Government and Opposition legislators apologise
KINGSTON – Government and opposition legislators Tuesday apologised to Jamaicans and more specifically secondary school students for their behaviour recently that led to a private sector group saying it would no longer be sending representatives as spectators to the House of Representatives until parliamentarians adjust “undemocratic, vulgar and embarrassing” behaviour.
The Leader of Government Business, Karl Samuda and the Leader of Opposition Business, Phillip Paulwell, both issued apologies on behalf of their respective sides while acknowledging that the entire episode was regrettable.
Last week several students in the Corporate Area and Clarendon walked out of the House of Representatives as both government and opposition legislators shouted down each other over the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) issue.
The students had intended to hear their parliamentary representatives speak in the opening of the Sectoral Debate, which had to be postponed because the meeting could not move beyond the noisy and threatening exchanges that followed a statement by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.
Samuda told legislators that as leader of Government Business he will ensure that there is no recurrence of the situation while Paulwell said he felt “terrible and I thank the students for returning”.
The two legislators –the Jamaica labour Party’s Daryl Vaz and the People’s National Party’s Dr Dayton Campbell – whose verbal clash sparked the incident, also apologised and the Speaker of House Pearnel Charles said he hoped that order will be in the House from now on.
On Monday, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) said the incident, which caused some students to walk-out of Gordon House, was a cause for concern.
“That this display of crass and boorish conduct was televised and occurred in the presence of school children and representatives of the diplomatic core is deplorable and a stain on our national image. However, to make it worse, it is further alleged to have been a deliberate strategy to subvert the normal process of Parliamentary debate.”
The PSOJ called on the leadership of both political parties to take “strong and immediate steps” to ensure the non -recurrence of this type of undemocratic, vulgar and embarrassing behaviour”. (CMC)