Senator Samuda defends PM as he clashes with Opposition lawmaker
Friday’s sitting of the Senate threatened to descend into chaos after Government Senator Matthew Samuda took strong objection to a statement by Opposition Senator Damion Crawford about Prime Minister (PM) Andrew Holness’ role in having Shaniel Francis doing advertisements on behalf of the Government.
During a demolition of houses in Clifton, St Catherine, last year October, Francis wept as her house was among 30 structures demolished on government orders.
Debating the 2023-2024 Budget in the Upper House, Crawford declared that the prime minister now had her making advertisements when she had been a victim of his actions.
“The prime minister decided to action as he acted…” Crawford said before being abruptly cut off by Samuda who rose on a point of order.
“Mr President. That is misleading the Senate. She was a victim of fraud by a gang selling land illegally, attached to the Clansman Gang. She was not a victim of the prime minister. That must be withdrawn, it is not appropriate.”
Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Peter Bunting, then rose and insisted that the prime minister did admit to Parliament that he had given instructions for the houses to be demolished. However, before he could go further, an incensed Samuda sprang to his feet.
“…To tear down an illegally built structure on stolen land by a gang that was attached to your side. He was not an abuser and you cannot do that. The statement must be withdrawn Mr President, the statement must be withdrawn, you can’t tell me anything. The statement is inaccurate and it is a lie. It must be pulled back, Mr President,” Samuda demanded.
Bunting insisted that there was nothing in his colleague’s statement to merit withdrawal.
At this point Crawford rose and asked of Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson, “What is your ruling, sir?”
“Minister Samuda pointed out that the prime minister did not give any instructions as suggested, to demolish her house. I think that Senator Crawford’s proposition is such that any right-thinking persons listening to it would not in any way be misled. So he can continue… .”
As he rose to continue speaking, Crawford gave an a cappella version of a few lines from the song Break My Stride by American recording artiste Matthew Wilder, poking fun at Senator Samuda.
“Nobody gonna stop my stride, nobody gonna slow me down, oh no…” he continued.