Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Glenn to submit report to PM today

Fracas on flight


‘SEVERE FATIGUE’: Glenn Ramadharsingh

Mark Fraser

Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh is expected to submit a report to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar today.

An Express exclusive report last week stated that Ramadharsingh was being investigated by police for disorderly behaviour on board a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight from Tobago.

Flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow, 25, filed a complaint to the police 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. 

Ramadharsingh has since apologised, blaming his behaviour on “severe fatigue” but denied touching the flight attendant.

On Sunday, during Phagwa celebrations, the Prime Minister told reporters that she had called on Ramadharsingh and the relevant authorities involved to submit a report on the matter. 

Ramadharsingh requested additional time and will submit his report this morning.

Meanwhile, in a press release yesterday, Tobago hotelier Allan Clovis claimed that he witnessed Ramadharsingh verbally abuse a flight attendant on a flight (not the one currently under investigation).

Clovis stated that on a Tobago flight in the not too distant past when the Dash 8 was still on the route, he saw Ramadharsingh verbally abuse a flight attendant.

“Minister Ramadharsingh was seated in ‘2C’.  This is an aisle seat, second row to the left on entering the aircraft.  There were three other persons travelling with him. They were assigned and seated in 1C, 1D and 2D.  All was normal, they were casually and properly attired.  However, 1C and 1D are the emergency row exit seats and the female flight attendant on detecting that the passenger in 1C was not fit to occupy a seat in the emergency exit row, began to explain to the passenger why she would organise to relocate him,” stated Clovis.

“She was very professional in this role. The passenger was cooperative and was beginning to reposition himself. Glenn jumped in and became verbally abusive, suggesting that there was nothing wrong with where the passenger was sitting and that she should get on with the flight and leave his party alone.

By this time his party began to cringe with embarrassment,” he added.

“I was sitting in 3B, diagonally across the aisle from Glenn and was tempted to straighten him out. But on realising that the attendant was strong, firm, clear and professional in holding her ground, I restrained myself. I was sadly disappointed though, because like many others, my image of Glenn was informed through seeing him on television; it was very positive; thus, to experience the real Glenn was a bit of a shocker,” Clovis continued.

Clovis stated that passengers have been escorted off planes by law enforcement officers for far less disruptive conduct. 

“But remember Glenn warned that the persons involved might have been looking for a job today. So where does that leave us? We have the time to wait and see,” he stated.

Contacted last night on Clovis’ claims, Ramadharsingh denied verbally abusing the flight attendant.

He said the incident occurred almost two years ago and there was no confrontation.

Ramadharsingh said there was a differently-abled person who was blind in one eye in his group and the person was told by the flight attendant that he had to move from the emergency exit row because of his disability.

“I did stand up for the person as a differently -abled person, being the advocate for the differently-abled in the country. I enquired from her what was the basis for him to move as the person was capable but she said no,” said Ramadharsingh.

“Mr Clovis told me after, I listened to what you were saying, I just want to advise you that these people have to make these calls and I told  him I understand that,” said Ramadharsingh.

Ramadharsingh said he works with the differently-abled and he does not like when they are discriminated against or treated as inferior.