By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Weds. Mar. 26, 2014: Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has fired a member of her cabinet.
PM Persad Bissessar announced on Tuesday night the firing of Minister of the People and Social Development, Dr. Glen Ramadharsingh. The dismissal follows reports that Ramadharsingh was disorderly on a recent Caribbean Airlines flight to Trinidad. Flight attendant, Ronelle Laidlow of Caribbean Airlines flight BW1519, 25, in a report made to the police and the Airports Authority security, said that the minister’s hand touched her breast when he reached for her identification badge which was pinned to her blouse.
The physical interaction came she said after she spoke to Ramadharsingh about stowing away his luggage since the overhead compartment could not be closed properly.
Laidlow wrote in a statement that following a conversation with the plane’s captain, “I went and I spoke to the passenger about stowing the bag and he replied, “No.”
“I tried to explain to the passenger that there was space in the overhead locker opposite. Eventually after a few minutes, Mr. Ramadharsingh got up to stow the bag. Upon him getting up, he appeared to be intoxicated.
“I asked the passenger seated next to him to please hold on while I get contact with the passenger he was travelling with and confirmed that she was travelling with Mr. Ramadharsingh, who replied, ‘Yes.’”
Laidlow said the instructions were repeated and Ramadharsingh again refused to comply, despite being told the door could not be closed to ensure departure.
Laidlow said the minister replied: “Well we won’t be going anywhere.”
She said the flight then departed and, upon arrival at Piarco International Airport, as Ramadharsingh was disembarking, she said to him, “Goodbye, do have a pleasant day.”
It was at this point, according to the written reports, that Ramadharsingh attempted to snatch Laidlow’s identification badge, which was clipped onto her blouse “above my left breast where his hand brushed against and replied, ‘What’s your name your days are numbered.’”
Laidlow said she told the minister to desist from touching her.
“I told him my name, which in reply he again said, “Your days are numbered,’” she wrote.
Ramadharsingh, however, has denied claims he had any physical interaction with the flight attendant, denying also that he had threatened to have her dismissed over the incident. He blamed his “fatigue” on sporting activities, political campaigning as well as visiting family members but denied reports that he was intoxicated when he refused to follow Laidlow’s orders to stow his luggage.
PM Persad Bissessar said she made her decision after reading reports on the issue from Ramadharsingh and after meeting with the minister.
“There must be no compromise on integrity, no allowance for arrogance, no room for violation of mutual respect; there will be no sacrifice of our values on the altar of political expediency,” said PM Persad Bissessar in a statement. “Regardless of whether the decisions I take hurt me politically or not, I have the strength and courage and independence of mind to measure every tough decision on the basis of what is right and just.”
Ramadharsingh for his part took to Facebook to state on March 22, 2014: “I take great comfort in the kind words of support that I have been receiving throughout this week. And I apologise once again for the discomfort, embarrassment and disappointment to any and all persons caused by the events of last Sunday.
“I choose to recommit myself publicly, to the work of discovering, advocating and bringing into reality, a future TnT that is more nurturing, accommodating and empowering to the needs of all citizens.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Thank you
– Glenn Ramadhar Singh.”
Ramadharsingh is the Member of Parliament for Caroni Central, Trinidad. He was elected following the General Election of Monday May 24, 2010 and was appointed Minister of the People and Social Development on May 28th.
Dr. Ramadharsingh served as an Opposition Senator during the 8th Republican Parliament and as a Temporary Senator during the 9th Republican Parliament. Dr. Ramadharsingh is a veterinarian, and was President of the Student’s Guild (1999-2000) at the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine campus).