“[…] Senator [Anthony] Vieira fails to realise the irony and hypocrisy of such a blanket statement against unnamed members of the Opposition, effectively against all of us. And if Senator Vieira does not immediately withdraw this statement—which implicates myself and other senators, who made no such remarks—the Senator will be taken before the Privileges Committee…”
The following are views expressed on the UNC’s unsuccessful attempt to debate and pass a motion for the removal of President Paula-Mae Weekes by Independent Senators Anthony Vieira and Paul Richards, PNM Women’s League chair Camille Robinson-Regis and UNC Senator David Nakhid:
Independent Senator Anthony Vieira (as quoted in the Trinidad Express):
I am absolutely appalled at what happened (on Thursday). It was disgraceful and it will go down in the annals of history as one of the darkest days in our parliamentary proceedings. I am also appalled at the double standards that were effected by the Opposition.
[…] They (the Opposition) want to attack my colleague, Senator [Charisse] Seepersad, on the basis that her sister (former Police Service Commission chair Bliss Seepersad) was involved. First of all, her sister is no longer on the Commission. A conflict of interest occurs when there is some kind of benefit or gain. There was no benefit or gain anywhere. So on that ground alone, it is nonsense.
But if you want to say that Senator Seepersad is conflicted because of that, then what about Senator [Jayanti] Lutchmedial who was an attorney in the very proceedings? (Lutchmedial was Anand Ramlogan’s junior in the matter of Ravi Balgobin Maharaj’s legal claim against the State on the validity of Legal Notice 183).
They want to say that the Members of the Independent Bench are conflicted because we were appointed by the President, the subject of the proceedings. But the Leader of the Opposition who brings the motion has screened and appointed each of the members of the Opposition bench in the Senate and there is no conflict [in their eyes]?
You come there and wrap yourself in the robes of democracy and say ‘oh, you are fighting for democratic rights and people must be free to speak out and to choose and to vote for consciences’. And when the Independents vote, you boo?
[…] I intend to bring a motion of contempt, a motion of censure, against all those persons who made those comments because […] I am not going to let it go on the record that you can say that I am singing for my supper and that I have an allegiance to PNM, UNC or whoever, and get away with it.
[…] All I will say to the Opposition and to all those who think that what happened yesterday was somehow a good thing for democracy, all I can say to them is shame. Shame on you!
Allyuh could do better than that.
Independent Senator Paul Richards (also in the Express)
It was a stain on the Parliament and it does not paint the country in a good light. It makes us look collectively bad because people looking on from outside do not differentiate as much as we do, between who may or may not have been responsible for it.
[…] There was a level of disrespect to the Chair that I never even imagined would have taken place. The disorder and rancour were not commensurate with the dignity that is supposed to be associated with the chamber and certainly with the people who are supposed to be leaders in the society.
We chastise children for poor and inappropriate behaviour but they don’t get that behaviour in a vacuum. They get it from examples and if that is the way adults and people in leadership positions are seen to be dealing with disagreements and resolving their issues, then what example are we setting for our children?
And I have no problem with strong political disagreements but that is not the way it should be done… My concern is that building (the Parliament) and institutions like it, no matter who is there, we should leave it as respectfully as we found it. And [Thursday’s sitting] did not support that.
[…] We are all citizens of this country and have a vested interest in everything that comes before us. The statement [that Independent senators were ‘singing for their supper’] also presumes that the Independent Bench is a homogeneous group and it is not. Each of us has the right to vote according to our conscience.
I approach every bill or motion on the merits and demerits so I was not conflicted in any form or fashion.
PNM Women’s League Chair Camille Robinson-Regis:
The Opposition party has continued its nefarious campaign to incite national chaos and to destabilise the House of Representatives.
On Thursday 21st October 2021, the usual suspects of the Opposition leading this onslaught on the democratic process were Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, along with Members of Parliament Khadijah Ameen and Saddam Hosein. Their obvious obscene behaviour of constantly interrupting the proceedings was geared towards frustrating the process.
Ironically, it was the Opposition that filed a motion pursuant to Section 36 of the Constitution for the establishment of a tribunal to investigate the removal of Her Excellency, Paula-Mae Weekes, ORTT, from the Office of the President.
However, they refused to follow due process and instead displayed their usual bad behaviour before the nation.
The Opposition has become the face of impertinence and reprehensible behaviour as they continue to flout their duties to this great nation.
Despite their attempts, the Opposition has yet again failed to bring a motion with any substance before the House and as a result the Motion of the Opposition to remove the President was defeated.
UNC Senator David Nakhid:
I read with tremendous concern the statements of two Independent Senators, Mr Anthony Vieira and Mr Paul Richards, both with the righteous indignation of the crusaders of old, in condemning what they perceive—acting as judge, jury and executioner—to be contemptuous behaviour on the part of the Opposition in the Parliament last Thursday.
Senator Vieira made the wildest of allegations that members of the Opposition had imputed the integrity and reputation of Independent senators by saying that they are not independent and that they were ‘singing for their supper’.
Senator Vieira fails to realise the irony and hypocrisy of such a blanket statement against unnamed members of the Opposition, effectively against all of us, and if Senator Vieira does not immediately withdraw this statement—which implicates myself and other senators, who made no such remarks—the Senator will be taken before the Privileges Committee.
To add insult to his own duplicity, Senator Vieira proffered a lengthy diatribe on the proceedings in Parliament, including the opinion ‘that the motion should not have even seen the light of day’; and this without having heard any debate on said motion.
Well, Senator Vieira is entitled to his opinion and so are we. The citizens of this country will look past the hypocritical, well-clothed incivility that passes for independence by many commentators in Trinidad and Tobago.
As for Senator Paul Richards, who likened the proceedings and by implication the behaviour of the Opposition to a fish market, I will respectfully inform the Senator that, sometimes in a fish market, the stench that arises can be coming from your own stall.
For these unwarranted and unnecessary attacks by both the aforementioned Independent senators, we await the quickest of apologies in like manner to the insults given.