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Tim Kee to resign

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Port-of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee is expected to tender his resignation tomorrow.

His decision comes one day after scores of concerned citizens and human rights activists staged a protest at Woodford Square in Port-of-Spain, calling for him to resign over comments he made on the discovery of Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya’s body at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Wednesday.

In a statement issued yesterday on the Port-of-Spain City Corporation letterhead, Tim Kee stated that he noted the continued outrage and hurt over statements attributed to him. 

He said he deeply regretted the consequences of the statements and apologised unreservedly to those who had been affected. 

On Wednesday during a news conference at City Hall, the mayor was questioned about the discovery of an unidentified female masquerader. Later that night she was identified by police as Nagakiya. 

Tim Kee’s response to reporters at the news conference was that women did not need to behave in a vulgar and lewd manner to enjoy themselves during Carnival.

He said, “I spoke of some of the things that I see women do, assisted by men, of course, but the woman has the responsibility that they ensure that they are not abused. You can enjoy Carnival without going through that routine.”

Tim Kee added that women needed to maintain a level of dignity during Carnival festivities.

Following his statements which created outrage on social media and among different civil society groups, Tim Kee issued a statement on Thursday apologising, saying his statements were taken out of context.

But it’s not the first time the mayor has made such remarks about women’s behaviour during Carnival.

In 2014, speaking to reporters at the Downtown Carnival judging point in South Quay, the mayor said, “I see some women do some things with some men—nothing for the imagination, you can’t do that.”

He said he felt that some of the costumes he had seen then were “unacceptable—almost like a beach party on the street. I hate to say this, some women just don’t care.” 

Calls on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for Tim Kee to resign fell on deaf ears as the PM said the controversial remarks did not warrant a dismissal.

Rowley said Tim Kee may have “misspoken” and his People’s National Movement Government (PNM) did not support victim blaming.

WomanTra TT started a petition on Wednesday calling for Tim Kee’s resignation and up to last night the petition had reached over 10,000 signatures.

Tim Kee is also the treasurer of the PNM.

In November 2013 he was elected unopposed as mayor. He was also the president of the T&T Football Association, but was voted out last November.

When Sunday Guardian contacted Tim Kee yesterday he said his resignation statement had been issued to all media houses and that he would be engaged in a meeting that would last an hour.

He asked that the newspaper call him back but several calls thereafter went unanswered.

Tim Kee: I respect women

In the 12-line release, Tim Kee said, “I consider the reaction has been sufficient to cause damage to the Office of the Mayor of Port of Spain, which any holder of this office should be concerned to protect at all costs. It is in these circumstances, why I intend to call an emergency meeting of Council, and tender my resignation as Mayor, and as an Alderman.”

He added that it was important for him to point out as a citizen of T&T, a man and a father, he reiterated his unreserved respect for women, and in fact for all people, regardless of their race, gender or religion.

“It is hoped that with this decision, the Office of the Mayor is now protected, my unreserved apology accepted by my fellow citizens, and that the focus can now be placed fully on solving the murder of a visitor to our shores,” Tim Kee wrote.

It does not rise to the level 

of resignation—Cuffie

Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie, when contacted last night, referred all questions to Rural Development and Local Government Minister Franklin Khan, who is also chairman of the PNM. 

However, calls to Khan’s cellphone went unanswered.

Earlier in the day, Cuffie told reporters during a walkabout in La Horquetta that Government had no intention of removing Tim Kee from office. Cuffie referred to Rowley’s earlier comments on the issue, saying that while Tim Kee’s statements were unfortunate, they did not warrant his removal from office.

“It (Tim Kee’s comments) does not rise to the level of resignation and I wouldn’t want to go further than that,” Cuffie said of the government’s position.

Rowley did not respond to a message sent by the Sunday Guardian last night.

AG: Tim Kee is a compassionate man

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi publicly commended Tim Kee for acting as quickly as he did in offering his resignation.

Asked by reporters at the scene of a business fire at High Street, San Fernando, last night to comment on the situation, Al-Rawi said, “I think that Mayor Tim Kee is a man who knows very well what public sentiment looks like. It is a very unfortunate incident. I mean the death of the Japanese national...a woman who loved T&T is certainly a great tragedy for this nation.”

Al-Rawi said he knew Tim Kee personally and that he was a very compassionate man. 

“There is no excuse or holding water in your mouth in relation to the statements that were put in the media.

“I am not saying what he ought to do or ought not to do, but what I can tell you is that public sentiment is real and I give Mayor Tim Kee a serious public commendation for acting as quickly as he had in this manner.”

Persad-Bissessar: Victory of the people

In response to Tim Kee’s intention to resign, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday hailed civil society groups and associated individuals who, after days of activism, compelled the mayor to offer, albeit belatedly, an unequivocal apology for his reckless and offensive comments.

“This is a true victory of the people and I heartily commend the principled men and women who took up this struggle and spoke out against Mr Tim Kee’s vile sentiments, for their courage, perseverance and commitment,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She added that it served as a lesson to Rowley and his Government that they cannot callously dismiss the voice of the people, “since true power lies in the collective will of the citizens of this great nation.”

Lee Sing: PNM placing burden of responsibility on PoS council

In a Facebook post at 6.27 pm, former mayor Louis Lee Sing said, “The Mayor’s resignation letter I have read closely and on the surface I hold the view the PNM is once again placing its ‘burden of responsibility,’ on the laps of its Port-of-Spain Council.

“Let's think this out!

“The Mayor convenes his meeting and members (all PNM) are given the offer of resignation, but prior to the meeting Council Members are instructed NOT to accept the resignation. The Mayor stays and the responsibility for the mayor remaining in office becomes the hot potato of members of Council!

“In such a scenario the PM and Mayor are relieved of their burden of responsibility and Democracy suffers a mighty blow!

“I am hopeful on this occasion the PNM will remember the importance of the will of the people!”