Unfair and unjust rulings by Speaker Michael Perkins are a threat to democracy, reiterates Opposition Leader Denzil Douglas

Unfair and unjust rulings by Speaker Michael Perkins are a threat to democracy, reiterates Opposition Leader Denzil Douglas

Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, Hon. Michael Perkins
Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, Hon. Michael Perkins

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – Leader of the Opposition in St. Kitts and Nevis, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas is of the view that the unfair and unjust rulings of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Michael Perkins to silence the opposition is a threat to democracy and could lead to instability and unnecessary confusion.

“It is going to bring instability in St. Kitts and Nevis if we are not allowed to speak freely in the Parliament where our people have sent us to represent them,” said Dr. Douglas, who stormed out of the National Assembly on Friday after Speaker Perkins dismissed a Motion which expressed no confidence in the way he conducts the business of the lawmaking body.

Flanked by the four other opposition MP’s representing the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), Dr. Douglas said the decision of the Speaker to determine he was not accepting the Motion of No Confidence, is against the “basic principles of natural justice in the parliament to speak on matters that we believe are unfair and unjust and preventing us from exercising our rights and privileges as elected representatives with the mandate given by the people.”

“We realise that Speaker Perkins was bent on not allowing the Motion of No Confidence in him to come to the floor of the Parliament. I stood up on behalf of the members of the opposition benches and challenged him and indicated that his position to dismiss the motion against him was unjust and unfair and an attempt to silence us,” said Dr. Douglas.

“We refused to be silenced and I led the members of the opposition out of the chamber,” he added.
Dr. Douglas, who served as Prime Minister from 1995 to 2015 said it is clear to the Opposition from the last two sittings of the National Assembly that Prime Minister Harris is “using the Hon. Speaker Michael Perkins to silence the opposition.”

“We will not be silenced. We will speak out. If we cannot do it properly in the Parliament to which we were elected, we will find other means. We will bring these atrocities to the attention of the regional media; we will take these matters to the London-based Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). It is wrong. It is unfair. It is unjust and it is going to cause confusion here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Dr. Douglas.

“It is clear that every time we go to the Parliament, there is a concerted effort on the part of the government to silence us,” said Dr. Douglas, who recalled that during the Budget Debate last December, opposition senator Hon. Nigel Carty was asked to withdraw after the Speaker falsely accused him of laughing at him. Carty has denied the charge.

“At the first sitting for the new year, the Speaker has refused to allow us to be heard in our own Parliament. It means that the Government has taken a decision not to allow the Opposition to be heard here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” reiterated Dr. Douglas.

“We will not accept it. It is a serious threat to democracy. The Speaker cannot be the judge, jury and executioner. We will resist it,” said Dr. Douglas.

He noted that the Team Unity coalition of Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris had campaigned in the last general election on a platform of good governance and freedom of expression, including the fundamental right to debate issues, which is one of the principles of good governance in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“They promised a Freedom of Information Act that would be passed immediately, but what they have been seeking to do since they have been in office for the last two years, is unfair, unjust and unlawful,” said Dr. Douglas, a six-term parliamentarian.

Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas
Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas

Dr. Douglas accused Speaker Perkins, who first served as Deputy Speaker, of making little effort to ensure that Prime Minister Harris appoints a Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, which is normally chaired by the Leader of the Opposition, “Nothing has been done in this regard for the last two years. The Office of the Leader of the opposition is an appointed position enshrined in the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis. No active support has come from the Office of the Speaker to facilitate it and the administrative support is necessary for that office to function,” he said.

In the 2015 general elections the SKNLP, led by the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, remained the largest single party in St. Kitts and Nevis, gaining 11,897 votes to the Hon. Shawn Richards’ People’s Action Movement (PAM), 8,452, the Hon. Vance Amory’s Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) 3, 951 votes; the Hon. Joseph Parry’s (Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), 3,276 votes and Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris’ People’s Labour Party (PLP), 2,723.

Seatwise in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, the PAM holds 4 seats, the SKNLP, 3 seats, the CCM, two seats and the NRP and the PLP, 1 seat each.

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