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Out Of Touch: Former Speaker Blasts ‘Mediocre, Tribal’ Parliament

Former House Speaker Dr Kendal Major.

Former House Speaker Dr Kendal Major.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis administration-led Parliament is “deeply tribal,” “mediocre” and “unproductive”, according to former House Speaker Dr Kendal Major.

He contended the institution has driven disconnect between politics and the general public.

Days after House Speaker Halson Moultrie came under fire for his open rebuke of a Nassau Guardian reporter – who used her cell phone to take photos during a sitting – and criticising the Press, Dr Major publicly addressed the situation suggesting he might have handled it differently.

While he was careful not to directly criticise his successor, Dr Major did not mince his words when it came to the affairs of this session of Parliament under the Free National Movement’s direction.

“How the Parliament is conducted today I believe is deeply tribal, unprincipled in many respects and uninspiring to our young people,” the former Garden Hills MP told Progressive Liberal Party supporters at a Marathon youth meeting on Friday night.

“In many respects, it’s mediocre and unproductive; from the bills, to the process, to the procedures. There is a lot that needs to be answered and needs to be addressed among our people today.

“We are spiralling out of control day by day, but yet the politicians of the day and the system of the day have not recognised the need to change it.”

He continued: “That’s as much as it is my fault as it is the present politicians. The procedures of Parliament doesn’t serve the interest of the public today because much of what takes place is a disconnect with the public.”

He said cynicism about politicians and politics has emerged in public leaving people to always wonder what politicians’ motives are.

Earlier, he said Speaker Moultrie’s conduct last Wednesday in some respects was “over the top”.

At the time, Speaker Moultrie accused the media of “descending” to a certain level, adding it was an issue that needed addressing. He did not clearly explain what he meant, but told House of Assembly members that “fake” and opinionated stories had been published online and in local newspapers.

“The present disagreement that you see today between the honourable speaker that exists and the press, I find very instructive,” Dr Major told PLP supporters.

“Two days ago, I got four phone calls from journalists wanting some red meat. The red meat essentially was ‘what do you have to say about what happened in the House of Assembly’ and my answer to them I’m sure probably disappointed them, but at the end of the day I told them in essence it is easy to sit where I sit today from my perch and criticise another sitting member who has made a judicial decision whether it’s right, wrong or indifferent.

“If I were in that position, would I have made that same decision? I trust not, but obviously because he’s there he was faced with a different scenario and so I was careful in my capacity as a private citizen not to criticise his decision although one could argue that in some respects it was over the top in some respects and we could criticise it.

“But for me in my position, to add more fuel to that, it would be easy for me to just from where I sit criticise (as) a former speaker and I have sat in that chair and have also made some mistakes.”

Last week, some governing party MPs called for a change to “archaic” parliamentary rules, with some expressing concern that the Minnis administration could be perceived as swaying toward the side of dictatorship and possible censorship of the country’s free press.

Among them was Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine, who told The Tribune that Speaker Moultrie’s rebuke of the reporter went against the state’s mantra of transparency and democracy.

Speaker Moultrie’s actions were “in poor taste”, he said, adding reporters should have the convenience of carrying out their duties with liberty.

However, Health Minister and Elizabeth MP Dr Duane Sands said he did not see the situation as government’s attempt to stifle the press. Instead it was the consequence of outdated parliamentary rules, he said.

Meanwhile, Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller said he thought the situation was “mishandled” as the House sitting should have been briefly suspended to address the concerns instead of publicly and openly criticising the reporter’s actions.

The reporter seated in the House gallery, had taken photos of member of Parliament Chester Cooper, who was contributing to debate on a bill to exempt fees for replacement documents lost during Hurricane Dorian.

After he rebuked her actions, Speaker Moultrie then ordered the reporter’s phone be turned over to a House clerk and the images deleted. However this never happened. Instead Chief Clerk David Forbes called the reporter outside the gallery and motioned to her to delete the photos. She then did as instructed, but later retrieved the images from her deleted files.

