“I am not afraid of you; You made a mistake to mess with a dock worker,” he had stormed.
There are two issues.
Firstly, we consider that as a director of Udecott appointed by the Government he had absolutely no business taking part in that debate, in the role of a Senator who is supposedly independent. Secondly, we say he was wrong to use the parliamentary chamber to attack other people, including a politician, a businessman and even a journalist. He kept looking in the direction of the press gallery and shouting, “Where is Mr Bagoo” (Newsday reporter).
More fundamentally, was the fact that Mr Annisette in the guise of an Independent Senator, passionately defended a Government company which is embroiled in controversy over the awards of billions of dollars in contracts, while also vehemently attacking the character of other individuals.
The whole issue was, to us, a blatant conflict of interest.
If Mr Annisette felt he had to get something off his chest in his own defence, he should instead have sought to simply make his views known and then get on with the debate on hand.
In addition to the content of his speech, we also have serious concerns about Mr Annisette’s style of delivery.
Mr Annisette’s delivery was loud and some might also say, aggressive. Further, while speaking he vigorously waved his arms around with an apparently agitated body language.
It was a sight never seen before within living memory on the Independent benches.
We accept that things may get heated in the cut and thrust of partisan politics in the elected Lower House. Such partisanship may even spill over a little into the Upper House between Government and Opposition Senators. But this conduct should never be displayed by an Independent Senator.
By and large, the purpose of the Senate in a bicameral parliament is to be a restraint on the raw power of the Lower House. Further, within the Senate itself, the Independent Senators are expected to be the voice of moderation and decorum.
Up to this time, Trinidad and Tobago has been very well served indeed by the dignity of our past Independent Senators.
Sadly, Mr Annisette’s speech last week was certainly not calm, reasoned, measured and impartial.
He has failed to assuage fears of a conflict of interest in his role as an Independent Senator and as a director of Udecott (and other State boards), or that he has the right temperament to be an Independent Senator.
We say it is time for Mr Annisette to do some serious soul-searching about his future.