As the 201/2017 Budget Debate winds down in the House of Assembly, drama unfolded in the sacred halls, yesterday as the Speaker, Dr. Kendal Major, took the ‘whip’ to Dr. Andre Rollins, for what he termed as Rollins’ “apparent disrespect.”
Rollins, who has been visibly absent since the start of the Budget Debate last week, showed up in the HOA Thursday (June 16) to make his contribution.
However, Major had some choice words for the Fort Charlotte Member of Parliament, prior to his presentation.
“Last year I recall the Honorable Member for Fort Charlotte did exactly the same thing he is doing today, I am not pleased about this at all,” said Major, who was referring to Rollins’ behavior back in 2015.
“He showed up at this Honorable House at 11th hour and expected to speak. On strong disagreement from the Government side I allowed you your day, you were unapologetic then and quite presumptuous now.
“That you will show up at just about the end of the almost two weeks National Debate … I regard that, honorable member, as blatant abuse.
“You didn’t call, you didn’t write, you didn’t indicate any remorse and in so doing, you violated many spoken and unspoken petitions,” stated Major.
He noted that Rollins’ actions, in his view, were disrespectful and un-Parliamentary.
“Rule 86 speaks to Members who are absent from this place and every day, the Chair receives apologies from Members who are absent for various reasons. That’s an honored tradition, that’s a sign of respect,” Major added, noting, “It hasn’t happened with Fort Charlotte.”
Major said that the rules are not in place to undermine Members or to force Members to submit, “but there is an orderly and decent behavior for each of us, that’s expected.
“We have a system which everyone works together, there is a caucus and there is a schedule and we all are expected to follow the schedule. Senior Members of your caucus have indicated their attempt to reach you and speak to you, and invite you to speak when you should … but no.
“But I noticed you got the memo today, and that’s good; because if another Member had stood when I said, ‘As Many’ you would not have had an opportunity to utter a word in this place today,” Major said.
“But you were warned by them, you received the memo and you apparently have shown no respect for order, decency and fair play. You strike me as very presumptuous and defiant,” Major said to Rollins, adding “and you show contempt for the process of this House.
“So, Honorable Member I am going to invite you to speak, but before you do you must apologize to the Chair and this House, prior to you speaking in this place; because I believe you brought contempt to the process on both sides of this House and it is certainly unbecoming,” Major advised.
Standing to his feet, Rollins began, “I wish to inform this Honorable House and the Bahamian people that all the period of time I’ve been in contact with the Leader of Opposition Business (Neko Grant), to advise him as to the circumstance of my absence from this House.
“If, in fact, there was no communication made to you in that regard, for that, clearly it was never any intention; however, under the circumstances the member for Central Grand Bahama acknowledged my electronic communications to him,” Rollins explained.
“And so there is no need for me to apologize,” he added.
As Rollins was about to continue, Major interrupted, demanding, “Take your seat Member!”
Major then called for Grant to clarify the issue as he had spoken to the Opposition Leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis and Grant “… my understanding was clear that the Member did not follow the directives or wishes of this caucus and for some reason the Member wanted to convey his attendance here today.
“I am assured that the Member came today, because he received a memo from the Chair,” said Major.
Grant, standing to his feet, noted that he had communications with Fort Charlotte; however, he was not advised to offer an apology to the Chair and the HOA on his behalf, “and I will not be used as a scapegoat. At no time the member asked that I make apology on his behalf.”
Rollins was again ordered by the Chair to apologize before beginning his contribution.
“I will apologize for the communication was not forwarded to you,” Rollins said.
Published Friday, June 17, 2016