SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE HOSTS THE MEDIA – by Francis Quamina Farrier
Speaker of the House, the Guyana National Parliament, Hon. Dr. Barton U.A. Scotland, O.R, M.P, on Tuesday October 25, 2016, hosted members of the Guyana Media, at the Parliament Lounge, Public Buildings. And what a session it was! It was the very first occasion of Dr Scotland hosting the Media, and he made the observation that the Guyana Media Corps was made up of more youthful reporters than the matured.
Nonetheless, the reporters in attendance, posed many probing questions to the Speaker, and on many occasions, Dr. Scotland not just eloquently responded, but on quite a few occasions, posed another question to the reporter’s initial one. For example, when asked, “What can you do to raise the level of the debates in Parliament?” the Speaker quickly threw the question back to the reporter, “What can we all do?” Then added, “We are all Guyanese, and we are all in the same boat. “We can paddle together, or not, and go nowhere.”
However, in my estimation, questions and such statements coming from the Speaker in response to a reporter’s question, in that setting, was never done in any way to embarrass the reporter, but rather to take the discussion to a higher level. Dr. Scotland seemed to be in all his elements, not as Speaker of the House at that time, but rather as a University Professor, taking some Journalism students through their paces. And giving professional advice quite a lot of the time.
When asked what he would like his legacy to be, Dr. Scotland initially took a hands-off position – not giving any real definitive response; however, he finally stated that he would like to see the MPs finding a common goal. Also that there be a Moral Development within the Parliament. It was also agreed that the younger members of the Guyana Media can benefit from advanced training in journalism, as well as how to dress for various assignments. The example was given, of a media operative who wore jeans to the recent siting of parliament, which was addressed by the Head of State, His Excellency, Brgd. David Granger.
Listening keenly to the on-going exchanges between the Speaker of the House and the Media, I couldn’t help but juxtapose that meeting with the Hon. Speaker of the House, with actual sessions in the Guyana Parliament. So I discovered myself standing and expressing the view that the Parliamentarians could very-well learn from that humble session between the Speaker of the House and that representative group from the media. I respectfully suggested to the Speaker, that he should recommend to the parliamentarians, that they glance up to the awe-inspiring art work on the ceiling of the Parliament Chambers, and draw inspiration for better exchanges, with much less acrimony, during Parliamentary Sessions.
I also recommended to the Speaker, that he use his good office, to have the parameters of the Public Buildings, kept much cleaner than they are now. I bravely pointed out that they are the most filthy in all of the Parliament Buildings I have seen in the rest of the Caribbean and further afield. To that, the Speaker agreed, as well as the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Sherlock Isaacs, who stated that it is an on-going matter between the Parliament and the City Council.
In this Guyana Jubilee Year, 2016, it was very wise of the Speaker of the House to have this, his first formal interaction with the media, which was followed by Lunch which consisted of a very balanced meal. The kind of balance which good journalism should be all about. Leaving the Public Buildings, and while still in the compound, I met with the now retired Clerk of the Parliament, Mr Frank Narain. Although in his early eighties, Mr Narine looks and moves as though he is in his early 60s. He showed me a copy of his recently published book, which is entitled, “Sharing My Memories – My Big Book”. Mr Narain worked for FIFTY long and productive Years in Guyana’s Parliament as Clerk, and experienced many political dramatic happenings. So those published memories of his, should be of interest to all the sixty five current Parliamentarians, as well as those who are now retired.
Sixty of the present parliamentarians are yet to buy the book. It is also certainly a book which all Journalists and those interested in the first fifty years of the work of Guyana’s Parliamentarians, should have. As a matter of fact, this book by the retired Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Frank Narain, will make an excellent Christmas gift to Relatives, Colleagues and Friends, both here in Guyana as well as in the Diaspora, in this our Jubilee Year, 2016.