Sympathy on the Death of Mrs. Sheila Holder4014 02 Aug, 2012
Mrs. Chandarpal: Hon. Members and relatives of Mrs. Holder, I stand to give support to the motion moved by the Hon. Member Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan on the death of Mrs. Sheila Holder, former Member of the National Assembly.
All us who are Members of Parliament have come from diverse groups with diverse interests and it is usual for us, from time to time, in this National Assembly, to be representing various political parties. In the course of interaction we build relationships and communicate regularly on issues in which we find commonality.
I had known Mrs. Holder long before she entered this National Assembly. She was passionate in the work which she did with consumer affairs and, from time to time, I used to hear commentaries on the radio on the various consumer issues. This is how I knew her – with her passion for matters pertaining to the ordinary people. She was a consumer advocate and a very passionate one indeed.
Mrs. Holder entered the National Assembly in 2001 on a GAP/WPA ticket and in 2006 was a Member of Parliament on behalf of the Alliance For Change. From 31st May, 2001 until 19th June, 2011, the last being the Consumer Affairs Bill, she spoke on ninety-two issues, and that was from the time she entered the National Assembly. As a Member of Parliament, she was always passionate about issues which she raised in the Assembly. She was never shy about representing the issues she raised, and we heard from the Hon. Member Mr. Ramjattan some of the issues which she was very passionate about and those which she had represented from time to time.
On a personal note, we worked well and I recall many interesting conversations, but I want to refer to three Hon. Members who had very cordial relations with her. The first is Ms. Bibi Safora Shadick, who had a very cordial relationship with her because, according to Ms. Shadick, she was teaching the children Mathematics after school and there were many discussions which they shared. She said to me that there was one instance the St. Stanislaus College Parent Teacher Association (PTA), where she was responsible for the raising of funds to supplement teachers’ salaries, especially for those who had to pay for transportation to get to work. We heard about her public service and this is one of the issues that I can refer to.
According to Hon. Member Dr. Westford, Mrs. Holder would have called her regularly to make representation on behalf of a number of public servants, and those were things which were very often.
According to my colleague Ms. Gail Teixeira, and I want to quote:
“Sheila sat on a number of parliamentary committees with me. She was always a dependable member, always on time, and only absent if unavoidable. Also, she was prepared and willing to step out of the opposition block parties, from time to time.
As a woman, many were our private discussions concerning challenges women face in politics and how more women can be helped to choose their path and how we could encourage the new women who are coming to the National Assembly for the first time.”
On a personal note, as I said before, we had many interesting conversations and I want to start with the first one which was when we were setting up the Association of Women Parliamentarians. There were many conversations as to how we could have got this Association to function.
Also, we spoke on the question of heckling and she used to say to me that that was the part of the work in the National Assembly she hated most. It was the personal heckling. She would come to me and say as, Chief Whip, “Can you not do something to stop this heckling? I cannot stand this personal heckling.” I know she was very passionate about that one.
The other issue we talked a lot about was gardening. She and I had a passion for gardening and what was interesting was that we had a common gardener. He used to do a few hours of work with her and then came and did a few hours of work with me. Ever so often, he hit the bottle and forgot that he had to work for both of us. We would talk about all of the things he was supposed to do, and did not do. Many were the moments spent talking about the things we loved in gardening, the things we planted, and so on.
Another conversation was fashion trend. What was interesting was that although we all were from different parties, we found, from time to time, in the Assembly, even now, all of us, especially the women, that we have a fraternity in which we stepped out of our politics and got involved in discussions relating to family, friends, things we love and things which we believe in as women. I remember that when we discussed fashion trend, we always told her how beautiful she looked, because, as Members know, she was a beautiful woman and she carried herself always with dignity and decorum. She had really good taste.
When she started to get sick, and began to look very thin, we would have talked to her and said, “You are really doing a lot of exercise. Tell us what the secret of getting so trim is.” She would have joked about the different things she did. I recall that one day she came and had a changed hairstyle, in which she cut her hair short and it looked grey and we said to her, “You know what, we do not like that look.” She said, “You do not like this look, but my husband loves this look because now he can say that we are on the same level”, because she had said that he always had grey hair, and she was on par with him, in terms of the way they looked.
As a politician, Mrs. Sheila Holder was a very astute politician and many were the debates. As I said, she spoke ninety-two times on different issues and, as was stated before by Hon. Member Ramjattan, she had brought many questions. I do not know how many of these. I can say that when we look at her parliamentary record…For all the Members of the Assembly who are not aware, the Women and Gender Equality Commission had commissioned a document by the National Assembly library in which there are all the women parliamentarians, from the time we won adult suffrage in Guyana, who participated in the Assembly. There is such a document of all the speeches that they made and what were the issues. I extracted from the document all of the issues which she spoke on.
As I said before, she was an astute politician and even though we did not agree many times with the things she said she was never one to back down and say she was sorry for the position she took. She was always very strong on what she believed in.
Also, what was amazing about Mrs. Sheila Holder was the research that she would have done when she came to the National Assembly. All of her presentations were well researched and she certainly knew how to present her case in the Assembly. She had a great relationship with the women from the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), including, as I said, all of us who started working closely with Mrs. Sheila Holder from the time she was here in 2001, and I think that up to the time of her death that relationship was a very strong one.
I know that some of her family members are here, including her husband who she loved very much. She also spoke of her children and her grandchildren whom she was very proud of. Ever so often, she would share with us, from time to time, she went and visited, about how she was happy visiting her children and being with her grandchild. I know her family has lost a wonderful mother, wife, and grandmother. Her relatives and friends have lost a very good person. The National Assembly has lost a very valuable Member. The women of Guyana have lost a very good role model.
Once again, we, of the PPP/C, would like to place on record our profound grief at the great loss to the National Assembly and Parliament of Guyana by the tragic death of Mrs. Sheila Holder on 20th November, 2011. The country has lost a true patriot. I would like the National Assembly to pay tribute to the committed and exemplary service which she rendered to the Assembly from 19th March, 2001 until the dissolution of the Ninth Parliament on 27th September, 2011, and that the National Assembly directs that an expression of our heartfelt sympathy be conveyed to her sorrowing widower, children and relatives.
May her soul rest in peace. [Applause]
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