Private Eyes Are Watching You

The “Parliament Laptop Drama” says a lot about etiquette and accessibility.

Read an article outlining the situation here:

Sinanan and Panday have been at odds since Panday questioned Sinanan’s re-appointment as Speaker (and I do not even think that they were pallywals before that).

The thing is about Trinidad and Tobago is that we operate on whim and fancy. The only time something becomes an issue is when someone ketches that “vaps syndrome,” whether it is to arbitrarily enforce some rule / practice (obscure or not) or to break it. 

In typical post-colonial fashion we have taken foreign inspired rules, regulations, codes of conduct and adopted them wholesale without without questioning the rationale for those rules, and moreover without thought for local relevance.

Do not get me started on the notion of “custom.”

Anyhow – (Erskine) May’s Parliamentary Practice and Robert’s Rules of Order cannot be the be all and end all of Parliamentary conduct.  Something has to be said about common sense and “broughtupcy.”

If the persons who prepare our youngsters for life in the working world – our teachers and lecturers – expect that students seek their permission to use certain technological devices in class, why should the people in top leadership positions in our society be exempt from that kind of courteous behaviour?

I am certain that such a practice (continuously asking for permission) could be considered to be a minor annoyance, but where would society be if we dispensed with all sense of propriety? 

Furthermore, if it is such a nuisance to many, perhaps the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago would best be served by devising its own rules of conduct concerning the use of technological devices when Parliament is in sitting.

Nonetheless, according to the aforementioned article, other Members of Parliament have sought “permission” to use laptops and other devices.

“Permission” here to me is used loosely in the sense that the Speaker is merely being notified, as a matter of courtesy,  of an MP’s intention to use a specific device. I have my doubts as to whether the Speaker will have real cause for denial (unless a complaint concerning device usage has been launched against the person in question).

So Mr. Panday’s behaviour seems to be purely designed to show his disrespect, if not contempt, for the current Speaker. 

What about the people’s business?

There are so many issues of national and local concern that ought to occupy the interests Parliament, but yet, their attention (and ours) have been diverted by this petty issue.

What is grossly insulting though is the Speaker’s contention, when referring to the use of laptops by the MPs, that “One doesn’t know if they are looking at pornography or chatting on-line.”

I would think that the Speaker would trust that the duly-elected representatives of the people would conduct themselves in a manner befitting their office/station. But I guess not.

If he has so little faith in these people, why should we?

Furthermore, is the Parliament in the business of morality and thereby censorship?  If so, are there content filters with respect to the Internet access in Parliament? 

There are filters on the web-acessible computers in the National Library and there was no debate about the implementation of such a software (unlike some vocal communities in so-called developed countries).  If our national information service provider has no faith in the discretion of John and Jane Public, then that lack of trust has manifested itself at the highest levels.

In a week in which the Government is elaborating on its media and broadcast policy, you really have to wonder why we get all caught up in some stories more than others.  Are our attentions deliberately being misdirected?  Does the content that we have access to give us the whole story?


Yes – the title is a reference to the Hall & Oates classic. I sing a good falsetto rendition in the place that has the best acoustics – my bathroom;)

Yes – my hipocracy, given the post below, is noted.

~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on April 2, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: