It was clear there was more than one reason that yesterday was truly Private Members’ Day in Parliament—the day for Opposition business. And the Opposition didn’t hesitate to show it.
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Sharma must go
Leader of the Congress of the People (COP) and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar yesterday called on his Cabinet colleague Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma to resign. If Sharma does not resign Ramadhar said, then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar should fire him pending completion of police investigations into allegations of assault on his former girlfriend Sacha Singh, the managing director of AMS Biotech Security Concept and AMSure T&t Ltd.
Singh reported the incident, which allegedly took place at Grand Bazaar on March 12, to St Joseph police last Friday. The Prime Minister was asked to comment on the matter but did not respond as she entered her car after attending Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day celebrations at Maloney. In a statement issued after the celebrations, Ramadhar said he was greatly disappointed after reading the newspaper reports on the alleged “serious misconduct” by the Tourism Minister.
He said his party, which is the second largest member of the four-party coalition led by Persad-Bissessar, hopes the allegations are false. Ramadhar said his party maintains its position that “where serious allegations are made against senior public officials, such persons should remove themselves from office until the allegations are properly investigated and resolved.” Therefore, Ramadhar said the COP “calls on Minister Sharma to tender his resignation from the Cabinet until his name is cleared.”
Failing Sharma’s resignation, “the COP expects that the Prime Minister will move with alacrity, as she has done in the past, to preserve the integrity of her administration and of the institutions of state.”
Public relations officer of the PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi, said all eyes were on Persad-Bissessar in the wake of the latest serious allegations of misconduct by a government minister. Al-Rawi, in a brief comment to the T&T Guardian yesterday, noted that it came days after People and Social Development Minister Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh was fired over allegations of misconduct involving an employee of Caribbean Airlines on a flight home from Tobago.
Al-Rawi said the tempo of such allegations seem to have quickened to a madding pace. He said the PNM now awaits the PM’s response on the incident. “We await sight of her commitment to immediacy of action in relation to this most recent scandal,” he added. The PM has remained deafeningly silent on other issues involving her government, in particular the award of a billion-dollar contract to Super Industrial Services (SIS) to construct a wastewater treatment plant at Beetham.
Al-Rawi said he was hopeful that the allegations against Sharma “will not fall into the very long vacuum of her considerations.” But he said, “We await further feeble attempts by the Government to try and lay distraction to the decomposition of the rotting corpse of the UNC.”
What Warner said
And former Cabinet minister Jack warner says the latest allegation against Sharma is only the tip of the iceberg. Warner said Persad-Bissessar should be consistent and tell Sharma “thanks very much” and fire him. He said the PM should distance herself and her PP Government from Sharma as he had not done anything for the Government in the past four years. Sharma did not respond to calls from the T&T Guardian yesterday.