Petty & Personal

Opposition Leader

The level of immaturity hit rock bottom during Friday’s question hour session in the National Assembly when few members of parliament (MP) hijacked the occasion to hurl personal attacks on the Opposition Leader. It was a disgraceful example of how honorable MPs can stoop to dishonorable levels to get their points across.
The issue is not about DPT MPs speaking against the opposition leader but the manner in which it was done. This time the MPs crossed the line of propriety as debates turned into bitter, debasing diatribe. The deputy speaker, chairing the session, could have quickly put an end to it before it turned ugly but he failed to stop the attacking spree.
There are many lessons to learn from this incident. This is the penultimate session of the first parliament and by now MPs are expected to exhibit better sense and wisdom while engaging in parliamentary debates. Friday’s incident only reaffirmed that there is still a long way to go.
While the MPs have absolute freedom of speech and expression, they must know they can’t make irresponsible remarks or take pot shots at an MP from an opponent party. By doing so, they are not only disrespecting the dignity of an elected representative but also undermining the sanctity of the institution of the parliament. In addition, it is also big blow to the art of democratic debate that MPs, as torchbearers, are supposed to exemplify. MPs must be accountable for what they speak in the parliament.
We have always maintained the highest order of decorum in the parliament. Debates and discussions have been conducted in the most cordial manner with due respect for opposing views. This must continue and any one who tries to, consciously or out of sheer ignorance, jeopardize this status quo must be dealt with.We have witnessed how business is conducted in parliaments in different countries where MPs even go to the extreme length of physically abusing each other. Perhaps, this extreme may not happen here but whatever undesirable should be nipped in the bud. Today, it is verbal abuse. Tomorrow it could be sword fight.

As Bhutanese, we expect our elected leaders to have a sense of maturity, propriety and ethics. We expect them to engage in debates without having to resort to slur each other. Above all, we want them to prove that politics can be a clean game too. For now, it seems, there isn’t much to say.

Inside the parliament, MPs are expected to conduct themselves in the best of manners. The speaker has the power to interfere and even reprimand, if need be, to prevent discussions from going petty and personal.

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