Chairman of the Indo-Trinbago Equality Council (Itec) Devant Maharaj has called on Joan Yuille-Williams to resign as an ambassador in light of the revelation of the award of $46 million in "secret" scholarships, during her tenure as Minister of Culture.
Speaking on a Congress of the People platform in Barrackpore on Wednesday night, Maharaj also called on PNM senator Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing, one of the beneficiaries of a scholarship, "to pay back the money. Maharaj unearthed the information through the Freedom of Information Act. Lezama-Lee Sing allegedly received some $300,000 to pursue studies for an LLB in law and politics, during the period 2004 to 2006, at the University of Westminster, London. Maharaj also called on the Auditor General to launch an immediate investigation into the Ministry of Culture and how taxpayers' money was being spent. He has already submitted a formal complaint to the Integrity Commission for an investigation concerning the awards. Chairman of Wednesday night's meeting Robin Moonan, a former deputy mayor of the San Fernando City Corporation, said the Government should change the name from scholarship to "skullership."
Moonan was also critical of Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday, saying he had no moral authority to call for any investigation into secret scholarships, since his children, according to unrefuted court documents, benefited from a $2 million scholarship fund from Clico jefe Lawrence Duprey, while Panday was prime minister. He further chastised Panday, saying that while the UNC was boasting that they had 15 seats in the Parliament and the COP had none, it was the COP that was getting more information than those who were in the Parliament collecting money. COP Leader Winston Dookeran closed the meeting with a promise to wage war to remove the likes of Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Panday. Referring to the on-and-off strides towards unity of the opposition forces, Dookeran said the COP was now a permanent fixture in the politics of this country.
"Anyone who wants to go into the government will have to come to us for us to take them there," Dookeran said.