While history may have been made over the “…Inaugural Meeting of Parliamentarians of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Parliamentary Assembly,” without the necessary “…
Legislative framework or approval for its establishment, some politicians, pundits and citizens have all likened the historic event to “…Parliamentary Conundrum.” Then with utter dismay and sheer contempt, adding to the provocative debate was the apparent unusual, but evidently “…emotive public reactions” of Her Excellency Dame Louise Lake-Tack.
Clearly displaying feelings of deeply held bitterness, displeasure and disgust over the apparent “…monarchial disapproved arrangements” for the use of the parliamentary Chambers, with controlled but brief ranting, likened to an unmanageable and recalcitrant child, she had chided House Speaker D. Gisele Isaac-Arrindell for the way the arrangements were mounted. [Observer Big Issues-Aug: 19:2012]. Those arrangements saw the national legislative institution being relegated to “…ordinary usage,” if not to a “…meeting place,” not for rogues and vagabonds, but for the inauguration of the OECS Assembly. Such appeared noticeably void of national importance or for the enhancement and/or advancement of socio-economic benefits of citizens. Such purpose, however, was the facilitation and accommodation of an ambitious political initiative by members of the OECS that many had described as a farcical move under the guise of regional integration.
SHOOTING FROM THE LIPS
Shooting from the lips and in a tone and manner that listeners to the popular radio programme had described as “…passionate and venomous,” Dame Louise appeared to have been in no mood to mask feelings of disgust over what she deemed “…disrespect and untruthfulness.” These remarks were specifically aimed at Speaker of the House of Representatives. This was to be viewed from the perspective of the apparent “…high-handed manner the National flag, photographs of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and herself as the Queen’s Representative were displaced from the Parliamentary Chambers. The photographs had graced the walls of Parliament along with the metal Mace which symbolizes Her Majesty’s presence within the parliamentary Chambers when in session. The latter was replaced by a “…wooden symbol,” courtesy of the admirable vocational skills of renowned Joiner WRENFORD DALEY of Wrenford’s Furniture, adjacent to the NISSAN MOTORS dealers on the Old Parham Road.”
WHAT THE DEVIL!
Frequently, when unpredictable or avoidable situations were known to have developed, people infuriated or perturbed had often asked with spontaneity “…What the hell, heck or dickens happened to you?” Not infrequently, responses had been void of pleasantries. Seemingly overwhelmed by pent-up emotions, in an almost terse voice, and showing indignation, Dame Louise unmistakably asked “…What the Devil…” got into the Speaker of the House to have displaced the “…National Flag, Laws and Her Majesty from her Parliament.” Reasonable inferences may have been drawn that such an act may have provoked the ire in Dame Louise to have viewed it with utter grossness. Mildly put, the seemingly fiery Dame Louise had described it as “…disrespectful,” a seemingly disrespectful chord she had uttered by saying what the Speaker had said was "...very, very far from the truth."
THE INFAMOUS EXCLAMATION
As the Inaugural ceremony commenced inauspiciously without the presence of the monarchy, the seemingly “…infamous exclamation” may not have been intended to prompt the “…Legendary Devil” to leave his “…Bridge” at Willikies or the fascinating scenic and breathtaking view of the nearby prestigious and luxurious VERANDA HOTEL. There was also no guessing that such exclamation may have caused the late Governor General Sir Wilfred Ebenezer Jacob to “…twitch restlessly” in his seemingly unkempt grave. For obvious reasons, such may have forced former Governor General Sir James Beethoven Carlisle, without utterances, into displaying his unique “…wry smile” over the parliamentary fiasco. Worst yet, it may have infuriated the Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Winston Baldwin Spencer to the extent of frowning privately and regretfully, if not to have been engulfed in a “…vexatious mood” either tainted or painted with nothing but “…blue.”
ESTABLISHMENT/COMPOSITION OF PARLIAMENT
Inarguably correct, unchallengeable and undisputed, Dame Louise, expressing adeptness in the knowledge of the Constitutional provisions regarding the “…Establishment and Composition of Parliament,” prudently referred to Section 27 that emphatically states “…There SHALL be a Parliament in, and for Antigua and Barbuda that CONSIST of Her Majesty; …a Senate and a House of Representatives.” The very order in which the composition was considered and laid down by framers of the Constitution Order of 1981, speaks to the significant position to be held and the respect and/or regard to be accorded to Her Majesty’s Parliament and/or Her Representative. In spite of Dame Louise’s emotionally-driven “…unprecedented reaction,” cognizant of the provisions and order of protocol, House Speaker D. GISELLE ISAAC-ARRINDELL, seemingly in control of both her emotions and mental faculties, exhibiting prudence with some degree of restraint, tolerance and understanding, chose not to engage Her Excellency in a verbal duel that may have brought both constitutional positions into disrepute.
