Parliament meets today for what is described as a mere formality, to confirm Justice Paula Mae-Weekes as this country’s sixth President.
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The People’s Partnership Government has suffered another blow, this time with the resignation of Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma. There had been calls for Sharma to be axed from the Government amid an on-going police investigation that he physically assaulted his former girlfriend and businesswoman Sasha Singh at Grand Bazaar carpark.
Sharma’s resignation came six days after Glenn Ramadharsingh was dismissed as minister of the People and Social Development for disorderly behaviour while on board a domestic flight from Tobago to Trinidad on March 16. Singh, who went public, claimed the blow was so powerful that she was knocked out. She also alleged that Sharma showed no remorse for his actions.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who accepted Sharma’s resignation yesterday, said her leadership was not formed “in the mould of loud and angry politicians” who felt that shouting and attacking everything was the best way to be heard. A statement issued yesterday by the Office of the Prime Minister said Persad-Bissessar also advised President Anthony Carmona to revoke Sharma’s appointment.
In justifying her decision to accept the resignation Persad-Bissessar said, “There has been some discussion on the number of times changes have been made in my Cabinet. “I say that is a measurement of my commitment to maintaining the high ideals upon which we were elected,” Persad-Bissessar said. She added there was some discussion regarding the number of times changes which were made in her Cabinet.
This, the prime minister said, was a measurement of her commitment to maintaining the high ideals upon which the People’s Partnership Government was elected. “There is no privileged escape, no allowance for arrogance, no forgiveness for indiscretion. Those days are gone, such compromise has expired. The responsible leadership which we promised to usher in a dawn of a new era is the new political currency.
“But my decisions and policies speak even louder of who I am and what I expect of those around me in government,” Persad-Bissessar said. She said her government was stronger than ever because of the tough decisions taken and that the population could breathe easier as it was confident in the knowledge that value-based leadership would never be compromised. Persad-Bissessar also thanked Sharma for his contributions to the Government.
Top CoP: Probe wrapping up
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said the probe involving Sharma is being completed. He however, said he could not give a time frame on when the investigation would be concluded. The probe is being conducted by officers of the St Joseph Police Station. “That report is continuing to be investigated and I do expect the investigation will be wrapped up in a short period of time.
“It is not a complicated investigation so the investigator should be through with it with it within the shortest period of time. It is a straight forward investigation,” he added. Williams said he was expected to leave the country yesterday and return next Saturday. Asked if a file would be passed on to him as it related to the laying of charges Williams said this was not the case.
“This is an investigation that would not come to me. We have a whole structure in place to deal with these kinds of investigations. If perhaps it has to reach at the highest level it would reach to either ACP Crime Deodath Doolalchan or Deputy Police Commissioner in charge of Crime Glen Hackett but it would not reach me,” Williams added.
Sharma: I am a firm believer in karma
Former Tourism minister Chandresh Sharma says he will continue privately to clear his name in the interest of justice and no further public statement on matters pertaining to the alleged incident will be made as it is entirely a matter for his lawyers to handle. Sharma said so in a statement on his resignation hours after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced she had accepted it.
He said, “I have served my country faithfully and selflessly for close to two decades. During this entire period my personal life has never been the subject of public discourse. I am not the story, the work I do is the full account of who I happen to be.” Saying he was a firm a firm believer in karma Sharma noted he had always said that his entry into public office is about “service to the people not about me. Some say it is a thankless task, but for me each day brings a level of satisfaction that is immeasurable.”
He acknowledge, however, that public life comes with a level of scrutiny and expectation that does not allow for consideration of your version of events. “With the stories swirling around on my personal life even seeking to clarify the issues through statements will undoubtedly be countered by others. So that is not an option. I will not allow these allegations to detract from the good work of the Government nor to sully the name of my party. Anything I attempt to say on the matter will only serve to feed the issue.
It is therefore with a heavy heart but a light spirit of commitment to my country and recognition of the burden of responsibility I hold as a Minister of Government that I offer the Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, my unreserved resignation.” Sharma also thanked his constituents for reposing their faith in him. He also pledge to continue serving them.
” I express my heartfelt gratitude as well to my Cabinet colleagues and others for their words of encouragement and understanding, and to the Honourable Prime Minister for providing me the opportunity to have served the nation. I am a firm believer in karma and trust that the future will work itself out through the life I have lived, the judgment of which I leave ultimately to God. Thank you all.”
Rowley: Kamla fighting for political life
Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley said while he was happy to see Sharma go this was however, an indication that Persad-Bissessar was “fighting for her political life.” “She believes that we don’t understand that her statements have to do with more with elections than with principles.....so we are not impressed with her statements,” Rowley said. He added that Persad-Bissessar only acted when the public disgust was too much for her to bear.
PM must have known—PNM
As head of the national security council Persad-Bissessar must have had first-hand knowledge of the alleged beating and the probe involving Sharma, PNM Senator and Public Relations Officer Faris Al-Rawi said yesterday. He also questioned why was Sharma given the luxury to resign when former ministers Herbert Volney and Colin Partap, who offered their resignations, were instead fired.
“It is interesting that the prime minister herself has had absolutely no comment to make. It seems it is the Prime Minister’s style to make bold comments only when it is easy to do so and she allowed Sharma a privilege not afforded to the likes of Volney and Partap. It is certainly a demonstration of double standards,” Al-Rawi said.
He said a general election must be called as it was the only way citizens could be put out of their misery and shame of being governed by a “rotting and decomposing carcass” that was the People’s Partnership Government.