PHILIPSBURG–A long-lamented meeting of Parliament’s Committee for Tourism and Economic Affairs TEATT came to an abrupt stop on Friday afternoon after Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson used the phrase “dumbing down” when reiterating an answer to a question from National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament Egbert Doran.
Doran had asked the minister if he supported locals in positions at majority government-owned companies such as Princess Juliana International Airport. Johnson indicated, very wordily, that had no issue with locals attaining positions. Doran asked for a clear answer to which Johnson replied that he would “dumb it down” in his reiteration.
That comment did not sit well with NA parliamentarian Ardwell Irion. He called for an apology from the minister. Committee Chairman MP Rolando Brison asked Johnson if he would apologise, to which the minister responded that the phrase was similar to “in layman’s terms” and he did not see any reason for MPs to take offence.
Brison continued with the meeting, but it did not last long after with MPs Christophe Emmanuel (NA) and Doran leaving the meeting. Irion again stated that Johnson should offer and apology and requested a roll call to determine if the meeting could still proceed.
Prior to the roll call, MP Jules James (United Democrats) chimed in saying that many comments are made by MPs in Parliament and all of it should not be taken as offense. He pointed to MP Emmanuel who called Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin “a thief” in a sitting on Parliament on Thursday.
Irion rebutted that if James did not speak up, that was for James’ account, but he wanted an apology to his fellow MP from Johnson. He, thereafter, left the general assembly hall as well.
A review of members present had subsequently shown they were insufficient to continue the meeting that was requested since June 2018, and that has seen several starts and stops since due to the minister’s as well as Parliament’s schedules.
Brison said the Rules of Order of Parliament allow him as the chairman to sanction an MP in a case of perceived bad conduct, but this does not extend to a minister. Thus, he could not demand that Johnson apologise and only ask if he wanted to do so.
Brison added that he had been calling for changes to the Rules of Order since entering Parliament, but nothing has happened. The rules can only be changed by MPs.
The meeting, which has several other tourism, economic affairs and transportation topics, will now have to be reconvened at a later date.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/87785-stuart-s-dumbing-down-comment-sparks-walkout