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Speaker Stands Firm On Outburst

Speaker of the House Halson Moultrie. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

Speaker of the House Halson Moultrie. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

HOUSE Speaker Halson Moultrie, pictured, stopped short yesterday of offering an apology for the personal attacks he launched at Progressive Liberal Party members and former parliamentary clerk Maurice Tynes Wednesday, but admitted he now regrets how his words may “affect the operations of the institution” moving forward.

His comment came as former Free National Movement parliamentarians have criticised his conduct, arguing his rush to suspend opposition members and his personal attacks from the chair were without precedent in the modern history of the Bahamian Parliament.

One by one, sitting elected FNM MPs lavished praise on him Wednesday and justified his actions, but former FNM officials, including some who spoke to The Tribune anonymously, described Wednesday’s House sitting as a departure from tradition in several lamentable ways.

While it is not unusual for parliamentarians to engage in disagreeable behaviour from their chairs or when they take the floor, House speakers have often sought to gain respect by remaining above the fray, observers said.

Asked if he regretted his statements, Mr Moultrie said: “Only to the point of how it may affect operations of the institution in terms of us moving forward. If we don’t put it behind us, naturally it would be difficult to proceed in an environment that is so adversarial.”

After Mr Moultrie took a swipe at the foreign-born status of his wife, PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis called him a “bullying buffoon” and described him as “unprincipled and disgraceful” during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

PLP Senator Fred Mitchell said he was unbothered by derogatory references to him, but was happy to meet Mr Moultrie “in the street.”

Asked if he can maintain a working relationship with the opposition in view of the personal nature of the back-and-forth attacks, Mr Moultrie said: “I have broad shoulders. I am prepared to absorb whatever is thrown at me in the spirit of the occasion. I was always of the view that we should find ways to agree and disagree and move on as professionals who have been elected to advance the interests of the country.”

Nonetheless, Mr Moultrie declined to directly address his veiled references to Mr Davis’ wife, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and to Mr Mitchell after accusing the PLP leader of relying on the advice of “reprobates” and “perverts.”

“I won’t make any further comments on this matter in the press,” Mr Moultrie said. “I’m focused on the proceedings in Parliament. I don’t see how pursuing this matter will be beneficial to the country.”

Rebuke

Former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson, however, told The Tribune he couldn’t remember “something like (those personal attacks) ever happening” in Parliament from a speaker.

“He has to maintain neutrality while carrying out his duties,” Mr Watson, a member of the FNM, said. “He can’t become personal. It was sad to see the situation sink to that level. I don’t think we need that in our politics.”

Mr Moultrie also declined to discuss his decision to suspend Mr Davis, Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes after they left the chamber despite his demand that they not do so.

He said: “I won’t comment on those matters further. I’m waiting to see how the opposition will behave as a consequence and hopefully both sides can come to an amicable resolution.”

Former FNM officials, however, said the Speaker’s suspension of the opposition was an impulsive decision for an institution with a traditional standard of suspending members only as a matter of last resort. 

One former FNM official, speaking anonymously to The Tribune, said: “In an unprecedented move, he suspended all members of the Official Opposition on what appears to have been a whim. A first in our parliamentary democracy which dates back to 1729, which has progressed through the establishment of political parties beginning in the 1950s and further experienced four changes in governing parties since 1992.”

Meanwhile, Mr Watson said: “You can’t suspend a member for leaving the chambers. They have a right to leave when they want to. It’s unfortunate that he would suspend them for that. It’s a bad decision. Hopefully calmer heads will prevail.” 

Mr Watson chalked the Speaker’s actions up to inexperience, though he questioned why senior officials did not intervene. 

“It’s a little bit of getting to know what you ought to do and a lack of experience showing,” Mr Watson said. “But perhaps senior people in there who know more than he does should’ve intervened.”

Former State Minister for Finance Zhivargo Laing also criticised the Speaker, calling his attacks “inappropriate.”

On his 96.9 FM talk show yesterday, he said: “That a Speaker of the House of Assembly feels in kind to say some of the things he said about a member’s wife and the innuendos about another person, it just hasn’t happened before.”

Mr Laing said not only was Mr Moultrie at fault, but also Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. He said Dr Minnis should have intervened in the matter last week before Mrs Hanna Martin was suspended to resolve that controversy; he also criticised PLP members of Parliament, including both Mr Davis and Mrs Hanna Martin, for not doing the same.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 1 year, 3 months ago

I know one thing for sure. If Fred and Moultey met "in the street" Fred would get buss down.. lol...

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 3 months ago

"#Asked if he regretted his statements, Mr Moultrie said: “Only to the point of how it may affect operations of the institution in terms of us moving forward. If we don’t put it behind us, naturally it would be difficult to proceed in an environment that is so adversarial."

Davis' description is 100% correct, what does Mr Moultrie believe his actions did EXCEPT "affect operations of the institution", this requires a FULL apology and resignation, not some half hearted well IF I offended someone statement. He is UNQUALIFIED for the post. This doesn't make him a bad man or an evil man, it simply means he does not have the knowledge to carry out the duties of this critical role. Dr Minnis seems to be appointing these types of people all over the place.

