in the House
Speaker Sinanan played into Mr Pandays political
Speaker used sledge hammer to deal with a minor infraction.
Country awaits Pandays next move.
madness has taken or is taking over sweet T&T?
That was my gut reaction to the fiasco in the House of Representatives
last Friday when Speaker Barry Sinanan, threw out Opposition
Leader Basdeo Panday after he refused to respect the authority
of the chair (Speaker).
What did the irrepressible Panday did to earn the wrath of
Panday refused to tell him whether he had any intention of
speaking in the debate at hand which, if the answer was in
the affirmative, he could have continued using, or playing,
with the government-supplied laptop while the Lower House
was in session.
Apparently there is some agreement between the Speaker and
the parliamentary representatives that the latter could use,
or play with, their laptops with the permission of the chair.
When the question was put to the Leader of the Opposition
if he would be contributing to the debate he quite rightly explained
he could not say unless he heard what direction it was taking.
The matter at hand was a motion (private members) and moved
by the opposition member for Cumuto/Manzanilla Harry Partap,
which criticised the Government for allegedly failing
to contain rising food prices.
Panday also refused to stop using, or playing with, his
laptop and for this major infringement, this earth shattering act
of disobedience on the part of the member for Couva North,
Speaker Sinanan invoked his authority and asked the police
put him out the chamber as ordered.
Mercifully the police hesitated and Mr. Panday was spared
the sorry spectacle of being taken down by the police, not
that that is any thing strange to him.
As readers of this column would know by now I am of the firm
belief that the biggest problem in this country is indisciplinedfrom
top to bottomand from that flows all our other major
So I do not easily countenance deliberate flouting of the
rules and regulations at homethats where the indiscipline
But on sober reflection after the facts of this incident as
reported in the news media, was the Speakers action
as they would say in industrial relations lingo, harsh and
In other words was Pandays crime deserving of his punishment
meted out by Speaker Sinanan indefinite suspension?
Although the suspension was said to be indefinite in that
no date of its duration was fixed by the Speaker, there was
one report that it could last at as long as the end of this
parliamentary session in December.
But it could come to an end before that time if a motion is
so moved to have the suspension lifited from the irrepressible
Even though a rational person would agree that Panday was
being extremely petulant and obstinate in his attitude to
the authority of the Speaker on that day, was the Speaker
morally justified in temporarily banishing Panday even from
the precincts of the legislature?
Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to submit my considered response is
a big fat no, and if my political barometer is reading correctly
I think you have played right into Pandays hands.
I dont know if you got up one morning and decided you
would not take any more nonsensical behavior from the likes
of Mr Panday, and would show them that you are really the
boss of your chamber.
Lets assume this is so but is the laptop infraction
serious enough to warrant hitting Panday on his head with
a sledge hammer?
Or do you know something the rest of the population does not?
For instance did Mr Pandays laptop contain some remote
device to trigger some kind of explosion in the august chamber?
You correctly recalled that he has said he did not plan to
contribute to the debates in the parliament and perhaps he
was just acting in furtherance of that stance.
You seem to forget, as if you need to be remained at all,
that he also said being on the opposition benches was a waste
of time in that nothing said would hardly beif everimplemented
by the Government.
He confirmed what former government Minister Hugh Francis
told me when he was in charge of the Works portfolio that
opposition politics was frustrating politics. So from your
superior position in the Lower House one would expect you
to be somewhat a bit more indulging in the sometimes unparliamentary
antics of the opposition legislators.
I am in no way suggesting Mr Speaker that you allow them to
do whatever they want in the highest court of the and, for
that could make a mockery of our system of governance.
What else can we make of Mr Pandays conduct last Friday?
He came up with a very transparent plan to put himself once
again the national spotlight and unfortunately, it appears
Mr Speaker, you have paved the way for part two in this political
I do not know what he hopes to achieve (if anything tangible)
in this game and only time will tell what he is up to. But
for now he is firmly on the national front burner and the
nation is eagerly awaitng the next move of the Silver Fox.