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It's Finally Official: Port of Spain's Mayor Resigns Over His Victim-Blaming Remarks

A cross section of the crowd of protestors at the march on Port of Spain City Hall, February 12, 2016. Photo courtesy Janine Mendes-Franco.

A cross section of the crowd of protestors at the march on Port of Spain City Hall, February 12, 2016. Photo courtesy Janine Mendes-Franco.

Four days after the mayor of Port of Spain, Raymond Tim Kee, announced his intention to resign over the public outcry surrounding his inappropriate and insensitive comments following the death of Japanese steel plan player Asami Nagakiya, he has finally left office.

His comments had seemingly blamed the victim, saying “women have a responsibility to ensure they are not abused during the Carnival season” and warning against the “lewdness” and “vulgarity” of some female masqueraders.

Although many mainstream media outlets were a little quick on the draw, announcing that Tim Kee had officially resigned around lunch time, the deed was not done until after a 3 p.m. (Trinidad and Tobago time) meeting with city council members on February 16. News, sport and satirical website Wired868 announced the actual resignation on its Twitter feed:

One the mayor's resignation went through, members of the media posted a copy of the letter on Twitter:

However, Wired868 did not spare the media for doing exactly what Tim Kee was criticised for himself — jumping the gun before knowing the facts. Recounting what was actually said, the blogger Mr. Live Wire cheekily called for the media's resignation:

Interviewer Jessie-May Ventour: Mr Tim Kee, at the 12 o clock news we found out that you are still the mayor of Port of Spain, that you have not officially tendered your resignation. Is that still the case at this point in time?

Tim Kee: As we speak, yes… That is the case. But I can tell you before we put our lights on this evening that will no longer be the case.

Ventour: I just want to be absolutely clear. By this evening, you will no longer be mayor of Port Spain?

Tim Kee: Precisely.

The subsequent headline: “Tim Kee resigns” was immediately splashed across almost every media house in the country with many claiming that Tim Kee had already tendered his resignation.

Did he resign to Jessie-May? Is saying you are going to something the same as doing it?

Having recklessly misinterpreted Tim Kee’s non-resignation and misquoted the Port of Spain, Mr Live Wire thinks the local media should now do the honourable thing.

The fact remains, though, that Trinidadians were bracing themselves for a fight. Given the delay between Tim Kee's intention and his eventual action, protesters were mobilising themselves to picket City Hall for a second time if necessary. Wired868 was also sceptical as to whether the resignation would materialise, saying:

It was like playing hide and seek with a child who stands in clear view but closes his eyes.

Really?! You know we can see you, right Ray?

Both Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and governing People's National Movement chairman Franklin Khan put pressure on Tim Kee to stick to his word. In fact, Khan's statement, as reported by CAISO | GSPOTTT | Trinidad & Tobago, an organisation dedicated to furthering the LGBT cause in the country, was rather emphatic:

‘Because you know […] what we are realising is that there are what I call 21st Century issues that we […] can no longer take an antiquated approach to, to its management. You know, […] things like abortion, […] gay rights, […] gender bias, […] abuse to children, and so on. These things, these are very, very sensitive matters […] in the international community now. And our approach to it has to be a 21st Century approach. We have to be extremely more sensitive, and some of these old dogmatic doctrines of […] rural Trinidad and, and the Trinidadian society of the 50s and the 60s are no longer relevant in a modern world.’

The organisation called it “unprecedented […] from a T&T political party leader.”

Wired868 got the inside story on the mayor's resignation though, thanks to an inside source:

Even as Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and PNM chairman Franklin Khan called on Tim Kee to step down for his irresponsible comments after the death of Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya; and although the Mayor was not universally admired within his burgess, Wired868 was informed that the central party would have been unable to move him. […]

Although Tim Kee promised to leave on Saturday, he was still gauging the support of his council up until Monday, as he mused over an about-turn. But Khan’s public statements were the final straw and he decided to step down.

Despite the many criticisms levelled against Tim Kee, Raffique Shah, writing at Wired868, made an argument that the former mayor may have been foolish, but not misogynistic:

He seemed to have suggested that Nagakiya might have invited her own demise through her conduct during Carnival, which was a very stupid insinuation that warranted condemnation, and, indeed, his resignation as Mayor. […]

I should add my own position before the fem-pack turns rabid on me: nothing that a woman says, does or wears or does not wear, justifies advances from any man […]

What the ex-Mayor was trying to get across, though, his abhorrence toward rampant lewdness on the streets and stages during the Carnival, with women being the prime offenders, is a very valid issue that needs to be discussed.

Carnival, however, has always been a space in which people — women included — have been free to shed societal expectations; to become anyone they want; to ‘leggo’ with wild abandon and ‘get on bad’. The point that the protesters made in seeking to get the mayor out of office is that never again must women be blamed for violence committed against them.

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