REASONS FOR PARLIAMENT
Man, characteristically is known for his domineering exploits and manipulation. Consequent upon which, modern civilization dictates that that there be “…checks and balances” to curb his insatiable appetite for power and his disposition for wielding it indiscriminately, erratically and irrationally. Online research revealed reasons for Parliament in a democracy. The simple and straightforward reasons were that in a representative democracy “…No single individual may establish SUPREMACY; …that decisions require CONSENSUS or MAJORITY approval of its elected members.” Therefore, it would have been seen that anything short of these may have been seen as “…DICTATORIAL.” This appeared to be rife in several Asian and Middle Eastern strife-torn countries.
For a working definition of Parliament, it was considered useful in referring to Wikipedia’s online definition. It defines it as “…A Legislature whose power and function is similar to that DICTATED by the Westminster system in the United Kingdom.” Interestingly, the parliamentary system was a derivative of that obtained in the United Kingdom with modification to suit national governance. Except for Dominica that had relinquished the monarchy as Head of State, thereby opted for a presidency, the other OECS have retained the monarchy as Head of State.
In a democracy, such as Antigua and Barbuda with its three branches of governance; …the Legislature; …Executive; and …the Judiciary, Constitutionally, the Executive is ACCOUNTABLE to Parliament.” Though it may appear not to have been seen as frequently practiced, particularly on sensitive or critical matters of state, it is the duty of the Executive to seek Parliamentary approval in its administrative exploits. Given the contentious issues such as loans for power generation, allegations of mal-spending of public revenues and housing of the OECS Parliament, Her Excellency Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack appeared to have legitimate, if not, justifiable reasons for taking umbrage over the recent parliamentary developments. However, many law abiding and responsible citizens saw her reactions as ill-advised and/or inappropriate.
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA PERSPECTIVE
When Antigua and Barbuda attained political independence on November 1st, 1981, such parliamentary system was so dictated by the British Colonizers. It was given “…Bicameral Chambers (Upper/Lower Houses).” Thus, Parliament is referred to as a “…Democratic Legislature.” This system has three primary functions ; “…Representation for the electorate; …Legislation- where Bills are introduced or tabled, debated and passed to become law after ASSENT by Her Majesty’s Representative-the Governor General and for Parliamentary control (Order Paper/Debates/Decisions/Conduct of members) usually by the Senate President or House Speaker, guided by the applicable rules of the respective Chambers. Evidence of applicability of these rules may have been recently seen from the punitive effects experienced by two members of both the Upper (Senate) and Lower (Representatives) Houses of Parliament. Through apologies and submissions of humility, apparently for different reasons, a privileged few may have been spared the humiliation and indignity of suspensions and/or ejections from the parliamentary Chambers.
CAUGHT IN A BIND
It was evident that House Speaker D. Giselle Isaac-Arrindell was unfortunately caught in a bind as she sought unsuccessfully to appease the mind of Dame Louise that “…no disrespect was intended.” She may have had two or more considerations; …an unfettered willingness in undertaking a task and rising to the call to national service for the accommodation of an OECS parliamentary Assembly. The other may have been her loyalty, if not allegiance to current administration. Such were clearly not factors for Dame Louise to consider in her apparent carefully and forcefully delivered rebuff of the House Speaker’s actions. Section 55 of the “…INTERPRETATION ACT, Chapter 224, appeared to have supported the DAME’S position.
THE INTERPRETATION ACT
The ACT interprets Parliament as “…Means the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda.” This was irrespective of where the Parliament was housed save and except such place was designated and followed by resolution of the House or proclamation by the Governor General, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet. This was to be published in the “…OFFICIAL GAZETTE” or in newspapers for public information as circumstances dictate. The ACT interprets “…CHAMBERS” as …Means the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the context requires.” Further, the ACT interprets “…LEGISLATURE” as …Means the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda.” This appeared consistent with Section 27 as alluded to by the seemingly self-assured, but “…egoistically wounded Dame.” Similar interpretations may also be found at Section 127 of the Constitution Order 1981.
ALLOWANCE FOR DISASTERS
Save and except for unavoidable and inescapable “…natural/man-made disasters” or “…hygiene factors” such as that recently reported to have affected the High Court of Justice- Judges, Registrar, Provost Marshall, Staff, Officers of the Court- Law enforcement personnel, Attorneys, Litigants, Accused and Witnesses. Even after a “…Peak” was elevated to a Mountain in his “…presidential honour,” it would have been farfetched, if not “…ludicrous” [former Health Minister Hilroy Humphrey], in vacating the Court rooms to accommodate “…American Jurisprudence,” even for a one-day inaugural Court Session for the conduct of impeachment proceedings against President Barak Obama for suggesting that he saw nothing wrong with “…Same Sex Marriage.” Some pundits believed that it might have been easier for him to be accommodated in Parliament to debate the contentious issue.
