NASSAU, BAHAMAS- While being careful not to directly criticize over a recent ruling on the use of cellphones in Parliament, Former House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major called the recent ruling by his successor on the use of cellphones in Parliament “over the top”.
Major said he would not have made the same decision had he been in the chair, as he addressed a Progressive Young Liberals Marathon Branch youth meeting on Friday.
Moultrie ordered a reporter’s phone be seized and any video recording deleted at last Wednesday’s sitting, where he also issued a damning criticism of the fourth estate in The Bahamas.
The house speaker insisted media organizations have “descended” the quality and accuracy of reporting standards.
Major said he received at least four calls from journalists seeking comment on the matter following the incident.
“It is easy to sit where I sit today from my perch and criticize another sitting member who’ve made a judicial decision, whether it’s right, wrong or indifferent,” he said as he opined on “Restoring the Dignity of Politics” in the country.
“And if I were in that position, would I have made the same decision – I trust not.
“But obviously because he is there, he was faced with a different scenario. And so I was careful in my capacity as a private citizen, not to criticize his decision.
Major said: “Although one can argue that in some respects it was over the top, in some respects, and they could criticize it.
“But for me in my position to add more fuel to that, it would be easy for me, from where I sit, to criticize a former speaker, and I have sat in that chair and also made some mistakes.”
On Wednesday, Moultrie accused a reporter from The Nassau Guardian of using her cellphone to record proceedings without permission.
He referred to an incident earlier this year, when a cellphone video of Fontella Chipman, sister of Centreville MP Reece Chipman, demonstrating inside the House of Assembly went viral.
However, The Nassau Guardian later revealed the deleted photos, which were recovered from the cellphone, were of Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper as he contributed to debate on the bill to allow for the replacement of government-issued documents lost due to the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
Major, who insisted that politics in general is in disarray, noted that “there is slackness and disconnect in our people on many levels,” and attributed that disconnect to the lack of relationship and responsibility of politicians to the press, youth, fellow politicians and the general public.
He then pointed to the state of Parliament procedures.
“How the Parliament is conducted today, I believe is deeply tribal, unprincipled in many respects and uninspiring to our young people,” Major continued.
“In many respects it’s mediocre and unproductive, from the bills to the process to the procedures, there’s a lot that needs to be answered and needs to be addressed among our people today.
“We are spiraling, out of control, day by day, but yet the politicians of the day and the system of the day have not recognized the need to change it, and that’s as much my fault as it is the present politicians.
“The procedures of Parliament [don’t] serve the interest of the public today because much of what takes place is a disconnect with the public.”
Major’s comments echo similar sentiments expressed by Moultrie last month, who said he believes the standards and level of parliamentary debates need to be raised.
Moultrie and Deputy Speaker Don Saunders were guests on Beyond the Headlines with Clint Watson, where they were asked if they believed the level of debate in Parliament had been dumbed down.
“Yes I do,” Moultrie said, “and that is one of the reasons why I try to function in the manner that I do.”