Debates of 10 Feb 2009

PRAYERS 11:05 a.m.


Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Members, I have a communication from His Excellency the President dated 6th February 2009 --
“6th February, 2009



OF GHANA 11:05 a.m.


Some Hon Members 11:05 a.m.
Oh! No! Why?
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Members, in the circumstances, my referral of the nomination of Mr. Moses Asaga to the

[NII NAMOALE]Appointments Committee is accordingly withdrawn.
Mr. Isaac Asiamah 11:05 a.m.
Madam Speaker, constitutionally, I do not have a problem with the President nominating and withdrawing somebody for a particular position. Ideally we do not expect any explanation from His Excellency the President; but in view of the fact that he is creating a wedge between the Executive and the Legislature, we would humbly appeal to the President, His Excellency, to at least clear the air, especially on the issue of the ex gratia so that -- [Interruptions] -- We are told that indeed it is not because of the issue of the ex gratia.
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Thank you, hon. Member. I have read to you the com- munication from the President and I will therefore move to the next item on the Order Paper.
Nii Amasah Namoale -- rose --
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Well, since I heard this side, please, let me hear what he has to say.
Nii Amasah Namoale: Madam Speaker, any t ime there is some communication or something happens in this House and my hon. Colleague, Hon Asiamah gets up, -- [Interruptions] -- Madam Speaker, you do not see the Hon Member -- the Hon Member would always put on his microphone and create confusion -- [Interruption] -- to draw your attention. He is not supposed to draw your attention with the microphone. He is supposed to draw your attention by standing up and you, Hon Speaker, seeing him, to recognize him before calling him. But the hon. Member broke all protocol of the proceedings of this House, switched on his microphone and started speaking.
Madam Speaker, I will beg your indulgence to caution the Hon Member not to break the proceedings of this honourable House again. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Mr. A. K. Agbesi 11:15 a.m.

Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei-

Mensah-Bonsu): Madam Speaker, I believe that because you yourself, you are a new person in the Chair and also because there are many new faces in the House, normally you have found it difficult to identify Hon Members by both name and constituency, which is why often- times, you are observed to be nodding in the direction of the person that you want to speak.

Indeed and in truth, this morning when my hon. Colleague got up, I saw you nod in his direction, which I interpreted to mean that you were beckoning him to take the microphone and speak.

Madam Speaker, I believe you would agree with me, that in all honesty and sincerity, that is indeed what you did and that is no breach of the protocol of this House as my friend and hon. Colleague just alluded to. I just want to set the records straight.
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Member, I think he was just drawing the House's, myself and all the other hon. Members' attention to the procedure.
I do agree that I nodded my head; he may not have seen it, I do not know but it helps us. His advice is well taken.
Hon Members, can we move on to the Correction of Votes and Proceedings.
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Member, you are standing up, I do not know whether it is on a point of order or something, and that is why I want to hear you; we are going according to the Order Paper.
Mr. Agbesi 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I am sorry that I did not catch your eye earlier. [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, I want to note with concern that the business of this House is produced in the document we have.

Madam Speaker, on the second occasion, when the President brought a Message to this House that he was going to Nigeria, the Hon Member again got up to say that the President had no right to go from where he indicated in the letter to another place.

Madam Speaker, this is about the third time that the Message from the President is attracting his comment, which is not part of the business of the House for the day. Madam Speaker, I believe we should draw his attention to this anomaly that he is committing in the House against the President of the State which contrarily is not good. Madam Speaker, this is my concern, that he always gets up to say something against the President.
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Thank you, Hon
Member, except to say to you that there is freedom of speech here and that is why I allow these comments. I know we are
  • [MADAM SPEAKER going strictly according to the Order Paper but I have already ruled on the matter that we have all taken note of the procedure. So I will beg Hon Members to let us go on with item 3 on the Order Paper.

    STATEMENTS 11:25 a.m.

    Mr. Stephen Kunsu (NDC -- Kintampo North) 11:25 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I wish to express my profound gratitude to you for the opportunity given me to make a Statement on the proliferation of profane songs in Ghana.
    Profane songs, Madam Speaker, are fast gaining popularity in Ghana, by virtue of the fact that, they are usually accom- panied or characterized by melodious and irresistible rhythms and once they are released to the market for public consumption, their subsequent with- drawal becomes an extremely difficult proposition. Songs of profanity have tremendous negative impact on our youth.
    They corrupt the minds of the youth and eventually contaminate their morals. It is against this backdrop that all well- meaning and patriotic Ghanaians should consider harmonizing their thoughts in order to collaborate efforts to prevent the infiltration of provocative and profane songs into the Ghanaian music industry.
    Madam Speaker, good music as we know, should produce a soothing effect on

    listeners. It should bring comfort, healing, relief and spiritual contentment, instead of antagonizing and polarizing individuals or society.

