‘Abused’ PNM MPs walkout...again

He later hinted at possible legal action for Government using its majority to have him suspended for the rest of the current parliamentary session which ends on or before June 17. He accused government of abusing rules of the House to get him suspended.

Rowley, who is also People’s National Movement (PNM) political leader, said, “If the Government wants to take any action against me for anything I’ve said in the Parliament, the very least they could do is follow written proceedings and the law of Trinidad and Tobago.”

He questioned why Government was not willing to follow proper procedure and refer him to the Privileges Committee if it felt he breached parliamentary privilege when he raised the Emailgate matter in the House on May 20, 2013. He said by its actions, Government is “complainant, judge, jury and suspender”, in this matter.

Rowley’s condemnation came after he and 11 other PNM MPs walked out of the Parliament Chamber after Government Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal opened debate on a second motion of no confidence motion against him, which pertained to Emailgate.

Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert, as was the case in the previous motion of no- confidence against Rowley, was the lone PNM MP to speak on the censure motion. As PNM MPs packed their briefcases, Imbert declared, “I dismiss this entire motion as perverse, politically motivated and a mockery of justice. It is a travesty, it is an abuse, it is a perversion, an absolute perversion and we will not stay in this Parliament to participate in that debate!”

Describing the motion as “a thinly disguised motion of suspension”, Imbert said the motion as presented by Moonilal could not be effected because the new Standing Order 8(a) clearly states that a member can only be suspended for seven days for the first time in a session. Imbert explained that under the now defunct Standing Order 42, Rowley could have been suspended from the House for the remainder of the session.

According to Erskine Mays Parliamentary Practice, Imbert said, it was clear Government was contravening established parliamentary convention by pursuing this strategy because, “they don’t have the courage to call a general election.”

“ They are cowards! They don’t want to come outside and face us on the streets in the general election of 2015,” Imbert shouted. He also challenged the authenticity of documents to which Moonilal referred in his contribution.

Speaking afterwards with reporters, Rowley described the debate as “illegal” and that he would be “irresponsible” to take part in such proceedings and by so doing, prevent any recourse, probably to the court or otherwise, from happening.

Asked whether he would take legal action if suspended, Rowley replied, “we will cross the bridges when we meet them.”

He questioned why Government chose not to refer him to the Privileges Committee if it took issue with the statements he made in the House two years ago on Emailgate. He explained had Government exercised that option, “then I would have no choice but to appear before the committee where there are procedures laid out in our Standing Orders and in law.”

Explaining this would have offered him the opportunity to defend himself and scrutinise the documents being advanced as evidence by the Government, Rowley said with Parliament due to dissolve next month, “with the best will in the world, that is just a nonsense.”


"‘Abused’ PNM MPs walkout…again"

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