Monday, January 22, 2018

Sat: Fire minister

MINISTER of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh is an “embarrassment”, “a liability” and “a poor role model” and should resign or be fired from the Cabinet for his conduct on board a domestic flight from Tobago to Trinidad last weekend, secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma  Maha Sabha (SDMS)     Sat Maharaj has said.

This is the view of the hierarchy of the country’s major Hindu organisation, Maharaj said.

Ramadharsingh should do the honourable thing and tender his resignation now, Maharaj said.

He made the comments on the compound of the Tunapuna Hindu Primary School where Children’s Phagwa celebrations were held yesterday.

On Thursday the Express exclusively reported that flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow, 25, made a report to the Piarco Police sub-station and the Airports Authority against Ramadharsingh following an incident on board Caribbean Airlines flight BW 1519.

Laidlow alleged that Ramadharsingh grabbed at her identification badge pinned to her blouse and threatened to have her fired.

The incident is said to have started when Laidlow approached Ramadharsingh over the issue of his luggage being stored in the overheard compartment.

On the day the Express published the article Ramadharsingh held an impromptu news conference where he blamed “severe fatigue” for his conduct, saying in hindsight he regretted his behaviour and had learnt his lesson.

But Maharaj said Ramadharsingh should be fired over the incident.

“He should be fired. He should be fired, he should offer his resignation to the Prime Minister and she must take the decision to have him dismissed because you cannot endanger the lives of people you cannot be an exemplar for our children, we have problems in the schools of this country,” Maharaj said.

“When exemplars like these misbehave in the public domain on a flight that can endanger the lives of people it is not sufficient to say I am sorry, there must be a price to pay,” he said.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was scheduled to attend yesterday’s Phagwa celebrations but was said to have been unavoidably absent.

Persad-Bissessar returned the country from Florida on Friday.

A police investigation was launched into the incident involving Ramadharsingh but acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams has since said that Laidlow did not wish to pursue the matter and it was dropped.

Maharaj said he is advocating publicly for Ramadharsingh’s dismissal as his presence can also affect the People’s Partnership’s chances in the general elections next year.

“We will have a hell of a fight because he will be an embarrassment in the re-election of the Government. He will be an embarrassment to them,” Maharaj said.

“Right now he is a liability, absolute liability. You cannot do that, not because you are a minister,” he said.

Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar yesterday represented Persad-Bissessar at the Children’s Phagwa celebrations.

Ramadhar, the political leader of the Congress of the People (COP), said he had spoken to Persad-Bissessar about the Ramadharsingh issue.

“As a fundamental position we (COP) abhor any mistreatment of anyone and that is a matter that we have had discussions with the Prime Minister about,” he said.

The Prime Minister could not be reached by phone yesterday for comment.