TRINIDAD and Tobago needs people like Satnarayan Maharaj to ensure that its democracy is kept alive, former Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing said yesterday.
Lee Sing said he respected Maharaj and although there remained “narrow minded” thinking and divisions between Afro-Trinidadians and Indo-Trinidadians in the country, he did not see Maharaj as an Indian but as a patriot.
“Even though Sat Maharaj represented the Indian perspective in all its purity I did not see him as an Indian, I saw him as a patriot representing part of the whole. If he didn’t do what he had to do we might have had real racial tensions in the society but because he articulated his position so well, everybody understood where he was coming from and therefore, who could argue with that?” Lee Sing said in a phone interview with the Sunday Express yesterday.
Maharaj and Lee Sing shared a history with respect to the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha’s fight against the State (all the way to the Privy Council) to attain the right to get a radio licence.
The SDMS through Dr Fenton Ramsahoye QC and Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan had filed a constitutional motion claiming unfair treatment by the State after Citadel Ltd, chaired then by Lee Sing, was granted a broadcast licence ahead of the SDMS for what was then Citadel’s i95.5FM radio station. The station became part of the One Caribbean Media Group (OCM) in 2012. OCM publishes the Express newspapers and operates CCN TV6.
The SDMS was victorious and in November 2006-after an eight-year legal battle-it launched Radio Jaagriti (The Awakening).
Lee Sing told the Sunday Express Maharaj stood for what he believed in and he helped make the country a better place.
“What is essential for the Republic’s democracy is that we can continue to find people like Sat Maharaj and others who can give, as it were, different positions and views. In giving these without animosity or violence we may yet arrive at that place which is sacred to Trinidad and Tobago. There were times he stood for positions that somebody had to stand for and one must respect him for that,” he said.
Lee Sing said like Maharaj, he was fearlessly outspoken as he recalled an evening they shared at a wedding.
“I remember well I went to a wedding somewhere in Central and when I got there my really good friend Surendranath Capildeo was sitting at a table with Mr Ramesh Maharaj, Mr Sat Maharaj and I think one other. Mr Capildeo invited me to join them and we had a most raucous conversation that evening because I am no different from Mr Maharaj in the sense that whatever I have to say I will say without fear of contradiction and so it was a lovely exchange,” he said.
Lee Sing said prior to this he knew Maharaj when he (Lee Sing) was a “cub reporter” under Patrick Chookolingo at The Bomb newspaper which Maharaj owned.
“I would have met him from time to time coming to transact his business with Mr Chookolingo and I didn’t think he was an indecent man in any way; certainly as I became much more tuned into what he was doing I understood well that he was representing what he believed was his role and responsibilities towards his community. He is no different to the other community leaders in the country,” he said.
With respect to racial comments by some on social media against Maharaj, Lee Sing said those people were part of a misguided group in society.
He said democracy’s biggest weapon was the democracy itself and if it was not guarded and protected it could ultimately end up in chaos. T&T has not yet appreciated its democracy as he lamented leaders “who sit in high office now are fanning the flames of division”.