Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee has apparently vowed not to allow himself to be crucified in a statement posted on the Facebook page of his wife, Natasha Babwah.
Tim Kee, who is also the PNM treasurer and the former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president, promised to resign on the afternoon of Saturday 13 February 2016, after acknowledging that his response to the murder of Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya had damaged the integrity his office.
But, within a few hours, the fightback to keep his job began as councillor Farai Hove Masaisai and a statement shared by Babwah, on the Mayor’s behalf, suggested he would fight on.
The following are Tim Kee’s resignation letter, the subsequent public statements and video clips for and against the Mayor:
(Office of the Mayor of Port of Spain)
I have noted the continued outrage and hurt over statements attributed to me. I deeply regret the consequences of these statements, and I apologise unreservedly to those who have been affected. 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.
It is important for me to point out as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, a man and a father, that I reiterate my 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.
Raymond Tim Kee,
(Statement from Farai Hove Masaisai, PNM councillor for Belmont North and West, in defence of Raymond Tim Kee)
Our Mayor has always stood up for women’s rights in the city and in November of 2015 he together with Alderman Permanad spear headed the United Nation’s partnership with the city of Port of Spain to raise awareness in the fight against Domestic Violence against women (The Orange Ribbon Campaign).
I ask where were these organisations then, not one of them attended city hall to lend support to this initiative, which was televised and also minuted in our Statutory meeting of that month.
We as a council understand that no one is perfect and we are all susceptible to mistakes especially when being asked questions on the spot by live media. His Worship at our Committee meetings held on Thursday the 11th day of February 2016 explained to both members of council and heads of the Administration of the City, the circumstances surrounding his statement and we accepted his apology and his rational and we have moved on to continue doing our work in and for the city of Port of Spain.
In a year which is carded for a local government election, we stand in solidarity with our Mayor and we are not divided. We trust the good sense will prevail and that our Mayor would not be called upon to resign as is the request by the Opposition and the other groups.
We remain faithful to the ideals of our great party and we thank you for your kind consideration.
God’s blessings to you and God Bless our Party.
Farai Hove Masaisai,
Attorney at Law and Councillor for Belmont North and West
(Facebook post on the wall of Raymond Tim Kee’s wife, Natasha Babwah, supposedly on behalf of her husband)
An open letter to the public:
I am compelled to write to the public about the statements I made about behaviour at Carnival time, and the responsibility of persons—women specifically—to safeguard themselves against the predators that come out to play in droves for the season.
My statements about vulgarity were made in isolation when asked about safety, a week prior to the tragic incident with Asami Nagakiya.
It has been my observation—in my many years of service as a police officer and other public service capacities—that there are groups of people who take the opportunity during the frenzied carnival activities, to not only grope and touch women without invitation, but also to rob, steal and “settle scores” with persons who are unaware due to diminished capacity from alcohol consumption, fatigue or other reasons.
These types take very little encouragement, and I 100% acknowledge that women are harassed daily, regardless of their attire; I have daughters so I am well aware. But it is no secret that predators seem to be especially active and bold during carnival festivities.
The inference in this statement was not that women are “inviting abuse” by having a good time. On the contrary the statement was the advice I would give to any female friend or family member, which is to protect yourself at all costs against lascivious men.
Is that statement untrue? Can we deny the depths to which some members of society have gone in the attack and preying on females, especially in recent times?
Can we deny how depraved they have become?
How many stories do we see weekly in the media about women being raped, abducted, children being molested and abused at the hands of these very same individuals to which I referred?
Is it reckless to assert that these are the unfortunate times that we live in where many men take the simplest sign of friendliness as an opportunity to approach a woman?
Is it the woman’s fault for existing and smiling or looking attractive? Never.
Should I have admonished the behaviour of these predators in my statement? Absolutely. And I humbly apologise for not doing so, but the problem of rapists, thieves and abusers is a bigger fight, and less about prevention via caution and more about finding a cure for the environments that spawn and nurture them.
In a speech about carnival safety the former message was easier to disseminate and I regret not also including a warning to would-be perpetrators that their actions would not be tolerated by the armed forces.
I cannot continue without insisting that the way this statement was linked to Asami’s death was both reckless and vicious on the part of a particular media house, in what I can only conceive to be an attempt to drum up controversy.
I have apologised to the public for the timing of the statement on safety measures and I am more than willing to speak to any of the concerned interest groups on the topic who would like to discuss, fairly and openly, in further detail.
If nothing else, this should be seen as an opportunity to discuss these very same gender issues that continue to plague the country and start a conversation on how we can curb the behaviour of the negative elements in society, starting from the bottom and moving upwards.
I have seen the narrative switch from one of understandable outrage to unadulterated personal bashing.
My daughters and wife have been brought up in conversations, with one group even going so far to bring up an irrelevant instance of my daughter’s dancing when she was a pre-teen, while participating in her dance school’s carnival celebrations.
Is that what we have had to sink to? Is it necessary to try to degrade a person’s family members who are wholly unconnected to the issue at hand?
Is it fair on one hand to protest injustices to women while wildly and wantonly performing the very same “shaming” and abuse that you have accused me of?
I think if you dig deep you will see that it is completely unacceptable and unfair.
When asked about Asami, like the rest of the public, I did not know the intricacies of the crime at hand. The news of her discovery was still very fresh and I was not completely prepared to discuss it in an intimate way.
I could only have assumed foul play was at hand based on the nature of her discovery and the presence of bruises and wounds on her body, which is why my statement about women protecting themselves was very broad and very general. It was not about Asami’s case specifically and in retrospect, as I have said before, I regret the timing of this message.
When we talk about Asami’s death today, it has been overshadowed by the controversy of my statements which is regretful. Let us focus on moving forward, having open discussions and finding a solution to the problems that we face.
Let us expend our energies towards solving Asami’s murder, as well as the multitude of crimes that continue to plague the country today.
Let us continue to offer our condolences to her family and give her the tributes, as a purveyor of our culture, that she deserves.
I have seen the protests. I have received the messages. I understand the issues at hand and would like to find a solution.
When I became Mayor of Port of Spain, it is because I had a vision to take the city forward, to continue and improve on the work of the persons before me.
I still have more work to do this year and I am not willing to give up. I have always had an open door policy and am always open to dialogue.
What I am not open to is crucifixion without mutual respect and understanding and hope to move forward.
Editor’s Note: What the Municipal Corporations Act says:
25. (1) A person elected to a corporate office may, at any time by writing signed by him and delivered to the Chief Executive Officer, resign the office on payment of the ($4,000) fine provided for non-acceptance of office…
(4) In any case where the Council by resolution carried by not less than a three-fourths majority of the members present at a meeting attended by not less than two-thirds of the whole Council grants permission to the holder of a corporate office to resign—
(a) on the grounds of ill health; or
(b) because his residence or business is such a distance from the Municipal Office of the Corporation that it would be difficult to attend meetings of the Council,
the person resigning is not liable to pay a fine nor is he so liable where he previously served in a corporate office for six years and any period of such service falls within five years of the date of such resignation.