Senior Political Reporter
Fiery exchanges between Opposition and Government members ended Wednesday night’s sitting of the House of Representatives, with accusations and name-calling flying.
This after UNC MPs protested statements by Government House Leader Camille Robinson-Regis on the withdrawal of a question on the agenda—and her statements that UNC leader, Siparia MP Kamla Persad- Bissessar, was not there when that occurred.
It occurred as Wednesday’s debate and the sitting was concluding. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley wasn’t present for the clash.
Deputy House Speaker Esmond Forde had asked about the question as the sitting was ending. The question was withdrawn by Oropouche East MP Roodal Moonilal.
Arouca Maloney MP Robinson-Regis, who noted it was withdrawn, met with query from one UNC MP on the whereabouts of the Minister to answer the question. Forde, who noted the MP had withdrawn the question, said he was proceeding to House Leader Robinson- Regis. One UNC MP shouted that she could have answered earlier in the debate.
Robinson-Regis, addressing Moonilal, said, “We were told this question was withdrawn. You also confirmed ...”
Interrupted by comments on the question from Persad-Bissessar, House Leader Robinson-Regis, said, “You (Persad-Bissessar) were not here, Siparia, you were not here...”
With UNC MPs protesting, Forde warned them.
Amid the uproar, UNC MP Kadijah Ameen queried the relevance of whether “Siparia was not here,” while at the same time, Robinson-Regis—facing loud UNC protests—continued, noting the withdrawal “...by the MP for Oropouche East...”
Ameen and other UNC MPs demanded of her, “And who you shoutin’ at?”
Robinson-Regis replied, “Ah shoutin’ at Siparia because she was not here ... The MP for Oropouche East withdrew the question. I was there when the MP for Oropouche East withdrew ... you rose and asked again!”
As UNC MPs continued protesting—with PNM MPs, also protesting against them, one UNC MP told her, “Don’t shout!”
Robinson-Regis replied, “You won’t tell me how to speak!”
Forde again intervened in the UNC complaining and PNM retorts and desk-thumping of support for Robinson-Regis.
Robinson-Regis continued, “Mr Deputy Speaker, as I was saying, before the MP for Siparia came back in from her sojourn, you asked again to confirm whether this question was withdrawn and the MP for Oropouche East again said that the question was withdrawn. Unfortunately, Siparia was not here ...”
UNC MPs began protesting again. Robinson-Regis continued, “... Was not here ...”
Some accused her of “aggression”.
Robinson-Regis asked, “What aggression?”
She continued, “The MP for Siparia was not here, did not hear on the two occasions that the MP for Oropouche East stated very clearly that he had withdrawn the question...”
When UNC MPs continued queries to her, Robinson-Regis pointed, “Look him (Moonilal) there. Ask him! Don’t ask me! Look. Him. There...!”
Government MPs desked thumped their support while UNC MPs protested.
Amid the noise, Robinson-Regis continued her statements, telling the UNC to understand their MPs.
Young warns Kamla ...
In the din, Energy Minister Stuart Young shouted in Persad-Bissessar’s direction, “Oropouche East coming to take your wicket! Oropouche East coming to take your wicket! Oropouche East coming to take your wicket!”
A UNC MP shouted several times, “What outburst is dat boy, Small Pin?! ... Senior counsel, what is that (about)... ?”
UNC’s Rudy Indarsingh added, “Mr Deputy Speaker, Arouca Maloney must be reined in!”
During the melee, Robinson-Regis had continued calling several times to the UNC, “Take control of your Members and what your Members are doing!”
Another UNC MP yelled at her, “Too aggressive! You too aggressive!”
Robinson-Regis began, “You can’t tell me ...”
As UNC MPs continued yelling and desk-thumping went on, PNM MPs also “rumbled”.
With both sides raging at each other, Forde called for order and amid more noise, saying, “Members, I have ruled!”
He called for Robinson-Regis to do the adjournment of the House.
As Robinson-Regis began speaking, she received more flack from UNC MPs.
She replied grimly, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
The UNC continued protesting, causing Forde to rise again. Robinson-Regis then announced the adjournment to a date to be fixed.
A UNC MP told the T&T Guardian yesterday that he had been afraid the situation might have come to blows on Wednesday night. But a PNM MP claimed the UNC began the situation, “And we had to defend as we do for T&T.”