Trivial matter

When ordered by Speaker Barry Sinanan to shut down his laptop computer unless he intended to use it in yesterday’s debate on food prices, Panday three times refused to do so. The Speaker’s decision not surprisingly triggered a maelstrom of outcry from the Opposition benches, while government Mps looked on apparently amused.

When Sinanan eventually suspended Panday and Panday refused to leave the Chamber, the Speaker ordered the Police to remove him. Panday ignored the Police who seemed hesitant and the Speaker adjourned the sitting.

One result of yesterday’s confrontation was that the continuation on debate on food prices never got off the ground, giving rise to Opposition speculation that the government had somehow contrived the laptop issue for that very purpose.

We find this difficult to believe but can see how the Opposition would view the matter. On the other hand if the Opposition really wanted to debate food prices, Mr Panday could easily have accepted the Speaker’s ruling and allowed this critical debate to go on. Moreso since Mr Panday has not been taking part in House debates allowing his colleagues to express the Opposition’s view on matters of national interest.

We do, however, believe that the Speaker over reacted even though he had issued a circular several weeks ago stating that use of a computer in the House required his permission. In the Speaker’s absence these past few weeks, the Deputy Speaker, Pennelope Beckles had virtually ignored Panday’s computer which he had been taking to the House for some time now.

In our view it is much ado about nothing over a laptop and serves only to put Mr Panday back on the front page. Who would have thought that after battling criminal charges which put him out of the House in the first place, fighting an unsuccessful court action to regain his Couva North seat and then going on to win the seat once more in last November’s general election, Panday would again be kicked out of the House yet again over something as prosaic as a laptop.

Yesterday’s event is less than trivial given that on March 18, the Senate adopted the report of the House Committee which recommended that not only should Senators be provided with laptop computers but that they should also have wireless internet connectivity. To quote the report the Committee considered that it was a matter which impacts “the comfort and convenience of Senators.” Moreover the use of laptops is common place all over the modern world.

All independent Senators were in agreement with the introduction of laptops which would considerably reduced the shuffling of papers, which has since time immemorial, weighed down members of both the Upper and Lower House.

Indeed, much ado about nothing.


"Trivial matter"

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