“Disruptive” APNU/AFC MPs will be punished for ‘attack on Mace’ – Speaker
… says NRF Bill was legally passed
Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, has vehemently condemned the actions of Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) for seizing the Mace during a sitting of the House on Wednesday evening. He has noted that there would be repercussions for this gross misconduct.
In what has been described as an attack on the Mace, the Speaker called a press conference on Thursday to address the fiasco which unfolded at the Arthur Chung Conference Center during a debate on the NRF Bill.
Members from the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition had dislodged the Mace from its position in a bid to seize it.
At one point in the proceedings, Personal Assistant to the Speaker, Ean McPherson, was seen latching onto the Mace while lying on the floor in an attempt to secure it, while Opposition MPs stood by hurling racial slurs and taunts at him. This, the Speaker noted, cannot be overlooked.
“In every Parliament, the attack on the Mace is an attack on the authority of Parliament. That attack on the Mace cannot go unpunished. Those who attacked that Mace will have to face the consequences. We cannot allow the attack on the Mace to go without repercussions.”
Only the Sergeant of Arms is allowed to touch the Mace.
Nadir pointed out that the Standing Orders would lead to actions being taken against Opposition MPs, since the entire ordeal was recorded.
“One Member of Parliament grabbed the Mace out of its place. The Standing Orders are very, very clear with respect to the process of enforcing penalties against Members of Parliament for gross misconduct in Parliament… Last evening, when the Mace was violently removed by Members of the Opposition, the one who grabbed the base of the desk and the one who assisted, we have that fully recorded,” said the Speaker of the House.
It was indicated that there are a number of ‘remedies’ that can be considered against those culpable.
During the shenanigans, another MP had gained entry into the control room. That person ripped out connections for the internet and microphones. As a result, the live feed was also disconnected.
Meanwhile, there were contentions about the Natural Resource Fund Bill being passed successfully in the height of the chaos.
However, Nadir asserted that for Parliament to conduct its business in a lawful manner, a quorum and the Mace must be intact. At the time of the passage of the Bill, both were in place. The Government side was seated in the House when the vote was taken.
“There was some concern about the legality of what happened last night, especially with respect to the Natural Resource Fund Bill. I want to make it pellucid that the Bill was passed lawfully, legally in the National Assembly… Shortly before I put the question on the Natural Resource Fund Bill – and it’s on the live feed – I called for members to take their seat because a person can only speak or vote from the seat. I kept monitoring, and I noticed that they had almost all of the Government members in these seats…The two ingredients necessary for a lawful passage of bills, motions in the National Assembly were present,” he clarified.
The Speaker contended that his job is to ensure that the business of the people is conducted.
The Mace used during Wednesday’s proceedings is an exact replica of the original – which has been damaged and set aside for repair.
“Since my ascension, we looked at many possible occurrences, and one was to have another Mace in the event the traditional Mace could not be found, to put in place whenever Parliament sits. The smaller Mace that we used last evening is an exact replica of the Mace that was presented to Guyana by the House of Commons when we became independent,” Nadir told the media.
Staffers of the National Assembly were applauded for the execution of their duties to secure the Mace and uphold the sovereignty of the country. However, the Speaker concurred that such ‘uncivilized’ behaviour should not be repeated.
“The staff of the National Assembly executed the duties in a most humble, restrained, and professional manner… Emotions and tempers will flare, but we have young, bright, next generations who are watching all of this. I want to appeal to them. This incident in Parliament ought to strengthen your resolve that, going forward, this country should not behave in such an uncivilized manner,” Nadir has said.
He added, “If this country is going to grow and blossom to its full potential, understanding civility and playing by the rules must be the order of the day. I condemn the behaviour of the Opposition Members of Parliament, total disrespect to the institution and the Speaker. I have been lenient with respect to the comments outside of the Parliament. Inside of the Parliament, we’re going to have to enforce the rules.”