22 Mar 2014

Disorderly conduct on a plane?

Member of Parliament and Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh (not a medic) from your fav Rock is alleged to have committed various unlawful acts when on board a domestic flight from Tobago to Trinidad on Sunday 16th March 2014. Among the most serious perhaps is allegedly touching the breast of a female flight attendant.

In summary, GR when on board the aircraft in Tobago allegedly declined to follow reasonable requests of the flight attendant, Ronelle Laidlaw, to move his luggage that was not fitting well in a compartment. His response was unsatisfactory to the attendant who consulted the captain, and returned to repeat the request. According to Laidlaw, GR appeared intoxicated. Other passengers became involved. Only then did GR comply.

Laidlaw’s report was as follows:


    • “I am 25 years of age and I live at ---- Arouca. I have been employed with Caribbean Airlines Ltd for the past 6 (six) years as a flight attendant. My contact number is ---- (number given).
    • “On Sunday 16th March, 2014, whilst working on BW 1519 from Tobago to Trinidad, my colleague Ayana Hajarie spoke to the passenger about stowing away the bag properly because the locker could not be closed. The passenger did not make any attempt to close the locker. Miss Hajarie then asked for assistance from the Load Sheet Agent on duty.
    • “Mr Ramadharsingh who was identified by the passenger seated next to him, still refused to comply in stowing his bag. Captain David Dass called me by the inter-phone asking me if the passenger stowed the bag, which at that time the bag was still not stowed. I went and I spoke to the passenger about stowing the bag and he replied ‘No.’
    • “I tried to explain to the passenger that there was space in the overhead locker opposite. Eventually after a few minutes, Mr Ramadharsingh got up to stow the bag. Upon him getting up he appeared to be intoxicated. I asked the passenger seated next to him to please hold on while I get contact with the passenger he was travelling with and confirmed that she was travelling with Mr Ramadharsingh who replied ‘yes’.
    • “I asked her if she would be willing to assist me by switching seats with Mr Ramadharsingh, because he appeared intoxicated and that was considered an emergency seat and he was hesitant on complying. So I told him, ‘Sir I  need you to relocate to the other seat,’ explaining to him the reasons why.
    • “Once again he refused and I explained to him I will not be able to close the main door for departure. Mr Ramadharsingh replied, ‘Well we won’t be going anywhere.’ The same lady who was travelling with him pleaded with him along with the passengers on board, which at that point he got up and moved. We prepared for departure and left.
    • “Upon arrival into Trinidad when Mr Ramadharsingh was disem­barking I said to him ‘goodbye, do have a pleasant day.’ “In return Mr Ramadharsingh attempted to grab my restricted area pass which was pinned to the left collar of my blouse above my left breast where his hand brushed against and replied, ‘What’s your name your days are numbered.’ “And I told Mr Ramadharsingh, while retrieving my ID that he does not have to touch me to find out my name and I told him my name, which in reply he again said ‘your days are numbered’. I immediately reported to Captain Dass via the inter-phone.

It is confirmed that GR was the object of a police investigation, following a complaint by Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow, 25, that the minister’s hand touched her breast when he reached for her ID badge, which was pinned to her blouse, and he threatened to have her fired.

There could be serious consequences if GR is charged and found guilty of an offence. However, GR has apologised profusely as of yesterday. In Rock terms this predicts that nothing more will happen. But as many will know Captain Walker doesn’t give a flying banana! So I explore the law and other matters below.

The law applicable is  the T&T Civil Aviation Act 2001.

Section 60. (1) A person shall not, while in an aircraft—
(a) interfere with a crew member or passenger;
(b) do any act that threatens the safety of the aircraft or of persons on board the aircraft;
(c) use abusive language or insulting words towards a crew member or passenger;
(d) intentionally interfere with the performance of duty by a crew member.

You could bet that if Captain Walker was in charge of such an investigation that a simple apology or decline to press charges would not have caused an investigation to be terminated. Why? Because it is a high profile case and certainly in the public interest to pursue such an investigation. Why? Because GR is both an MP and a Minister – and an example needs to be made of such cases; sending a clear message to the average gum-bumping rumshop crawler, that all are equal before the law.

As GR is likely to wriggle out of the jaws of the police, there remains another issue. What’s that? The conduct issue!!! Chrysst – I have to explain the blindingly obvious. If you are an MP and a Minister, is such conduct pardonable? Well GR will say and has saidTo err is human.. etc”.. well except when you’re an Obstetrician and your knife plunges erringly into the brain of a baby at C-Section. But little attention is paid on your fav Rock to conduct issues of MPs – so that’ll be the end of that.

What does it mean? Why am I interested in this if nothing is gonna happen? Well, the issue for me is equality before the law – and too often on your fav Rock average people come to understand that ‘when you’re big’ you are above the law or will be treated less harshly. This confusion above with GR sends the wrong message to average people.