    Unfortunately, some of our popular highlife and hip-hop songs that dominate the music market of contemporary Ghana, lack these fundamental ingredients. No wonder more and more Ghanaians who cannot stand the embarrassing lyrics have increased their passion for gospel music.

    Madam Speaker, any good and acceptable music, apart from its cap- tivating rhythm, must also have a moral. A song with a good moral impacts positively on the life of the listener. Our young and up-coming musicians must put this into consideration before churning out their albums.

    The highlife music we knew of in the past contained great morals, but today it has gone through a great deal of cultural metamorphosis as the result of globali-zation. Our social intercourse with the outside world has had the effect of revolutionalising our culture to the extent that our contemporary highlife music has been robbed of its originality. What remains today is a modernised form known in musical jargon as burger highlife, although we still have a few conservatives who still play and preserve traditional highlife.

    Not only this, but we also have the hip- hop highlife strongly emerging. Hip-hop is a type of highlife music in which the words are rather spoken than sung. These two innovations in the music industry are so popular with the youth that the latter are readily enchanted by the melodious instrumentation backed sometimes by meaningless and profane lyrics.

    In order not to plunge the nation into moral degeneration in the future, Madam Speaker, I call on the Musicians

    Union of Ghana, to embark upon a vigorous educational campaign for its members, with a view to sensitizing our musicians about the dangers to profane and provocative songs. The Union must also enact appropriate bye-laws that will empower it to censor all songs before they are released to the public.

    All recalcitrant and incorrigible composers and producers who violate the rules of the game can, therefore, be easily identified and penalized. To this end I suggest that all registered musicians should be brought under one recognized Union in order to facilitate effective monitoring and supervision.

    Madam Speaker, in our attempt to decontaminate our highlife songs, we must not overlook the role and indispensability of all stakeholders, especially, Disc Jockeys (DJs) at the various private Radio Stations. These Disc Jockeys, as we are aware, serve as effective catalysts for popularizing new releases of songs. They are therefore expected to display tremendous professionalism in the selection of the songs they play in their studios. They should try to avoid any monetary or material inducements from song producers, intended to wheedle them into popularizing their songs, for if they succumb to these mouth-watering temptations referred to as “payola”, they will allow their patriotic sentiments to be eclipsed by their personal desires.

    On the other hand, if they are able to resist the temptations of bribery from the producers and as such refuse to play any song with profanities, music composers and their producers will exhibit a high sense of circumspection in their future compositions.

    Madam Speaker, if disc jockeys can play their role as instruments in the promotion

    of traditional morality, they should be well-motivated by their employers. This I believe will help minimize the degree of malfeasance associated with the selection of songs they play.

    Thank you, once again, Madam Speaker for this marvellous opportunity.
    Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Thank you hon. Member.
    Hon. Members, may I draw your attention to Standing Order 72. You may contribute to the Statements but we will take three from both sides because we can only allot thirty minutes for this. So any hon. Member who wants to contribute or comment on this Statement can do so.
    Prof. M. A. Oquaye (NPP -- Dome- Kwabenya) 11:25 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make some few words of contribution towards what I consider to be a very, very important Statement with regard to the development of music and artistry in our country.
    Madam Speaker, one of the most beautiful endowments of nature is music. It comes naturally and particularly it is also a way of cultural identification. For that reason, Madam Speaker, music must also enable people to be identified as a unique people on this globe.
    In the past, Madam Speaker, we have been very, very proud of our highlife music and with regard to men like E. T. Mensah, King Bruce and others. And Madam Speaker, what they did for this country transcended our barriers and sold Ghana to other countries throughout the continent of Africa and even across the diaspora as a whole.
    But Madam Speaker, in the past, it would appear as if this cultural identity is being rather diluted. Whereas in the era of globalisation, we should expect certain infusions, but nevertheless it is important
    Prof. M. A. Oquaye (NPP -- Dome- Kwabenya) 11:35 a.m.
    for us to maintain a certain identity with regard to our music. And I think this is an area which our musicians and other persons should be concerned with so as to maintain that singular identity.
    Madam Speaker, music is also a matter of lyrics, beats, poetic artistry and other aspects of the presentation.
    Madam Speaker, in the 1950s and 1960s, certain persons were known for bringing up the best of Ghanaian poetry and sayings. A man like King Bruce wrote a lot about aesthetic values -- beauty, culture, sound, food and so on. And the music was woven into these ideals including the fact that variety is the spice of life. He made a whole music as to this.

