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While Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says recent controversial remarks by Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee do not warrant his dismissal, the PM yesterday distanced his Government from any “victim blaming” perceived to have been done by Tim Kee.
Rowley made the point at his constituency office yesterday after Tim Kee’s reported controversial comments on the discovery of the body of Japanese tenor pan player Asami Nagakiya on Wednesday caused a public furore.
Tim Kee’s statements, which appeared to link the woman’s death to a culture of lewdness, has garnered widespread criticism from feminists, women’s rights groups, politicians and other stakeholders.
Under pressure, Tim Kee yesterday apologised to all women and T&T, claiming his comments were taken out of context but women’s groups and Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar have called for Tim Kee’s removal, saying an apology isn’t enough.
Yesterday, Rowley said he may have “misspoken” on the matter but it was no reason for his dismissal. He also stressed his Government did not support victim blaming.
A number of women’s rights activists plan to protest outside Tim Kee’s office today. A protest is also planned for outside the T&T High Commission in London. An online petition seeking Tim Kee’s dismissal has so far garnered more than 4,000 signatures.
Tim Kee’s apology, which came via statement from his office, stated: “His Worship the Mayor unequivocally apologises to women and the national population who were offended by remarks attributed to him following the death of Carnival visitor and mas player, Asami Nagakiya.
“Mayor Tim Kee says his comments were completely misconstrued and one particular headline unfortunately stated ‘PoS mayor criticises women’ drawing fire even before the article was read.
“Mayor Tim Kee said he advised women to take responsibility and protect themselves, as so many women are the victims of abuse at the hands of others.”
The statement said Tim Kee agreed “his comments could have been considered out of line.”
But it maintained that despite the anger being expressed from many quarters, including feminist groups and activists, “he has also received calls of support from several women agreeing with him on the lack of modesty displayed by some women and girls on the streets during Carnival.”
Tim Kee’s statement added: “There is indeed a concern about the behaviour of both male and female mas players generally, as they are now being emulated by children who believe that lewd behaviour and Carnival go hand-in-hand.
“It is with deep regret to have to speak of the death of Ms Nagakiya, who has been a welcome visitor and close friend of the steelband community in T&T for several years.”
Yesterday, Communication Minister Maxie Cuffie steered clear of commenting on Tim Kee’s statement at the post-Cabinet media briefing.