Comments

Sickened 3 weeks ago

"The Minnis administration-led Parliament is “deeply tribal,” “mediocre” and “unproductive”, according to former House Speaker Dr Kendal Major." But sadly they are still supreme when compared to the PLP. It seems impossible to find 40 good, honest, hard working people to serve in government. The FNM have about 5 that I am happy with, the PLP has 1. Perhaps we should agree to have a parliament consisting of only 10 people (with a few independents thrown in)???

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Godson 3 weeks ago

Be it as it may, however, the Bahamian voting populace felt the same way about your parliamentary colleagues Doc.

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sangeej 3 weeks ago

The PLP is trying to do what they got away with under the PLP Speaker, and are frustrating this speaker to make him look bad.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks ago

No one need be accused of somehow making Moultrie look bad. Moultrie has proven time and time again that he's quite capable of making himself look bad in his own right without the slightest need for any assistance in doing so. Minnis is frankly being very cruel to Moultrie by allowing him to soldier on as speaker of the house notwithstanding all of the well-deserved severe criticism regarding his all too obvious incompetence and bias. Minnis should have long ago played the part of the merciful matador willing to put the forlorn and seriously wounded bull (Moultrie) out of his misery.

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks ago

The House of Assembly is using PLP-created rules ....... FNM seems happy with them.

Pot calling kettle black.

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John 3 weeks ago

You would think the PLP would use a different approach to rise out of the ashes, so to speak. You would expect more vigor, new ideas and a higher level of politics. And Kendal Major is right, he would have handled the situation differently. Every speaker would've. Some may have ignored the situation completely or even dealt with the news reporter in private. And Haslon Moultrie, either because of his style or his personal attributes, has been a very embattled speaker. But to call the FNM administration,

deeply tribal,” “mediocre” and “unproductive”

This government has no choice but to be productive. They have been facing challenge after challenge since coming to office. Two major hurricanes in the same number of years. And that is while trying to pull the country out of a deep, deep financial crisis, and deal with the immigration problem and mass unemployment and crime (yes the murder count is climbing back and seemingly not being defeated, which is disappointing.

But ask the man on the street..Are they ready to return the country back to the hands of the PLP?

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks ago

Answer ................ HELL NOOOOOOOOOO

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geostorm 3 weeks ago

@john, I couldn't ageee with you more!

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TalRussell 3 weeks ago

The exotic ways Comrade House Speaker Halson will standout as the Speaker who so disrespected backbenchers,who displayed zero tolerance anytime a backbencher stood up on the floor House to challenge the Imperialists authority the substantive members House's majority party, yes, no .....

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SP 3 weeks ago

Deja vu Dr. Kendal Major!

“How the Parliament is conducted today I believe is deeply tribal, unprincipled in many respects and uninspiring to our young people,”

“In many respects, it’s mediocre and unproductive; There is a lot that needs to be answered and needs to be addressed among our people today.“We are spiraling out of control day by day"

It's all the same Deja vu Dr. Kendal Major PLP and FNM are two sides of the same coin. Major and his PLP failures just can't see their side when they're in power!

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The_Oracle 3 weeks ago

"This government has no choice but to be productive." I disagree: they Aught to be productive but seem incapable (as all have been). He is correct on the Tribalism, loyalty to party and leader, not country and people, and only until some usurper decides to challenge from within. New Tribe. In this respect the two parties are no different, with the third bound to follow suit. We seem to have little understanding of the Parliamentary system as it should operate, Which basically indicates that no matter the system of Government as constitutionally constituted we will overrun it with Tribalism.

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John 3 weeks ago

Tribalism? whose tribalism? Yours maybe? Can you disprove the productivity of the current government outdoes that of the previous one? The people in Abaco says the government is more responsive and catering to the illegals. Is this part of their tribe as well? Obviously you have a subliminal message in your use of the word tribalism. And since white folks aren't know to come from tribes, it must be tainted with racism.

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TalRussell 3 weeks ago

To the contrary ma comrade, when we dig into the ancient days it seems that the white populaces were not always "Lilly white," but in ancient times popoulaces did come in different colours skin- just like we see today - ranging from white-skinned to dark brown. yes, no .... seems likes the lick da brush does reach back to ancient times ....

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