Thursday 22 August, 2019

Gov't accuses Opposition of threatening to disrupt House again

Karl Samuda

Karl Samuda

Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, Karl Samuda on Tuesday afternoon accused Opposition Members of Parliament of plotting to disrupt the sitting of the House.

“Mr Speaker, it has been brought to my attention that once again attempts are going to be made to bring this honourable House into a state of disrepute by members of the Opposition. I have been reliably informed that most, if not all of them have come prepared with placards in this House,” Samuda stated early in the sitting.

Turning to the Speaker of the House, Pearnel Charles, Samuda said: “Mr Speaker I’m asking you to make a determination as to whether we (the Government side) are going to be party to this careless behaviour in order to make a point for political purposes in this honourable House.

“I have exposed that fact in the hope that all Jamaica will condemn them for that approach to parliamentary behaviour and I call on you to take appropriate action.”

At this point the Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips rose on a point of order. “The Standing Orders expressly forbids members from imputing motive to other members, (from) making unsubstantiated allegations and the House Leader is out of order to take that position,” Phillips said.

Quoting from the Bible, Phillips added: “There’s a well known line in Proverbs that “The wicked fleeth fleeth when no man pursueth,” to desk-thumping from Opposition MPs. Dr Phillips described Samuda’s statements as the “unwarranted assault on the integrity of the members of the Opposition.”

At this stage the House Speaker interjected, telling Samuda that “your allegations are denied and unsubstantiated. You’ve not given me any facts to support it; I would therefore ask that you do not proceed on that matter.”

But Samuda was not finished.

“I said it is my understanding. If it is not so I would be relieved. I would sincerely hope that those who are hiding the placards under the desks will not reveal them at a later stage in this sitting," he said.

There have been tension between Government and Opposition MPs in the parliament in recent weeks, in particular as it relates to allegations of corruption and gross mismanagement at the country’s lone oil refinery, Petrojam.

The embattled Energy Minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley who has been relieved of that portfolio effective Wednesday, July 4, will shortly answer questions posed more than a month ago by Opposition MP Peter Bunting. The opposition has also questioned whether Prime Minister Andrew Holness will speak on the matter.

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