Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is demanding that the Mayor of Port of Spain, Raymond Tim Kee be immediately fired if controversial comments attributed to him on the tragic death of Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya are accurate.
Based on reports in the media, the Mayor responded to the discovery of a body at the Savannah by pontificating about “vulgarity and lewdness in conduct” and charged that “women have a responsibility to ensure they are not abused”. He continued by admonishing women to “maintain a certain kind of dignity”.
Specifically relating to Ms. Nagakiya’s death he is reported as saying: “Now, when I heard that news this morning I know there are tourists who would come here who are strangers here and may not be aware of all the risks of doing certain things in the savannah. A body was found, right? So you have to let your imagination roll a bit and figure out was there any evidence of resistance? Was it alcohol-controlled and therefore (were) involuntary actions engaged in and so on?”
The Opposition Leader noted according to media reports Mayor Tim Kee did not even offer condolences on the death of Ms. Nagakiya and proceeded to offered scandalous speculation in relation to the possible circumstances surrounding her death.
In expressing her sentiments Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said:
“It is unbelievable that in a twenty-first century society, the Mayor of the capital city can utter such outrageous and misogynistic statements about the death of a talented young woman, given that the facts are not yet known. You do not even know the young lady yet you are making incredulous assumptions. If these reports are true Mayor Tim Kee must immediately be dismissed from office as he has demonstrated a lack of sensitivity as well as the progressive intellectual capacity to hold a position of leadership.”
“Such retrograde thinking contributes to gender inequity and the proliferation of misogyny in Trinidad and Tobago and is especially disturbing when it is exhibited in persons in public life and is irresponsible, reckless and completely unacceptable.”
“This blanket indictment on women as the enablers of their abuse has no place in a modern society and I think that the Mayor must apologise to the family of Ms. Nagakiya and all women for his atrocious comments. No one deserves to be abused.”
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar further lamented the possible negative impact that the Mayor’s pronouncements would have on relations between Trinidad and Tobago and foreign nations whose citizens visit TT. She affirmed that this is further evidence of Mr. Tim Kee’s unsuitability to continue as Mayor of Port of Spain.
“Mr. Tim Kee is not only the PNM Mayor but a member of the PNM General Council. Therefore I call on the Dr. Keith Rowley as Political Leader, Ms. Camille Robinson-Regis as Lady Vice-Chair, Mr. Ashton Ford as General Secretary, the Women’s League of the PNM and Mr. Franklyn Khan as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to immediately distance themselves from Mr. Tim Kee’s comments.
A mere apology would not suffice. Such a transgression requires action in order establish a high standard of integrity for PNM representatives who hold public office.
Dr. Rowley must therefore display progressive leadership by immediately dismissing Mr. Tim Kee as Mayor. Failure to do so would suggest complicity with Mr. Tim Kee’s sentiments and serve as a damning indictment on the PNM’s position on women’s rights and gender relations.”
She concluded by calling on, “all right-thinking citizens to speak out against this kind of backward mentality and support the call for Mayor Tim Kee to be fired.”
The Office of The Leader of the Opposition