Transparent, Independent investigation is still needed!


FIXIN’ T&T welcomes the official resignation of Dr. Rolph Balgobin from Angostura Holdings Limited but is appalled that it took over a year given the allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him. Let it be known that this resignation in no way absolves either the Government or the Board of Angostura from their abysmal dereliction of duty and responsibility to afford the alleged victim a fair and transparent hearing. History will not forgive any of the individuals associated with this failure along with those who, over the years, may have been complicit in protecting Dr. Balgobin at the expense of his alleged victims. It has been reported that the government intends to retain Dr. Balgobin as Chairman of CL Financial. If true, this would be an outrage and suggests that the boys’ club is well and truly alive in protecting its own in this country.

As head of the government, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has repeatedly failed female victims of violence and sexual harassment. FIXIN’ T&T recalls his callous insensitivity to victims of domestic violence when he blamed the victims for their choice of partners. This attitude has been reflected in his government’s hands-off approach in circumstances that warranted Dr. Balgobin’s suspension pending the outcome of a credible inquiry into the complaint by a senior female executive at Angostura. It was on display again when then Sports Minister Darryl Smith was accused of sexual harassment by a contract employee. Until he was forced to fire Mr. Smith from his cabinet, Dr. Rowley at no stage seemed interested in giving the benefit of the doubt to the alleged victim. Now that the inquiry into that matter has been completed, FIXIN’ T&T calls on Dr. Rowley to make its findings known and not hide behind legal red tape.
FIXIN’ T&T reminds Dr. Rowley that leadership creates culture. His actions and inactions in these matters neither inspire confidence nor augur well for women, women’s and gender based issues. Instead of seemingly seeking to protect the alleged sexual harassers, proper leadership dictates that they be removed from all positions of ‘power’ pending the outcome of thorough, transparent and independent investigations into the allegations leveled against them. A good and interested leader would also be at the forefront of ensuring the effective implementation of the requisite meaningful legislation that would protect those vulnerable and deter potential sexual predators.


Property Matters – Sandals MoU?

Afra Raymond continues to gnaw at the roots of the “Scandals” oops “Sandals” Agreement because citizens have a right to know the details.
I applaud him. Crafting a strong future will only be done if today’s actions are open, honest and transparent. It takes courage to be an Afra Raymond!

Adam Stewart, CEO Sandals

This is a continuation of my 8 March 2018 article on the Sandals MoU. That MoU was declared as no secret by our PM to the Parliament on 12 October 2017 and that was confirmed by the then CEO of the Sandals group, Adam Stewart, as reported on 27 February 2018 in the T&T press.

My 27 February 2018 request for that MoU under the Freedom of Information Act (embedded below) was therefore made against that background of both parties’ declaration that there was no secret. The Office of the Prime Minister responded on 22 March 2018 to refuse my request, citing that the MoU contained a confidentiality clause which prevented its disclosure at this time. I have since written to the OPM to request a reply in conformity with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act – I am still awaiting…

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Laventille nights and President Weekes!

Curiosity got the better of me and I chose the much publicized “Laventille Nights” with our country’s first female President over the usual Friday evening “lime”.            I wasn’t sure if it was at Beetham or Sea Lots. Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 09.42.45
As we drove along, blue lights signalled the presence of police cars at Sea Lots so that was our cue to drive into Sea Lots. Our car worked its way through the narrow streets and I counted 8 marked police vehicles, several heavily armed police officers and 7 dark tinted SUV-type vehicles.
The interview had already begun as we settled into the garden chairs. There was a continuous murmur as the interview continued. The 50 or so children in the audience looked between 5 and 11 years of age with a few babies on the shoulders of young women. A handful of young men sat in the stands of the basketball court and of course, Burkie and his partner with their obvious gold chains.
I commend President Weekes for responding positively to the request but I am challenged to understand the objective or the intended outcome. I am equally challenged to understand the thinking of the parents who would herd their children into a gathering in the basketball court when they should be in bed and asleep. The dearth of adults was also alarming.
The star moment came when the father of Andrea Johnson expressed his total delight and pride at the accomplishments of his daughter. The necessary thanks were then expressed and the President’s entourage departed.
As the President’s entourage disappeared, the entertainer Voice was introduced and the children became fully awake. When I left, it was to the trailing sound of the famous line in his hit song, “This Is The Year For Love” and I wondered: What has changed? What difference will our first female President make? What is the leverage needed to move our society?
The following evening, I drove past the entrance to Sea Lots and this time, only darkness engulfed the area, not a flashing blue light … not a uniformed police officer … only a shadowy figure in the distance. Life continues and I fully expect that the next time Sea Lots residents will receive a visit by heavily armed police officers and 7 marked police vehicles will be to quell some disquiet or extract a wanted citizen.





