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Those who felt the 12th Parliament would have been better than the 11th soon had a rude awakening. Last week the verbal behaviour of the Members of Parliament not only left many shocked and disappointed but produced a plethora of letters to the media condemning the behaviour of men who have lost honour or probably never had.
Verbal commonness, vulgar language and handheld waving of a sex toy, which would be considered X-rated and inappropriate for the hallowed halls of the National Assembly, were on full display in broad daylight. The Parliament has hit another nadir with non-other than Speaker Manzoor Nadir presiding. And while he could not or refused to get his House in order, he sought to order the media what they should do.
It may be timely to remind Speaker Nadir his is not the role to tell the media what to do, but to tell Members of Parliament, who he presides over, what is inappropriate or appropriate behaviour. And if he cannot take control of his House or is comfortable with inappropriate parliamentary behaviour the media will continue to do its job and report what is happening in the House.
They are adults not bad-behaved children sitting in the National Assembly. But often the impression is given that some sitting within those hallowed halls are people who were not properly brought up and are occupying seats and positions way above their pay grade. There seems to be a race and a deal with a weird destiny to see who first can get to the bottom, who can outdo each other in behaving ordinary and commonplace.
Last week’s sex-talk was predated by the lowlife decorum of a senior Member on the government’s side accusing the other side of only being interested in Parliament for the food. That rebuttal, if it could be so called, not only sounded crass but raised the question whether that is his best intellectual response to the Opposition walking out. It showed a thinking and behaviour devoid of class and quick wit.
What Guyanese, home and abroad, saw last week was a reminder of the other brawls in the 11th Parliament. One readily comes to mind is that of a Member who thought it appropriate to shout “rape” in the hallowed halls, as though this was happening to her, with everyone looking on. This member not only plays a very influential role in shaping our education policy and moulding young minds but is also a parent. Small wonder if she cared about the example she is setting.
Many Guyanese have spoken out against the descent to the banal in the National Assembly. They laid their utter disgust and disappointment with last week’s debates and the inability to differentiate between the normal cut and thrust in parliamentary debate and the market style we are now seeing. The market reference is not meant to be an insult to our vendors and shoppers but to demonstrate that in our culture there is a time and place for everything. The language, volume, and antics last week in the National Assembly fell woefully short.
This publication carried letters by former parliamentarians, Hamilton Green and Kit Nascimento, who expressed their disappointment with the new parliamentary style debates, if they could be so called. They reminded us of the days when the House was graced with men of honour; men and women regardless of their background who were able to rise to and maintain decorum befitting the House. They named names of those who had the ability of quick wit. Their recount reminded us what Guyana has lost and many hope not lost forever.