Gov't accuses Opposition of mischief in SenateSaturday, May 23, 2020
BY BALFORD HENRY
LEADER of Government Business in the Senate Kamina Johnson Smith yesterday accused the Opposition of mischief-making regarding the condition of Jamaicans who returned home on the Royal Caribbean cruise vessel Adventure of the Seas earlier this week.
Senator Johnson Smith, the minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, made the accusation after Opposition Senator Damion Crawford claimed that he had heard of people committing suicide on the ship and some jumping overboard into the sea.
The issue arose after Senator Johnson Smith reminded the Senate that Prime Minister Andrew Holness had announced Monday that since the activation of the immigration portal on the jamcovid19 website close to 9,000 Jamaicans had registered to come home under the controlled re-entry protocols.
However, she refused to elaborate on the issue, informing the Senate that Prime Minister Holness would provide additional information next week. But, Senator Crawford was concerned about the wait for the prime minister's update.
“If there is an acknowledgement of anxiety, then that cannot be a reasonable statement, when we are hearing that persons are killing themselves on the ship. Have you heard that? We are hearing that persons are jumping over [board] into the water,” Crawford said, adding that the Government should answer with “immediate effect”.
Government Senator Charles Sinclair felt that Crawford was overstepping the boundaries of the Senate's standing orders, asking questions which require the expertise of a medical professional. But, Senate President Thomas Tavares Finson ruled that since the minister had risen she could be allowed to answer.
Senator Johnson Smith accused the Opposition of being hypocritical, and referred to Senator Crawford's actions as indicative of “mischief-making” by the Opposition.
“Because, even as the Opposition is calling for unity in one breath, statements such as that just made by Senator Crawford in the guise of a question are creating mischief and…” Her final words were lost in the noisy reaction from Government benches.
“I know there is a video being circulated on social media by a member of this honourable Senate, which has an informal conversation with somebody who made the allegation about Jamaicans jumping off ships and committing suicide, which does nothing but cause anxiety. The person should be charged and prosecuted,” Senator Johnson Smith insisted, despite the uproar.
Senator Crawford, in response, accused Johnson Smith of wrongfully insinuating that he had said that Jamaicans aboard the ship had committed suicide and jumped overboard.
President Tavares Finson accused Crawford of “embarking on a frolic of his own” which he would not allow, and asked Crawford to continue with another question.
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