    He also made a song on the undecided man; the kind of man who says --

    “What should I do; I take this or I take that or take a little bit or mix something”,

    and so on. And I believe that these are also areas which we can teach the youth. The undecided man or woman never gets anywhere and for that reason decisiveness should be part of some of the attributes on which we want training for young people.

    Madam Speaker, one problem that I

    believe has been serving as an inhibiting factor in the development of this whole industry is the fact that those who are the real, original makers of music, those who should own the copyright, do not often have the best of this. Our copyright laws are something that perhaps we in this House may want to look at in terms of the full scope of the law as well as the penalties attached to the law. Not only
    Mr. Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo (NDC -- Wa Central) 11:35 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, let me start by thanking the Hon Member for making such a wonderful Statement.
    The music industry in Ghana is at a critical stage now; a stage when the musicians themselves will have to redefine themselves and say what the industry is all about. Madam Speaker, the situation -
    Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, were you going to raise a point of order?
    Mr. Frimpong 11:35 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, the attire of the hon. Member on the floor now is unparliamentary. It has been described as a singlet and he knows it; he knows he is wearing a singlet and Madam Speaker, Members of Parliament are not supposed to wear singlets to the Chamber. Madam Speaker, he is not properly dressed; so he must be made to go and change his dress.
    Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Members, maybe I would ask the Hon Member to reply. I do know that we are supposed to dress properly for this House. So what is your answer, hon. Member?
    Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Maybe, I would take it from the hon. Majority Leader, because it is an important matter.
    Mr. Bagbin 11:35 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am part of the culture which wears this kind of dress and I can assure this House that this is not the one we describe as singlet. [Interruptions.] I am telling Hon Members, I am not asking you, I am telling you the culture.
    Madam Speaker, the one we call singlet ends at this place; [Points to his shoulder.] That is the one we call singlet because when you put that on you have to put another smock on top. But when it comes down -- this place -- [Demonstrates] it is beyond the one they describe as singlet. So the Hon Member is properly attired and Hon Members are allowed to be culturally dressed in this House.
    Some of my Hon Colleagues, for example, who are good at wearing the beautiful Kente; do it without even singlet and they are allowed to put it on -- [Interruptions.] They are allowed to put it on and come to this House without the

