Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 14th 2015 Contents A5
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Parliamentarians have a duty to change
the way they do business in the Parliament
since they need to set a better example for
youths, and seasoned politicians on both
sides must help set the example, Mayaro
MP Rushton Paray has appealed.
"When we leave this house, we must
leave as parliamentarians, not like a J Ouvert
band, with mud plastered all over us," Paray
said in his maiden address in yesterday s
2016 budget debate in Parliament.
Paray said a fierce battle has been raging
on social media over the MPs conduct. He
told Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie
there would be no media but social media
in future and the situation was a game
"It s a battlefield---be cautious."
He said someone had said in banter that
the first-time MPs are "children." "Well,
children learn what they live. Treat us, the
young MPs as your children in this house,
lead by example and together as one nation
we ll be unstoppable."
He said he had three children who had
previously never given the Parliament chan-
nel a glance, but now viewed it because he
was in Parliament.
However, he said his 13-year-old had told
him: "You all wasting time in Parliament."
Paray said he was always greeted with
utmost respect by parliament police and
treated very professionally by parliament
He said that was because non-MPs
viewed parliamentarians as the "authors of
their future...and they ask only for us to
come here and chart a way forward for T&T
He said, sadly, he had yet to experience
that pride in the Parliament since members
behaviour "is leaving a bitter taste in the
mouths of our citizens across the board on
both sides. I don t think we re earning the
respect of the people in this building...much
less the people of T&T. I want to earn that
respect, not demand it from them, neither
have it offered to me free of charge.
"Last Saturday we were so busy pounding
away at each other that we forgot or perhaps
we didn t care there were children in the
audience. I m afraid to venture a thought
what was going through their minds during
Paray said the large number of new MPs
in the Parliament had caused parliament
viewership to increase. "We must never dis-
appoint our audience with displays unbe-
coming of the noble citizens we are. I plead
with seasoned politicians on both sides to
set the right tone and atmosphere as we
conduct T&T s business."
Commenting on the government s "We-
in-charge-now" stance, he added, "My
question is, In charge of what ?
Paray said the Opposition was in charge
of ensuring the Government was accountable
to the people, examining government expen-
diture/reporting and bringing constituents
legitimate expectations to Parliament and
"reminding government MPs every action
will be monitored and scrutinised over the
Government Minister Stuart Young said
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had spoken
to government MPs about their conduct in
Politicians must display a
higher standard of decorum in
the public domain, especially
now that any infraction will be
up for scrutiny on social media.
This was the advice given by
Anthony Watkins, an organisa-
tional development consultant,
yesterday, on CNC3 s The
Watkins was responding to
numerous criticisms lodged
against various members of Par-
liament for their behaviour dur-
ing the budget debate this week.
"This rubbed people the
wrong way, people on both
sides. I think that we need to
ask our politicians---challenge
our politicians to understand the
place that they are, the level of
exposure that is there, the role
that they play in society, and
the standard to which they are
held. They have to be held to a
higher standard," he said.
In the past week, the actions
of government MPs like Daryl
Smith, Shamfa Cudjoe, Colm
Imbert and opposition chief
whip Roodal Moonilal have also
Video clips of the debate cir-
culated around social media sites
like Facebook, not showing the
content of the debate, but some
outbursts that became a public
"The quality of some of the
comments is much less accept-
able. I would say it is less
acceptable. It rubs me the wrong
people the wrong way," Watkins
Watkins asked what legacy
Dr Keith Rowley wanted to set
for his administration.
"Is this kind of behaviour
reflective of what Dr Rowley
condones? I don t think he does.
I don t know if you saw it but
there are some standards that
he holds to and he is very prin-
cipled about them. And my view
is that what has been happening
is not going to go unnoticed or
unreprimanded," he said.
Former head of the public service Reginald Dumas
is expressing concern over the conduct of parlia-
mentarians, including that of House Speaker Bridgid
Annisette-George, during the debate on the 2016
Dumas was contacted for comment on the matter
yesterday following an outburst on Monday by Chief
Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal, who told Works and Trans-
port Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, within minutes of
the commencement of the sitting, that he should
"Hush your stink mouth." That was in obvious
response to comments from Hinds.
Annisette-George moments later cautioned all MPs
to be guided by the standing orders and to show
respect for each other.
He said: "The stink mouth thing from Moonilal
seems to be a favourite phrase of his because he used
it on the political platform during the election cam-
paign. That is unacceptable."
Dumas said yesterday that "a lot of the language
(being used in Parliament) is unfortunate and uncalled
for. It is not the kind of language that people of that
position ought to use if they wish to set an example,
especially to the young people of the country."
"It is not only a question of Dr Moonilal, it is also
government MPs talking about (opposition MP Barry)
Padarath and the comments made, trying to suggest
all kinds of things."
Dumas said: "This, in a society that is supposed
to be modern, is really uncalled for."
He said while such comments might be "strong
outside, it is not the kind of behaviour that one would
want to see in a serious debate." He also commented
on Annisette-George s "ultimatum" to Caroni Central
MP Dr Bhoe Tewarie to complete his budget response
in three seconds. The Speaker gave the three seconds
to Tewarie after he had exceeded his allotted speaking
time. But Dumas said: "That is not the kind of lan-
guage to use. All you have to say is that the time of
the honourable member has expired or will expire
in one minute, and call that George."
He also said it was "unfortunate" that the leader
of Government Business, Planning and Development
Minister Camille Robinson-Regis would have told
the Opposition recently that, "We are now in charge
of this House."
The former diplomat said yesterday: "Those on
the government side seem to have forgot that it is
the people of T&T who are in charge (and) not they."
Dumas said the MPs were "put there to represent
the people who are in charge."
According to Dumas, Robinson-Regis statement
was "not the way this country ought to go and cer-
tainly not the Parliament."
Additionally, Dumas recalled that Prime Minister
Dr Keith Rowley had called for a healing process in
the nation after the September 7 general election.
He said Robinson-Regis comments "fly in the
face of the prime minister s philosophy" for all to
work together in the interest of the nation.
Dumas said: "So on the PNM side they are under-
mining their own Prime Minister by the kinds of
remarks they make (which) is most unfortunate."
Dumas said he "hoped that the Prime Minister
summons them in and has a strong word with them,
all of them, very shortly."
Mayaro MP Rushton Paray, right, speaks to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh during a
break in yesterday's budget debate in the Lower House, at Tower D, International
Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain. Looking on is Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe.
PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
Our children are watching
Mayaro MP appeals for decency in House
Speaker, MPs conduct
Social media to gauge politicians' behaviour
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