Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland in the wee hours of Saturday morning evicted former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, from the Chambers of the House, bringing an end to the Opposition participation in a rancorous, marathon debate related to the President’s speech to Parliament in October last.
Nandlall was at the time making his presentation on the debate which had begun the previous day.
He was routinely interrupted throughout his presentation as government ministers challenged his assertions on numerous occasions.
It was on one such occasion, as Nandlall was making reference to a US$5.7 million settlement entered into between Government and BK International in relation to the Haags Bosch Landfill.
Nandlall suggested that Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan had in fact made that disclosure in the press.
Having already had to withdraw his statements to the debate on several occasions, Nandlall was this time challenged by Minister Bulkan who denied making the assertion.
At this point Nandlall sought to vociferously defend his stance, saying that Minister Bulkan has never denied making statements to the press to the effect that Government had made the payout to BK International on the basis of a threatening letter.
The Speaker at this point demanded that Nandlall substantiate his claims by providing the source of his information.
Nandlall sought to counter by saying he did not have the newspapers he referred to on hand, but granted an hour’s leave, he would be able to produce it.
The former Attorney General lamented that the opposition had not prepared to debate a motion on the President’s speech since they had in fact prepared for separate motions.
His request was however not granted and Nandlall was again asked to withdraw his accusation against the Minister to which he defiantly refused.
Dr Scotland at this point informed the former Attorney General that should be not comply, then he would not be able to continue making his presentation to the debate.
Nandlall instead opted to withdraw from the debate at which point Dr Scotland ordered him out of the Chambers – a move that angered his colleague PPP/C members of parliament all of whom opted to leave the Chambers in solidarity.
Nandlall has since taken to social media decrying the actions of Dr Scotland saying, “The Speaker committed a travesty…There is not even an effort to conceal the bias anymore.”
Nandlall has since in a public missive, insisted that he was muzzled by Dr Scotland.
According to Nandlall: “We were discussing the President’s address to the Parliament delivered on the 13th October, 2016…My presentation was robust and heavily critical of the President’s speech.”
Nandlall contends that his presentation pointed to the length and “how skewed and vacuous the speech was by citing examples and illustrating its deficiencies…I further identified the various constitutional interferences and violations of which the Executive was guilty.” According to Nandlall, “As usual, not being able to endure the criticisms and like true authoritarians, the Ministers started to object to every reference I made.” Among other speakers to the debate which finally came to a close at 01:00h on Saturday – having begun shortly after 14:30h the previous day – were Irfaan Ally, Ganga Persaud and ministers Amna Ally, Raphael Trotman and Basil Williams.