(Photo Credit: File)
During the October 17 sitting of the House of Assembly, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Marlon Penn alleged that he heard Junior Minister of Tourism, Hon. Shereen Flax-Charles, call him a liar. However, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Julian Willock refuted the Opposition Leader’s claim that such an utterance was made.
The back and forth between the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition on the allegation took place during the questions and answers segment of the House of Assembly.
The situation stemmed from a question Hon. Penn asked regarding a construction project that was taking place at the Queen Elizabeth bridge. The Leader of the Opposition and Eighth District Representative said that his constituents wanted to know what the construction was, and he noted that he even called the Tourist Board to get answers, but was unsuccessful.
The comment about no answer from the Tourist Board caused the Junior Minister of Tourism to rise on a point. Hon. Flax-Charles acknowledged that that the Leader of the Opposition did call, but she said that the information was to be provided by someone working on the project. However, the Junior Minister said that Hon. Penn did not answer the call when that person contacted him.
In making her point, Hon. Flax-Charles said, “It is my understanding that a call was made to the Tourist Board by the member. The call was returned on more than one occasion and the caller from the Tourist Board did not get a response from the member’s phone. I would have to defend the Tourist Board on this occasion. The call did come, it was sent to the individual who is heading up the project and he returned the call. He called several times and he got no answer. All I can say Mr. Speaker is either members must return phone calls when persons call them so that they would be able to get the correct information.”
However, Hon. Penn disputed what the Junior Minister said and stated that he was never called. Hon. Penn further pointed out that he heard the Junior Minister call him a liar when she rose to speak.
“Mr. Speaker I heard the Junior Minister said before she got up that I lied. Mr. Speaker, if I didn’t receive a call, I am the easiest persons to find; I too big; I cant hide. The person that I communicated with about the issue…they could reach me. I did not receive the call. I didn’t get any message about my inquiry on the matter…they could reach me. I put that inquiry in two weeks ago, so they been calling for two weeks and they didn’t reach me?” the Leader of the Opposition questioned.
In further insisting that he was not contacted by the Tourist Board, Hon. Penn explained, “I put in a call two weeks or it was more than two weeks ago. I should have gotten a response by now. Even if you are trying to call me, I ain't that difficult to find. I cannot accept what the member is suggesting. I heard that I lie, I heard the comment that I lied.”
In seeking the Speaker’s input on the matter, Hon. Penn stated, “I want you to address that issue, that suggestion imputing that I’m a liar.”
In response, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Willock said that he did not hear Hon. Flax-Charles call the Opposition Leader a liar.
“I didn’t hear that…Hon. Leader of the Opposition I have not heard that out of the member's mouth, so I don’t know how I am to address something I am not aware of; and I am sure that each of the 13 members here have respect for each other.”