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Re: students and mps in conflict!
In Response To: students and mps in conflict! ()

Quarrelling in tea room

Extract: Newsday Editorial

Whatever the nature of the eventual confrontation between Housing Minister Keith Rowley and UNC MP Chandresh Sharma in the tea room of parliament on Wednesday, it seems clear to us that the heated argument between the two began with the Opposition member's seething annoyance over the Government's effort to relieve the suffering of hurricane-ravaged Grenadians as compared to what he felt was the poor treatment of Caroni flood victims. Even before the Finance Committee Meeting, Sharma was heard openly fuming about this difference in treatment which he saw as an act of discrimination against the flood victims of central. We have it from eye witnesses that while they were watching cricket in the tea room, awaiting start of the FCM, Sharma relieved himself of his feeling by accusing the Government of discrimination in wanting to bring Grenadians to TT, calling the Minister a racist in the process.

This, in our view, was quite unfortunate since no decision was ever taken to accept hurricane-hit "refugees" in TT and, additionally, it revealed an almost callous insensitivity to the desperate plight of Grenadians whose island was totally devasted by Ivan's fury. Not that the flood victims of central do not need relief from this ritual hardship, but it is sad that Sharma should see their need as a priority above the abject suffering of Grenadians who lost everything in Ivan's onslaught. Worse yet, how could the Opposition member see race in the Government's humanitarian response to the wholesale agony of Grenadians? Instead of being upset over the non-issue of "refugees," Sharma should be pleased with the many useful and positive decisions taken at the Caricom Summit hosted by TT in Port-of-Spain. In light of the Opposition member's myopic fuming and knee-jerk appeal to race, the reaction of Minister Rowley in prolonging a "heated" argument with the UNC MP and apparently getting into some kind of physical controntation with him seems almost as unfortunate.

As an experienced parliamentarian and a senior member of Cabinet, Dr Rowley should have been able to control himself in such circumstances. The angry spat between these two will do nothing to improve the already sad image of our national politics nor will it help to ease the ethnic tensions that already exist in this arena. The stories about this "confrontation" are conflicting, but we are surprised that it resulted in Sharma resorting to hospital treatment when we are told that he showed no ill effects whatever during the Finance Committee meeting to which he made the most vocal contribution, without complaining about any "injury." As our inquiries revealed, it was only after the UNC caucus which followed the FCM that the Opposition member apparently felt the need for hospital attention and the laying of charges. We are both flabbergasted and frightened by this unsavoury episode. The politics of race, it seems, will never end, but where is it taking our country?

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