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“...For approximately two minutes Mr Maharaj went on about how Muslims have terrified others in the world. I then asked him some pointed questions,” Quan Chan’s letter said, but did not elaborate what the pointed questions were.
Quan Chan said she did not challenge Maharaj’s comments because “I believe that we are all entitled to our opinions and beliefs. (However) I am also of the belief that since we were on NLCB’s business, the forum was inappropriate for such extremist remarks which were disconcerting and embarrassing to me. I, however, do not want to be associated with his views—it is anyone’s guess whether Ms Paul is Muslim or not.”
Noel Maloney’s report of September 9 said he was enjoying a sumptuous meal at the time of Maharaj’s alleged outburst and as a result they had to hurry their meal. Maloney said the officials present were all left dumbfounded and found the statements in poor taste, given the fact that they had well-informed and distinguished visitors in their midst for the first time.
“With the mood at the table becoming very sombre, we quickly completed our meal and retired for the evening. At this point I asked Mr Maharaj to drop off our guests at their hotel,” Maloney’s one-page report said.
He said Quan Chan suggested that Maharaj should refrain from generalising and categorising all Muslims as terrorists, but Maharaj countered that it has been 1,000 years now that “they” have been fighting “with them.”
“When questioned as to whom he was referring (to), he responded ‘Pakistan’ and to the amazement of everyone ...blurted out: ‘All Muslims in Pakistan and other countries should be executed even if it meant wiping out whole nations and the rest of them should then move to Saudi Arabia,’” Maloney’s report said.
He concluded that in future, Maharaj should not be allowed to entertain guests on behalf of the NLCB.
Comments not memorised—Maharaj
When the Sunday Guardian contacted Maharaj at NLCB’s office last week, he said he knew nothing about the SASC investigation.
“I ent know nothing about that. You should probably call the SASC or my attorney,” Maharaj said.
However, Maharaj, of Tumpuna Road, Arima, did respond to Borde’s letter on September 21. In his very brief letter, a copy of which was made available to the Sunday Guardian, Maharaj told Borde he had not memorised the dinner conversation and did not recall the details.
“As far as I could summon up, however, some issue that was on the news currently led off a particular conversation. A spirited and open discussion with views of those in that discussion ensued on the matter and the subject changed after a few minutes,” Maharaj wrote. His letter concluded that it was indeed unfortunate that it had been misconstrued as something which was not intended, and had evoked such a response.
Not the first time
This is the second time that the NLCB has investigated Devant Maharaj for alleged misconduct as a result of statements he has reportedly made.
In June 2003 the NLCB sought attorney Douglas Mendes’ advice after statements allegedly made by Maharaj appeared in a daily newspaper. The statements were made during a panel discussion on “The Current Struggles of the Indo-Caribbean Community,” when Maharaj is alleged to have focused on likening T&T to Nazi Germany, to have compared Cepep with the Brown Shirts and to have recalled that there were collaborators in Germany who had betrayed their own people. He reportedly equated such collaborators with “those who sell out their people for ambassadorial and senatorial appointments in Trinidad.”
Mendes agreed that by his public pronouncements Maharaj was in breach of regulations and liable to disciplinary action. However, he concluded, “This was criticism which he was constitutionally entitled to engage in, and the fact that members of the board of the NLCB may not agree with the opinion he expressed or the manner in which he expressed it is irreltevan.”
Apparently fuming over Maharaj’s alleged derogatory and religiously-charged statements, Quan Chan wrote to Borde on September 10, saying in future she no longer wanted to work at social settings with Maharaj.
“This confirms my verbal request that I not be assigned to work in future social settings with our marketing and public relations officer, Mr Devant Maharaj. I feel it necessary to state that I enjoy the challenges of being a part of the teams who organise the various functions and activities of the board. However, I don’t feel I should be subjected to Mr Maharaj’s extremist remarks,” Quan Chan’s two-page letter said.
On the night in question, Quan Chan said, the conversation included discussions on the outcome of the hostage situation in Russia, which all present agreed was a terrible and horrific event. After Maharaj’s alleged extremist remarks, Quan Chan’s letter said, she responded that Maharaj should not generalise or categorise all the people of the Muslim faith because of the action of a few.
n “All Muslims in Pakistan and other countries should be executed even if it meant wiping out whole nations and the rest of them should then move to Saudi Arabia.”
n “Chechens were Muslims and all Muslims were terrorists who should be wiped out.”
n “Pakistan should be wiped out since they had been fighting with ‘them’ for over 1000 years.”
n “At the last T&T general election, Muslims were allowed to walk around with guns and to terrorise citizens.”