    underwear, round-neck; you can do that in this House; it is a cultural attire and it is accepted in this House.
    Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Members, coming from the hon. Majority Leader, and he coming from that area, I think we have to accept what he is saying, unless somebody can challenge it that he comes from that area and it is not so. Otherwise, I would take judicial notice that he is properly dressed and we carry on.
    Prof. Oquaye 11:35 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, in fact, honestly I will agree that the Hon Member is properly dressed. But Madam Speaker, I am seriously worried about this concept of singlet. If we should introduce certain popular parlance which do not have any real basis into the dressing pattern, we may make serious mistakes. Madam Speaker, I believe that the House is one that admits formal dressing that may be European or African, basically.
    Madam Speaker, I heard the Hon Majority Leader speak about how far to the shoulder a smock goes; whether it goes here or there. Madam Speaker, so far as I am concerned, that does not matter. It is not how far that goes; it is how the totality of that dressing constitutes decency because, some are quite short; I do wear them also.
    When they are worn with a full-fledged dressing shirt, that should qualify as very, very decent, a full Ghanaian smock with a shirt under and so on; otherwise if we were to look in terms of how long or how far to the shoulder a smock goes, then we may make certain difficulties for ourselves.
    But Madam Speaker, I believe this is a matter of the man on the Madina trotro. We all know what is a decent dress because Madam Speaker, if it were the Parliament in Nigeria for example, they will tell you that without the second dress, in other words, the type that the hon. Majority Leader is wearing for example, they do not regard that as enough. Once you decide to go the way of the traditional dressing in Nigeria, you must wear two; in other words, one under and one above before you are formal.
    So Madam Speaker, we must be very, very careful about these definitions. I think it is what constitutes decent and proper dressing. This is how I want to look at it and not such, what I may call, amorphous descriptions as singlet. We can be seriously misled by that.
    Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Hon. Member, I think you did say that you accepted the explanation that came from the Hon Member and that he is right. All we want is decent dressing here. Certainly, we do not want very, very short skirts and what people will think is indecent.
    Ms. Cecilia A. Dapaah 11:45 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I just want to make a point of correction.
    The Hon Majority Leader on the floor of this House has said that people are allowed to wear kente without singlet. But being a future queen mother and a culture activist, I believe that straying into that area to give kente wearing as an example, he made a mistake; kente is never worn with singlet.
    Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Last word from you, then we move to the discussions.
    Mr. Bagbin 11:45 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I did talk about what was culturally decent and acceptable from my place and I was drawing the attention of Hon Members to the fact that what the hon. Member in question wore is culturally decent.
    Innovations to cultures are accepted and therefore, my Hon Colleague, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker was talking about an innovation to the culture where they put the long-sleeved shirt under the smock. That is an innovation. That is not part of our culture. That definitely is accepted in this House, but it is because one cannot wear that type of smock alone, the one we refer to as singlet alone; that one is compelled to wear under it a long-sleeved shirt. That was ruled by this House to be proper dressing and that is why we allow Hon Members to continue to wear it.
    Mr. Bagbin 11:45 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am simply advising her to be cautious of how she dresses to this House. I have not yet stated how she dresses and yet she is on her feet.
    Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    I did say the last word but I will take the last word from you.
    Ms. Dapaah 11:45 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I
    Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Hon Member, can we call upon you to continue your contribution?
    Mr. Pelpuo 11:45 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think this is relieving for everybody.
    Madam Speaker, as I was saying, it is time for the music industry in Ghana to give a clear definition of itself as one that is meant not only to entertain but also educate and inform the populace in Ghana as to what is right, especially for young people who are in the formation stage of their years and who are aspiring and who are futuristic in what they want to become in future. So by the music we sing, by the messages in the music, they can form a clear picture of what they want to be in future.
    Madam Speaker, the situation the Hon Member who made the Statement pointed out about making our music profane is not a good thing for this country. It has to do with the social fibre of this society and if nothing is done about it, there is the tendency that eventually people will see profane music as a normal thing in our lives and it would translate into their actions and once it translates into their actions it will disturb the very foundation of our morality and will eventually destroy what we all love and respect, that is the common morality in Ghana.
    Madam Speaker, music as we know is used for several purposes. We know how reggae music emanated from Jamaica. At least, from Africa it moved to Jamaica. It was used for protest and it is used presently to transmit messages of goodwill around the world and we know about Bob Marley and his music, how he used it to fight for African freedom, et cetera.
    So music is a very, very important cultural instrument which cannot be overlooked and which cannot be downplayed. And so it is important that we call on our musicians and the music industry to start relooking at how they want to present the music they play to the widest society.
    Madam Speaker, that is why it is important that the young people now entering the music industry must, by necessity, be given orientation. It should not just be that you can sing, you have a good voice and you go about singing. They have to control them. They have to set up a system that would allow young and coming musicians to find the system to be something that is regulated, not illegally regulated but lawfully regulated so that they can enter into it and find meaning in it.
    Madam Speaker, the music industry as we know in Ghana needs to be innovative. In the present situation we find ourselves, in the 21st Century things are changing. Technology is taking over everything but that not withstanding, it is important to know that it takes a root and the root is our culture. Every society, every people in this country has a certain culture and that culture has always maintained a disrespect for anything immoral and so we cannot do but respect the culture of our people.
    That is why I think that the Hon Member who made the Statement has made a very important point and must not be left just like that. It is important for us to take it up from here and do something about it. Perhaps our new Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture may have to take it up in one way or the other so that we replicate our idea about bringing up our musicians through training and capacity building throughout the country in order that they come up and produce their music in conformity with what we respect in
    Mr. J. K. Adda (NPP -- Navrongo Central) 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I wish to express my gratitude to you for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement and also to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for this very important Statement.
    Madam Speaker, nearly all the important things have been said as to why our music must have certain morale behind it and what sort of impact it should have on our society. Indeed, this Statement is similar to many Statements which have been made on the floor of this House, on how our lives are usually affected by certain Government decisions or by our own behaviours

    Madam Speaker, my concern is not

    just about what will happen after this Statement is made in this House, but what often happens or does not happen after all Statements are made in this House. Indeed, I think the whole nation looks up to us in terms of leadership in certain directions and we do make these very important Statements here but nothing happens after leaving the House.