They say when things don't make sense look at the dollars, and so far we have 722+185+90 MILLION dollars in play.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

No need to ask old, veteran Parliamentarians ........ before TV was in Parliament, that was a free for all, Wild Wild West place ............ Brave dem are just looking for sympathy from the public.

The PLP are crying about their own rules .......... but can anyone remember what it was like before those 2005 rules were introduced??????

This issue is really laughable.

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DDK 1 year, 3 months ago

It appears da Brave Man and da Member for Englertston seem hell-bent on constantly disrupting and delaying House business for whatever nefarious ends and dis time da Speaker man, da Most Honourable PM, da Immigration/Whatever Minister and dem rose to da bait.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Ma Comrades, imagine the sparks fly in House under this Speaker when the Imperial Red Regime sprungs their revised Buggery Bill out cabinet to floor House..... can't wait hear the MICAL MP Miriam's contribution. {Nope, not making this up - so reserve as I, your seat up in House's visitors gallery}. They might have borrow the Chaplain and the Sargent-at-arms from Upper Red Chamber as reinforcements to backup the House's}.

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sealice 1 year, 3 months ago

Whatever institution you think you are in it was totally degraded by the fool you replaced....

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paul_vincent_zecchino 1 year, 3 months ago

Now that is spot-on profound. You. Nailed. It. Concur, sir. Completely.

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Telllikeitis 1 year, 3 months ago

It amazes me how a grown man can present a prepared speech and still stand behind it even when it is clear that he has crossed all kind of lines. This must be a new level of JACKASSEDNESS!!!

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Telllikeitis 1 year, 3 months ago

I am soooo disappointed in the likes of Deacon Jeff Lloyd and other "more mature" men in the house for having remained quiet while the "Buffoon" brought the chair and house into disrepute with his personal schoolyard vendetta. Will the real men stand up and call a spade a spade???

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bogart 1 year, 3 months ago

@ThisIsOurs condider adding 6 to 7 million startup from brick and mortar if Bank of the Bahamas starts shop in Long Island as the DPM suggests. Which has them already challenged to meet dividends. Or, to invite existing profitable Commonwealth Bank or others to open shop in Long Island with consession. Perhaps tax reddemabable credits to offset licence can also be looked on for numbers of agricultural loans granted, new startups, numbers of jobs created in new loans per business, sheep farms businesses started eycetc. The Central Bank already collects data for published reviews.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Ma Comrades, lets hope the moral to the Speaker's outburst is that he doesn't get any more grumpier? Doesn't man's looks like he could bite into iron?

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Honestman 1 year, 3 months ago

Neither the current speaker nor the last possess the qualities to be a good House speaker. Poor choice in both cases.

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themessenger 1 year, 3 months ago

Dion Smiths jackass behavior now replaced and surpassed by Moultrie's shite slinging shenanigans, please remember Mr. Moultrie when you throw that stuff some inevitably sticks to you. Please do the honorable thing and resign and let a true statesman, if they can find one,occupy the Chair.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

What do you think the job of the Speaker is??????? ............. What is the purpose of having the Sears rule (or 3 rules) book???????? ............. Please view some other Parliaments (including the USA) and listen to the way they speak and the stunts they pull ......... Rand Paul just hi-jacked the US Government the other night and cause a "shut down" ........ We are crying over nothing here ......... Typical blind Bahamian political drama with braying loyalists.

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bogart 1 year, 3 months ago

.....yeah ...comparing other parliamrnts...just look at some Asian ones where they jump over the table and sort tings out wid fists or beat each other wid shoes on der heads....tempest in a teapot....get it over.... if needs be odds 6 to 5 on Fred in da street

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 3 months ago

Speaker Moultrie has no shame and the PM and Mr Symonette were both proud and happy, In fact they supported him in his disgraceful actions, They banged their desk and grinned .as if the man had done something good and honorable.

It appears as if they do not know any better. They are drunk with power, And lack good common sense. They will do well to remember when one spits in the wind it will blow back in ones face. the FNM members and their speaker acted like school yard bullies. Little rude Children. with no proper up bringing.

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

Isiah says ‘childish leaders rule over my people and women oppress them’. And the scriptures is not speaking of children or women, but leaders who behave like children and act on their emotions like a woman instead of letting common sense prevail and exercising the leadership skills of a man. So as the young people say ‘all y’all needs to stop going to the House of Assembly wearing panties. And girdles.’

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

Heard on the street today, ‘Halson Moultrie did not expect to be where he is today ( speaker of the house) so he is tapping on the microphone a few times to see if it’s really on.’ Can you hear me now?

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TigerB 1 year, 3 months ago

I strongly remember dem kikkin out Andre Rollins one time for outburst, das the PLP dem I mean.. stuff does go around and come back full circle

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BONEFISH 1 year, 3 months ago

In a more mature westminister democracy like the UK,Canada or New Zealand,the speaker would have resigned by last weekend. But this is the Bahamas.

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