Fri | Feb 21, 2020

Charles, Opposition spar as censure motion pushed back

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2020 | 12:16 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

For a second week running, a stand-off involving opposition members of parliament (MP) and Speaker Pearnel Charles Sr and Karl Samuda, the leader of government business, threatened to derail the weekly Tuesday sitting of the House of Representatives.

Proceedings started more than an hour after the scheduled 2 o’clock time as House Marshal Captain Wayne Blake was kept standing in the doorway, while Charles paced around in the hallway behind him.

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte and Samuda were locked in debate with St Andrew South East MP Julian Robinson, St Mary Central MP Dr Morais Guy, and St Andrew South MP Mark Golding – all of whom insisted that the Speaker recuse himself from the day’s proceedings in light of the censure motion against him and which they expected to be tabled on the day.

Charles finally entered the House about 3:03 p.m. and immediately drew the ire of Opposition MPs when Samuda announced that there would be an adjustment to the first agenda item.

“There is one matter that will not be taken today, and that is the report on the motion by the member from South East St Andrew, as it has been determined that it will have to be tabled in a form that is appropriate for what is intended by the member. So it will not be table today,” he said.

Samuda and St Catherine West Central Member of Parliament Dr Christopher Tufton then locked horns over what the health and wellness minister considered a slight against him, with the House leader taking an apparent stab at Tufton’s insistence on a making a second public statement to the nation after a press conference on a coronavirus scare at The University Hospital of the West Indies.

“The minister of health had an extensive press conference today, but nonetheless, it is his desire to make a further contribution to this House to further update the nation,” said Samuda.

Incensed by this wording, Tufton bristled: “It is not my desire ... .”

But Samuda continued in the same vein. “The minister has prevailed upon me to facilitate him to make a statement to the Honourable House today,” he said.

“It is not my desire, it is the decision of the Government of Jamaica,” Tufton said.

And when Rudyard Spencer, a government backbencher, came across to placate him, an infuriated Tufton got up in huff and left the chamber. He later returned.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com