On Monday 8th June when the House of Assembly suspended its session for the luncheon break the Speaker of the House made a comment from his chair that two members defiantly refused to stand as his procession was leaving the House chamber for a break. He named me and the Member of Parliament for Yamacraw Melanie Griffin as the two members. He went on to issue what I took to be a threat dressed up in the garb of advice, not to repeat sitting down while his procession was leaving.
First, I wish to say I do not take kindly to threats. If the Speaker perceives there is an infraction of the rules, then he must act in accordance with his conscience but do not threaten me.
Secondly, and more importantly, this provides an occasion to put into context the entire range of events which form the background to the Speaker’s comments, and that is the injudicious, ill considered and intemperate decision by the Speaker to expel Glenys Hanna Martin from the House. By that single ill considered decision, he derailed the Government’s business and he should be ashamed of himself for embarrassing the Government. Instead, he threatens me.
The fact is the honour of rising as the Speaker leaves is a tradition of the House not a requirement. I use the word honour deliberately and I say generally that honour and respect are given to whom honour and respect are due. If you do not yourself give honour and respect then you are due none.
The occasion of the unfair expulsion of Mrs. Hanna Martin from the House has also provided fodder from one commentator after the next. These Monday morning quarterbacks are the usual suspects for whom the PLP can do nothing right.
One commentator said that Mrs. Hanna Martin was using the death of a young man for politics. How cynical and simple minded.
The fact is that the PLP, all political parties, including the FNM and indeed Alvin Smith himself have engaged in forms of dissent, civil disobedience and non violent resistance where they perceived wrongdoing. What the PLP did was part of that tradition of civil disobedience. The ignorance of that tradition by the Speaker and the present ruling group allowed them to do what the UBP last did in 1965: to call the police to stop Members of Parliament from speaking. Alvin Smith now has the dubious distinction heretofore reserved unto former Speaker R. H. Bobby Symonette of the United Bahamian Party of having ordered the police to expel members of parliament.
As for the question of rules, where rules are not fairly applied, they must be resisted. There is no court to which one appeals; this is about power and politics. Justice here depends on the fairness of the majority and how they exercise power. Clearly, all sense of proportionality was lost on the Speaker and the ruling group last week. Apartheid in South Africa was set up by laws and rules. If we had listened to the critics then, Apartheid would have been left in place. Slavery was also set up by laws and rules. If we had listened to these same critics, slavery would still exist.
I intend to continue to represent the people of the Fox Hill constituency to the best of my ability; to stand up for my principles and to work on behalf of the PLP; just as Alvin Smith wants to do justice for the people of North Eleuthera.
Speaker gets no honour when he exits the Parliament anymore. Alvin Smith has become a puppet of record. Asking members to retract statements, but cannot remember what he wishes to be retracted. He will go down on record as being the worst Speaker ever in the history of the Bahamian Parliament! Yes, more worst than those who served under the UBP! You’re a DISGRACE ALVIN, WE CRY SHAME ON YOU!