Mar 02, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – We read some of what the Hon. Speaker of the House shared with the Members of Parliament over whom he stands as referee, and give the slightest nod of approval. It is representative of a small beginning, and this is better late than never at all. We will neither spend nor waste any energy in going over how the Speaker went AWOL during the verbal parliamentary throw down and kick-down of last week Monday. Instead, we look for ways on how we can encourage the Speaker to deliver on his responsibilities, and make parliament a more civilized place, and the viewing, listening, and reading moments of Guyanese a more confidence boosting experience.
The latest is that the Speaker sent a memo to members of the National Assembly, in which he identified the specific words that are unacceptable. Most, if not all, of us would have serious trouble continuing a conversation or relationship in daily life, if any of those words are aimed at and hurled at us. If that is the standard of the ordinary man and woman in the street, then it certainly cannot be less than that in the most auspicious place in this country, where the business of the nation is conducted. We think from this small start, the Speaker has to sit down, gather his team, conduct his research, and familiarize himself with the powers that are part of his extremely sensitive office. Hesitation is not an option.
He must develop a range of strategies and tactics on how to go about recognizing (very early) the warning signs of deterioration brewing, and then move fearlessly, quickly, and decisively to shut down those rambunctious members who cross the line, be such of issue, gesture, or language. The Speaker mustn’t wait until the koker falls apart, before he steps up to take control and do so authoritatively. It is absolutely vital that the Speaker be seen as fair and balanced, and consistently so. He will not gain many friends, but he will gain deserving respect, and be understood to be someone not to be trifled with, for the strong reactions that any breaches will provoke.
As we see it, the Speaker is on the horns of a dilemma: he must be open to permitting each and every parliamentarian to his or her say, but even as he does so, all of them must be held on a short leash of taut and careful control. A full head of steam, with the rhetorical swagger and flourishes flowing, is acceptable, even somewhat to be appreciated and admired. But not when those are laced with what is inexcusable, what should not be presented before the company of children, or any of the voting and taxpaying citizenry, for that matter, who in some way are responsible for all the members of the entire house that is the National Assembly.
There are simple and easy measuring rods to determine what is excessive, that which fails to meet the required minimum muster. It is that if what is said or held out by enraged or vindictive members is not appropriate for the little ones, or in a place of worship, or before elders, then it just does not make the grade. It must be struck out and immediately. That is commonsense which passes any test, and of which there is no greater wisdom.
To ram home this point, we bring this to a personal level, as we seek to help the Speaker and his team find a way forward. If what is developing, what gives every appearance of the troubling and potentially problematic, cannot, should not, and is not said in one’s own home, before one’s own children or parents (even peers of certain wholesome kind), then it is not good enough for Guyana’s parliamentary house. There is no need for visiting with what more complex documented arrangements in place may or may not offer about sanctions and censures to hold things and people together and along a stable line. It is already there, and now must be brought to bear with courage and a quality of consistent character that brooks no question.
The Speaker does not have to look far to find his footing. As he leads and guides, so will parliament be. And so he must be resolved, come what may, and regardless of who is involved, without favouring any who has failed.
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