Wednesday 9th March, 2005

 

Deosaran seeks action against Ayoung-Chee

 
 
 
 
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BY GAIL ALEXANDER

Acting Senate President Rawle Titus will rule today whether he will refer to Parliament’s Privileges Committee, a complaint by Independent senator Dr Ramesh Deosaran that San Fernando doctor Philip Ayoung-Chee physically threatened him in a letter.

At yesterday’s Senate session, Deosaran called on the Upper House to “draw the line” at members of the public threatening members of Parliament for statements they make there.

He said he viewed Ayoung-Chee’s letter not only as a threat on his personal safety, but as an assault on the entire Parliament.

In February, Deosaran alluded to the situation in a brief statement, saying he had been threatened by a doctor, whom he did not identify.

Yesterday, he named Ayoung-Chee, a member of the Medical Professionals Association.

Deosaran said the matter concerned correspondence dated January 5, 2005, and received on January 12 from Ayoung-Chee.

He said the threats were related to his contribution in the Senate on November 20, 2004, when he spoke on a bill to annul the division of one of the regional health authorities into two.

Deosaran said he had commented on the need for better care for the sick and poor, especially those who visited public health institutions.

He said he noted that some doctors should show more compassion for such patients and make money less of a consideration.

“During that Senate contribution, I called no names, neither did I single out any particular medical association for criticism,” Deosaran said.

He said that Ayoung-Chee’s letter, which he received in January, contained several insults, and his physical safety was “directly threatened.”

“Further, with his warning that should I visit the San Fernando General Hospital while he is on the premises I will suffer, to use his exact words, ‘his wrath,’” Deosaran said.

“He warned that if ever I decided to visit the SFGH, I should do so only when he is not present, otherwise I will meet up with his ‘full wrath and rot’ and he will embarrass me in public.

“Obscene language was also used by this doctor, whose name and address were stated in the correspondence,” Deosaran said.

He said Ayoung-Chee sent his correspondence, containing “very disturbing threats,” via his (Deosaran’s) fax machine.”

Deosaran said that on several occasions, Ayoung-Chee had sent him faxes, some of which were also published in the newspaper under his name.

He said under parliamentary law, it was a breach of privilege and contempt of either House to obstruct, insult or molest a member while in the execution of his duties.

“One is expected to be robust in public affairs,” Deosaran said.

“But a physical threat against a senator in carrying out his duties cannot be seen as a simple matter.

“Criticism is one thing, a physical threat is another. And the House should draw the line.

“My freedom of movement, my constitutional right to security of the person and more particularly, my duties as a senator, have all been put at risk by this doctor’s letter.”

Deosaran said parliamentary privileges were certain rights and immunities enjoyed by both Houses, committees, collectively and by members of the Houses individually.

“This is so that we as members can perform our duties freely and without hindrance,” he said.

“One such privilege or right is the freedom from intimidation and molestation as we speak here or go about our parliamentary business.

“Should such threats be let alone, who knows how many other members may be less willing to speak freely and fearlessly on important subjects before them?

“Further, should this threat be passed over easily, who knows how many others may be tempted to dispatch similar threats unto other members?”

Titus said when he decided to permit Deosaran to raise the matter in the House he viewed it is as a very serious issue.

He said he would reserve his judgment for today,when the Senate meets again.

Senate President Linda Baboolal is overseas attending a conference.

Members of the public should stand up and demand that Parliament must not be used to maliciously assassinate the character of people, or groups of people, under the aegis of parliamentary privilege, Dr Philip Ayoung-Chee said yesterday.

Contacted for comment on Dr Ramesh Deosaran’s statement against him in the Senate, Ayoung-Chee was brief, only saying, “I want to get a full text of his speech in the Senate on the matter on February 1 and a full text of his speech today (yesterday)in the Senate and I would like him to show me a copy of the letter which he said he received from me, before I say anything further.”

 

 

 

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