Sun | May 28, 2023

Brown Burke’s outburst exposes her to censure

Published:Wednesday | March 22, 2023 | 1:38 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Dr Angela Brown Burke refused to withdraw her ‘shut yuh mouth’ remark after she was heckled when she rose to object to the characterisation of Opposition Leader Mark Golding as ‘Massa Mark’.
Dr Angela Brown Burke refused to withdraw her ‘shut yuh mouth’ remark after she was heckled when she rose to object to the characterisation of Opposition Leader Mark Golding as ‘Massa Mark’.

House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple Philibert appears to be on a collision course with St Andrew South Western Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Angela Brown Burke as the latter faces possible sanction next week after telling a government minister to “shut up” during a parliamentary sitting on Tuesday.

A spat unfolded in Gordon House after the opposition lawmaker was instructed by the Speaker to withdraw the “unparliamentary” comment.

In a Gleaner interview last evening, Brown Burke declared: “I will not bow to anyone. I will not, because I think, if anything, the Speaker should be called to book because she has been extremely partisan. She has descended into the political fray too often in Parliament and this is one such time.”

The feud was ignited when Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke referred to Opposition Leader Mark Golding as “Maasa Mark” after referencing the opposition leader’s comment at a party meeting at which he described Labourites as “damn fool”.

“Dat never sound like Markie G,” Clarke quipped on Tuesday.

The word ‘Maasa’ irritated Brown Burke, who rose on a point of order.

While attempting to explain her objection to the Speaker, she was heckled by Kingston Western MP Desmond McKenzie.

Brown Burke shot back: “Shut yuh mouth!”

This triggered further uproar, with the Speaker charging that Brown Burke used unparliamentary language and instructing her to withdraw the comment before making her point of order.

However, Brown Burke protested, arguing that Clarke’s “Maasa Mark” comment was also unparliamentary language.

In a sotto voce comment, St Catherine South Western MP Everald Warmington said: “It is not unparliamentary; he is a descendant of a slave master.”

Brown Burke again protested to the Speaker, referencing Warmington’s comment.

However, the Speaker said she could not rule on a remark that she did not hear.

As Dalrymple Philibert insisted on Brown Burke’s withdrawal of the remark she made to McKenzie, the opposition MP resisted, saying that she would not retract it on the Speaker’s terms.

The row placed on pause Clarke closing contribution to the Budget Debate.

Members of the Opposition, including Golding, walked out of the chamber before Clarke completed his presentation.

Before the end of Tuesday’s sitting, Warmington suggested that Dalrymple Philibert take tough action against Brown Burke for “disrespecting” the Speaker.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Brown Burke said: “I rose on a point of order because there was a term used in reference to Mr Golding, which I thought smacked of reverse racism.

“I thought to refer to him as they did dishonours the legacy of service of Sir John Golding and Mr Mark Golding himself. That was the point I raised on.”

The late Sir John Golding, the father of the opposition leader, was an orthopaedic surgeon who played a key role in containing the polio epidemic that hit Jamaica in the 1950s. Sir John Golding also made an immense contribution to the disabled community.

Brown Burke said that when told by a government minister to “siddung” and “shut my mouth” she retorted, “shut yuh mouth”.

Indicating that she had intended to withdraw the comment on the floor of Parliament, Brown Burke said she wanted to point out that the phrase she used was used across the aisle day-in and day-out without the Speaker calling anyone’s attention to it.

“Much was made about my comment while ignoring the reference of the minister of finance in Parliament on the floor that smacks of reverse racism in a country with a past of enslavement, with a motto of ‘Out of Many, One People’,” she said.

“I thought that it was unworthy of the minister of finance. In fact, he was the one who claimed victimhood when he was referred to as “black royalty”. He thought that that was not appropriate, but he thinks it is appropriate to refer to the leader of the opposition in those terms,” Brown Burke said.

In 2018, the People’s National Party’s Peter Bunting came under fire from Labourites when he said Clarke “reminds me of the black Englishman of colonial times who aspired to be sort of black royalty”.

Jamaica Labour Party General Secretary Dr Horace Chang had condemned Bunting’s statement, which he said likened Clarke to colonial masters.