Sunday, February 25, 2018

Strong support from artistes

Ramnarine won’t defend Chutney Soca Monarch title...



Mark Fraser

Entertainers in the chutney and soca arena have been rallying around Raymond Ramnarine, winner of the 2013 Chutney Soca Monarch title.

Ramnarine has announced he will not defend his title this year, as he was not paid his full prize money.

He was also concerned that artistes were being allowed to enter the competition with Bollywood melodies.

Southex Promotions, producers of the event, said there were no guarantees that Ramnarine would be paid his outstanding $200,000, as chief executive officer George Singh was still in discussion with the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism.

Singh said none of last year’s finalists were paid their full prizes. And he announced bigger prizes in this year’s event, scheduled for next Saturday.

Ramnarine said he was overwhelmed by the support he has been receiving from fellow performers.

“Artistes have been calling me, pledging their support. This is not just about the $200,000 they owe me, it is about standing up for what is right,” he said.

Singh claimed he did not receive the amount promised by the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism and the $1.8 million allocated to the event did not cover prizes.

But Ramnarine was not satisfied with his response and called on the Government to intervene and explain why he was treated unfairly.

“I was excited to defend my title this year. But how can I return to the competition, when I’m being owed $200,000? I know many artistes are disappointed that they did not receive their money, but they are afraid of victimisation. But that’s okay, I will stand up for us all. We cannot be treated this way. This is our livelihood and we cannot be treated this way,” he said.

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas told the Express the Ministry had fulfilled its commitment to the promoter and was not responsible for the short pay in prize money.

Ras Kommanda (Steve Pascall), chairman of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) South/Central Zone, said he supported Ramnarine’s decision to withdraw from the competition.

“It is a positive stand. I support him 150 per cent. If he is walking, I will walk myself,” he said.

Singer Andy Singh said he supported Ramnarine’s call for justice.

“I support him for standing up for his rights. He is simply asking for what is owed to him, nothing more. Raymond went into that competition hoping to bring about unity and he was treated unfairly. We as artistes need to stand by him and support him.”

Rooplal Girdharie, who won the competition six times, commended Ramnarine on his stance.

“I think he has taken a moral stance for what he believes in. He is not only standing for himself, but for other artistes who may be afraid to stand for themselves.”

Girdharie last entered the competition in 2008.

Ramnarine’s fans have taken to social network site, Facebook, supporting him in the struggle. Many Facebook users have changed their profile photos to Ramnarine’s image, demanding he is paid his full amount.

“Soca and chutney artistes have been sending their support to me and I feel humbled. This is for all of us and I am thankful,” he said.