Guyanese have again witnessed a complete descent into lawlessness in Parliament as the Opposition disrupted Wednesday night’s proceedings in its bid to have the Natural Resource Fund Bill sent to a parliamentary select committee, not heard and not passed.
But instead of having their objections heard in an eloquent manner befitting a Member of Parliament (MP) and having their objections put on the record, the Opposition showed this nation that they have no respect for the sanctity of any institution and more so the highest decision-making body of the nation.
Moreover, the act of snatching the Mace from Speaker Manzoor Nadir is despicable to say the least and the MP should be expelled for the desecration of the National Assembly.
History will tell that MP Isahak Basir, who was a member of the National Assembly of Guyana from 1977 to 1991, had his political career ended in 1991 when he was expelled from Parliament by the then Speaker Sase Narain for throwing a glass of water at him and removing the ceremonial mace from its proper place.
Shockingly but not surprisingly, the new leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton in the aftermath of the disrespect to Parliament commended the Opposition MPs for their actions. The fact that Norton praised the Opposition MPs for their distasteful behaviour speaks volume to the type of leadership that the PNC has continued to embrace.
If one were to recall, such descent into lawlessness is nothing new for the APNU/AFC. In March of this year during the consideration of the estimates in the National Assembly, which was also held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), the Opposition disrupted the Committee of Supply in its bid to deviate from parliamentary norms of bringing a motion to the House on an issue it wanted to be urgently addressed.
As was then and as is now, the disorderly actions taken by the APNU/AFC in the National Assembly were uncalled for, as the Speaker never refused to deal with the allegations made by Opposition MP Tabitha Sarabo-Halley that Government MP, Minister Kwame McCoy had assaulted her. At the time and as per parliamentary norms, the Speaker had requested that a motion be brought to the House. Even more bizarre at the time was that, while APNU/AFC had sought to have its own way on how the Speaker should handle the matter, the Guyana Police Force had already said that it was investigating the allegation.
The travesty that occurred in the National Assembly in March and again on Wednesday evening should never have started if our elected members, in the first instance, behaved as, and had the decorum, befitting an MP.
This appalling behaviour, however, is not surprising as, having witnessed what occurred after the March 2, 2020 elections and the subsequent five months, one would have a very good idea of how low the Opposition can descend. As a matter of fact, during the elections period in 2020, the APNU/AFC did not see its action to steal an election as unusual or weird in any way, but, rather, it was acting as though it was its democratic right to derail and discard the will of the Guyanese people. The consideration of the estimates for 2021 had provided yet another opportunity for the APNU/AFC to redeem itself and to prove that it was serious about the betterment of the Guyanese people. Then again on Wednesday, it had the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that it is a serious Opposition that can discuss, oppose, and debate facts in the interest of Guyana in the National Assembly.
Again, it would be good if the APNU/AFC were to prove that it had matured politically by joining with the Government in tackling issues that would help in the development of Guyana, rather than disrupting the National Assembly, having not made any meaningful contribution.
More so, their behaviour demonstrates a failure to make representation for the thousands of Guyanese who had voted for them.
As this newspaper had outlined previously, the Government has laid out a detailed plan for the development of Guyana for the next five years. It is quite clear that the Government has a full grasp of the challenges facing communities, and has made the necessary financial allocations to address those challenges. What is now required is that personal political interest be put aside by the Opposition and the national interest take the forefront of its agenda.
The current Administration has always signalled its willingness to meaningfully engage with the parliamentary Opposition to push the national development agenda forward.
Therefore, rather than adopting the current aggressive confrontational approach, the Opposition should serve the people of Guyana by showing respect for Guyanese by meaningfully engaging in the developmental agenda of the Administration.
To address and curb this descent into lawlessness in Guyana’s highest decision-making body, the Speaker of the National Assembly must extol his fullest authority in dealing with the desecration of Parliament.