Dec 31, 2021 News
…says replica Mace was used, Govt. MPs abided with rules
…promises stern consequences for disruptive MPs
Kaieteur News – Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir yesterday defended as lawful the passage of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C’)s Natural Resource Fund Bill 2021, saying that all of the ingredients required for its approval in the House had been met despite the commotion that disrupted the debate and vote on the critical piece of legislation.
Nadir in an impromptu press conference yesterday told media operatives that in order for the Bill to be considered approved—with the 33 members of the government voting in favour of the Bill, inclusive of its 47 Articles and Two schedules—there only needed to be a quorum for the sitting and for the Mace to be in place.
When Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh on Wednesday evening rose to present the Bill for the Clerk of the National Assembly to read for a second and third time–prefaced by his arguments seeking support for the proposed legislation—he was met with immediate protestation by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Members of Parliament.
He was first surrounded by a vociferous bunch of opposition MPs attempting to drown out his presentation in an attempt to prevent the Minister with responsibility for Finance.
As this persisted, his colleague Ministers and MPs eventually came to his assistance physically surrounding him, allowing him to continue with his presentation.
Ten minutes in however, an Opposition Member of Parliament—Annette Ferguson—who was among the raucous provocateurs, grabbed the Mace from its position, as Dr. Singh was lamenting the “unprecedented vulgarity.”
The Mace is considered the most significant symbol in the National Assembly and was presented to the Guyana by the British House of Commons when Guyana gained its Independence in 1966.
As such, at that time, the sitting of the National Assembly was technically abruptly halted, as the Sergeant of Arms and other Parliamentary Staff, wrestled away from Ferguson and another Member of Parliament, the symbol of the Speakers Authority.
Nadir in explaining the unfolding of Wednesday evening’s proceedings told media operatives, that on his ascension to office, he had foreseen the need for a replica Mace, and it was made.
He went on to explain that in Parliamentary and other Westminster systems of government, such as in the United Kingdom and Canada, “they have two Maces.”
To this end, the Speaker told media operatives, “we have two Maces also” and went on to explain that when he ascended to that Office, he had set about exploring preparations for any likely occurrences to be had in the National Assembly.
One such decision taken, according to Nadir, “was to have another Mace, in the event the traditional Mace could not be found to put in place whenever parliament sits; we have another Mace.”
As such, he said it was the smaller Mace, the replica that had been made which was used during the session in question.
According to Nadir, the Mace was in place “shortly before I put the question on the NRF.”
He said too, “I called for members to take their seats, since MPs are only permitted, under the standing orders to vote from their seats in Parliament.”
He was, as such, insistent that the two ingredients necessary for lawful passage of bills were present — a Mace was in place and that the vote was taken while the government members were in their seats.
He elucidated further, “…for the authority to conduct its business and to ensure the business is lawful and legal, two main ingredients must be present, (and) we to have a quorum and two, the authority, (and) the Mace must be in place.”
Additionally, he said the only person who is authorised to touch the Mace, is the Sergeant of Arms.
He was vehement in his admonishment, “That attack on the Mace cannot go unpunished, I could not find an easier word than punish, those who attack that Mace must face the consequences.”
To this end, he reiterated, “only one person touches that Mace and that is the Sergeant of Arms.”
It would be apposite to note that after the “the Mace was violently removed” by Ferguson and subsequently wrestled away by the Parliamentary Staff, the replica Mace was in use throughout the remainder of that aspect of the session, remained in the firm grip of the hands of the Sergeant of Arms, the Speaker himself and the Deputy Speaker.
Having gone through the motions—with a replica Mace in place, in the hands of the parliamentary trio—the House was then dissolved into a Select Committee.
This is the process between the second and third readings of the National Assembly that allows for the Bill to be scrutinised clause by clause and for opportunities for amendments made.
Nadir in resolving the House into a Committee proceeded to take the replica Mace from his desk and placed it in his lap.
This, in place of removing the Mace from its standing position while a formal session of the Assembly, and removing to a lowered tier representing the House taking on the form of a Committee, with the Speaker as Chairman of that Committee.
Nadir, according to the video footage, can been seen grabbing the Mace and taking it into his lap, before putting all 47 clauses of the Bill and its two schedules for a vote—which given the 33-member superior voting strength of the committee, giving the Minister with responsibility for Parliamentary Affairs, the authority to report to the Full House.
This was done—using the replica Mace—and as such, the Speaker of the House, in his impromptu press conference yesterday, defended as lawful, the passage of the Natural Resource Bill of 2021 which will now be forwarded to the President for his assent.
Once assented to and published in the Official Gazette, the Bill becomes Law and repeals the legislation that had been similarly named and put in place in 2020 by the then David Granger Administration.
According to Nadir, the terrorist like mechanism employed by members of the Opposition against the noble institution—National Assembly—cannot go unpunished.
According to Nadir, the Standing Orders provide for repercussions to be had and that “we can’t gloss over what happen; one MP grabbed the Mace out of its place, the standing orders are very clear as to the process of enforcing penalties for gross misconduct in parliament.”
He used the occasion to remind, “…we have history of one person touching the Mace who was suspended from speaking.”
As such, he concluded that there are a “number of remedies we can consider” but was unable to publicly say at the time “which one or which combination of measures” would be effected or pursued.
With regards, the Parliamentary staff, Nadir used the occasion to commend their efforts, executed in a most humble, restrained and professional manner and divulged too that an Opposition MP had even managed to dislodge the cables in the Arthur Chung Convention Centre.
In light of what transpired openly in relation to the Bill, Nadir said pointedly, “there was some concerns about the legality of what happened last night (Wednesday) especially with regard the NRF Bill; I want to make it pellucid that the Bill was passed lawfully, legally in the National Assembly.”
He observed nonetheless, “our parliament is a young one but it has seen its trials, its tribulations throughout its short history; emotions and tempers will flare but, again, we have young bright next generationers (sic) who are watching all of this.”
To this end, he concluded, “this incident in Parliament ought to strengthen their resolve that going forward this country should not behave in such an uncivilised manner.”
Parliament, he reminded, was created to war with words in respectable fashion with dignified rules and “if this country is to blossom to full potential, understanding and playing by the rules must be the order of the day,” as such, Nadir said, “I condemn the behaviour of the Members of Parliament yesterday (Wednesday).”
Asked why he pressed ahead with the session in perceived “defiance,” Nadir was quick to point out, “we have a process in the parliament and I was following the process; we met yesterday (Wednesday) to conduct the business of the people, my job is to ensure the business of the people is conducted, this is not defiant; this is my duty.”
Leaders prostituting Guyana
Mar 04, 2024GFSCA /DCB Senior U19 Super50 Inter-Association tournament… Kaieteur Sports – The opening round of the Guyana Floodlight Softball Cricket Association (GFSCA) sponsored DCB U19...
Mar 04, 2024
Mar 04, 2024
Mar 04, 2024
Mar 04, 2024
Mar 04, 2024
By Sir Ronald Sanders Waterfalls Magazine – In 2024, a series of general elections in Latin American countries, including... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.