It was reasonable to have assumed that Dame Louise returning home from an English environment, with knowledge of parliamentary rules and procedures, may have been selective in her role and function, but seemingly sufficiently au fait with the use of the parliamentary Chambers as to become “…overly sensitive” as to “…cry foul” over its recent usage for “…non-national parliamentary matters. This may be viewed from the context of a lack of “…aims and objects; …structure; …composition; …rules and procedures. Clearly, many people have regarded the concept as idealism, while at the same time appeared circumspect after reminiscing of arrangements for a “…Federated West Indies” and its ultimate demise in 1962.
COMMISSION OF TREASON
Such appeared not to have been the concerns of Dame Louise. It would have been surprising if she was not aware that “…Parliament of England met until the “…ACTS OF UNION” had merged the “…Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England, creating the new Parliament of Great Britain in 1707.” The OECS Assembly had no such merging intent. Research has shown that the “…King and Parliament were not separate entities, but a single body.” The Monarch was said to be the “…SENIOR PARTNER and the Lords and Commons were the LESSER.” The Constitutional provisions of Antigua and Barbuda seemed to suggest such position as ably and forcefully articulated by Dame Louise. Lest one may risk the “…COMMISSION of TREASON,” in that context and “…at all material times,” Her Majesty’s presence at Parliament, whether in the physical absence of Her Representative, Mace or photograph, ought to be so protected and respected, irrespective of “…recess; …adjournment; …prorogation or other uses.” It therefore, begs the question, “…What was the legislative authority and purpose of the OECS Assembly without “…parliamentary enactment and/or Legislative teeth?”
THE GUY FAWKES EXPERIENCE
Every year, on November 5, regional people commemorate “…GUY FAWKES NIGHT” with fireworks. In some territories it is called “…November Night.” Many appeared unaware of the significance of the commemoration. Historical research revealed that Guy Fawkes, also known as “…Guido Fawkes,” who later adopted the pseudonym “…John Johnson” to avert suspicion, attention and detection of his gruesome intentions. He was said to have been involved in a conspiracy, firstly with five and ultimately seven other co-conspirators to “…Kill King James and his retinue (followers) and blow up the British Parliament in 1605.” He hated the monarchy.
Having been apprised of the “…Gunpowder Plot,” the King reportedly ordered a search of the “…Undercroft” (underground room) thereby foiling the notorious plot. The determined Fawkes was caught red-handed on November 5 guarding several barrels of gunpowder to be ignited in the attack. He reportedly admitted to the plot, “…expressed regret at his failure,” but pleaded not guilty at his trial for Treason. He was found guilty and condemned to a make-shift gallows. .” His demise came at his own hands when he reportedly jumped from a “…scaffold” prepared for his death by hanging. He was true to the well known cliché, “…Death before dishonor.” Fawkes, reportedly born on April 13, 1570 was described as a “…Man of action; …capable of intelligent argument as well as physical endurance” [Wikipedia].
NO TREASONABLE ACT
Though it may be seen as an act of indiscretion or one void of “…protocol,” as Her Excellency Dame Louise Lake-Tack would have it, the actions of House Speaker D. Giselle Isaac-Arrindell appeared to have had no such “…intent or connotations” of ridding the nation of the “…Monarchial presence.” Thus, the Speaker’s transgressions may not be seen as a “…Treasonable Act.” However, while it may be seen as “…PARLIAMENTARY CONUNDRUM,” encompassing both House Speaker and Honorable Members of Parliament, it begs the question “…What role, if any, “…ADVISORY” or otherwise, the nation’s chief Legal Advisor to the government, Honourable Justin L. Simon, one of Her Majesty’s eminent and legally competent Counsels may have played in the OECS Assembly?
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
Many observers believed that apart from “…towing the line,” such role, if any, shall have reflected the “…OATH OF ALLEGIANCE” that each Parliamentarian will have subscribed to upon their appointment as “…Representatives or Senators. That Oath unambiguously states “…I Justin L. Simon, do swear that I will faithfully bear TRUE ALLEGIANCE to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to Law. So help me, GOD.” Incidentally, except for Senator Arthur Nibbs who had previously objected to such subscription, but had subscribed to such Oath, non-parliamentarian Rastafarian “…King Frank I, may subscribe to no such allegiance.
Parliamentary Conundrum or not, public chiding or not, being branded a liar or not, the fearless and adamant House Speaker D. GISELLE ISAAC-ARRINDELL remained firm in her stance and belief, positions that appeared to have temporarily shaken the throne of the goodly, but indomitable Dame Louise Lake-Tack. Lest both distinguished ladies risked the wrath of Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer, it was expected that each may peacefully mend fences or find amicable ways in “…burying the hatchets.”
Mr. Rawlston Pompey
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