Saturday, December 16, 2017

Baker ‘to fight vigorously’ over extortion attempt

Minister of Tobago Affairs Delmon Baker said yesterday he intended to “fight vigorously” charges made against him by persons “attempting to extort”.

He was speaking with reporters before the start of yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.

Baker confirmed that he reported a matter to the police “arising out of a possible attempt at extortion”. 

“It is so easy in public life for those folks who want to obtain power by any means to cast aspersions on the character of any individual. And that is something that we must protect against, even in the media,” he said.

He declined to say what was the nature of the allegations being made against him or whether the personalities involved were from Trinidad or Tobago. 

He said he filed the report at the CID in Port of Spain. And before doing so he had a conversation with the Prime Minister, giving her as best as he could  the details of what happened and his intention to file a complaint with the police.

Asked whether he had offered his resignation at any stage or had planned to offer his resignation, Baker said: “Nah. That matter does not arise at this point in time. And in fact I intend to fight this charge vigorously to ensure that my good name is cleared.”

Speaking to reporters later on issue, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar also confirmed that there was no resignation from Baker. She declined to say much more since a police investigation was on the way.

Baker said he, like the Prime Minister, was awaiting the results of the police investigation. 

However, he stressed that he wanted to use the opportunity to tell his constituents that “God was in control”. 

“They are not to be in any way distressed. We will see this through until the end,” he said.

He said on Monday evening he received an e-mail correspondence (with the extortion attempt) and he immediately attended to this issue.

Baker said the executive of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) had been briefed and he was bolstered by the tremendous support he had received from the executive of that party. 

He said on Sunday the TOP had brought the largest group of TOP supporters together to make serious decisions on the forward movement of the party “and by Monday this thing (extortion attempt) happened”.

PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi said on Tuesday there was “vicious rumour” that Baker had tendered his resignations “over allegations of impropriety”. 

He said Baker is saying he is the victim of some kind of “set up”. 

Al Rawi stated: “It seemed that the national psyche was willing and ready to accept that some sort of national bacchanal was going down with this Government. 

“I don’t think that people seemed to be very surprised that an issue around a government minister had arisen. ... I don’t know if Dr Baker has been caught in the tide of ‘there are now 19 persons in the Government gone’ (we seemed to have forgotten that Lyndira Oudit had resigned from the Senate) and it seemed to be a case of the mantra  ‘another one bites the dust’. 

“I can only wish Dr Baker well and hope that this is not a serious issue for him. But we will wait to see what come into the public domain and how it is dealt with,” 

Within the last two weeks, former minister of the people, Glenn Ramadharsingh, and former tourism minister, Chandresh Sharma, have faced allegations which have led to three women—Ronelle Laidlow, and then Patricia Singh in the case of Ramadharsingh, and Sacha Singh in the case of Sharma—making reports to the police against them.