Hon. Fraser Calls For Real Freedom Of Speech



Leader of the  Opposition, Hon. Julian Fraser asked the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) members to be vocal about politics in the parliaments/House of Assemblies in the region.

Hon. Fraser also enquired during the opening of the 40th Regional meeting of the CPA on 27 July why the regional body did not involve itself in settling controversy in the regional parliaments.

In making his query Hon. Fraser announced that good governance should not be just words on paper, but should be practiced. However, he stated that if there is no real regulator, there will be no real incentive to comply. “I’m afraid our system falls short in this regard,” he announced.

Hon. Fraser asked if the CPA would lend its voice to correct the issue: “Parliaments in this region, including our own has been stuck at times behind politics, when in fact the rules don’t provide for such. Political leaders are entitled to push the envelope, but the rules of the respective parliaments should at all times prevail. The CPA needs to be more vocal in this area.”

The Leader of the Opposition touched on the need for understanding freedom of speech and quoted former US President Woodrow Wilson to make his point. “It is not just simply having a government of the people, by the people and for the people that can define democracy anymore. Freedom of speech, which includes expression, is what Wodrow Wilson was talking about. We must promote these aspects of democracy if we want to be effective.”

“The CPA must be in a better position than most, certainly myself to know how this region has advanced politically and where it is heading. Frankly, I would be most disappointed to learn differently. It doesn’t take a genius to see that there is room for intervention…,” he added.

Hon. Fraser asked the gathering to consider the European Union and how it functions, and went on to making his point about true democracy being adopted in the various parliaments: “I think given our system of democracy only through genuine partnership between the legislative and executive can this happen considering the dominant presence of the executive within the legislative.”

The Opposition Leader said that a fully democratic parliament in the end boils down to the Speaker, and the Leader of Government business: “In the end it all comes down to the Leader of Government Business and the determination of the Speaker — Parliamentarians must be given full opportunities to debate any matter, and not be prohibited through the use of technicalities that are clearly irrelevant in the particular circumstance. Adequate time must be allotted for questioning which must then be allowed on the order of the day and answered truthfully. Committees of parliament should be functional and remain active if the parliament itself expects to uphold its constitutional mandate vis-a-vis good governance.”

“If the CPA wants to help in this regard I see nothing wrong with the CPA compiling a comprehensive list of considerably unorthodox occurrences from amongst the various parliaments throughout the region annually and have them up for discussion at these conferences,” he said.