National Assembly Speaker issues stern warning to Opposition member

(Left to right) Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher 8, Hon. Eugene Alastair Hamilton (standing); Sen. the Hon. Vincent Byron (back) and Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mark Brantley (right)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, DECEMBER 6TH 2010 (CUOPM) – A stern warning from the Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, Hon. Curtis Martin to rookie People’s Action Movement (PAM) parliamentarian, Hon. Eugene Alastair Hamilton.

“I seriously urge you to cease and desist from making false accusation about the Chair, because every time you do it, or any member in here, I will deal with the matter accordingly,” the Speaker said at the start of Friday’s sitting of the lawmaking body.

Mr. Hamilton, who was recently taken to task by the Speaker for taking off his jacket and sleeping in the lawmaking body prior to the start of a session, was likened to a spoilt child.

“In my view, I believe that you have behaved as though you are a child, who approaches his mom or dad for a lollipop. The mom or dad says ‘look, hold on I am doing something, you will get it later’ and you resort to some sort of rudeness, said Speaker Martin on Friday, when he raised a concern regarding the behaviour of the opposition members of the National Assembly during the sitting of Thursday 25th November.

“The facts would show that the Chair (Speaker) had indicated to the Hon. Members of the Opposition that their concern would be heard immediately following the completion of the presentation of the Hon. Senator Richard Skerritt (Minister of Tourism), under the caption, Statement by Minister as outlined and directed by the Order Paper for the day’s proceedings.

However, three members namely, the Member for St. Christopher 8 (Hon. Eugene Hamilton); St. Christopher 5 (Hon. Shawn K. Richards) and the Senator Opposite (Hon. Vincent Byron), walked out of the Parliament before Senator Skerritt finished making his statement,” said the Speaker.

He noted that the three members returned after Senator Skerritt had completed his presentation and while another member was speaking and none of the three members who protested said anything about their concern regarding the Senator’s presentation upon their return to Parliament.

“The day’s proceeding continued without any mention of the specific concern about the Senator’s presentation. Moreover the Member for St. Christopher 8 (Hamilton) spoke on the adjournment on at least two other matters and never spoke about his concern regarding the Senator’s presentation,” said the Speaker.

On reflection, he noted that the members on the Opposition had indicated to him that they had a concern and he has asked them to hold their concern until the Minister had finished making his statement.

“Instead of doing so, the members for St. Christopher 5 (Richards); St. Christopher 8 (Hamilton) and the Senator opposite, Byron, walked out of the Parliament as a sign of protest. The Chair views this is a sign of disrespect and in Shakespeare’s words ‘much ado about nothing’ since they were given ample opportunity to be heard as decided by the Chair and this was very much within the authority of the Chair as per the Rules of this Honourable House,” said the Speaker.

“Sadly, the walk out protest against being given an opportunity to be heard by the Chair is a small part and perhaps child’s play when compared to what happened after or during the walked out of the Parliament,” added the Speaker, who informed the National Assembly that during their absence from Parliament the three opposition members “took time to meet with the media to sell their story which had no substance because anyone with a sense of fairness and objectivity would know that the record would show that they were given the opportunity to say what was on their minds and they deliberately chose not to do so during the entire proceedings.”

“The story does not end there, because sometime after the adjournment of Parliament, the Member of St. Christopher 8 (Hon. Eugene Hamilton) and the Member for Nevis 10 (Hon. Vance Amory) knocked on the Speaker’s Office door and requested a meeting with him. At that time, I was also told that the Member for St. Christopher 5 (Hon. Shawn K. Richards) would have been present as well, but he did not showed up. The essence of the concern by the Member for St. Christopher 8 was basically to say that he does not want to come across as though he has antagonistic issues with the Speaker,” said Speaker Martin.

“Little did I know that he (Hamilton) and his team had already painted the Speaker in a bad light to the local media earlier in the day and the story was later published. Not knowing all of this, I gave both opposition members (Hamilton and Amory) present, my assurance that I would ensure that there is balance as I had been doing all along in this Honourable House.

I also indicated that they missed the opportunity to state their concern during the House proceeding and if there was ever a need in the future to raise any matter offline for the good of the proceedings and within the rules of the House, feel free to do so,” said Speaker Martin, who quickly added that he was wrong to assume that was the end of the matter.

“Was it? No! Another news source on a different day stated that the Hon. Member for St. Christopher 8 said ‘he also believes that the manner in which the Speaker of the House conducts the National Assembly meetings suggest that he has been briefed on a number of things to what is being debated’,” said Speaker Martin.

“Member for St. Christopher 8, let it be absolutely clear to you and every member on the Opposition Benches and on the Government Benches, that this Chair will not parade in front of the media to gain any political mileage or make any reckless statements in the disrespectful manner you have done. Imagine the very same things the Member for St. Christopher 8 is claiming about the Senator, making accusations or imputing motive about the opposition, is the very same thing he is doing to the media. How sad! The very same thing he is doing to the Speaker through the media.

How can you even suggest, Hon. Member for St. Christopher 8, that I have been briefed on a number of things pertaining to what is being debated,” said Speaker Martin, who reminded Members “the record will show that I had given you ample opportunity to say what you had to say and you refused.”

“I would like to make it absolutely clear that none of you will make the Chair doubt its purpose. The Chair is fully focused on the agenda of ensuring that parliamentarians provide the high standard that is expected of them. End of story,” concluded Speaker Martin.

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