2 Apr 2008

Editorial worth reprinting

There he goes again-the Member for Couva North-snarling in what he must imagine to be the way of a lion but weaseling out, in the end, of his duty to his faithful constituents. For hadn't Mr Basdeo Panday not indicated on the very day before House Speaker Barry Sinanan asked him, that he wasn't prepared to take part in any of the parliamentary debates? So when he told Mr Sinanan, on the day when asked, that he didn't know whether he was going to, did he not reply in the negative only because he knew that to do so would be to almost beg the Speaker to order him to shut down his laptop?

Parliamentarians, in keeping with technological advances, have been equipped with computers but to use them during sessions they not only have to seek permission from the Speaker but they have to use them within a set of parameters, among them being that they should be used to facilitate the work of the House and not, for example, to track down pornographic sites.

Mr Panday almost certainly would not have been doing the latter before his self-made and self-indulgent Friday fracas but he was equally certainly not doing the former, which meant that Mr Sinanan was well within his rights to move to restrain and then remove him unless, that is, one is of the view that Mr Panday's record of lawless behaviour has made him a law unto himself.

If, not for the first time, Mr Panday has managed to work himself out of his seat in the House, one of the reasons is that his entire political career has been marked not so much by industry but by posturing aimed at fanning his own ego at the expense of the effort required to deal with the business of the very people whom he then expects to fall for the line of lionising him as some kind of a warrior martyr.

But the results of the last election which continue to eat into Mr Panday's craw should have taught him that even inside Couva North more and more discerning citizens have formed the view that playing to the ethnic gallery, whatever his acting claims, is getting neither them nor the rest of the country anywhere. This is not surprising since disquiet and the requirement for serious political debate that will lead to tenable national solutions is growing on both sides of the ethnic divide.

Before the Leader of the Opposition and the parliamentarians on his side decide to unlawfully use their laptops at the next session they would do well to consider the example they will be setting in this context and the excuse they will be giving the Speaker to use any or all of the options that happen to be at his disposal.