Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday apologised to the media for using abusive language in their presence at a farewell parade on Wednesday for Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud.
His apology was issued after a statement earlier in the day by the Guyana Press Association (GPA) condemning his verbal attacks on reporters and calling on him for an apology.
On Wednesday at the Police Sports Complex at Eve Leary, reporters including veteran journalist Denis Chabrol sought a comment from Ramjattan about the revocation of a gun dealership licence to the Police Commissioner. Chabrol and Ramjattan had had a conversation earlier in the day during which the Minister used an expletive.
Chabrol persisted in asking questions at the Eve Leary forum and this led to Ramjattan, currently performing the functions of Prime Minister, saying to him and in the presence of other reporters “man you could haul yah ass”.
Yesterday, the GPA issued a statement condemning the Minister’s behaviour and calling for an apology.
It said that based on official complaints by two of its members against Ramjattan, it was contended that GPA members and journalists were verbally abused – Chabrol, on the phone and in person. Further, the GPA said that the verbal abuse continued later on Wednesday in the presence of members of the media at Eve Leary.
“The Guyana Press Association calls on Minister Ramjattan to apologise to our members and also calls on His Excellency, President David Granger to remind his Cabinet that journalists play a major role in this growing democracy of ours and should be allowed to do their jobs without fear or hindrance”, the association said.
In his response to the GPA President, Nazima Raghubir yesterday, Ramjattan said that while the contents of her letter to him were “not entirely accurate” he conceded that the incident at the Police Sports Club Ground did occur.
“In retrospect I am of the opinion that, firstly, I should not have expressed my feelings on matters to Mr Denis Chabrol as I did. I always thought that he was adult enough to accept my unvarnished language especially when in a private telephone conversation. I intended him no abuse nor hostility by that expletive. From now on I assure you he will not hear anything from me of that sort. Probably not anything at all!”.
On the insult `haul you ass’, Ramjattan said that it had been directed to Chabrol alone as he (the minister) was nearing his vehicle and that he was very sorry for it.
“I indeed plea(d) in mitigation that I was very much provoked into it after several times over indicating to him (that) I will not make any public comments about the Commissioner at the Commissioner’s farewell parade. I still believe notwithstanding my reluctance to do so, his questioning me on…that score was totally out of place and wholly unwarranted. But I suppose the press is always right.
“And so I humbly apologise to you, your Press Association, Mr Denis Chabrol and all media workers for what transpired on February 28, 2018”, Ramjattan wrote in his letter to Raghubir.
In her response yesterday to his letter, Raghubir said that the GPA acknowledged receipt of the reply and added “We are not completely satisfied with your response since Mr Denis Chabrol remains one of our most respected members and journalists”.
The GPA promised to circulate Ramjattan’s reply to Chabrol and GPA members.