Thursday 7th April, 2005


Sinanan mum on Rowley’s Privileges Committee attack

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Chairman of the Privileges Committee, Speaker Barry Sinanan, is maintaining a “no comment” stance on statements by Housing Minister Dr Keith Rowley on two issues arising out of the report into last September’s alleged tea room incident.

The 188-page report, entitled First report of the Committee of Privileges of the House of Representatives (2004-2005) session, on allegations of breach of privilege arising out of an incident that occurred in the Members’ Lounge on September 15, 2004, was distributed to MPs and reporters during last Friday’s sitting of Parliament.

During a news conference at the Ministry of Housing on South Quay, Port-of-Spain, on Monday, Rowley told reporters that while he was impressed by the level of detail in the report, he disagreed with the committee’s view that there were no grounds for contempt in the alleged incident.

He also said the fact that he was called a racist by Fyzabad MP Chandresh Sharma, with whom he had the alleged altercation, was taken lightly by the committee.

“They found that, by evidence tendered, that Sharma did, in fact, abuse me by calling me a racist,” Rowley had told reporters.

“But suprisingly enough, the committee of Parliament glossed over that as no big thing.”

Sinanan declined comment on both issues yesterday.

PNM committee members, Public Utilities Minister Penelope Beckles, Deputy Speaker Hedwige Bureaux and Health Minister John Rahael could not be reached for comment, as calls to their cellphones went unanswered.

At the briefing, Rowley, the Diego Martin West MP, also questioned the conduct of three policemen who had taken statements on the incident.

He said he would soon call on the Police Complaints Authority and Police Commissioner Trevor Paul to investigate the officers.

Contacted on his cellphone, Paul, who is out of the country, said: “I would have liked to hear the words from Dr Rowley himself, because what appears in the newspapers is sometimes different.”

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