Prasad expresses disappointment to Speaker

Speaker of Parliament, Dr Jiko Luveni addressing the August House yesterday. Picture: SUPPLIED

NATIONAL Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad wrote to Speaker, Dr Jiko Luveni expressing his disappointment about not being allowed to explain a Point of Order he raised in Parliament, which prompted his walkout from Parliament yesterday morning.

In a letter addressed to Dr Luveni, dated November 27, 2018, Prof Prasad told Dr Luveni that she had prevented him from raising a Point of Order which was well within the ambit of the Standing Orders of Parliament.

The Point of Order, he said concerned the need to correct a statement by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on Monday about past events in Parliament.

In the letter, Prof Prasad said the Point of Order took precedence over all matters in debate if it was raised well within the ambit of the Standing Orders.

“A point of order concerns, correctness and fairness in debate,” Prof Prasad said. “A member should not be restricted from raising it.”

He outlined to Dr Luveni that during a debate on the Standing Orders to be adopted for the new Parliament on Monday, the debate discussed the changes that Government voted through in 2016.

“At that time, it used its majority to defeat the Opposition to achieve those changes,” he claimed.

“The Attorney-General claimed that the 2016 changes to the Standing Orders had ‘gone through the committee stage’. He suggested that there had been a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee where the Opposition had not turned up.”

He said his Point of Order was to say that the claims by the A-G was incorrect.

“The records show that the Opposition attended every meeting.

“A second meeting of the committee to discuss the 2016 changes was adjourned. It was never re-convened. All of this is already on the Parliamentary record, pointed out by then SODELPA Whip Hon Isoa Tikoca on 11th February 2016.”

Prof Prasad also told the Speaker that he wished to know why he was not allowed to bring this matter to the attention of Parliament.

“I also wish to know, once you have ‘checked the records’ what you intend to do about it,” he said.

“If the record shows that my point is correct, will I be permitted to continue with my point of order?

“We are in the first week of the new Parliament. This issue is important because the Standing Orders of Parliament set out how Parliament will function in the next four years.

“Why is the Opposition side not even allowed challenging the Government on basic facts?”

In her ruling yesterday afternoon, Dr Luveni told MPs that they must realise that Points of Order was made as it applied only to the rules and practices of the House and not on content of any speech or comment.

“And the Point of Order must be raised at any time during a sitting,” Dr Luveni said.

“It’s not a presentation of a prepared paper and therefore the Point of Order that was raised this morning (yesterday) does not qualify under the Point of Order process.”

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