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Fay-Ann, Bunji standing firm

Soca Monarch shocker

By Wayne Bowman wayne.bowman@trinidadexpress.com

Up to last night there was no change in the decision by Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez and Bunji Garlin to withdraw from the International Groovy and Power Soca Monarch competitions. Their manager, Ian Pantin, confirmed this yesterday, saying, "There is no change to the decision and don't expect any change as this is the final decision and we are moving on."

On Thursday night the couple announced they were bowing out—Lyons-Alvarez from the Power category and Bunji from the Groovy competition. They said this was because of clauses in the competitors' contract they did not believe to be fair and in some cases outrageous.

Lyons-Alvarez even commented that it was as though the reigning Soca Monarch would be like Miss Universe, practically under the control of the Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) for the year.

Among the clauses deemed objectionable by Lyons-Alvarez and Bunji was the rule that should the winners of each category decide not to defend next year they would have to return 90 per cent of the prize money to CPF.

The winners are also required to perform for free at an event produced by CPF chairman, William Munro.

Communications consultant to CPF, Wendy Fitzwilliam , said yesterday that Lyons-Alvarez and Bunji were aware of the rules and requirements written into the contact since last year. She said she could not understand how they were only now raising objections and decided to withdraw only two days before the semi-finals tomorrow at the Arima Velodrome.

Munro said although he was upset over the artistes withdrawing from the competition, he was confident the semi-finals and following finals at the Hasely Crawford National Stadium on Carnival Friday would be as exciting as previous years and even moreso because all of the artistes have very good songs.

Munro said Lyons-Alvarez and Bunji have bowed out before and the show went on without them. He again wished them all the best and said the door continued to be open to them to participate in the competition.

As soon as the story of Lyons-Alvarez and Bunji's withdrawal was published on Express online and tweeted on Thursday night people began to post comments. The majority of people expressed disappointment that the couple would not be at the competition because they were very excited from the moment word got out that they had returned after sitting it out last year.

The people, however, stated in their tweets and BBM comments that they respected and admired Lyons-Alvarez and Bunji for standing up for what they believed was right.

A few artistes and managers who did not want to be named also contacted the Express, stating that they too respected Lyons-Alvarez and Bunji for their decision.

They said they too had problems with some of the rules, but were still competing because they believed they would not win and therefore not have such obligations to CPF. They added that the prize money for those competing at the finals but not placing in the top four was still quite lucrative.

There was also the suggestion that a cap be placed on the amount of money each artiste could spend on their presentation on finals night because, while a certain competitor can afford to spend $2 million on his presentations, they can't do so and are therefore left at a disadvantage. See Page 11

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