Sunday, February 25, 2018


PM calls on Ramadharsingh to detail CAL incident


Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar



Minister of the People and Social Development Glenn Ramadharsingh


Minister of the People and Social Development Glenn Ramadharsingh will have to submit a report to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, detailing what transpired between him and a flight attendant on board a Caribbean Airlines flight from Tobago last weekend.

“I’ve asked the honourable Minister (to make) a full report and asked the relevant authorities to give me a full report. So it will be inappropriate to make any comment at this time until I receive those reports,” Persad-Bissessar told reporters at yesterday’s Phagwa celebrations in Palmiste Park, San Fernando.

Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow last week filed a complaint against Ramadharsingh, alleging the minister’s hand touched her breast when he reached for her ID badge, which was pinned to her blouse, and threatened to have her fired.

Laidlow also alleged Ramadharsingh appeared intoxicated and, as such, when she requested that he move from his assigned seat, adjacent to an emergency exit, he refused. He also allegedly refused to properly stow his luggage in preparation for take-off.

Ramadharsingh has since apologised and blamed his behaviour on “severe fatigue”.

This was the first time Persad-Bissessar attended Phagwa celebrations at Palmiste Park—an annual event in its 13th year, hosted by the Pandavas group. The group also hosts Ramleela celebrations in the park for Divali.

This was also the first time the event received Government aid, through the Ministry of National Diversity.

Persad-Bissessar arrived at the grounds around 4 p.m. to the resounding rhythms of tassa music. The Prime Minister made it a family outing, accompanied by her grandson, Kristiano Bissessar, her sister, Vidwatee Newton, and her nephews.

Throngs of excited supporters gathered around as Persad-Bissessar exited her vehicle, eager for a chance to greet the Prime Minis­ter.

Persad-Bissessar was immediately bombarded with clouds of powdered abeer, turning her white shalwar into a splattered kaleidoscope. Unfazed, the Prime Minister greeted her supporters, daubing them as well.

Finally reaching the stage, Persad-Bissessar was again mobbed by people eager to meet her and share the Phagwa traditions with their Prime Minister—and take a photograph of the moment.

Organiser of the event Chimandath Maharaj presented Persad-Bissessar and her son with two sets of mini cymbals, called jhaal, and invited them to take part in performing a traditional Phagwa folksong, a chowtal.

As Persad-Bissessar and Kristiano chimed along with the band, she quipped she did not even know her grandson (Kris) could play.

She and Oropouche West Member of Parliament Stacey Roopnarine were also invited to play the jhaal with another Chowtal group from Roopnarine’s constituency.

“For the first time, my Government has sponsored partly this celebration here today; (we hope to see it) grow and continue to grow. Happy Holi (Phagwa) to everyone,” she said, congratulating all who came out for participating.

She also apologised for not making it to celebrations for Phagwa in Tunapuna on Satur­day, citing her delayed flight and late arrival on Friday night for her absence.

Persad-Bissessar had on Saturday, at a United National Congress (UNC) convention in Rienzi Complex, Couva, named Ambassador to the United Nations Rodney Charles as the UNC’s campaign manager for the general election in 2015.

Asked yesterday if a replacement for Charles had been considered, Persad-Bissessar said: “We will have to find one.”