Ferreira slams bad behaviour of politicians

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PNM stalwart Ferdie Ferreira. –

PNM stalwart Ferdie Ferreira is taking politicians, including the Prime Minister, and public administrators to task for recent utterances which, he says, ought to be of serious concern to citizens across the board.

In a letter to the editor on Sunday, Ferreira said while Parliament is not a Sunday school and parliamentarians are not acolytes, the level of combative behaviour being displayed cannot be compared to what existed in the past.

Quoting Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, Ferreira said Trinidad and Tobago politicians’ lack of self-discipline has now become the rule rather than the exception, and was moving swiftly towards the destruction of TT’s democratic institutions.

He said he has been following parliamentary debates since 1950 and was privileged to be in Parliament every Friday between 1961 and 1972 when the Democratic Labour Party opposition and the government “went after each other’s throats with a venom that quite often the Honourable Speaker had to eliminate some of the contents from the records of the Hansard.

“The rest of this unholy chapter is now part of our parliamentary history. This chapter, as unholy as it was, cannot be compared with what we are experiencing today.”

He said the Prime Minister’s text to a public-spirited or any other citizen to kiss his a–, “whatever the aggravation, is totally unacceptable and ought to be forcefully condemned.”

Ferreira said the utterances and “questionable behaiour” of Opposition MPs and senators must also be similarly condemned.,

“Senator Anil Roberts’ vicious, vulgar and inappropriate attack on the President of the Senate, for which he was forced to apologise under pressure, was completely ignored by the Leader of the Opposition.

“Senator David Nakhid’s…attack on our President takes the award for the most disrespectful and disgraceful behaviour of any member of our nation’s Parliament in the history of my 60-plus years as a parliamentary observer and political activist. Again, ignored by his political leader and Leader of the Opposition.”

He criticised “the highly questionable behaviour of the (MP) for Moruga/Tableland on Tuesday October 11, 2021, publicly refusing to obey a lawful order as a lawmaker herself. I am however prepared to forgive the young enthusiastic member who may be a victim of the lack of self-discipline of her leader, and hopes that she learns from this unfortunate experience.”

Lastly, Ferreira also cited public criticisms of Dr Rowley and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds by former commissioner of police Gary Griffith.

“It is unprecedented in the history of our constabulary. Such behaviour can only damage the institution and bring it into disrepute.”

He called on citizens, regardless of party loyalty, to defend and protect the country’s institutions and continue to demand the highest standards of self-discipline and integrity from those elected to lead.

“My only response to the parliamentary disaster on Thursday October 21, 2021 is: ‘Is this the alternative?’”

Ferreira was responding to the chaos which erupted in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College, which met to vote on a motion, filed by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, to remove President Paula-Mae Weekes from office, arising out of the failed attempts to appoint a new commissioner of police.

Opposition MPs and senators were vociferous in their assertion that they should have been allowed to debate the motion, but Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George insisted the Constitution did not allow for it.

During Annisette-George’s explanation for her guidelines which debarred debate, Opposition MPs and senators accused her of bias and stifling democracy.