    I have looked through the Standing Orders thoroughly and the only thing I see there is that there is provision for us to be able to make Statements of urgent nature in the House. Many things have been said but nothing comes up after. What is our real duty in this House, Madam Speaker? To come here and just make a Statement for Colleagues to comment on that Statement and for us to walk out and not influence society in any way?
    Madam Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Thank you, Hon
    Member. Notice should be taken by the Leadership of the House. He has suggested that after important Statements -- Indeed important Statements of public nature are made here for the benefit of the general public, to show what we want and how we feel about certain matters, and like he says, it ends here. He is suggesting whether the Leadership cannot hereafter, maybe send copies of what was said here to the stakeholders.
    Mr. Bagbin 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I just
    rise to react to what the last Hon Member who spoke said about how we treat Statements on this floor and to draw his attention to the fact that it depends on
    the type and contents of the Statement. A number of times we have converted Statements into Motions and debated them. In some situations, we have invited Ministers to come and respond to some Statements that are made on the floor.
    On other occasions Statements have led to policy formulations and in fact, to legislation being brought to this House. So we just do not make the Statements and allow them to stay here. And if one goes through the records, the Hansard, one will see various directives by various Speakers of Parliament as to how Statements made on this floor should be treated. In fact this is one of the Statements that I will plead with Hon Speaker to direct that the contents together with the contributions made by Hon Members be forwarded to the Ministry for Chieftaincy and Culture and copied to the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) for their attention.
    If this is done, the Ministry could use that as part of the resource documents in trying to review and refine laws on the industry and this could come back to the House for our further consideration.
    So Madam Speaker, I will humbly urge you to direct that these records be submitted to the bodies I have just mentioned. Thank you very much.
    Ms Beatrice Bernice Boateng (NPP -- New Juaben South) 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add my voice. I want to congratulate the presenter of the Statement for what he has brought to the fore. I also want to add my voice to that of Hon Members on the numerous important roles that music plays in our society. I also agree with the Hon Member on the immoral dimensions that have been alluded to in the Statement. I also agree to the fact that the Musicians Association and the industry should be asked to do something about that. They are all good suggestions.
    Ms. Esther Obeng Dappah (NPP - Abirem) 12:05 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me an opportunity to add my voice to the Statement on the floor of the House. Madam Speaker, people do carry messages all along in all aspects of our lives. Some do it in writing, others in music, others in dancing. But I have realized that most people listen to messages in music, therefore, it is very important that even our children, we advise them as to what music they should listen to. Therefore, I find this Statement very, very important because as a mother and grandmother, I do advise my grandchildren as to what music they should listen to.
    But Madam Speaker, what worries me about some of the music is that it puts women down. About 4 o'clock early in the morning, I do hear soldiers passing by my windows singing “Adjoa”, and in fact, this infuriates me - [Interruption] -- I am sure you know what I am talking about - [Laughter] -- Madam Speaker, I am not going to sing it. But this music puts women down and portrays women as sex
    Madam Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    Hon Members, I think the time is up now. I thank all Hon Members, the Hon Member who made the Statement and those who made contributions to this very important matter. I thank especially the last Hon Member who contributed for her comments - [Hear! Hear!] -- I think I would accept and carry on as the Hon Majority Leader suggested that we inform the relevant authorities about what has been done here.
    To this end, Hon Members, I hereby direct that the Statements and comments made by Hon Members be brought to the attention of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture for the appropriate action to be taken, and maybe to add that they inform us of the action that they have taken. I thank you Hon Members.
    We move now to Item 5 on the Order Paper - I am informed, hon. Members, that the Report is not ready, and cannot be presented. I have therefore deferred action and in doing so, items 6 and 7 are affected. Under the circumstances, we move to item 8 - Committee Sittings -- I call on the Majority Leader for his direction.
    Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 12:05 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    it is time for Committee Sittings, I believe the Appointments Committee is already in action, and I would implore my Hon Colleagues and the indulgence of Hon Madam Speaker to adjourn the House to tomorrow at ten in the forenoon where we will reconvene here to continue the Business of the House.
    Mr. Opare-Ansah 12:05 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 12:05 p.m.