In the practice and conduct of any democracy, a fundamental requirement is that Parliament must be seen to function, without hindrance, for the progress of the people and the very country that the Parliamentarians represent. The responsibility of representing the people is an honour that must be taken very seriously.
It is also true, that for Montserrat’s evolving Democracy to function, the institutions that hold the democracy to account cannot be seen to have partisan restrictions enforced, so as to satisfy one side over the other.
Montserrat’s Parliament; The Executive Branch; and The Judicial Branch are key facets of the island’s democratic practice. Therefore, any attempt to restrict their free reign in advancing the business of the people, then there ought to be a strong opposition to resist such moves.
In Montserrat, the structure of governance follows the Westminster Parliamentary System of representation. During sittings of the Legislative Assembly, questions are posed to the ruling Administration, and answers that give enlightenment to the matters raised are expected to be delivered by the Members who sit in Parliament representing the ruling Administration.
Ever so often, it seems as if there is an attitude of neglecting their primary Parliamentary duty of responding appropriately when questions are being posed.
Why does the Honourable Premier and many of his Ministers give the impression at nearly every sitting that they are being harassed unnecessarily when being asked questions by the Opposing side?
When responding to questions, the “I cannot be bothered” tones from Premier Taylor-Farrell and Hon Kirnon; the intellectual snobbery and arrogance of Dr Sammy – such displays lends one to think that the party in power does not care to keep the people informed thoroughly beyond their own party propaganda rhetoric. There is one thing that continues to be showcased by the MCAP party whenever they hold power on Montserrat – they despise accountability and anyone who dares to disagree and challenge them. Over and again, this has been their modus operandi.
The responsibility of the government in power is to cater to the progress of all of its people. Dare I remind the MCAP folks that progress is not only an economic undertaking, but progress is also a social aspiration. This social element also encompasses the ability of the people to present tough and probing questions to their Representatives to pose to the government in power. Progress is also a function of the island’s democracy, where citizens should be allowed to hear their Parliamentarians being held to account without fear of being shut down and continually denied by the Speaker of the Assembly.
When the ability of the Parliamentary Branch of Montserrat’s democracy is curtailed by a party-leaning Speaker who seemingly is increasingly favoured towards protecting the Government in power, then that is not progressive. It is counter-productive to progress.
The Speaker alluded, during an opening speech, to a dysfunctional parliament. But the dysfunction in parliament does not only arise from the Members of the Assembly neglecting their duties to engage debates, bring Bills and questions forward that will showcase their mindset to move the country forward. Let me say here that a dysfunctional Parliament also takes hold when a Speaker forgets that he or she is not there to protect the party in power, but more so to show fairness, professional conduct, maturity and humility with the access to power and authority that they hold, overseeing proceedings in The Legislative Assembly.
When these lines become blurred from the Speaker’s Chair, then they must be responded to with haste.
The democracy must be protected from the vultures that seek to undermine it with their designs on power without accountability.
Lest they forget, Trumpism and its agents were soundly sent packing only recently with a defeat at the polls.
Note: Jeevan A. Robinson is Founder and CEO of MNI Media. He also writes Op-Eds for MNI Media’s publishing outlet, MNI Alive.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org