Dress well, behave well


POLITICS fascinate us.
What politicians do – both in their public and private lives – fills media columns and of late has become the subject of discussions on social media.
Yet how much do we know about the role of an MP?
And more importantly, how do politicians themselves figure out how to be an MP?
Newcomers to any role have to manage a transition.
Members of Parliament surely have one of the swiftest job-transition periods ever and are expected to perform their roles competently while under intense scrutiny.
From day one, everything they say in the House is recorded for posterity and their actions at select committees are visible to the media and the public.
They are expected to engage with the media and the public, but only in ways that benefit their electorates and party – and not too little or too much.
We concur with East Sepik Governor Allan Bird’s concerns over the performance of MPs, especially Cabinet ministers.
MPs have responsibilities to three main groups: their constituents, Parliament and their political party.
The main roles of a Member of Parliament are to review legislation and to represent local interests in Parliament.
Last week, Speaker Job Pomat reminded all Members of Parliament that they should dress appropriately when attending parliamentary sessions.
They were also under the spotlight for breaching standing orders which do not allow MPs to walk out while another member is speaking.
Pomat referred to standing order 54 which states that: “Every Member of the Parliament, when he comes into the Chamber, shall take his seat, and shall not at any time stand in any of the passages or gangways.”
So how hard is that to follow? We expect our leaders to lead so that when we tell school children to follow school rules, we can look up to MPs as role models.
One may argue that honesty and integrity are qualities that make one a gentleman or a lady, not the wearing of a jacket and a tie.
While we might agree, we still feel that members of the country’s highest institution should observe a dress code that befits their status.
You wouldn’t wear a T-shirt to a court sitting (unless you were wearing one when you were arrested), and you wouldn’t opt for super casual attire when meeting with the governor-general or prime minister.
Why? Because to be dressed appropriately is a sign of respect. Parliament should be no different.
It should not be that difficult to find a jacket. Maybe it would be easier keep one at Parliament and put it on before the sitting. The Speaker should make male MPs wear a jacket and a tie.
However, there is no point in MPs wearing a suit and tie if they then behave like a bunch of rowdy children in the House.
In fact, when looking back at past cases, one finds that MPs who hurled insults and threats against fellow MPs were always in a suit and tie.
So while a dress code is important, it should be accompanied by good behaviour.

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