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Speaking truth and nothing but the truth

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Years ago, during my sojourn at the Guardian as political reporter, I often wondered why parliamentarians were obligated to address their colleagues on both sides of the legislature as the “honourable” so-and-so. To satisfy my curiosity I enquired from then editor-in-chief Lenn Chongsing why this was so and he said this was partly because of the high regard that the society placed in them, and they were expected to perform their duties in an honourable manner. 


I never quite bought into that, though, because of the very “unhonourable” conduct of some of our MPs towards each other in the parliamentary chamber itself. Another peculiar trait that had me confused was that they were being granted parliamentary immunity to say almost anything in their contributions under the protection of parliamentary privilege. 


Again I sought the advice from someone more qualified than I  and I was informed that they were allowed this freedom because it was not always possible for them to produce the necessary evidence to deal with the alleged wrongdoing of their colleagues and public servants, of whom very few were being attacked.



But there were safeguards to prevent parliamentarians from going overboard; their contributions had to be based on facts, particularly when they were making specific charges against non-parliamentarians (“strangers” as they were called), who could not respond in the Chamber when attacked by an MP.