Loss of decorum in the House
of Assembly

Many believed that the lack of decorum and ignorance of parliamentary rules had reached its nadir in the last Parliament in which Speaker of the House Halston Moultrie used his position to air personal grievances and to lecture and scold the government for not heeding his demands.

It seems we were mistaken.

Last week, the Bahamian public again witnessed boorish behavior and pettiness in the conduct of their affairs.

This time, the lack of appreciation of and complete disregard for the principles of good governance was on display by the speaker, Patricia Deveaux, and her deputy, Sylvanus Petty, who both appear more than a little drunk with power.

Sadly, both demonstrated that they do not understand their roles. Worse, we are left to believe that they do not know that they do not know that.

The speaker would have us believe that having studied the Rules Book of the House of Assembly that she is permitted to “run” the House as a petty shop in which she may choose to debase and insult public officers who have no means of defending themselves against denunciations made by her in the House.

This was evident to the public in her misguided and unfounded attack on the director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Further, she believes herself empowered to “dress down”, in shockingly inappropriate and unparliamentary language, a colleague member of the House as she did in a demeaning tone when addressing Member of Parliament for St. Anne’s Adrian White.

We have commented in this space previously that the speaker is duty bound to be informed of the rules and regulations that govern not only the House of Assembly but the relationship between members of the House and the public service.

The speaker’s lack of appreciation for her role was sadly repeated by her deputy, whose groundless “summons” of the sergeant at arms to remove the leader of the opposition from the precincts of the House last week was thankfully thwarted by the timely intervention by Obie Wilchcombe, government leader in the House, who judiciously called for a suspension of the proceedings to permit cooler minds to prevail.

The speaker’s and the deputy speaker’s lack of restraint and propriety in addressing colleagues, much like the unparliamentary behavior of the speaker’s immediate predecessor, suggest that political parties must take greater care in selecting candidates for election and subsequently in making appointments of elected parliamentarians to constitutional positions, so as to guard against unleashing ill-prepared and highly unsuitable individuals upon the public.

Lessons unlearned

A generation of law enforcement officers was lost to the drug wars of the 1980s. Some, who, absent the illicit transit traffic of narcotic drugs through The Bahamas, would have retired with stellar records and reputations intact, instead were dismissed, charged and, in some instances, convicted of collusion with drug traffickers.

They brought dishonor to their names, their families and to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

The continuing spate of drug and weapons-related crime that fill newspaper reports, burden a stretched court system and add to overcrowding in the prison at Fox Hill today is blamed on the damage caused to our social fabric all those years ago.

The current arrest of three police officers based in Acklins under suspicion of collusion with Colombian drug traffickers is, therefore, disheartening and troubling.

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