Friday, February 23, 2018

Carolyn ‘confused’ over year-old letter

THE mischief that comes with an election season has crept out, leadership contender in the upcoming Congress of the People (COP) internal elections, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, said yesterday.

Seepersad-Bachan was responding to the circulation via email and social media of a resignation letter dated May 2013, from a former assistant field officer at her San Fernando West constituency office to the Clerk of the House of the Parliament.

The document has been circulated without a cover letter and states that Satnarine Rampersad resigned following a clash between himself and Seepersad-Bachan over his commitment to a computer training course. Rampersad stated in the letter that the course classes were scheduled outside of his working hours, which he placed between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, except where required on weekends and planned in advance.

He said he was, however, called into a meeting by Seepersad-Bachan and told that he was required to be available 24 hours a day all week to be “a personal driver for her son, dropping off and picking up from school, taking him to after-school extra lessons, and also taking him to various after school and weekend activities including a music class”.

Rampersad stated: “I took the decision to resign my post only when Mrs Seepersad-Bachan told me that she was not going to tolerate my participation in a training course and that I was to either quit the course, or quit my job.”

He added: “My reason for writing to you is to ensure that there was no misrepresentation of my intention and decision as I have seen other former members of Mrs Seepersad-Bachan’s staff (both constituency and ministerial) resign for very clear reasons, and yet were very seriously maligned with disparaging and defamatory comments about their work ethic and character.”

Seepersad-Bachan said yesterday via telephone that she is “confused” as to why a year-old letter has only now surfaced.

She said Rampersad’s resignation came after she pointed out that some of the days to which he had to commit for the programme were in conflict with scheduled walkabouts through her constituency that took place after 4 p.m.

Seepersad-Bachan said she would have had to conduct the walkabouts while also doing some of the duties of a field officer.

The Public Administration Minister said there have been other resignations from different ministries that have not been publicised.

She said there are instances where persons have joined ministries, only to realise that they are in a high-pressure environment and they become stressed out and resign. This is not new, she said, adding that she is “not against anyone pursuing education”.

“Obviously, this is mischief,” she said.

“Whoever is behind this, I don’t know what their objective is.”

Seepersad-Bachan said she cannot allow anyone being paid with public funds to not carry out their duties and although persons who may have worked on an electoral campaign are sometimes given employment, they must perform as public servants.

She said she intends to stick to her principles and would rather be “voted out of office for doing the right thing” than anything else.

“It’s not about to trying to get the vote at all costs,” Seepersad-Bachan said.

On Friday, Seepersad-Bachan made official her bid to take leadership of the party from incumbent Prakash Ramadhar, at the party’s nomination day exercise at its Operations Centre in Charlieville, Chaguanas. She has been endorsed by COP founder, Winston Dookeran, who met with Seepesad-Bachan and her election team yesterday for an orientation session.

Dookeran shared campaign ideas, she said, and also spoke to the team about why he chose to fight in her corner. She said the team, which includes attorney Kevin Ratiram as her election agent, is “very excited to work with” Dookeran for the June 29 internal elections.