Even as he was condemned for sharing the Prime Minister’s mobile phone number, a defiant former government minister, Devant Maharaj yesterday shared National Security Minister Stuart Young’s cellphone number on social media.
“CALL STUART! Prime Minister Rowley has opted to be disconnected from the sufferings of the average citizen caused directly by the mismanagement of the economy by the termination of his cellular telephone phone. Given that Minister Stuart Young accused me of sedition for calling for a lawful protest and sharing the cell number of the Prime Minister, I now call upon citizens to call Minister Young and speak out against the undemocratic pattern of behaviour of the Rowley Administration on his phone at 6******,” Maharaj posted yesterday.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is reacting with outrage over former UNC government minister Devant Maharaj’s decision to share Rowley’s personal telephone number on social media.
In a statement issued on Saturday evening appealing to “all the decent right thinking people of Trinidad and Tobago” Rowley apologised for having to discontinue the number.
He explained: “Today, due to circumstances beyond my control I am forced to communicate an apology to you as a result of the reckless and dangerous behaviour of former UNC Minister Devant Maharaj.
For very many years, I have maintained the same telephone number. Upon assuming office I continued to keep that same number and used it effectively for private and public business. Very many of you members of the public have used that number, appropriately, in your moments of need or simply to wish me well on a daily basis.
As of Friday December 7th 2018, Mr Devant Maharaj of the UNC, obtained my telephone number and has maliciously published it in the widest possible way on social media and further he has encouraged and incited persons to harass and threaten me.
Our country being what it is and containing enough unfortunates to be guided by the likes of Mr Devant Maharaj, I have been the subject not only of abuse but of threatening behaviour which warranted the involvement of the Commissioner of Police.
As a result of this act of gross misconduct and in my desire to serve you in a sane and sober manner I regret that I will be discontinuing the use of the number that you might have known and used at some time in the past.
I am saddened by this because I always felt connected to you just as an ordinary citizen whose phone number was widely known and available to the responsible public but this being the times in which we live and the technology available to the lowlifes like Mr Maharaj I have no choice but to access and use another number which you will become familiar with in the normal decent way.
I trust that our country never becomes so barren that there is an absence of leadership in all quarters, especially the political arena, where rogue elements who try to drag us down to their base levels can be roundly condemned. I so do”.
Young also said Maharaj’s circulation of calls for protest action warranted a criminal investigation and “may qualify as the serious crime of sedition.” Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said there is no criminal investigation into Maharaj circulating the PM’s’s personal contact information on social media. But Griffith warned citizens against making this kind of information public because it could jeopardise people’s security. Griffith said subsequent to the PM’s cell phone number being publicised on social media, Rowley received threatening phone calls from one person. He said this matter is now the subject of a police investigation.
People’s National Movement (PNM) Women’s League chairperson Camille Robinson-Regis said the Opposition Leader must condemn Maharaj’s “guerilla gambit.” But she opined that this may not happen if the “opposition’s thin veneer of decorum was shattered on her instructions.” Robinson-Regis said if this is the case, the League demands that Kamla Persad-Bissessar “take responsibility for the reckless actions of her former cabinet member.” She also said the League expects “nothing short of an immediate apology and public interdiction of Mr Maharaj.”
In a statement, the PNM supported Robinson-Regis’ position. PNM public relations officer Laurel Lezama Lee Sing said Maharaj continues to be “unpatriotic and ill-disciplined” in and out of public office. She said Maharaj’s efforts to harass and effectively torment the PM “only serves to prove his “imbecilic and obnoxious levels of thinking, and his malicious intent to attempt to destabilise our country.”