By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 29, 2018 – A former chairman of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), a coalition partner in Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris’ Team Unity Government, has accused Speaker of the National Assembly, Michael Perkins of “stifling honest and free debate in Parliament” and bringing the lawmaking body into disrepute by his own actions.
“If you can’t have the freest of debate in parliament where are you gonna have it?” said Attorney Chesley Hamilton.
The former PAM chairman made the comment while issuing a serious rebuke on the actions of the Speaker of the House, Michael Perkins, who Hamilton says is part of a current mechanism that is stifling honest and free debate in Parliament.
Hamilton, who was a guest on WINN FM’s Inside the News programme on Saturday said he strongly believes in advocating resolutely, but noted that if the Speaker, who has a role somewhat like a referee, becomes too involved, then he is entering the arena, where the debate is, and he can put the house into disrepute.
“That has to be stopped,” Hamilton strongly admonished.
“I saw the entering of the arena with Curtis Martin, and I’m seeing the entering of the arena with Perkins and they have to stop it. All the Speaker has to do when things are out of order is to stand, and if the Speaker stands up, then everybody is supposed to sit down and shut up, it’s that simple, but to be up there and saying I said sit down and I said don’t say another word, that is unbecoming,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton said he was calling out Speaker Perkins “since nobody could call him out.”
“That is unbecoming of a Speaker, he is bringing the parliament into disrepute by his very conduct, by him entering the arena.”
Lawyer Hamilton warned that the Speaker cannot be the advocate and arbitrator in his own matter.
“You cannot be the advocate and the arbitrator in your own matter, not because you are in parliament. That is a sad, sad, state of affairs, that is an indictment of the Speaker of the House and he needs to stop it. He needs to step back, he needs to work more with Dr. Douglas, he needs to work more with the opposition so that people can hold the government accountable.”
Hamilton noted that he considered the current state of affairs in Parliament as a “slap in his face” because he campaigned tirelessly for change that would facilitate honest and fair debate in the House.”
The legal luminary noted that he is an advocate for St. Kitts and Nevis’ democracy but in order for the country’s democracy to evolve, the substantive issues have to be addressed and the “pettiness in parliament” has to be abandoned.