Some members of the public have questioned why Member of Parliament for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, did not take to Parliament earlier on — or before — Thursday the special chair he has acquired for a back condition.
After a heated exchange between the Speaker, Hendrick Alexander, and Cummings, the Speaker asked Cummings to withdraw from Parliament after an outburst, as the Opposition MP demanded that the chair be brought in.
We asked Cummings via email on Monday why the chair was not brought in earlier. He sent us the following response.
The issue of the chair in Parliament and the speaker’s action have spurred all sorts of comments from various sources.I had to leave for Trinidad on Saturday on two personal counts and just catching up on the news. […] I arrived at the parliament just after 10 am. Normally it starts not before 10:20 to 1030.As [fate] would have it, this time it started almost at 10 am. I had to wait outside the door for prayers so I could not enter with the chair. I had made arrangements with the Clerk of the House for the chair to be kept in her office so I asked my people to leave it in her office, which was just outside the house. I actually brought the chair to the compound in my vehicle. I waited as long as I could in the very uncomfortable chair in the hall, even removing the foam seat to aid my posture. Eventually I could no longer bear the discomfort. I awaited an opportune moment and sought the Speaker’s indulgence, rather than just leaving. Note, I did not rise on a point of order, the PM was on his feet but had not started his presentation. It is well known that the Hon. PM does not make short speeches. It is also noted that Parliament normally breaks around 2pm for lunch. It therefore was too much of a challenge for me to wait all that time. That is why I sought the Speaker’s help for just two minutes max. In the discourse, that followed I tried to point him to his inability to know my circumstances and the urgent need for the chair. This has been a recurring matter. Note that the action of the speaker caused a loss of more than twenty minutes and I still did not get the chair inside. Everyone knows that I publicly ridicule the speaker for his glaring bias. This is not personal, I relate to Mr. Alexander in the most respectful way in public. Indeed he is a soft and likable person in public with whom I have interacted well over the years. What happens in Parliament has now obviously been taken to a very personal level by him. You may want to know that I am now having to give active consideration to bringing forward an operation requested by my doctors to replace two discs in my lumbar vertebrae. There is growing discomfort is sitting especially on that monster of a chair in Parliament. That is the worst possible design for my situation and it aggravates my injury with haste. I am even now in dialogue with my medical team and would have to be guided by their recommendations. I am truly grateful to the people of West Kingstown, many of whom have gotten together to purchase the chair for me and to the supplier who gave 10% discount on the chair.