Are the Crime Initiatives finally paying off?

Now I heard this break as a news story on Friday as I was returning to the Office from doing my banking which is another story... just know that First Citizens needs to hire more tellers... especially for month end...

suspended: Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday packs his briefcase as he prepares to leave the Parliament Chamber of the Red House, Port of Spain, on Friday. -Photos: MICHEAL BRUCEPM: We won't save Panday
Ria Taitt Political Editor
Sunday, March 30th 2008

Government is not prepared to encourage the importing of lawlessness into the Parliament, through the Leader of the Opposition, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said yesterday. And therefore his Government will not validate Basdeo Panday's behaviour last Friday by initiating or supporting a resolution overturning his suspension from the Parliament, the Prime Minister added. Manning said the lawlessness manifested itself in Panday's refusal to accept the authority of the Speaker.

The Prime Minister was responding to a question from the Sunday Express yesterday, on whether his Government planned to use its majority to bring a motion to end the suspension and "save the Opposition Leader".

Panday has been banned from the Parliament and its precincts for the rest of this parliamentary session, which runs until December. Panday was originally suspended under Standing Order 43 (3), for the remainder of the sitting, for defying the Speaker's orders not to use a laptop. But his refusal to leave the Parliament after this suspension, triggered a second suspension (under Standing Order 43 (10)), which extends for the remainder of the parliamentary session.

Noting that the Speaker transcends politics and is the symbol of authority in the House, Manning said Government supported the Speaker's attempt to prevent lawlessness from entering the Parliament and becoming a feature of parliamentary procedure. "The Speaker was entirely correct," the Prime Minister stated.

But yesterday as the reality of the suspension sank in, Panday was still unrepentant. "Why do you worry about what the Speaker says?" he asked the Sunday Express, when the issue of the duration of the suspension was raised.

"Why do you worry about that? Everybody knows why he (Speaker Barry Sinanan) is doing this. It has nothing to do with computers. He is trying to establish a regime in which we shall not be able to speak unless we have his permission. And it is our duty to ensure that he doesn't breach that fundamental democratic principle of being able to speak," Panday said.

Asked whether he would be prepared to accept the rescinding of the suspension by a Government majority in the House or whether he would take the same position he took when his seat was vacated in October 2006, Panday said he would accept a Government resolution terminating the suspension.

He said, however, that whatever happened, he was determined to go to the Parliament next week. "I was elected to represent the people and I am going to do that, at the cost of my life, if necessary," he said.

This, despite the fact that he has been banned from the Parliament and its precincts until the session ends? "But I must go! The people elected me for that purpose. And if it means, going to prison, then I'll go to prison," an adamant Panday stated.

Asked whether every UNC MP still planned to go to Parliament with their laptops next week, Panday retreated from his position taken on Friday that all 15 UNC MPs would defy the Speaker at the next sitting, saying: "I don't know what they will do. But I'll be there."

Parliamentary sources said yesterday that it was not clear whether Panday would be paid or not. Standing Order 43 (13) states: "Any remuneration or allowance to which a Member is entitled as a Member of the House of Representatives shall cease in respect of the period of his suspension."

However, Panday, who is the Couva North MP, is paid as Leader of the Opposition, which is a constitutional position. That position, based on an instrument of appointment by the President, has not been revoked and should not be affected by his suspension. And he is still fulfilling his duties as Opposition Leader, sources pointed out.

It is therefore likely that he will continue to receive his salary of $23,000 a month, plus travelling ($2,500), housing allowance ($5,000), and other perks. His constituency allowances would continue, since it is now accepted policy that unless the seat is vacated or the member expelled, constituency allowances will not be stopped.

Now I hope after they suspend MPs they start stripping the illegal tint from all Government vehicles... Stop and charge all those who use the PBR in Govt. vehicles... and all the like...

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