Mutual respect

Dear Editor,

Members of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, under the leadership of the Hon. Michael C. Pintard, have tremendous regard for the chair of the Hon. House of Assembly of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Her story of rising from humble beginnings to speaker is an inspirational one shared by others in the House of Assembly.

In our role as elected members of the opposition, we need it to be clear that, moving forward, our rights must be seen to be protected and our voices be heard.

The first protection we call to be observed is the retraction of the new rule imposed for all microphones to be off until the speaker designates that a member may be heard.

Our ability to represent our constituents and the public is disadvantaged when accusations are hurled by government at us and the public is unable to hear our response either in its entirety or initial points of merit, due to the microphones being off. We do not object to the ultimate muting of a member’s microphone after their point of order or clarification is ultimately made.

Secondly, smartphones and computers are tools that facilitate our work as representatives. They are a source of research and communication on matters live in the House of Assembly.

While it can happen that audio emanates from such devices, it is accidental and a consequence that should be recognized by all. That unfortunate consequence does not, however, outweigh the benefit brought to debate, and to our democracy. Neither is it an unfortunate interruption caused only by the opposition but in fact by each side of the House.

Members of the opposition have sworn an oath as representatives to the nation and we intend to carry out our duties with the utmost consideration and highest respect for the chair, the speaker of the House of Assembly, and other members. Similarly, we expect that the tone and temperament of the speaker and government members also reflect mutual respect and proper parliamentary decorum.

– Her Majesty’s Loyal

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