Let it not be said that I am shirking my duties – Speaker
It should not be said that Jomo Thomas, the Speaker of the House of Assembly is shirking his responsibilities as a parliamentarian.
Thomas, while speaking in Parliament on August 23, made this statement in response to recent comments made about him in relation to his role as Speaker of the House.
“I was away for about two weeks because I had gone up to New York because my mom is quite ill and I went to spend some time with her because I’m not so sure how long she would be with us…But I thought that it was critically important for me to come back to be here today because I know that in St Vincent and the Grenadines and even in this parliament, and for people who have a predominant voice on the airwaves, I know that there’s a fetish for foolishness and irrelevancies,” he said.
Thomas’ role has been questioned in recent times, following his absence from Parliament on July 18. On that day, the sitting started much later than its appointed time and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves suspended the sitting after Thomas’ deputy, Senator Carlos James arrived late.
The sitting was suspended to July 25 and Gonsalves had said that the late start had nothing to do with the Speaker as he had indicated that he had another engagement and would join the sitting later.
Thomas, in response to questions posed by SEARCHLIGHT this week, said that his comments in the House on August 23 were general statements to all the comments directed at him, both by opposition parliamentarians and Unity Labour Party (ULP) supporters.
He added that he did not cause the suspension of Parliament on July 18 as both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of the House were aware that he was going to be late.
“I wanted to be sure that I am here because I didn’t want it to be said that Jomo Thomas is ducking his responsibilities as a parliamentarian as was recently said on the evening of July 25,” he said in Parliament last week.
The Speaker said that when he was asked in December 2015 whether he would accept the position of Speaker, his first question to the Prime Minister was if he would still be able to practice law. He said the prime minister told him that “without a doubt, you would be able to practice law”.
He also said that while he doesn’t have a lot, he has a clear understanding of what money is, having come from the line of Malian king, Mansa Musa, who was the richest man in the history of the world.
“If at the time, the Speaker of the House of Assembly had to wear a colonial wig, I would not have accepted the position to be the Speaker. If at the time, I was told that I had to give up the practice of law to be the Speaker of the House of Assembly, I would not have become the Speaker of the House of Assembly,” Thomas said.