Reducing Parliament to a Mockery
Posted: Sunday, April 30, 2006
By Stephen Kangal
I attended Parliament as a stranger on Friday last to witness how our taxpayers' money was being used to conduct the supreme court of the land. Parliament concluded after an hour and fifteen minutes but not before the most pathetic display of irresponsible conduct reduced Parliament to a circus-into odium and disrepute. I died a thousand times in that time. I left weighed down with feelings of utter devastation and extreme sadness. Was this Vision 2020 bound T&T that I saw? Thank God the children were not there. My feelings of utter shame and depression similarly inundated many other members of the public gallery.
I really could not believe the scenes of this circus? Who or what caused the Opposition back benches to be so populated? Was it now the proverbial cemetery? Why did the most unflappable and sedate of MP's and Political Leader of the Opposition Party find himself re-creating history by having to re-locate to one from last on the back-bench? Why did one of the most adept, versatile and successful Opposition Chief Whips had to render his swan song, resign and relegate himself in disgust to the already over-populated back- benches? Was Caroni Bridge falling down?
Parliament began with the Opposition front benches distressingly empty. That was intended to be the day of the history-making first female new Leader of the Opposition. She had to savor and label that moment and take centre stage for posterity and the cameras.
But lo and behold the incumbent made her grand entry into the Chamber followed by her retinue fifteen minutes after the commencement. To me it looked like fifteen hours late. No response to the interventions of Ministers Boynes and Roberts from the front benches. The new Leader of the Opposition appeared totally dislocated. Sitting in the seat of the King overwhelmed and overawed her. She gets into an unnecessary losing contest with the Chief Whip to catch the Speaker's eye. When she fails she once again conducts her sheepish retinue prematurely outside of the Chamber accusing the Speaker of bias in the process.
The Opposition front benches are distressingly empty again as they were when Parliament began. They evoke in me a thousand tales of sadness and total collapse. Even the Government side I sensed was moved to reflect sadness and genuine concern They did not exult, heckle or attempt to derive political capital from witnessing this debacle of a self-destructing Opposition. That in their view was too serious a development for parliamentary democracy in T&T. If there were a hole below my chair I would have found welcome respite from the punishment that was being inflicted on me and other fellow members of the gallery.
I left Parliament in the company of a most accomplished journalist with feelings of sadness as if I had attended a requiem mass for T&T. He had the same.
But we both asked pirating Minister Boynes' earlier invocation as who was the King that was dead? Why does the new front bench Opposition keep on shouting Long Live the King?
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