Trade union representative in the Senate, Ray Robert has rebuked the President of the Upper House, Sen. Chester Humphrey for bringing the office into disrepute.
Sen. Roberts issued a press release Tuesday taking issue with Sen. Humphrey for making calls to some radio and television “Call-in” programmes and engaging in heated exchanges on political issues with members of the public.
In the release, the trade union representative felt that Sen. Humphrey who is the President-General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) should not compromise the office of President of the Senate.
“In my 40-year journalism career, and now as a Member of Parliament, this is the first time I have listened to a President of the Senate calling a media house to engage in bacchanal and controversial debate with members of the public on political issues”, said Sen. Roberts, a one time close ally of Humphrey in trade union matters.
The Senate President who was expelled from the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 2012 is now an avid supporter of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government under the so-called “Project Grenada” banner.
Under the arrangement, a number of expelled Congress member are now supporting the Keith Mitchell-led NNP, which won all 15 seats in the 2013 general election.
Following is the full text of the release issued by Sen. Roberts:
Freedom of association and the right to free speech are undisputed rights and privileges, which ought not to be inhibited. It is the right of every citizen to voice his/her opinion on issues.
However, with regard to our national leaders, they must recognise that they have a responsibility to set high standards for successive generations, rather than be in the limelight, inflaming controversial and contentious public debate, bringing their office to ridicule.
It is in this context that I find it very discomforting and very unusual to have the significant office of President of the Senate, the third highest office under our constitution, engaging in public condemnation of a previous administration and identifying current members of the Senate and their association with failures.
President Chester Humphrey calling in on talk shows – CC6 “You Decide” and on GBN’s “Beyond the Headlines” during the past few days was not in good taste. His office must rise above being a caller on a talk show.
Undoubtedly, I welcome and encourage our citizens to call in on talk shows and express their emotions; and in this case congratulating their Government on its third anniversary in office is most commendable, highlighting their success.
Party supporters in particular and others most definitely will want to showcase their achievements, and that is respected.
However, the President of the Senate, out of respect for the office and the dignity of the nation, should not reduce himself to a call – he has channels, in which he can pay glowing tribute to the government.
For example, he can write an official letter, publish a press release, and use the floor of the Senate to comment on the government under the section, “Announcements by Mr. President.”
In my 40-year journalism career, and now as a Member of Parliament, this is the first time I have listened to a President of the Senate calling a media house to engage in bacchanal and controversial debate with members of the public on political issues.
Had he been an invited guest as President of the Senate that would have been most appropriate! However, to be the protagonist or an antagonist leaves much to be desired.
As you would have heard this morning (Tuesday), the behaviour of President of the Senate was the topic of our talk shows – some ridiculed him, some expressed concern and others saw nothing wrong.
Grenada does not need its leaders, more so its senior leaders, who are supposed to be natural in public, fueling the fire of controversy and disrespect.
Already and most unfortunately, the Prime Minister has allowed Information Minister, Senator Sheldon Scott, who is paid from the public purse, to spend two hours Monday to Friday generally discrediting the opposition and anyone who chooses to express a view negative to the Government.
Scott is 90 percent about sowing the seeds of disunity and wise heads should privately engage Senate President, Chester Humphrey urging him to recognise the significance of his office to national unity and therefore refrain from being a caller on talk shows.
He has many other avenues to get his message to the nation.