecration of the house by Simona ‘Allison in Paris’ Broomes was fluffed off by the Speaker and the President with a chorus of silent partisan support.
The Speaker is yet to take action on last week’s disparaging, racist “I am not a Chatree” remarks by Nicolette Henry. It is even more appalling that the Minister of State excused and dismissed the flagrant violation while condoning her bigoted remarks on live television.
The vulgar screams of “Rape! rape!” by a PPP member ought not to be treated lightly either. It was crass and low class. This member lacked parliamentary decorum. His vile hollering constitutes an affront to civility and common decency. The PPP must reprimand him for his asinine behaviour.
Given all that transpired, the police have absolutely no business in the House. The security services cannot be used as pawns in the execution of procedures of the hallowed Chamber. There is something to be said of the arms length separation of the branches of the legislature, the judiciary and the security services. Certainly a travesty was committed and an investigation ought to be launched. The Speaker and the senior members of the deployed police unit should be held to account for violating the sanctity of the House and for compromising the separation of the branches of governance and the security apparatus.
These are challenging times for Guyana. Closures of sugar estates and massive terminations with no alternative source of income makes for a restless and desperate population. A US$18M signing bonus is surreptitiously squirrelled away by the Granger regime. Drug bond rental fiasco, Moses’s travel budget, Simona Broomes $500,000 monthly rental allowance ‒ it all piles up.
This government has so far demonstrated striking levels of similarities to the corruption that it accuses its predecessor of.
Guyana may very well be sitting on oil but the actions of the politicians on both sides of the House may yet be the dry kindling that ignites a return to earlier days. It is time for astute leadership. Time to step back, reflect and do what’s best for all of Guyana. Either that or be done with all of the coalition and the opposition. They are all seemingly complicit in the state of backwardness that continues to suffocate this nation 50 years post-independence.