Categorized | National News

Opposition Senators Blast House Speaker

Opposition Senate members said Wednesday that House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major was out of line for suspending Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis last week for comments he made about the prime minister and by the same token, not forcing Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller to take back some very serious allegations he made accusing a private citizen of being involved with his son’s murder.

On Wednesday, FNM senators cried “shame” on the House speaker for not protecting the average Bahamian.

Earlier this week, Mr. Miller used a portion of his contribution to debate in the House of Assembly to speak to great lengths about his son Mario’s June 2002 murder.

In fact, Mr. Miller went so far as to call the name of the man he thought knew intimate details about the murder.

But according to parliamentary proceedings, parliamentarians have absolute privilege in the House and cannot be held accountable for remarks made about private citizens.

But FNM Opposition Leader in the Senate Desmond Bannister said when one is elected to high office, it is important to respect the Bahamian people.

“You are put in a position where you can say things that you can’t be sued for,” he said. “It’s very important to guard your language and to ensure that the Bahamian people are not attacked from a podium of principle.

“If you want to attack some open personally or accuse and allege they have done something inappropriate then abandon that stance of privilege and come out of Parliament and make those statements where Bahamians can defend themselves.”

According to Mr. Miller, businessman Dion Bowe told him he had intimate details about his son’s murder, however, Mr. Bowe has since publicly denied those claims.

Mr. Bannister said this is yet another example of a slow withering of Bahamian rights, for both private citizens and members of Parliament.

He questioned how is it that the Opposition leader could be reprimanded for his comments but not Mr. Miller.

“That Bahamian cannot defend themselves from a similar post,” he added. “I don’t know this man, never met him before. But just imagine that one day you stand up or you go to work and the whole country is able to hear from Parliament from the elected members of parliament an attack on you that you are involved in a murder. How do you explain that to your children, to your coworkers? And the Speaker sits there and does nothing?”

FNM senate members said these instances account for a “very sad day in Parliamentary democracy.”

FNM Senator Heather Hunt said she too is very concerned that the House speaker seems to be overzealous in reprimanding her leader for making comments about another member who was present and could have defended himself.

“So why was there the absence of that zeal to protect the private citizen who is not there to defend themselves,” she questioned.

“I think it underscores the need for the Opposition to stand up for the Bahamian people who cannot defend themselves in this place.”

The government is said to be considering making amendments that would give Bahamians a chance to respond to serious allegations made in Parliament.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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