Posted: Thursday, May 18, 2017. 8:46 a.m. CST.
By Lisa Shoman: Brian Audinett aka “Yellowman” – Sergeant At Arms, National Assembly
“Put that down and no the video me before I stone you over this thing (railing) ya. I no play you know.”
Brian Audinett aka “Yellowman” – Sergeant At Arms, National Assembly “Why you like video people, that’s what cause me to broke people phone and so.”
Alindy Marisol Amaya – News Director, Krem News “You can try with mine.”
Brian Audinett aka “Yellowman”Try with your, I won’t try with your phone girl. You see that, it will get grab and I will stone it on the ground. (Grabs phone). This is what I tell you about, you frighten, your heart jump.”
The above statements are an open and perhaps unprecedented display of thuggery in the National Assembly played out live. All of a sudden the “circus” is for real.
The national “soap opera entertainment ” as DPM Patrick Faber alleges that “many will tell you that they believe that it has become” has turned deadly earnest, with Penner’s dogged but mistaken determination that he has a right to remain silent. Penner himself has referred to himself in fact as “an accused”.
Cornered and perhaps chastened (by some one or someones?) Penner desperately tries to recant the scanty but revealing testimony volunteered by him last week, blaming the senior lawyer and Ex cabinet member in the room for somehow tricking him into such volunteerism.
And so this week, a squad of operatives led by Alberto August, the Party Chairman of the ruling UDP and including Brian “Yelloman” Audinett, the Mace Bearer in the House of Representatives of Belize and the infamous Allan “AK” Kelly who throw an object from the National Assembly gallery at Parliamentarian Marcel Cardona, assembled for the express purpose of attending the Senate Hearings. And they disrupted Penner’s testimony.
Not only did this motley crew shout and heckle Senator Courtenay and defy the Chairman’s bid for order, they refused to exit the gallery until after the Hearing was suspended, and as captured by various cameras, the media was threatened and assaulted.
Make no mistake about it. This is the thin edge of the wedge. Today’s ugly open and defiant display of partisan thuggery in the gallery of the National Assembly and the ensuing lack of vigorous enforcement of decorum and decent conduct during the Senate Hearing -demonstrate a truly troubling threat to both our Nation’s democracy AND to the freedom of the press in the Jewel.
There is a current and fashionable trend to decry the current Senate Inquiry as useless and pointless. Frustrated and angry at the mounting revelations in the Senate, Belizeans are increasingly demanding that “someone” must go to jail. And many believe that nothing less will do; that anything less is abject failure.
This is normal. It is natural. Those who are old enough to remember the Watergate Scandal recall that it took years of hearings, testimony about nefarious and clandestine doings before the scandal reached all the way to the top, and two years – TWO YEARS – after the scandal broke and investigation began, Nixon resigned before being impeached, and that was in the US, not Belize.
Our pace in the Jewel is much slower, the powers of our Auditor General and our Senate much more limited. Our DPP is much more reluctant, perhaps than the US AG.
Even in the US, the sitting AG was removed and Special Counsel had to be appointed during Watergate. Why? To safeguard the independence of the investigation and safeguard democracy which must function with built in checks and balances.
As weak as our own Senate may seem, the powers, rights and responsibility entrusted to it by S.61A of the Constitution of Belize are wide in scope and meant to provide for forensic investigative capacity. It is then up to other authority to carry our their duties.
The proof that the Senate investigation is bearing fruit is the grudging but telling confession of the same DPM Faber about whom it is reported,later opined that the Inquiry must get serious.
Two and a half scant months ago, on March 1, Faber had this to say :
“I think what is clear is that there is a lot that has gone wrong in the immigration department as is the case in other areas of the government that are notorious for corruption. I think what is clear is that while everybody seems to want to place blame on the politicians that in fact there is much more going wrong and what is really needed rather than the pointing of fingers is for us to revamp the system and get a kind of system going that is transparent and that is open where these kind of abuses won’t take place.”
The reason? Clearly the Senate probe was, as Channel 7 news editorialized in the same news story,
“unearthing layers upon layers of irregularities and shady dealings by public officers and UDP operators.”
Why would the DPM admit that there is “notorious” rot in government unless there is?
It is increasingly clear however that the Senate Inquiry has turned as serious as a heart attack.
The proof of that was the presence of August in the gallery last week. He was shown on camera, pointing fingers at whom? Courtenay or Penner?
August and his posse showed up again yesterday, this time ensuring that Penner’s testimony was disrupted. Coincidence or deliberate?
It makes no difference. Coupled with the antics and arrogant display and initial refusal to exit the Chamber; with the assault on the working media; the flagrant defiance of the police officers at the National Assembly; the brazen conduct of the mace bearer within earshot of the Senator conducting the Inquiry while the same was pleading with the bully boys to behave in the halls of the Assembly building – all point to one thing. One inescapable conclusion.
It is a “heat check”. In other words, it is clear positive proof that our democratic institutions are under severe siege.
I am no Cassandra. I despise conspiracy theory without more. But as we like to say around here, “Bline-eye Jonesy” could see the set play yesterday. And the only reason for it is fear. Growing hysterical fear of what will or could be revealed by witnesses in the Inquiry. Because there is more to come. Lots more.
Unless the Senate Inquiry chair takes a conscious decision not to permit the bully boys and fear-mongers to hijack the process, we may never know as much as we should. It is his sworn duty to us to ensure that we do. He can do no less and the eyes of an anxious, angry nation are on him.
Because make no mistake, any ensuing lack of vigorous enforcement of decorum and decent conduct, any further disruptions, any attempt at intimidation of media or witnesses, during the Senate Inquiry hearings, ARE a threat to our Nation’s democracy.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
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