On September 14, Borde also wrote to members of the NLCB, informing them that she had also had to contend with remarks from agents and members of the public on account of the “myopic” views expressed by Maharaj on a weekly basis in a daily newspaper.
“The board is asked to note that as the marketing and public relations officer, Mr Maharaj is the face between the National Lotteries Control Board and the public, and as a result should therefore ensure that our image is positively promoted,” Borde said.
Dealing with the current issue, Borde said on the contrary, however, such utterances as those reported in the attached letters (Quan Chan and Maloney’s) negatively affect the NLCB. She said as a consequence of an initial verbal report by Quan Chan, she immediately contacted Paul to initiate some damage control.
“Ms Paul was indeed a gracious guest and has assured us that we should not feel unduly embarrassed by Mr Maharaj’s comments.”
Borde asked Maharaj to reply to her letter in writing on or before September 21.
Sunday 2nd January, 2005
The Statutory Authorities Service Commission (SASC) is investigating allegations of misconduct by the National Lotteries Control Board’s marketing and public relations officer, Devant Maharaj, who, among other things, has been accused of calling for all Muslims to be executed.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Guardian show that the SASC’s acting executive director, Jeanette Renaud, wrote to Maharaj on December 14, informing him that the SASC had received the allegation of misconduct against him. This letter came the day before Maharaj won a judicial review matter at the High Court on December 15, against the SASC over a decision to appoint someone else to act as deputy director of the board.
Renaud’s one-page letter identified the allegations in bold print: “That you (Maharaj) made derogatory statements about Muslims at an official dinner held (at Jenny’s on the Boulevard) on September 3, 2004, organised by the National Lotteries Control Board to honour Miss Rebecca Paul, president and chief executive officer of the Tennessee Lottery Education Corporation prior to her departure from T&T.”
Renaud’s letter said the commission had appointed Helen Francis-Huggins, a human resource officer at the National Housing Authority, to investigate the allegations and to report on the matter.
C.O.P vs G.O.P.I.O
Devant Maharaj’s appearance on the platform of the opposition Congress of the People is still having serious repercussions for the local head of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Shortly after making his maiden political speech last Tuesday night he was criticized for making what some people felt was a disparaging remark about the people of Laventille.
He said that residents of central Trinidad could have as their neighbors displaced Laventille people as government moves to redevelop the depressed urban district.
Maharaj was asked to resign from GOPIO by its international parent body since it was against its policy to have their branches maintaining political links in their respective member-countries.
Instead of doing reigning Maharaj promptly announced the local branch was breaking away from the parent body, and challenged anyone to stop him from using the GOPIO brand name.
And over the weekend Vijay Ramlal head of the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago, said that Maharaj could run into legal problems if he continues to use the GOPIO name.
It was an international trade mark and Gopio International could adopt a strong legal standpoint against Maharaj if he continues his political campaigning.
No apology from GOPIO head Devant Maharaj
Head of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin Devant Maharaj says he will only apologise to persons who misinterpreted his message.
Maharaj received heavy criticism for perceived derogatory comments on Laventille residents relocating to other communities.
When asked by News Power this afternoon, if he feels the need to publicly apologise, Maharaj maintained this is what Maharaj had to say.
He clarified his position on the issue of the Mr. Manning’s intended move to buyout and re-build the entire hill.
Maharaj describes the initiative as a political ploy to woo voters in marginal constituencies.
In a statement issued today, the CoP apologised to citizens offended by Maharaj’s comments.
Meanwhile, Maharaj maintains that Government should strive towards assessing citizens based on objective criteria and standards.
In 2007 Devant Maharaj
Political Party, the Congress of the People, has apologized for remarks made by head of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin about Laventille residents on one of its platforms.
Devant Maharaj, head of GOPIO had said that when Prime Minister Patrick Manning buys out Laventille, as the PM had indicated, its residents would be relocated to Central.
Issuing a release, the COP said the party apologises if anybody was offended by what it called a misunderstanding of the statement, adding that it does not condone divisive statements on the basis of race, social status or community.
Speaking to Power 102 earlier, Devant Maharaj attempted to clarify his position, stating that the Prime Minister’s initiative was a political ploy to woo voters in marginal constituencies
Maharaj said he too apologizes, but only to those who misinterpreted the message.
Anil you don't find there is enough evidence? You seriously want to be the leader of the COP with this type of incompetent thinking. Anil trust me this stance you are taking is going to be your downfall, it makes no sense.
There comes a time Anil when you must put your country first.
Therefore the question is what is the COP going to do if the PM ignores their complaints?