BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, September 03, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable A. Michael Perkins, has described as “unfortunate and disturbing” the recent public accusations made by members of the Opposition who sought to suggest some form of collusion on his part in an attempt to deprive them of their opportunity to make any contribution towards the Parliamentary debate at the sitting of the National Assembly, which commenced July 30, 2019.
The Opposition’s unfounded and baseless accusations stemmed from the debate on the Drugs (Prevention and Abatement of the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Under the section, “Announcements by the Speaker” on the Order Paper for the Sitting of the National Assembly today, Tuesday, September 03, 2019, Speaker Perkins reprimanded the Opposition members for their blatant misrepresentation in the local media of what transpired during the previous sitting and noted that this was done in an effort to bring the Honourable House into disrepute.
Speaker Perkins told the nation that due to certain circumstances that developed on July 31, Deputy Speaker the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett announced that the National Assembly would resume at 1:15 that afternoon.
In debunking the false claims purported by the Opposition, the Speaker Perkins placed on record that, “The Honourable Deputy Speaker took the chair that Thursday morning at about 10:05 and she announced the House would be further adjourned until 1:15 that Thursday afternoon. At 1:15 that afternoon, at which time I was the presiding officer, the Honourable mover of the bill would have risen and made his closing presentation. There were no members of the Opposition present at that time, similarly to the start of the sitting the day before when there were no members present.”
Furthermore, Speaker Perkins noted that Members of the Opposition had ample opportunities to make their presentations to the Honourable House on the Drugs (Prevention and Abatement of the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Bill 2019.
“I was the presiding officer for most of that sitting, with the exception of when the Deputy Speaker the following morning on the Thursday, and I am aware that on at least three occasions members of the Opposition were present and could have contributed to the bill and did not do so at the time, and so I find it very unfortunate that members of the Opposition would go beyond this honoured chamber and misrepresent what took place in here,” the Speaker added.
It was the latest attempt by the Denzil Douglas -led Opposition to discredit the Speaker of the House.
In a letter to the Speaker dated June 27th, 2019, Dr. Douglas accused the Speaker of “exclusion of the Parliamentary Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition in particular from the national delegation” that attended the OECS Assembly, for which he demanded an apology.
Speaker Perkins quickly dismissed Dr. Douglas’ letter as “misdirected” and informed him that “the Standing Orders of our Parliament do not stipulate or speak to any role that the Clerk, Speaker or our Parliament, has with respect to the functioning of and/or a relationship to the OECS Assembly; neither is there any legislation which does so.”