People's National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday wrote to President George Maxwell Richards, calling on him to fire Equal Opportunity Commission member Dr Indira Rampersad with immediate effect.
Rowley's call for her dismissal was based on a report in the T&T Guardian yesterday, in which Rampersad asserted that the "Calcutta ship" statements made during the lead-up to the Tobago House of Assembly election were part of a well-planned PNM strategy. The Opposition Leader said Rampersad's comments amounted to a breach of her oath of office.
"I have taken special notice of a report published in the T&T Guardian newspapers today (yesterday) on Page A6 titled 'Equal Opportunity Commissioner: Talk of Calcutta ship planned PNM strategy.'
"The article evidently asserts that Dr Indira Rampersad, a commissioner of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), has articulated her belief that the 'Calcutta ship' statement made by Mr Hilton Sandy during the run-up to the THA 2013 election was not an error, but a deliberate strategy of the party. Similarly, she has been reported as declaring her said opinion on national television."
Rowley said he and deputy leader Orville London have publicly and unambiguously disassociated themselves and the PNM from thestatement,and have made it clear that such sentiments "are not the policy of our multi-ethnic, multiracial and generally diverse party."
"Dr Rampersad has chosen to declare this warped view to the public at large, without a shred of evidence to support her preposterous accusations," he said. Rowley stressed that Sandy had repeatedly apologised for "this unfortunate and unacceptable statement," and he therefore rejected any suggestion that the statement was party strategy.
Rampersad, he said, had "undoubtedly demonstrated she isincapableof impartially in discharging her functions as an Equal Opportunity commissioner and that she is in noticeable breach of her oath." He also pointed out that the EOC had received a complaint about Sandy's statement.
Quoting from Section 28 (2) of the EqualOpportunityAct and the oath of office for commissioners, he said: "Her breach is even more serious when one considers the fact that the mentioned statement is currently thesubjectof a complaint to the EOC, and without a shred of evidence and in breach of all principles of natural justice, she has made a wholly unjustified, biased, controversial, revolting and by far, an improper declaration in public about the PNM.
She is patently unfit to be an EOC commissioner and should be dismissed forthwith."