On Angostura Farm, all animals are holy but only cows are sacred!



“Red ting!”

“Slim ting!”

“Tick ting!”

“Tall ting!”

Their catcalls come at us from all sides, across the street, across the room, in the Stadium, in the Oval, in City Gate, at the taxi-stand, everywhere. Their candid remarks about our bodies are delivered without hesitation, with no concern for their impact on us; we might as well be dumb animals.

Their objectification (unabashedly expressed in the constant “ting,” (tall or short, slim or thick, white or black or red) knows no bounds. Nor does their lechery. And it respects few barriers, the major one being the presence of a male significant other.

Nowadays, things are a lot worse. Of course, there still are those ordinary, right-thinking men who stand up for what is right and insist on proper treatment of women. But they are, I am clear, outnumbered.

One effect of this growing anti-woman, man-is-boss attitude is that women unable to enjoy genuine freedom of movement on the streets. We find that we are now constrained to make complex arrangements so that we are almost always accompanied by a male. But, as attested to by the recent flare-up in the debate about whether mace and pepper spray should be legalised, it is not just to reduce our exposure to these unsavoury remarks but to protect ourselves and ensure our physical safety.

However, I find that idea much less uncomfortable than the idea that thousands of women have been socialized into thinking that catcalls and other similar aggressive behaviour are really compliments and, therefore, completely acceptable. Perhaps, sadly, it is a generational thing but there was certainly a time when many women would wonder aloud, “Why is it that men don’t understand that I dislike their crude comments?”

“Crude comments.” Say that to the members of the Boys’ Club and they will respond, with a dismissive wave of the hand, that it is “only man talk.”

“Whappen,” they might add, “ah man cyar even make ah joke with ah ooman now?”  Don’t be fooled into thinking that that behaviour is confined to the “bad boys” on the street corners; it is an all pervasive attitude, exhibited wherever men get together.

And that is why there is a need for radical change as regards how women are treated in both public and private spaces, high and low, in Trinidad and Tobago. I do not think the households where the narrative continues to be that “A woman’s place is in the home and her role to rear the children and make sure everyone is properly fed” are defined by level of income or of education. I do not think that men in only one type of environment socialise their male offspring into thinking that “roughing she up” is the manly thing to do; environments across every stratum of the society ooze male dominance and feminine abuse.

The attitude of man’s sense of entitlement as far as women are concerned is deeply embedded in our psyche, making the problem systemic. It will only be solved when we take a systems approach to understanding it and shifting the needle. My continuing focus on sexual harassment is fuelled by the lack of action with a view to embedding a system to help people understand the issue and their own reactions.

When I repeatedly call for legislation, it is with the full understanding that, without clearly articulated consequences for not making changes, the status quo will remain unchanged. When I repeatedly call for policy implementation, it is with the full understanding that the conversation about sexuality and sexual harassment must take place so that people will understand the changing norms and the new boundaries. When I repeatedly call for the removal of a top official still under the cloud of sexual harassment accusations, it is with the full understanding that that person’s actions speak so loudly that audiences cannot hear his words.

On at least one issue, audiences cannot hear their government’s words either. The current Rowley-led PNM Administration continues to be silent on the issue of an independent, transparent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations made against the Chairman of the 30% government-owned Angostura Holdings Limited. The absence of any action to remove the Angostura Chairman is a message, loud and clear, that, as far Government is concerned, all animals are equal but only certain cows remain sacred.

So if women continue to be on the receiving end of constant catcalls and treated like dogs, for Dr Rowley and his Cabinet, including no small number of women, that is really small ting.