Discretion, if not wisdom, suggests to any public official who mis-cites himself, misrepresents the facts on which he makes false claims, accuses others of amnesia and of stupidity, that at the very least, he should just stay silent, if not apologise. Expressed another way is the rule that when you are in a hole, you stop digging. Mr. Aubrey Norton seems unfamiliar with these common sense principles.
In his letter in the Stabroek News of yesterday’s date, Mr. Norton describes as “the summit of stupidity”, the question by attorney-at-law, Mr. Kamal Ramkarran, on how he, Norton voted on the constitutional amendment to article 161 in 2000. Mr. Norton goes on to lecture Mr. Ramkarran that “you don’t vote in such circumstances—the Speaker merely notes that the ayes have it.”
Mr. Norton is not only embarrassing himself, but discrediting himself. Had he taken the most elementary step of resorting to the parliamentary records of the debate on the amendment Bill, he would have noted the following exchange:
“The Speaker: Honourable Members, I put the question that the Bill be read a second time. Those in favour, please say Aye. Those Against No.
“Members of Parliament: Aye.
“The Speaker: The Ayes have it. Let the Bill be read a second time.
“Hon. Reepu Daman Persaud: I rise because of the Constitutional provision that there must be a record. It is not that I want to be difficult. So I call for a division
“The Clerk: Dr. Roopnarine, Mr. Charlie, Mr. Nadir, Mr. Ramnauth, Mr. Andries, Mr. Norton (emphasis mine), etc.
“There voted for the Motion 48
“The Speaker: Honourable Members, the Motion is carried. Let the Bill re read a second time.”
Following the vote, the Assembly broke into Committee to consider the Bill Clause by Clause, after which Reepu Daman Persaud reported to the Speaker “that Constitution Amendment Bill No. 5/2000 has been considered clause by clause in the Committee, and passed without amendment.” Thereafter, as Leader of the House, Persaud moved “that the Bill be read a third time and passed as printed.”
A procedure similar to the putting of the Bill and a division of the Assembly at the second reading followed in which again Mr. Norton voted in favour.
In view of the above, Mr. Norton might wish to consider whether the “summit of stupidity” lies with Mr. Ramkarran, or somewhere else.