All those who give Sir Gerald Watt the benefit of the doubt in the face of accusations that he uses the Speaker’s chair to spread hate and wage his personal vendettas, should look at his treatment of St Peter MP Asot Michael during the budget debate on February 17th, 2022.
A few short minutes into his remarks on the 2022 budget on February 17th, MP Michael was interrupted by Speaker Watt for a lecture on the rule regarding not reading speeches in parliamentary debate.
At the time, Michael was actually quoting a few lines from the Budget Statement of Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Referring to notes and reading a direct quotation from the presenter of the budget does not and cannot mean that someone is reading a speech.
Michael assured the Speaker he was familiar with the rules and he was not reading. But a characteristically hostile and caustic Watt went on a rant about the rules. He insisted the St Peter MP was reading and proceeded to threaten him with “consequences”.
A few days ago, I saw the Tourism Minister Max Fernandez and Lands Minister Maria Browne reading speeches. There was no interruption from Speaker Watt. Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Green read a substantial part of his debate contribution. There was no interruption from Speaker Watt. The three-hour budget statement itself was read from a tele prompter. Not a word from Speaker Watt.
So why was he picking on Asot Michael? Why was he hassling and bullying Asot Michael? Why was he unnecessarily interrupting the flow of MP Michael’s presentation? And if he was not acting out his personal dislike for that duly elected member of the House, on whose instructions was he behaving in such an abusive, dictatorial and discriminatory manner.
My aunt commented that at this stage of Sir Gerald’s life instead of disgracing himself with ugly displays of pure prejudice against Antiguans and Barbudans he does not like, he should be the perfect example of statesmanship in the Speaker’s chair. I agree Unfortunately, it seems too late now for Sir Gerald to find the capability of leaving behind the baggage of his political frustrations in the sixties and seventies where they truly belong.
What a shame!
Thank you for affording me the opportunity.