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‘Disrespectful’ attack on Kamla halted

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The six-month-old Trinidad and Tobago government reverted to a rarely used standing order to prevent an opposition legislator from continuing his “disrespectful” attack on Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar in parliament on Friday.
Former Social Development Minister Dr Amery Browne was asked by Speaker Wade Mark to end his contribution to the anti-gang legislation after he made allegations of wrongdoing against the prime minister and the government.
Persad-Bissessar had earlier intervened during Browne’s contribution, claiming that the opposition legislator was being irrelevant.
Browne persisted, however, asking how the government could crack down on crime at the grass-roots level while the example from the top was lacking.
“How can you put an end to organised crime . . . and this is for the prime minister of the other side . . . when the state appears to be investing taxpayers’ dollars into enterprises, and then money is being siphoned into the hands of private individuals?”
Persad-Bissessar rose in objection and called a point of order repeatedly as Browne continued speaking.
“My point of order is you’re imputing improper motives on the part of the government,” she said.
The speaker Mark then ordered Browne, the parliamentary representative for Diego Martin Central, to take his seat.
“She cannot tell me to sit down,” Browne protested, remaining on his feet as he and the prime minister continued their verbal clash, forcing the speaker to intervene.
“Listen. You are being very disrespectful and, in fact, you are irrelevant and I want to warn you. You are not being disrespectful, but you are irrelevant, and this is the final warning I’m giving you. If you continue along that irrelevant path, I will ask you to discontinue your contribution . . . and resume your seat,” Mark said.
The speaker said Browne had been giving the impression the prime minister was involved in “some activity” and that he “cannot be going all over the place”.
Leader of Government Business Roodal Moonilal then stood and called for Standing Order 43 (2), which states: “Any members may, after the speaker or chairman . . . has under Paragraph (1) of this standing order once called the attention of the house or committee to the conduct of a member who persists in irrelevance or tedious repetition of his own arguments or of the arguments used by other members in debate, move that the member be no longer heard . . . .”
The speaker put the vote to the house and, as expected, the government, which enjoys a 29-12 majority in the parliament, voted in favour of the motion, ensuring that Browne became the only MP ever to be silenced by a previously unused standing order. (CMC)

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