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Microphone glitch ‘muzzles’ Rowley Budget reply delayed by 90 minutes
Technical difficulties in the new Waterfront Parliament Chamber halted and delayed Opposition leader Keith Rowley’s 2012 budget reply by almost 90 minutes yesterday. House Speaker Wade Mark had to suspend the House of Representatives twice in 90 minutes for technicians to try to sort out the problems. This involved the microphones on the Opposition row and specifically PNM leader Rowley’s microphone which was not transmitting sound to the rest of the chamber. Yesterday’s House sitting was the second time the new Waterfront Parliament location was being used.
The first was during Monday’s budget presentation by Finance Minister Winston Dookeran. Rowley had been set to lead off the Opposition’s reply to the budget at 10 am yesterday but when he started to speak, the sound of his voice did not reach the wider chamber. It prompted PP MP Anil Roberts to quip to Rowley: “I will lend you my voice for now.” Roberts added: “We muzzling the Opposition. We ‘fraid them... Why all you didn’t use the Centre of Excellence? May I offer you my seat, my ‘mike’ working.” After it was found that some microphones on the Opposition side were working and others were not, Speaker Mark suspended proceedings for 18 minutes, initially.
Parliament technicians then began working quickly to try and solve the problem. Several noted the equipment had been working earlier in the morning. When Mark resumed the session at 10.37 am the microphones still failed to work and Mark again suspended the sitting, saying — somewhat firmly — that he wanted the glitches to be rectified during the suspension. Technicians again set to work and almost an hour later the problem appeared to have been resolved and proceedings began at 11.25 am.
When Rowley eventually began his reply which was heard by the entire chamber, he said: “Nothing that has happened so far has taken away my congratulations to the Parliament staff,” Rowley’s delivery was also halted later at 1 pm for the lunch break. He continued speaking after lunch. During the second suspension PP MP Roberts continued teasing Rowley and PNMItes, saying: “(Juliana) Pena back in the country and jumbieing Rowley.” Roberts also quipped to PNMItes he had four tickets for the PNM’s BMW raffle and he wanted to ensure that if he won, someone didn’t remove his ticket from the draw. He added: “And I want it in red with a big balisier on the (car) bonnet.”
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