As the Carnival season progresses, the Sunday BG brings readers the Business of Carnival series where business intersects with the law.
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Suruj defends PM...amid calls for Sharma's resignation
Works and Infrastructure Minister Dr Surajrattan Rambachan says it is too early for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to make a pronouncement or take action on allegations of domestic abuse levelled against Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma by his ex-girlfriend Sacha Singh. But Rambachan expressed confidence that Persad-Bissessar will deal with the matter.
During a telephone interview with the Guardian, Rambachan said, “I think it is too early for anyone to make any pronouncements on this matter. I think that these are matters the Prime Minister will, in time, deal with. This is a matter that is under police investigation and therefore it is inappropriate to comment,” Rambachan added. Yesterday the Sunday Guardian reported that Sharma is currently the subject of a police investigation, in which he is accused of being physically abusive to his ex-girlfriend, a Piarco businesswoman.
Singh, the managing director of AMS Biotech Security Concept and AmSure T&T Ltd, reported to police that she was struck by the minister, pushed to the ground and blacked out. The alleged incident took place during an altercation on March 12 involving the two, another woman and a 12-year-old child, at Grand Bazaar. Yesterday Rambachan said he only knew about it when he read the newspaper article.
“I have not been aware. I am only going by what I read in the papers, and not everything you see in the papers you must just accept. There are always two sides to every story, as you would know,” he said. This allegation comes a week after Persad-Bissessar dismissed Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh from the Cabinet.
The Caroni Central MP was axed after media reports that he engaged in disorderly conduct aboard a Caribbean Airlines domestic flight last Sunday. The former minister, according to the report, allegedly touched a flight attendant 25-year-old Ronelle Laidlow’s breast when he reached for her ID badge. He is also alleged to have threatened to have her dismissed.
Yesterday, Rambachan said he has full confidence in Persad-Bissessar’s judgement and came out in her defence as he dismissed critics who have questioned her judgement in the selection of ministers for her Cabinet. She has dismissed 11 in the past four years. “I think the Prime Minister continues to exercise her best judgement in all these matters. I fully support her. As I said, you elect people to office and you give them an opportunity and you expect them to perform to the best of their ability,” he said.
The minister said since day one the People’s Partnership has been under attack. Yet, he said, “despite the many attacks we have been able to continue our good work in the country of delivering the goods and services, delivering good infrastructure, of growing the economy, of reducing unemployment and maintaining stability in the nation.” On Saturday Rambachan also came to the Prime Minister’s defence, declaring that she could not be blamed for the shortcomings of her ministers.
Rambachan, speaking with reporters as he joined parents and pupils of the Macaulay Government Primary School at the start of their anti-bullying walkathon, said the Prime Minister stood up for integrity. He said Persad-Bissessar could not be blamed for the mistakes her ministers made which eventually led to their dismissals.
“She has to work with those who have come and presented themselves for public office... Now if you, having been given that opportunity to serve, do not make good use of it, then you do not hold the Prime Minister responsible for it. You hold yourself responsible,” Rambachan said. Rambachan said while it was regrettable that a “good minister” like Ramadharsingh was fired, the Prime Minister had made the right choice.
Junior minister in the Works and Infrastructure Ministry Stacy Roopnarine also shared this view on Saturday afternoon while speaking with reporters during a medical clinic in her Oropouche West constituency at the Heritage Community Centre, La Romain. Roopnarine said the Prime Minister has her full support.